When you think of America, what comes to mind? It is probably the idea that we are the people ruled by a government by the people – where liberty and freedom rings. We often look, in astonishment, at other countries when we see their failed elections, poor infrastructure and whole sale corruption. What if I told you that in the land of the free, the home of the brave, we have corruption that is on par with the third world?
Welcome to Scranton
Scranton is a small city of 76,000 located in the state of Pennsylvania. The first thing I was told when I moved here was that this is the most corrupt place in America; That you cannot get a job without being connected. Everything is controlled by unions that operate far more like nefarious street organizations while the government is merely a figurehead for shadowy elements. I thought to myself surely this must be an exaggeration. I could not fathom that something like that could happen in America. Sure, you may have money in politics and a corrupt public official here and there, but I could not accept the idea that an entire city could be completely infiltrated with corrupt individuals and organizations on American soil. Eventually, I realized that I was right! It is not as bad as they say. It is WORSE!
Let’s outline the facts that I have discovered about Scranton!
- The heavily Democrat voting City has been in distressed status since 1992-Meaning its budget has not been balanced since then (here)
- There are hardly any JOBS that pay adequately in the entire city!
- The current debt rating for Scranton is below Junk Status(here)
- The City no money! It is 232,256,613.64 million dollars in debt and only has revenues coming in of 68 million dollars! The debt is only getting higher and higher while they borrow at high interest rates to supposedly keep the government operating (here)
- Despite having no money, the city spends half of its budget on salaries!(here)
- The home charter states that the budget must balance but the current budget doesn’t balance and only increases debts, crippling the city further! (here)
- The fire fighters pension is only 17 percent funded, the non-uniformed fund is 23 percent funded and the police fund is at 29 percent. (here)
- Over a dozen non-uniformed employees have received double pension payments (here)
- Despite being underfunded the police pension fees were increased last year (here)
- In Scranton, 38% of the people are on social security, 20% subsist below the poverty line, and 7% are unemployed. This means roughly 2/3rds, or 66%, of the entire City is in poverty! (here)
- 50% of the police officers and 56% of the firemen in Scranton are currently on disability and receiving disability payments. The highest rate in the entire state of Pennsylvania!(here)
- Being on disability in Scranton does not disbar these people from getting jobs elsewhere. One source is quoted saying “There are actually some people in Scranton, some retired police officers who are now working as prison guards. “ (here)
- Local services tax was recently increased by 200% (here)
- The Scranton Mall is a ghost town (here)
- The City Is Completely Broke! (here)
- The Scranton homes are blighted (here)
- Businesses are closing down one after the other (here)
- But the police cars, fire engines, headquarters and government buildings are absolutely luxurious! In fact, government buildings account for the most tax-exempt property in the city(here)
- Residents are terrified and afraid to speak out for fear of the repercussions.
- Residents pleads with the government to stop the tax increases and file for bankruptcy but the City refuses. (here)
- The recent budget that is attempted to be passed raises taxes and gives the Mayor along with other members of his administration raises! (here)
- It is not possible to tax your way out of this crisis by raising taxes but the City of Scranton tries anyway(here)
- In the neighboring town Police cars, Fire Engines and Headquarters were purchased through private dollars and offered as “gifts”(here)
- The average wage of a police officer in Scranton is 74,210 while 2/3rds of the city lives in poverty.(here)
- Eleven officers in Scranton earned six figure Salaries when most Scrantonians live in poverty and the city government is bankrupt!(here)
- The Entire State of Pennsylvania is also facing its own Budget crisis and is in not position to bail any municipality out- 10.9 billion!(here)
- Pennsylvania gets an F grade for 2015 in State Integrity investigation(here)
- One in three children live in poverty in Scranton, Pennsylvania!(here)
- There is an unspoken rule to never publicly acknowledge the corruption that is taking place. They only whisper about it in secret!
- With all this corruption, the Clinton’s are actually fundraising in this place! (here)
That is just the tip of the ice berg. What the worst thing is is how the residents of Scranton react. They are so dejected, downtrodden and saddened that they have no hope in anything getting any better. I have canvassed and everyone told me that they agree that city must change, and can be changed, but are too afraid to do anything because there are thugs that control Scranton. I was told that (a) the government would make me disappear, (b) I would be hung in the square, or (c) that I would vanish! This is in America people! IN AMERICA WE HAVE OUR OWN RESIDENTS BEING TERRORIZED BY THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT!? We are out raged by terrorists while we have the citizens of our own country being terrorized by their local government!? How can we be outraged on the attack of our western values abroad when we have such things happening right on our own land and soil? How can we have such a high handed assault on liberty and the American way, and stand by and do nothing?
Today, while I was canvassing, I met an old man who was telling me about Scranton. He is in his 90s and has lived in Scranton his entire life. He says he has never seen it so bad. He spoke to me about the glory days; how it was once the electric city and known across the entire nation. He also told me about his service in the military during WWII and how he still had his military decorations; showing it to me with pride. But, his expression changed and he began to buckle. You saw the pride leave his eyes as he shook his head knowing what I was about to do. He attempted to talk me out of speaking out. He knew it was the most American and patriotic thing to do but he was worried for my safety. The look of defeat in his eyes drives me mad! I do not care what happens to me; the country must know what is going on in Scranton. We must cry out with one voice that we will not let our citizens be terrorized by this rogue local government. We will not sit idly while fellow Americans are wallowing in despair. #SaveScranton
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Gary St. Fleur