January 14, 2022 – Yesterday, Senator Marty Flynn and Representative Thom Welby drafted a letter – included below – in response to the Scranton School District’s new bus contract.
Superintendent Melissa McTiernan,
Last week, the Scranton School Board voted to award a five-year transportation contract to Krise Transportation. To say that the awarding of this contract is financially irresponsible would be an understatement. As reported by the Scranton Times, the increase in transportation costs will exceed $1 million dollars per year as a result of this contract, and it’s the taxpayers who will be left holding the bag. The school district says that Krise Transportation came in with the lowest bid and was the best offer they received. This is misleading, and it’s beginning to look like it’s simply not true.
Compare the proposal of Pete’s Garage, a local company which did not get the bid, to Krise Transportation, the Punxsutawney company which did. The school district initially wanted the bus companies to cover the cost of fuel. Pete’s Garage’s offer did; Krise’s did not. The school district, for whatever reason, decided this was fine. The school district wanted the winning bus company to provide a sufficient number of drivers. Krise agreed to no such terms. The school district, for whatever reason, decided this was fine. The school district initially wanted to hold the bus company responsible for any busses that arrive late; the agreement now makes the school district pay Krise for the extra time. The district, once again, and for whatever reason, decided this was fine. Every step of the way, the Scranton School Board mysteriously backed down from every reasonable request they made, and they gave the contract to a company who essentially told the school district how they were going to do things – separate from what was in the RFP.
The question, of course, is why? Why put the responsibility and the financial obligations on the people of Scranton? Why give in to this company’s every demand? There were clearly defined terms in the initial Request for Proposal, and numerous companies were more than happy to agree to them. Why, then, award the contract to Krise, who agreed to essentially none of them, and is going to charge us more in the process?
This contract agreement is a slap in the face of the taxpayers in the City of Scranton. Senator Flynn worked hard to obtain $1.8 million in funding for the school district to fix their tax structure. To this point, they have done nothing to help the taxpayers with this money. Every time news breaks about the Scranton School Board, it becomes more and more apparent that the school board, at best, doesn’t have a plan and, at worst, is irresponsible. We believe that the legal advice they have received is questionable, regarding the $1.8 million in state funds Senator Flynn recently secured, regarding the Scranton School District budget, and regarding this busing contract.
The advertised RFP included a clause that allows the school district to discard all of the bids if there were discrepancies, exceptions, or changing conditions from when it was written to when the bids are opened.
It is, in our opinion, absolutely irresponsible for this board – based on the discrepancies in the awarded contract from the published RFP – to be accepted with such a cavalier attitude. One reason given for awarding the bid with the discrepancies was that the rebid process would take two months – and the operator could need nine months to prepare for the new school year. We think any responsible operator can prepare a plan within six or seven months!
What’s more is that they feel they are above accountability. Questions to the school board were directed to Scranton School District solicitor John Audi. Questions to John Audi went unanswered.
We have some questions for solicitor John Audi ourselves. What is your legal opinion on why the $1.8 million was secured for the district and not used? Did you truly think the best thing to do for the city of Scranton was to make an executive decision to do nothing? What is your legal opinion on how, of the number of contract proposals you fielded, the best one was the one you settled on with Krise? Why did the school board not receive the lengthy contract until the day of the vote? Was that really enough time to read and grasp the finer details? This is unheard of in local and state government. Why was there no meeting open to the public to discuss? Why the secrecy?
The taxpayers depend on you to be up-front, yet these decisions are made in the shadows, in closed-door meetings that brazenly skirt the rules set forth by the Sunshine Act – zero transparency. This bussing contract is more of the same. It’s an egregious affront to the taxpayers and we demand answers from the district. Rest assured that we will not stop until we receive them.
There’s still time to do the right thing. We are requesting you re-open these talks before setting this school district down yet another ill-advised path. We’re happy to discuss this with you – in broad daylight – in a public meeting, where the people of Scranton can voice their opinions and concerns with this contract.
Senator Marty Flynn
Representative Thom Welby
CC: Tara Yanni
Scranton, Pa. – The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (GACAPAA) and the Bhutanese Cultural Foundation of Scranton Association will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Scranton on Friday, January 14, 2022, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The clinic will take place in center city Scranton, at the Bhutanese Cultural Foundation of Scranton Association, 705 Pittston Ave., Scranton, PA 18505.
The free, walk-in clinic will have Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines available, in addition to flu vaccines. The clinic will serve patients in seven languages: English, Nepali, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Fujianese, Swahili and Spanish.
“We know that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19,” said GACAPAA Executive Director Stephanie Sun. “But for community members who have technology, transportation or language barriers, just getting to a vaccine clinic can be more difficult than it should be. That’s why the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission is partnering with community organizations to promote clinics set up to serve diverse populations in multiple languages, with a focus on helping vulnerable groups overcome transportation and technology challenges. Besides diverse Asian languages, this time in Scranton, we have also organized a group of volunteers speaking Swahili and Spanish to serve African and Latino/ Hispanic community members. We have also seen a spike in flu recently in the community, so we will provide flu shots for free to everyone, including people without insurance coverage. We are helping our community members stay safe and healthy by breaking down barriers to vaccination.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be available for first or second doses to anyone age 5 and older. Booster shots will be available to anyone age 12 and older.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be available for first doses, second doses, or booster shots to anyone age 18 and older.
The annual flu shot will be available to anyone age 6 months and older.
Today, State Senator Marty Flynn announced Blakely Borough in Lackawanna County will receive $123,210 to improve pedestrian safety at the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. The grant was awarded from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) Program.
“The Lackawanna River Heritage Trail is something our district should be immensely proud of,” Senator Flynn said. “It’s gorgeous and sprawling, but because it spans such a large distance, there are certain points – like the one at Depot Street in Blakely – where pedestrian and cyclist traffic may be forced to intersect with vehicle traffic. We’re making sure that those areas flow as safely and efficiently as possible.”
Blakely Borough will receive funding to improve the mid-block crossing at Depot Street. Improvements will include ADA accessible ramps, flashing beacons to alert drivers and pedestrians/cyclists to slow down and be aware of conditions, signage to encourage sharing the road, and a high visibility colored concrete crossing.
PennDOT awarded approximately $12.9 million in 2021 ARLE funding to 22 municipalities statewide to fund 28 safety projects. The ARLE program uses fines from red light violations to fund traffic and pedestrian infrastructure that improves safety, enhances mobility, and reduces congestion.
Governor Tom Wolf has shared a full list of projects that will receive 2021 ARLE funding.
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Senator Marty Flynn announced $1,210,000 in state funding awarded to Lackawanna and Luzerne counties by the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee. The grants were approved for two projects that will enhance freight mobility while creating and sustaining jobs across northeast Pennsylvania.
“These investments in our rail system will bring jobs to the people of our district while making it easier to transport freight into and out of northeast Pennsylvania, which of course is great for businesses,” said Senator Flynn, who serves on the Transportation Committee. “Our community has a rich industrial history, and this will help us carry that tradition well into the future.”
The two grants that received funding in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties are:
- Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad: $699,000 to replace six turnouts on Bridge 60 on the Strawberry Hill rail line.
Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties:
- Redevelopment Authority of Luzerne County: $511,000 to replace approximately 4,000 ties and one switch.
The grants are awarded through the Transportation Committee’s Rail Transportation Assistance Program (RTAP) and Rail Freight Assistance Program (RFAP). For more information on PennDOT rail grant programs visit the department’s Rail Freight and Ports page.
Scranton, PA – December 7, 2021– Senator Marty Flynn’s inaugural Student Ambassador Program begins tomorrow, bringing together 27 of the brightest, most driven students from each high school in the 22nd Senatorial District. The session starts at 9:30am at Lackawanna College’s People’s Security Theatre in Scranton.
The Student Ambassadors will convene once a month from December through May, with each session focusing on a specific aspect of the legislative process and the students “introducing” their own pieces of legislation at program’s end. Local elected officials – including Rep. Bridget Kosierowski, Rep. Kyle Mullins, and Rep. Thom Welby – will speak with the Student Ambassadors, and the informational sessions will be supplemented with visits to local government buildings. In the spring, they will also take a field trip to Harrisburg to tour the state Capitol building and meet with Senate staff.
Of the program, Senator Flynn said:
“It’s amazing seeing how driven and accomplished these Student Ambassadors are, even as high schoolers. They’re an incredible group, and I’m proud that I’m able to organize this program and allow them to meet, learn from, and inspire each other. There’s a student from every school in my district, so there’s a great amount of diversity when it comes to their backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking. It’s going to be a great experience for them, of course, but I’m just as excited.”
The students selected for the program this year are:
– Ava Aulisio, Old Forge
– Madison Chickey, Old Forge
– Alyssa Cosklo, Carbondale
– Starasia Davis, West Scranton
– Fernando De La Rosa, Scranton
– Dawson Errigo, Holy Cross
– Jack Foley, Mid Valley
– Nevaeh Hammond, West Scranton
– Ava Hazzouri, Wyoming Seminary
– Madeline Hopkins, Old Forge
– Kaylee Horne, North Pocono
– Nicole Iriza, Scranton Prep
– Alejandro Jacome-Parra, Lakeland
– Sidney Jeffries, East Stroudsburg
– Eliana King, Dunmore
– Kathryn Koss, Pittston Area
– Gabriella Manuli, Dunmore
– Avery Meredick, Riverside
– Maurice Nicholas, Commonwealth Charter Academy
– Andrew O’Keefe, Pocono Mountain
– Makenna Ratchford, Lackawanna Trail
– Salvatore Schiavone, Abington Heights
– Leo Sirianni, Valley View
– Hannah Slivkavich, Forest City
– Maria Wetzel, Lackawanna Trail
– Savanna Willauer, Scranton Prep
– Nicholas Zamerowski, Old Forge
Student Ambassadors were selected after submitting an application packet that included a résumé, personal essay, and letters of recommendation from their high school teachers and guidance counselors.
Lackawanna County – December 7, 2021– Today, State Senator Marty Flynn announced eight Lackawanna County projects and organizations will receive $12,000,000 through grants from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).
“These projects are very worthy of investment,” said Senator Marty Flynn. “They perfectly embody the spirit of the RACP program – taking an already strong community and making it even stronger and more sustainable going forward. I’m excited to see these projects get underway.”
Organizations and projects that received funding include:
- Scranton City Hall, Scranton – $1,500,000 – This project seeks to repair the roof and facade of the Scranton Municipal Building (City Hall), a 3-story, Victorian Gothic Revival Style structure, located at 340 N. Washington Avenue. The goal is ultimately to ensure that the building remains the center of the city government and continues to be accessible to the public.
- 326 Adams Ave. – Allentown Redevelopment, Scranton, $500,000 – The project will renovate the former Scranton Counseling Center to construct apartments with ground floor retail. The project will specifically address the façade and building envelop. It will remove the 1980’s stucco façade and return the building to its original appearance complete with new open storefront and expansive façade windows.
- Glenmontage Commercial Development, Moosic, $1,000,000 – As part of the Lackawanna County community revitalization effort, the Glenmontage Commercial Development Project involves the property acquisition of an existing improved commercial property and new construction of a 30,000 square foot two-story office building. The site will include new parking of approximately 240 parking spots, associated landscaping, and underground stormwater retainage. The existing and new buildings will house many tenants.
- Lackawanna College Center for Technology Innovation, Scranton – $2,000,000 – The project will feature remediation, construction, and renovation to transform the 891 Providence Road property into the Lackawanna College Center for Technology Innovation (LCCTI). The project includes abatement and remediation of environmental conditions and construction (interior and exterior demolition, construction, and renovations) to restore the property for educational and commercial use.
- Abington Redevelopment, Clarks Summit – $3,000,000 – The project aims to repurpose existing real estate for medical and neighborhood commercial venues. It will also expand small business enterprise and small business employment growth with the construction of approximately 35,000 additional square feet of usable commercial space.
- Larch Street Redevelopment, Scranton – $1,000,000 – The Larch Street Redevelopment Project will redevelop the 1.4-acre Larch Street property, construct two new stair towers, and install a new elevator, to provide 10,000 SF of clinical and office space, and 21,000 SF of space to be used for their pre-Kindergarten/daycare program. The project site will be regraded to develop approximately 80 new parking spaces.
- Fellowship House, Scranton – $1,000,000 – The project seeks to establish a transitional living facility in Lackawanna County for individuals who have already successfully completed a course of in-patient drug/alcohol treatment and medically supervised detoxification. The project involves the purchase of an improved parcel of land and various renovations to the building on site and its grounds. Building renovations are expected to convert the existing facility into a 25-bed facility consisting of single/double/triple bedrooms, associated bathrooms, a full-service kitchen, a recreational room, and meeting rooms. Additional improvements include updates to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
- Fidelity Bank Headquarters, Scranton – $2,000,000 – This project will renovate a nationally recognized, historic commercial building and repurpose it as the bank’s new headquarters. The project will also renovate a vintage building located in Dunmore, updating the vintage location to showcase the bank’s growing digital capabilities.
The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) is a Commonwealth grant program for the acquisition and construction of economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. Administered by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget, RACP grants focus on projects that have a wide regional impact and generate substantial increases of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.
The full statewide list of projects and awards can be found at: Office of the Budget.