Senator Marty Flynn Calls for Change Amid Scranton School District Bus Contract Mishandling

Senator Marty Flynn Calls for Change Amid Scranton School District Bus Contract Mishandling

Scranton, PA – April 8, 2022 – Senator Marty Flynn has released a statement regarding the Scranton School District’s bus contract bidding process:

“What should have been a simple and public bidding process turned into yet another insult to the Scranton taxpayers because of smoke-filled backroom dealing between Krise Transportation and Scranton School District’s Chief Recovery Officer, Solicitor, and School Board.

I am calling for the immediate resignation of Chief Recovery Officer Dr. Candis Finan and calling on the school board to reconsider their relationship with Solicitor John Audi. Their disregard for the taxpayers of Scranton is evidence that they do not have our best interests at heart. The bus contract bidding fiasco and the $1.8 million I helped procure for the pay roll conversion tax would have saved the taxpayers close to $3 million. It appears every time the Scranton School District puts Dr. Candis Finan and Solicitor John Audi in charge of making decisions on behalf of the students, parents, and faculty, the only people they look out for are themselves.

On December 20th, it became clear based on the court proceedings that Dr. Finan and Mr. Audi negotiated in private about the bus contract and showed total disregard for the bidding process. They instructed business manager Patrick Laffey and School Board President Tara Yanni to sign the school bus contract, knowing full well that the bidding process was faulty.

Moreover, why didn’t they stop the discussions between Krise and the administration once an objection was filed? Why couldn’t the district provide the court with the cost of the Krise contract? This is a complete dereliction of duty.

As a result of what at this point can only be explained by incompetence on the part of the Administration and the School Board, I am asking that they have the Pennsylvania Department of Education step in and oversee the bidding process.

This is just another example of a long pattern of bid rigging that appears to favor personal relationships. This pattern must come to an end. There is no shortage of intelligent, qualified, and decent people in Scranton; why is the district set on listening to the advice of a solicitor and chief recovery officer who have time and again mishandled their jobs and misled the public and the administration?

I’m demanding transparency as to what happened. All emails, text messages, and documents obtained through discovery during the litigation must be made public immediately, so that the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the public have a clear picture of what exactly happened behind the scenes of this failed attempt to rig a bus contract.”

Senator Marty Flynn Collecting Protective Equipment, Supplies for Ukraine

Senator Marty Flynn Collecting Protective Equipment, Supplies for Ukraine

Scranton, PA – March 30, 2022 – Senator Marty Flynn is coordinating with St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Catholic Church of Scranton to provide much-needed medical supplies and protective military equipment to the people of Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian people have shown incredible bravery in the face of Russia’s unprovoked, violent invasion,” Senator Flynn said. “We want the people of Ukraine to know we stand with them in solidarity. It has to be more than just words, though; we have to act, we have to really help.”

Senator Flynn’s office will be collected medical supplies – including bandages, gauze, first aid kids, and over-the-counter pain medication – to send to Ukrainian refugees. In addition, Senator Flynn’s office will also be accepting helmets, body armor, bulletproof vests, boots, and other protective gear to assist Ukrainian military, fire fighters, police officers, and aid workers.

“New, used, lightly used, expired – we’re accepting it. If it’s going to save someone’s life, we’re accepting it,” Senator Flynn said. “The Ukrainian people are in dire need of body armor of any kind. This is a situation where any amount of body armor could be the difference between life and death. These are the highest stakes imaginable, and we want to send as much aid as possible.” 

Father Myron Myronyuk, pastor of St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, 430 N. 7th Ave., Scranton, has been heavily involved in the efforts to send supplies to Ukraine, and is excited to be working with Senator Flynn towards such a personal cause. Father Myron, who has family in Ukraine, said he and members of his church have been working to get supplies to those who need them. Of the process, Father Myron said, “Every day, just collecting supplies, packing them, sending them. And praying.”

St. Vladimir’s will be working with Senator Flynn to get the supplies to Ukraine. “After learning of Father Myron’s work getting supplies to Ukraine and talking with him about the struggle Ukrainians are facing to protect themselves, I decided we had to something,” Senator Flynn said. “Every bit of aid helps, but I wanted to focus on sending protective equipment. I want to help keep the Ukrainian people safe. They’re fighting for their lives, and we’re in a position to make a potentially life-saving difference.”

Those looking to help can drop off donations at Senator Flynn’s offices in Scranton (409 N. Main Ave.), Eynon (307 Betty St.), or at Joyce Insurance in Pittston (409 N. Main St.). Donations are being accepted Monday-Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm.

Senator Flynn Supports Legislation to Reduce State Gas Tax by 33% through the End of 2022

Senator Flynn Supports Legislation to Reduce State Gas Tax by 33% through the End of 2022

Harrisburg, PA – March, 10, 2022 − Senator Marty Flynn is fighting to lower gas prices for Pennsylvanians by supporting the reduction of the state gas tax through the end of 2022. Senator Flynn realizes the financial strain the skyrocketing prices at the pump have had on Pennsylvanians who are already facing increased costs at the supermarket and for utilities due to supply chain issues brought upon by the pandemic and nationwide labor shortages. These factors, exacerbated by Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine, have led to historically high prices for gas. 

“Legislators from both sides of the aisle and from all levels of government need to work together and deliver for the people of Pennsylvania,” Senator Flynn said. “It’s all hands on deck. We need to get creative and find a solution to deal with this astronomical increase in gas prices.”

As the Democratic leader of the Senate Transportation Committee, Senator Marty Flynn is committed to negotiating with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and Governor Wolf to determine an appropriate policy to reduce prices at the pump while ensuring that the necessary revenue remains available to fund maintenance of roads, bridges, and crucial infrastructure projects.

“This will be my top priority right now,” Senator Flynn said. “Working class Pennsylvanians are hurting, and we have to act immediately to help the people we were elected to represent.”

Senator Marty Flynn’s Turnpike Reform Legislation Passes Senate Transportation Committee 

Senator Marty Flynn’s Turnpike Reform Legislation Passes Senate Transportation Committee 

HARRISBURG – February 7, 2022 – Today, the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee passed legislation introduced by Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) to update and improve the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s method of collecting and reporting on tolls.

The committee passed two bills, which will now make their way to the Senate floor. The first – Senate Bill 1051 – is part of Senator Flynn’s Turnpike Reform legislation package, and will require the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to submit an annual report to the General Assembly detailing the tolls that went collected and uncollected during the prior fiscal year. The Transportation Committee passed the bill unanimously.

“After the Transportation Committee met with members of the Turnpike Commission at a hearing in September to discuss the $104 million in uncollected tolls the prior year, I knew something had to be done,” Senator Flynn said. “We need to start holding the Turnpike Commission more accountable,” Senator Flynn said. “If they begin reporting to us instead of only reporting to themselves, maybe they’ll take the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue more seriously.”

“As an organization, we strive to be as transparent as possible, and in the nine years I have served as Turnpike CEO, we have benefitted from a close working relationship with the Pennsylvania legislature. So further strengthening this interface is a positive step,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “We thank Senator Flynn and his colleagues for allowing us the opportunity to review and comment on this legislation.”

The second piece of legislation – Senate Bill 1053 – will give Pennsylvanians the option to use alternative electronic payment options, including payment applications such as Venmo, PayPal, CashApp, and Zelle, to pay their tolls. Current payment methods — E-Z Pass and Toll By Plate billing — will remain available to those paying their tolls.

“This is a great step in the right direction, and absolutely a win for the taxpayers of our state. We need to start thinking about the ways people pay for things now, and will be paying for things in the future, and get with the times. That begins today.”

Senate Bills 1051 and 1053 will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Senator Marty Flynn Appointed Democratic Chair of PA Senate Transportation Committee

Senator Marty Flynn Appointed Democratic Chair of PA Senate Transportation Committee

Harrisburg, PA – January 19, 2022 – Yesterday, State Senator Marty Flynn was appointed as Democratic Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee.

“I look forward to working with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure Pennsylvania improves our many modes of transportation and the systems that make them run,” said Senator Marty Flynn. “Transportation infrastructure is the backbone of our cities and communities. I see how safe roads and bridges, fair tolls, and access to mass transit can support local economies. I’m committed to making sure Pennsylvanians have the best and most innovative options for transportation throughout the commonwealth.”

Recently, Senator Flynn addressed the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the nearly $104 million in tolls that were uncollected from June 2020 to May 2021. Senator Flynn called for three solutions to make sure all tolls get collected, including restoring some toll collectors at high volume exits. Most recently, in a separate piece of proposed legislation, Senator Flynn suggested directing the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to accept app payments such as Venmo and Cash App.

###

Senator Flynn and Representative Welby – Scranton Bus Contract Letter

Senator Flynn and Representative Welby – Scranton Bus Contract Letter

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.

 

Sincerely,

Senator Marty Flynn

Representative Thom Welby

 

CC:      Tara Yanni

            Ro Hume

            Danielle Chesek

            Sarah Cruz

            Catherine Fox

            Katie Gilmartin

            Ty Holmes

            Sean McAndrew

            John Audi

            Scranton Times-Tribune