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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Scranton School Board - Yes, it's that bad.

Robert (Bob) Sheridan is a sitting Scranton School Board Director and, as noted in the Friday (May 17th) edition of the Scranton Times, has no problem accepting political campaign donations from vendors who provide services to the district.

Now according to a policy which makes sense pretty much nowhere OTHER THAN on the Scranton School Board, sitting directors CAN receive donations from district vendors.  Yes, they can.  How, then, would conflicts of interest, such as "quid-pro-quo" situations, be prevented?  They won't, which is precisely the problem.  The only thing preventing "pay to play" in the Scranton School District is the honor and integrity of the district's directors.

Wait, excuse me for a moment.

I'm back.  Sorry, I just laughed myself into a 20 minute coma after writing that sentence about "honor and integrity".

Yes, for real, taxpayers basically have to reply on school board directors to be honest and act in the best interest of children, not outside business interests.  Said Mr Sheridan in the above referenced article, "I work for the better education of our kids".  To which I say the following:

Prove It.

Director Sheridan offers no proof that political contributions from district vendors haven't influenced his votes because this is inherently something that can't be proven or disproved with any degree of certainty.  It's a perfect place for the politician to reside, namely that murky space where money flows and attached strings are basically invisible to all but the donor and the recipient.  In a situations like this, I'm reminded of the following Hunter S. Thompson quote:

"In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile — and the rest of us are f&^%d until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely"

I don't know if Thompson had ever heard of Scranton, but his comment fits the nature of NEPA politics very well.

Now I've waxed philosophical about this for long enough, so now it's time for what we call at work "the ask":

Dear Director Sheridan, 

I am formally asking you to return all district vendor political campaign contributions you have received this election cycle and refuse to take any in the future.  Accepting these contributions creates an impression of corruption and impropriety that simply doesn't have to exist.  Now I get the logic, namely that sitting directors are at a disadvantage by not being able to receive vendor contributions, but so what!  It's a reasonable trade-off to eliminate another avenue for graft.  Let's also not forget that sitting directors have several advantages over challengers in that they get to plaster their names and words all over district communications and get lots of free television air-time via cable public access channels. 

Please prove that you truly do work for the betterment of education by eliminating what is nothing more than a blatant avenue for impropriety.

Best Regards, 
Steve Albert
Resident & taxpayer

Director Sheridan is free to contact me via the blog and I'll gladly post his reply in this space, unedited and word for word.

I'll be waiting.

Probably for a long time.

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