Every transaction that involves the Scranton government needs to be looked over ten times before it passes the smell test. Here’s an example why: Recently, I got my hands on a letter that is circulating regarding the ramifications of Scranton Sewer Authority sale. The “ramification” being that certain Scrantonians are being threatened that their houses risk being condemned if they do not sign over their rights. The letter is shown here:
What is an Easement?
If we take a gander on the internet we see that an easement is defined as “a legal right to use someone else’s land for a particular purpose.”(source) As we can see from the letter, the Scranton Sewer Authority is making the claim that “it is not the intention of the Sewer Authority to perform any construction on this line”, but then why would they require an easement? Please understand that easements are negotiable and anyone who has received such a letter should seek to retain legal counsel. You should never sign any contract without fully understanding its meaning. Also, always assume that the person offering you a contract wrote it in their favor. Anything that even remotely resembles a threat should put everyone on high alert. The notion that they will attempt condemnation proceedings is quite scandalous. According to the 5th amendment, the seizure of property is illegal, even for government municipalities and utilities. In the event that an easement is obtained, you should be duly and properly compensated. Also, you should never be in a hurry to sign any legal document. Anyone attempting to rush such a proceeding should be viewed with a great deal of suspicion.
Now, attempting to be as objective as possible, it appears strange for the board to agree that an easement of property is worth $100 dollars. The reason for this is what sort of analysis did they perform to arrive at this number? Did they hire an appraiser? And the sense of urgency demonstrated in this letter is not a good sign. I again recommend everyone to retain a lawyer when dealing with anything that looks like a contract.
The Plot Thickens
The ink on the agreement to sell the Sewer Authority is not even dry and already we see the people of Scranton having to pay for this lousy deal. I do not blame the people of Scranton for being suspicions about anything regarding the political fortune of this city. With the sort of shady dealings like what was just presented going on, it is warranted to be a bit paranoid. Hence the reason I have always advocated that the DOJ should look into Scranton’s political dealings. I also question the nature of the sale of the Sewer Authority period. Who owns American Water and who stands to gain from this sale? The unconscionable persons that are privy to the inner dealings of these things should be ashamed of themselves. Really, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?