The steep cliffs and roaring waters of Scranton’s Nay Aug Gorge have long drawn daredevils and others, who swim and dive there against the advice of local law enforcement. Given this, I suppose it’s only natural and a not-insignificant portion of our population refuses to take pandemic mask-wearing seriously.
State Attorney-General Josh Shapiro latest crusade has led his office to the doors of the Department of Environmental Protection and the natural gas drillers whose activities they are supposed to be regulating. According to the findings of a two- year state grand jury, the DEP’s job performance has been inadequate at best.
Scranton and its beleaguered financial situation have been under Act 47 oversight — otherwise known as distressed-city status — ever since Bill Clinton set up shop in the Oval Office. The city was prepared to check out of this particular “roach hotel” next month, but crashing tax revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic slowdown likely will push that date back a year or more. Factor in the city school district’s awful financial picture, and it seems that once again city taxpayers can’t get a break.
Donald Trump is trying to goad Joe Biden into participating in more than the previously agreed-to three debates this fall. That an incumbent would want such a thing strongly suggests that they know their re-election campaign is in trouble. Biden, meanwhile, is laying back and playing it cool, letting “President Tweety,” in essence, beat himself up.
Trump loves to show the world the overwhelmingly red, county-by-county map detailing his surprise 2016 electoral-college victory. It is a thing to behold, I guess, although it helps to remember that the small blue-colored areas simply show the places where voters actually live (cities, towns, urban areas) while the red shows where, on average, they don’t (rural areas). None of this stops Trump from touting his map as evidence the greatest political win since the invention of political wins.
That map popped into my head while I was semi-following Trump’s ill-attended rally in Tulsa, OK, last Saturday. One picture in particular, of a lone supporter sitting in the upper reaches of the mostly-empty arena, seemed to flip the map’s color scheme on its head, and bode ill for an incumbent who’s dropping like a rock in the polls.
The Trump Administration had a bad week at the Supreme Court. First came the court’s ruling that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender employees from being fired due to sexual identity (it’s notable that Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion). Next, the court upheld DACA, which protects children of illegal immigrants — generally referred to as “dreamers” in reference to the proposed DREAM Act — from immediate deportation, and that Trump and his racist adviser Stephen Miller want to end.
State House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Drillers) resigned from office this week, and, as expected, announced he would start work as “general counsel” for Pittsburgh-based People’s Natural Gas. Given Turzai’s stalwart service to the natural gas industry during his time in office — blocking efforts at meaningful environmental regulation and all attempts to impose a severance tax on the industry — the only changes he’ll see will be in his job title and size of his paycheck.
Trump’s shaky performance during his commencement address at West Point, where he apparently had trouble negotiating a ramp and handling a water bottle, had folks openly wondering about his physical health. Naturally, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself, claiming the “very long & steep” ramp (it wasn’t) was “very slippery” and had “no handrail.” He went on to claim he ran the last ten feet (debatable) due to “Momentum!”
Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas has been hit with 15 criminal complaints following a state grand jury report accusing it of flouting environmental laws and contaminating groundwater in Susquehanna County’s Dimock Township. The company’s un-indicted enablers — namely the state legislature’s GOP House and Senate majority and leaders Mike Turzai and Joe Scarnati — are nearly as culpable, as they’ve repeatedly blocked efforts to enforce regulations on the industry or enact a gas severance tax. Both announced retirement plans earlier this year, with Turzai cutting to the chase and stepping down early to take a fat paycheck from …WAIT FOR IT … the gas industry!
NASCAR’s surprising decision to ban the display of the Confederate battle flag shows just how quickly public perception of white supremacy and racial inequality have changed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing explosion of Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations. Clearly, change is afoot. It will be interesting to see how NASCAR negotiates this corner, as I imagine that some die-hard members of its good-ol’-boy fan base will not take kindly to having to leave the stars’n’bars at home.