Letters To The Editor 6/17/2018

June 17, 2018 GMT

Libraries invaluable

Editor: “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library” said Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine essayist and poet.

Since the time of Alexandria and Athens the library has been a vital link for reason, intellect and art, whether through a tablet, scroll, codex or oral tradition, whether it is in a physical or digital mode. Availability and access are the pillars of a library’s mission.

As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of our magnificent Albright Memorial Library branch of the Lackawanna Library System, let’s give thanks:

■ To the reference librarian who helps a senior citizen with family genealogy or an unemployed person with a job application.


■ That there is a place for the lonely, destitute and curious to rekindle their spirit and curiosity.

■ That there is an area for children to expand their horizons.

Yes, libraries still matter. They are places of quiet reflection on printed pages. They offer a catalog of wonders where arrangements of knowledge reside. They are the last great truly democratic place left.




Confront tyranny

Editor: There have been times when I thought that we were too absorbed in the gross demagoguery — the lies, the ignorance and the dangerous misdeeds that define this president and his administration.

But I no longer hold opinion. We must look, listen, refuse to see it as the new normal and take actions against it. We must take advantage of our power before it is lost. We must fight for the right to a free and independent press. Thomas Jefferson understood that newspapers were more important than government itself.

Those who know tyranny when they see it must act as though they live in a free society. We are not bystanders, subjects or victims. We are citizens.

So, thank the free and independent press — I think it is one of their finest moments. Thank emerging leaders. Follow their lead, the kneeling athletes, the Tony Award winners who integrated political outrage into their acceptance speeches and the young survivors of the Parkland high school slaughter who, even in their earliest days of mourning the loss of their friends, moved strategically to politics — registering voters and vowing to remove NRA-supported members of Congress.

Even since our earliest days, Americans have had the desire and skills to fix things. A crisis of tyranny is upon us; we cannot stand by.


Be angry, be outraged and be players in this event that isn’t a game. It’s our future. President Donald Trump has alienated our allies and bows respectfully to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a chillingly murderous autocrat. Call it mental illness, ignorance or greed. The presidency isn’t enough for Trump. He’s clearing the path to tyranny. His fellow Republicans appear to be paralyzed.

Let’s follow the leaders who have shown their mettle and exercise the powers that are our rights and responsibilities.




Last of the Munchkins

Editor: The Lollipop Guild, including three of its most prominent diminutive members, are now somewhere over the rainbow, safe with Dorothy, Toto and the residents of the enchanted Land of Oz.

I had the pleasure of meeting Karl Slover, Mickey Carroll and Jerry Maren, the last Munchkin who passed away recently at 98 in California. They made an appearance at the Mall at Steamtown in the summer of 2004, 65 years after America was about to be dragged into World War II, and after the premiere of the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.”

All three men looked incredibly fit and walked with a bounce in their step, clearly relishing the adulation after all those years. If the Wicked Witch of the West had been there that day, they would have finished her off in five minutes, with or without a bucket of water.

That was 14 years ago and the world has become a lot more dangerous. Twisters of today make the fearsome one that tore through Dorothy’s farm in Kansas look like a dust devil. We have no flying monkeys, but we have a leader who seems to believe that Canada, and not England, burned down the White House during the War of 1812. I’d rather have the monkeys.

We are not in Kansas anymore and as we were in 1939, perhaps we are on the brink of another global conflict.

This time, we are fresh out of Munchkins.



Avoidable scenario

Editor: Lackawanna County Deputy Director of Tax Assessments John Foley and the office’s solicitor, Brigid Carey, are friends of mine.

Carey has performed legal work for me and my family.

Upon reading news articles on the missed tax bills and the explanations by both parties I take exception to their logic and premise. State assessment law is specific with regard to appeals and market value adjustments. Foley points out that there was a dual question posed at the appeal hearing, one for assessment revision and one for abatement. The former was denied but the latter was not answered.

First, any disputed tax under state law pending resolution must be paid based on the prior assessed value. The money may be paid under protest with 25 percent being placed in escrow in case of potential refunds. This was not done. Actually, bills were not even sent.

Also, any tax abatement must go before the taxing districts. In this case it would be the city, Scranton School District and Lackawanna County. The governing bodies make decisions to grant an abatement or not. In Lackawanna County there is no abatement legislation that bypasses this requisite. From what I read, the owner never asked about abatement to the taxing districts. So, regardless of the answers by Foley and Carey, the fact is the bills should have been sent.

If the owner had a problem, tax money could have been paid into escrow and await adjudication of the case. To let the property remain exempt with no justification was wrong.

Finally, if the county adopted a quarterly tax billing system as the norm, this problem would have been caught, adjudicated and hopefully rectified years ago.



Editor’s note: The writer is a former director of the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau.