Connect with us

Exclusive

League of Women Voters suppress millennial vote by refusing to live stream political debate

Adobe Stock

Published

on

The League of Women Voters of Lackawanna County refuse to live stream a political debate on Wednesday (October 25) between the mayoral candidates in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Better than the Weekend was granted access to stream the debate on Facebook Live before having that right revoked 24 hours later in a seemingly useless dictatorial move that has candidates and voters speaking out.

As the editor of a news organization headquartered in Scranton, I’ve noticed a void in political coverage that captures the attention of millennials in regards to the future of their city. In an effort to fill that void and encourage young people to get involved in their local government, I planned to stream the debate live on our site’s Facebook page. Since 61 percent of Better than the Weekend’s readers are between the ages of 18 to 34, I hoped the live stream could stimulate the deficient voter turnout. Only 20 percent of registered voters in Scranton voted for a mayoral candidate in the primary election last May. That’s 11 percent lower than the average turnout throughout Lackawanna County.

Millennials need to be spoken to on their level. We’re a generation that is connected, engaged and fueled by strong convictions. We respect ourselves. We accept people who are different than us. We fight for what we believe in. We love our freedom.

Adobe Stock

Still, we’re often left out of the conversation. Based on the actions by the League of Women Voters, it’s seemingly deliberate.

The LWV’s rationale for invalidating our already agreed upon coverage was attributed to an exclusive agreement with a public access television station called ECTV, which is only available to Comcast users. Thirty percent of millennials don’t even have cable . Having an exclusive media contract with a public access station that basically nobody has ever heard of makes the event less accessible. Even though the LWV says they post the debate in its entirety on YouTube at a later date, many millennials don’t even know the debate is happening. The 2013 mayoral debate only has 360 views on YouTube.

Instead, the LWV is choosing to cut a bulk of Scranton voters out of the conversation by not capitalizing on all of the social media platforms available. An August 2017 Pew Research Center study found two-thirds of U.S. adults get news from social media. (No such study was available for public access television.) Overall, Facebook fiercely leads the pack, outstripping all of the other social media outlets when it comes to where people get their news. Having the mayoral debate only stream on YouTube at a later date is very restrictive, considering only 18 percent of all American get their news from YouTube compared to 48 percent of Americans who stay informed on Facebook.

Adobe Stock

If the LWV is honestly committed to educating and engaging voters, as claimed on their website, they would gladly open this debate to any media outlet wishing to stream it live on Facebook. There’s an enthusiastic gap in voter turnout and I want to bridge that gap. If millennials aren’t being reached through outlets the LWV has already been broadcasting the mayoral debate, then they need to reach them on a platform they have more access to and not hold this public debate hostage. If they’re so out of touch, they should change their name to the League of Nana Voters, grab some yarn, move to Daytona, and just retire and make blankets for their grandchildren.

Adobe Stock

I’m not the only one confused by the act of voter suppression.

Roy Thomas, a disabled veteran who served in the Navy, is a Scranton voter who is rightfully pissed.

“It’s a huge slap in the face to people who fought for every American to have rights, especially people who are disabled from fighting for those rights, to see people like the League of Women Voters block these rights,” he said.

Thomas, who is unable to attend the taping due to being disabled, also said: “If other people can go see it live, and someone is willing to live stream it so someone who is disabled like me can see it, then why would you stop that from happening? I don’t care if it’s being posted at a later date. I want to see it live. I saw so many clips of Trump saying ridiculous things, but when I saw it unedited, it wasn’t the same. How do I know they won’t edit anything when they have the opportunity to have it streamed live?”

A spokesperson from Mayor Bill Courtright’s reelection campaign said the mayor is “absolutely in favor” of making the debates as accessible as possible and has no objection to Better than the Weekend, or anyone else, live streaming the debate.

Jim Mulligan, the Republican nominee for mayor, called the LWV’s decision to restrict live streaming on Facebook “ridiculous” and “inappropriate” over a phone call Sunday afternoon.

“Aren’t we supposed to be an open and honest democracy?” Mulligan said. “Millennials are part of this city, too. We need to do everything we can do that can get them involved and inspired to take action in the city.”

Gary St. Fluer, a write-in candidate, is furious.

“Why would the footage be uploaded at a later time when it can easily be streamed live? It seems like [the League of Women Voters] are part of a world that doesn’t represent the world we live in and where we’re going.”

Scranton voter Rebecca Hoover agrees that the LWV’s decision proves they’re out of touch.

“The League of Women Voters is obviously a group of old ladies who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing,” Hoover said. “Why are they fighting so hard to not have this event live on Facebook? It just doesn’t make sense. They’re not being transparent. They should lose their charter. They already lost my trust.”

The local and national LWV did not respond to emails or voicemails asking how the decision is in best interest for the voters.

News of the decision has lead to the LWV Facebook page rating to drop from 5 stars to a 1.7 rating. The decision also ignited an outpour of messages expressing disagreement with the League of Nana Voters.

The League of Nana Voters is standing strong with their decision to limit access and not reach as many voters as possible — even though all candidates have reached out directly to them to express they have no issue with live streaming by any reporting group. Following backlash, they appear to be grasping at straws and searching for ways to justify their actions. In a Facebook post, the LWV told St. Fleur that they do not allow live streaming due to possible Wi-Fi outages.

Courtesy Gary St. Fleur

If this was the issue with live streaming, why did the League of Nana Voters not tell me this to begin with, and then offer me the chance to film it. Come to think of it, there’s a possibility of a technical difficulty with the one camera they have there, which could benefit one candidate over the other. Right? This is what grandma’s grasping at straws looks like, boys and girls.

Better than the Weekend has decided to host its own town hall debate on Wednesday, Nov. 1. where millennials get to ask the questions and anyone can pull out their phone and live stream it. More information will be revealed soon on Facebook. If you’d like to participate, please email you name, cell phone number, and question for the candidates to justin@betterthantheweekend.com.

I want to be clear that this is not the type of story I was hoping to run about the debates in Scranton. I wasn’t looking for special attention. Let’s be honest. I didn’t choose to cover a local mayoral debate because I thought it would get me 10,000 new followers or make me the next Van Jones. I did this for the voters. All around the world, people look to America and are inspired by our ambition for freedom of speech and all of the liberties we stand for. Don’t let someone take away your right to know what’s going on in government. Speak up.

In the words of Woodrow Wilson: “Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”

Be heard by participating in our town hall and by calling the League of Women Voters National Headquarters at 202.429.1965 to request a suspension of their title and public apology to voters.

Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gregory

    October 24, 2017 at 5:38 am

    The LWV has been the ONLY source of open debate for decades. For that, it deserves much credit. It’s a small group of volunteers of which I am a member. I’m a 37 year old male. Local, mainstream news should be embarrassed at their lack of political coverage especially by not hosting debates or town halls.

    While I’m quick to defend the LWV for the great things it has done for democracy in Lackawanna County, I also would like to see the debates live streamed. City Council is responsible for legislation, so I would suggest addressing them at their next meeting to get to the bottom of the exclusivity agreement.

    The exclusivity agreement with Comcast is likely rooted in the funding of ECTV. I don’t know all the details, but I also disagree with the city’s monopolistic contract with Comcast.

    I look forward to your town hall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exclusive

How Scranton Artists Party: A First Friday Aftermovie

Published

on

Art isn’t dead in Scranton, PA. (Sorry, Commissioner Laureen Cummings.)

On the first Friday night of every month, small businesses in the Electric City exhibit art from creators throughout the area. For a decade now, the community has been coming together during this cultural event with appropriate fun for all ages — including families with small children and college students and young professionals. There’s usually complimentary drinks and snacks at each business and often live music throughout downtown.

For anybody who says there’s nothing to do in Scranton, just simmer down now. A recent study found 11 percent of Americans have never traveled outside the state they were born in, and 76 percent lack the finances to travel more. So, it’s not likely that you’re going anywhere anytime soon. While you’re here, come experience First Friday Scranton.

Better than the Weekend, headquartered in Bogart Court, along with The Velvet Elvis, Trinity Studio & Gallery and AOS Metals, had a blast at September’s First Friday Scranton event. Jeff D’Angelo’s Design Group and the gang from The Eclectic City Studio were featured. Fun was had. Just watch this video recap:

Had a blast at the HQ at Bogart Court during September’s First Friday Scranton with featured artists Jeff D'Angelo's Design Group and Eclectic City Studio. Check out the recap aftermovie!

Posted by Better than the Weekend on Monday, September 24, 2018

 

Continue Reading

Exclusive

How to Succeed in Business (Without Leaving Scranton)

Published

on

Alex Molfetas had roughly 20 bucks to his name in July 2012 when he opened the doors to Center City Print in downtown Scranton, PA. Alongside his business partner, Kurt Effertz, the then 20-something lit a cigarette, sat back, and realized he had no idea what the hell was going to happen. It was like a scene from Mad Men in the beginning, he describes of their first day in business. Smoke filled the office and sterling men in advertising, so to speak, were vigorously at work. Six years later, the start-up printing company, now evolved to aid clients with website design and digital marketing at two locations, is among Scranton’s strongest small businesses.

Center City Print co-founder Alex Molfetas, right, with business partner Kurt Effertz, left.

Even with the success of Center City Print, Scranton isn’t likely to appear on Forbes list of top places to start a new business in the U.S. However, with the city’s unemployment rate (5.0%) exceeding the national average (3.9%), the Electric City may soon find itself on a list of cities in need for new business development. Scranton doesn’t have a particularly business-friendly climate, either. Disproportionate taxes hinders business growth and almost gifts neighboring towns with new livelihood. Carefully curated praise for new small businesses from city officials may paint a picture of an economy on the rise, but that’s not exactly the case. While ma and pa shops are vital for a community’s culture, they can’t employ many people. There’s not enough focus from the city’s government on balancing small business development with fostering creation of new tech-savvy start-ups or enterprises that recruit educated people who can breathe new life into Scranton and employ a large staff. That kind of conversation ruffles too many feathers and preserves sluggish progression. The University of Scranton may round up students from outside the 570, but the only marks many of them leave on the city are skid marks between the potholes on Mulberry Street as they race toward opportunity in larger economically-thriving cities.

Still, not everyone wants to leave Scranton. For many, the place known world-wide thanks to The Office is home to childhood memories and family and friends and favorite foods not easy to leave behind. Some want to be part of the pack who revive the city. How can dreamers make room for the architecture of their entrepreneurial imagination without disconnecting from Scranton?

Alex Mofetas has a few ideas.

Frankly, if anyone knows how to succeed in business, it’s him. His roots aren’t in Scranton. He grew up in Brooklyn. His business partner is from New Jersey. Molfetas doesn’t have a Harvard MBA. He has no educational advantage at all. He dropped out of high school, later getting his GED. Molfetas is the essence of self-made in Scranton. Better than the Weekend sat down with the entrepreneur at his flagship store to get a list of ways to succeed in business without leaving Scranton, which happen to echo some of the best advice from business experts.

‘Make sure there’s a need for what you’re doing.’

Molfetas insists the first step in starting a business is doing your homework. “You’re not going to open a Beanie Baby store and expect to make money, because nobody is buying them today. Make sure your service is also a solution to a problem that you can fix,” he says.

Forbes suggests finding a balance between solving a real problem and giving customers the fortitude to take a leap forward toward a new concept. Starting a business is a giant leap. It only makes sense to trust your customers are capable of giving something new a try. It’s hard to make an impact by playing it safe.

‘Make sure you can do better than your competition.’

“There were other print shops when we opened,” Molfetas says. “We just thought we could do it better. Make sure you can do better than your competition if you want people to come to you.”

SUCCESS magazine notes a key way to outperform your competition in business is not to follow the leader, but to become the leader. Figure out new ways to do things that will set your business apart.

‘Be prepared to commit.’

If you want great results, Molfetas says you have to prepare to commit a lot of time. Each day requires focus on mastering skills and furthering goals.

Sure, it sounds cliche to say long hours come with starting a business. Molfetas suggests communicating with the people in your life that you won’t have as much free time and to make sure you’re okay with that.

‘Give yourself time.’

In the culture of viral videos blowing up the internet overnight, and new social media influencers finding fame without seemingly paying their dues, it’s easy for someone to want to give up if they aren’t seeing big results fast.

“Three months. Six months. That’s not enough time to work on a business and be successful,” Molfetas says. “It takes at least two to three years to find out if your business will succeed, sometimes up to five years to really make profit. Give yourself time to learn and grow and succeed.”

That being said, Molfetas urges people to enter a business strategy with a solid exit plan.

“I worked in retail banking. I worked in international finance. I worked construction. I know I have a couple different things I could do if this business ever tanked. I suggest having a backup plan,” Molfetas says.

‘Take advantage of available resources.’

Molfetas suggests reaching out to The University of Scranton’s Small Business Development Center, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and the Scranton Enterprise Center as ways and means to getting your business started in the Electric City.

The Small Business Development Center provides consulting and training programs at no cost. They can be contacted via email at sbdc@scranton.edu and directly at 570.941.7588.

The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce opens the door to networking opportunities for your new business. For more information on membership services, call 570.342.7711.

The Scranton Enterprise Center houses a business incubator program to help businesses grow during the start-up period. Aside from just being a location to get your business on the ground, intensive mentoring programs provide hands-on assistance. Contact Aaron Whitney for more information through email at awhitney@scrantonchamber.com.

There’s likely many people outside the business community who are unaware of Scranton’s business-friendly resources. Now you know. 

‘If you fail, at least you tried.’

Molfetas acknowledges there was a chance his business could have failed. Instead of concentrating on the idea of failing, he just went for it. “You have to take that risk and go for it,” he says.

You might fail. But you just might be sitting at your business six years later, taking in a fulfilling glimpse of your hard work as you look at around the room.

A quote from Don Draper, in vinyl decal on the wall, illustrates just how far Center City Print has come, with a subtle reminder of where it all began — and it just might be the best advice on how to succeed in business without leaving Scranton. “Make it simple. But significant,” it says.

Continue Reading

Exclusive

Scranton Women in Power

Published

on

Photographed by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018 | Styled by Elegant Bridal & Boutique

Bow down, gentlemen. Women on top in the Electric City are being seen and heard without asking permission to make their mark. And It’s about damn time.

GIPHY

You’d have to be trapped in a cave with a soccer team in Thailand to not notice the new wave of feminism surging across the country. Female empowerment isn’t only the object of cultural discourse these days, but overdue action. Women are now believed when they speak up against sexual misconduct in the workplace. Between Congressional and state-level races, more than 2,000 women are running for office right now. They’re single mothers, veterans, athletes, refugees, Democrats, and Republicans.

Still, you could be living on the streets of Lackawanna Ave. eavesdropping every conversation and likely overhear more comments about peeing in a cup by court order than praise for the influence of women breaking barriers for future generations — which makes me wonder: Why the hell isn’t anyone talking about the city’s strong women?

We know about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman elected to Congress last June. But what about Jessica Eskra, the youngest female city solicitor of Scranton? She’s blazing the trail for local millennials to be in positions of power.

Maggie Timoney made news when becoming the first female CEO of a major American beer company this summer (Heineken USA). But where was the regional attention when Jennifer Warnetsky became the general manager of the Marketplace at Steamtown and Scranton Public Market? It’s probably only one of the biggest business developments in the city.

Tech firms such as Facebook captured headlines for offering benefits to pay for women to freeze their eggs for inspiration to focus on their careers, but where was the pat on the back for Jessica Kalinoski, Director of Operations at Admiral Management Group, who manages such properties as the Connell Building, The Leonard and Montage Mountain Ski Resort and Water Park? Kalinoski’s efforts to accommodate working mothers who don’t delay starting a family should be revered. A mother of four, Kalinsoki let’s her employees bring their kids to work if needed. “I hired a woman who was 7 months pregnant,” Kalinoski told Better than the Weekend. “She was worried she wasn’t going to be able to find a job. But I hired her. I felt she was the best person for the job. I told her we’d figure it out. She ended up having the baby 11 days later. She came to work when she could.”

Since nobody seems to be having the conversation loudly enough, Better than the Weekend decided to spend an afternoon with some of the city’s women in power — in areas such as education, philanthropy, business and entrepreneurship — at the historic Scranton Cultural Center to find out where they feel Scranton stands in this cultural movement. Oh, and to recognize their groundbreaking leadership.

Dr. Alexis Kirijan

(First Female) Superintendent of Schools in Scranton

Photography by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Have you ever felt you had to work harder because you’re a woman? I grew up in this area. I grew up in this school district. I graduated high school in 1966. You have to start thinking about what the world was like in 1966. That was the time when women were really trying to fight for their rights. There were movements with women like Gloria Steinem. Women were looking to be equal to men in the workplace and in general in society. For me, to get in the position I am in now, I’ve had to work very hard and get as much education as possible to reach this pinnacle. I am the first woman superintendent in this school district and this school district has been around a long time. The concept was always that a superintendent role was a place for a man and women would serve in other roles that served the superintendent. There were many times when I was more qualified than a man who got a promotion. It made me realize I had to work harder. I had to be more educated. I had to be willing to accept less in the workplace to get where I finally wanted to be.

Is there a message you want students in your district to understand about the power of women? In the past, science, technology, engineering and math seemed to be something males were better in and women or girls were not involved in as much. What we’re doing in our district, is we’re getting girls involved in STEM education. For our 7th grade students, we have what we call the Salvadori STEM program and it’s funded by the Scranton Area Community Foundation. But a piece we’ve added to that through the Women in Philanthropy in this area is a STEM education club for girls in our schools. We have women who are involved in science, technology, engineering and math professions come talk to the students. It’s a way for girls to have other women to look up to and know there are other possibilities for them as they’re growing up and deciding what they want to do. It’s a way for our students, girls and boys, to see women can grow up to do anything.

Did you ever think you’d be superintendent? This goal was 50 years in the making. When I was in high school, my goal one day was to be the superintendent of a high school. I was strongly influenced by the male principal and assistant principal in my high school, Scranton High School. I wanted to understand how this machine was running. I did an internship in the principals office when I was in high school. That really kicked me off in education. I always had the goal of being a superintendent. You can imagine the joy I had when Judge Munley had me raise my right hand and take the oath of superintendent — and while I was next to my husband, who I met when I was 18 years old, who had supported me all of my career. It was such a feeling of accomplishment. I feel like I’m doing my life’s work here. I never gave up. I think the secret to perseverance is finding something you can see in your future that is meaningful to you.

How do you define a powerful woman? Smart. Educated. There’s a difference between being smart and educated. I think you need both.

Charlene DellaValle

General Manager of Crunch

Photography by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018 | Styled by Elegant Bridal & Boutique

Have you ever felt you had to work harder because you’re a woman? I struggle to be taken seriously every single day. I’ll explain a policy to someone and they’ll think I’m being rude. My husband also works with me. Sometimes I’ll have to grab him to explain something. When he’ll explain the same policy in the same tone, people will respect it. It’s ridiculous. As a woman, I’ve found I have to work harder on my delivery to come across softer because as a female I can be mistaken as being a bitch instead of just being serious. When a guy has a serious tone, it’s expected and accepted.

Do you think Scranton is above the curve or behind the times when it comes to gender equality? When I first got to Scranton, I had trouble with people taking me seriously in the community as a woman. But then I met people like John Basalyga, who owns the Marketplace, who believes in people for their work ethic whether they’re male or female. I’ve watched John deal with a lot of women in his group. It seems like I’m seeing a lot of women in management in these stores here at the Marketplace. The general manager of the Marketplace is a woman. When I go to events with the Chamber of Commerce, there’s a lot of women there. I think things are moving in the right direction.

Who’s a powerful woman you look up to? Someone I look up to right now is Mari Potis with the Scranton Chamber of Commerce. I’m not originally from this community. She has guided me through the hardships I have come across being new to the community. She has given me great advice. I really look up to her and what she’s doing for the community.

How do you define a powerful woman? Strong. A powerful woman can look someone in the eyes and admit when they’re wrong, but also feel confident to say, ‘Hey, I’m right, and you need to accept it.’

Nicole Morristell

Director of Leadership Lackawanna

Photography by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018 | Styled by Elegant Bridal & Boutique

Have you ever felt you had to work harder because you’re a woman? In general, young females have to work very hard. We have to prove ourselves more than men. I don’t think men have as hard of a time proving themselves in our community. Men in our community will take other men under their wing and parade them around. We don’t see powerful women with an entourage of young females being paraded around like you do with the men in our community. The opportunity isn’t right for women to do it, because they’re working so much harder to have to prove themselves.

Do you think Scranton is above the curve or behind the times when it comes to gender equality? The people that have roles of power in Scranton are from families or positions where they already had power, influence or recognition. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. If you’re not already known and established in Scranton, it takes you a long time to break into the community and establish yourself. Our strong traditions is why Scranton is behind the times in general, including gender equality. I absolutely love some of our traditions, so I feel torn saying this, but it’s holding Scranton back because it’s preventing new blood from coming in and contributing.

Strides have been made in the current women’s rights movement — but what still needs to be done? The Chamber of Commerce gives a Woman of Excellence award every year. We have a very hard time getting women to apply for that award because they don’t want to brag about themselves. It bothers me we have to convince women to apply for an award. There’s no shame in a woman admitting her own strengths and recognizing that they’re great at something. The more women that are in the public eye, the better it would be for all of the women in the community.

How do you define a powerful woman? A suit and shoulder pads.

Kristen Shemanski

Vice-Chair of Leadership Lackawanna

Photography by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018 | Styled by Elegant Bridal & Boutique

Have you ever felt you had to work harder because you’re a woman? I have to monitor my behavior more than men have to. If women are too soft, they’re a delicate flower. If we’re too stern, we’re a bitch and people won’t work with us. Women have to constantly think before they speak just because they’re a woman and their behavior will be judged more harshly than a man’s.

Is there a message you want young women to understand about the power of women? Women can do anything. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I have absolutely no desire to ever have children. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Looking back at my parents’ generation, my mom was married at like 18 or 19.

Strides have been made in the current women’s rights movement — but what still needs to be done? We need to take our beliefs off social media. We can say we want gender equality and more women in office, but nobody around here is acting on those beliefs.

How do you define a powerful woman? A powerful woman is a woman who isn’t afraid to pat themselves on the back and give themselves the credit they deserve, whether they’re a stay-at-home mom or a businesswoman.

Kari Johnson

Owner of AOS Metals

Photography by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018 | Styled by Elegant Bridal & Boutique

Do you think Scranton is above the curve or behind the times when it comes to gender equality? Scranton is making huge strides in the improvement for success of women in business. I’m a prime example. I took all the free classes and went to all the meetings the Women’s Entrepreneurship Center had to offer. I was a successful graduate of their 6 week startup program and they stayed with me every step of the way and were there to help me celebrate when I opened the doors to my store.

Who’s a powerful woman you look up to? Meegan Possemato. She’s the co-owner of ON & ON. I know I never would have been able to start my own business in a downtown storefront without her. Meegan is an inspiration to be around and has helped me make important business decisions. I see her do the same for many people that come across her path. I admire women who uplift and support each other. I’ve seen it firsthand in Scranton at the Entrepreneurship Center and Women in Philanthropy. The best way to success is having a great support system that’ll help you stay sane in the face of doubt.

Have you ever felt you had to work harder because you’re a woman? I have been blessed that I never felt being a female held me back from anything. When people find out I’m a metalsmith, most people think it’s badass. But recently, I was disappointed when I saw the local news station show a segment talking about a high school football dinner where I basically learned who works out with who. Meanwhile, the Tunkannock Softball Team was one game away from a regional title that would send them to the Little League World Series and there was no coverage at all. Now they’re finally getting the coverage from the news, but it took an army of people to stand up and say something. It’s heartbreaking to see girls have to fight harder to be recognized. It’s heartbreaking to see anyone have to fighter harder to feel equal.

 

Gowns for Charlene DellaValle, Nicole Morristell, Kristen Shemanski and Kari Johnson were provided by Elegant Bridal & Boutique

Photography by Lisa Petz, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

 

Continue Reading

Most Popular