Facing payless paydays for its employee and vendors threatening to cut off supplies for things like gas to power its police cruisers, Scranton weighs bankruptcy.
In late June, the council super-majority voted not to pay off the Scranton Parking Authority's city-guaranteed bonds, effectively placing the authority and city in default. Quite predictably, lenders took flight and the city's credit line effectively disappeared. (The council furiously back-pedaled on this issue a week later, but the damage was done). Coincidentally, the council also pushed a 67-percent raise for its solicitor, who earlier had told the council he saw no problem with its decision to default.
Around Christmas last year, the state Supreme Court sided with the city's police and fire unions, effectively saying that the state's recovery plan cannot preempt arbitration or the unions' contracts and ending the city's legal argument. This set the stage for the city's current financial nightmare.
Saddled with local school and city taxes while supporting a number of non-profit institutions (three hospitals, two universities and many social service organizations), Scranton's tax base has been effectively picked clean.
Barack Obama came to town, offering a reminder to Scrantonians of how similar their own local government is to the polarized, obstructionist and ineffective mess in Washington, DC.
Just as the city pleaded poverty, the city discovered $3 million in parking meter receipts. It's the latest example of a government too incompetent to account for the revenue it has on hand.
A state court sided with the police and fire unions, thus putting Scranton on the hook for tens of millions of dollars to cover back pay and future pay raises. The city hadn't anywhere near the means to cover the tab. It still doesn't, in fact.