It's not his Money!!!
By Betty Roccograndi
Feb. 18 , 2010
“We didn’t feel there was any need to look at other possible developers.”
So on that note, Wilkes-Barre City Mayor Tom Leighton, acting as though he owns the place, simply hand-picked two non-profit organizations for a $2.4-million city development project.
Let’s hope the feds will keep close tabs on this no-bid deal that, according to Leighton, apparently only the Housing Development Corp. of NEPA and GRIT, Inc. possessed the expertise necessary to develop the dilapidated former Murray building off Courtright Street.
We’ll just have to take the mayor’s word for it that there were no other companies out there with even more expertise, who may have done the job at a lesser cost. But without bids, we’ll never know. And, besides, it’s only public money that’s being spent. If it were Leighton’s, he’d probably want to shop around for the best deal.
Gotta get it done, Leighton told The Times Leader in an eye-opening front-page story on Feb.7
The mayor is running for state senator.
The two non-profits, praised by Leighton, are anything but to the man who runs them, Eugene Brady, who takes home a handsome package of pay and benefits. In addition to the two non-profits which landed – were handed – the city contract, Brady also manages two other related public entities. My, where does he find the time?
Well, he only works six hours a week at one of them, Northeastern Resources Development Corp., where he receives a salary of $40,994 and a benefits package worth $22,896, the TL reported. Nice work if you can get it.
For his 15-hour work week at the Housing Development Corporation of NEPA, Brady receives $68,516 in pay and $48,200 in benefits. Then there’s his long work week job, 40 hours, at the Commission on Economic Opportunity, where he is paid $58,331 and $44,421 in benefits.
There is surely no shortage of economic opportunities for Mr. Brady at these non-profits.
The fourth one is GRIT, Inc., the uniquely qualified firm which landed part of the $2.4-million city project.
Brady said he draws no salary from GRIT. The Times Leader learned, though, that an IRS filing indicated that a $131,372 payment was made to Brady and the Commission on Economic Opportunity for managment services, but Brady said he received none of it. Hmmmm. That begs the question: Where, then, and to whom did that tidy sum go?
The $2.4-million Murray project, by the way, is located in a KOZ zone. So no taxes will be levied for about a decade.
Are you getting mad yet that your Luzerne County taxes just increased by 15-percent?
Calling the state Attorney General’s Office: Add this contract and these non-profit agencies to your list of investigations. There are a lot of questions which need to be asked.
Here’s one: Were there any finder’s fees or commissions paid to anyone? After all, mega-developer Robert Mericle allegedly paid millions of dollars in “finder’s fees” to disgraced former judges Mark Ciavarella and Mike Conahan for their help in his getting contracts to build two juvenile detention centers.
And unlike the judges, Wilkes-Barre’s mayor owns a real estate business. And speaking of real estate transactions, a client of Mayor Leighton’s recently snapped up the site of the Old River Road Bakery for $38,000.
The property was not only assessed at $478,300, but also $42,344 in back taxes were forgiven because the county commissioners understood that townhouses would be built on the site.
Maybe, the commissioners should have gotten that in writing because the city of Wilkes-Barre pulled a real fast one.