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Tony George Becoming Phony George?
wbrail Politics
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Tony George is becoming "Phony George" right before everyone's eyes, or at least according to an assessment by the Times Leader, and, what's turning out to be a fairly critical population of people who, as best I can fathom from social media traffic, are associated with Frank Sorick supporters. Some of the critique seems valid - the disregard for city charter in hiring an out-of-towner and admitting that maybe there'd be some blow back from that but he'd "see what happens", being one. I mean, what is happening is pretty much what happened when he condemned Tom Leighton for disregarding operational charter in not disclosing unpaid bills at the turn of his office. People are crying foul.

But other things, like when he decided not to make regular appearances at the city council meetings or in making his choice for police chief - these were all his prerogative and, in my experience at least, he's doing everything any other mayor might do. He's building the office out in a way that is comfortable enough to execute his longer-range ambitions from, supposedly those things that really count and will actually make or break him.

Tony's flammability with respect to criticism surely has a lot to do with the toxic political environment of the city in general, but also because his campaign message explicitly asserted that he would be a grade above whatever the (equally baseless, mostly) criticisms underlying Tom Leighton were. He and his campaign built him up as better than a perceived corrupt Leighton administration and now he is perceptually obligated to live up to that inconvenient standard. For these reasons alone Tony should probably operate more by a "sniff test" methodology, at least at first, and it is odd that he does not appear savvy enough to get that.

He's also squared off against the important institutions his office oversees or at least must work with. In the past month, for instance, he has alluded that that his own existing base of police officers might be corrupt (when he defended his choice of police chief) to some degree, and that Leighton's crime data compilation or presentation were deliberately obfuscated. I would be inclined to think these sentiments, posed by an incoming mayor, would be reserved for fear of creating functionally destabilizing headlines, which oddly they did not, but for Tony and his supporters, this is all considered a valid world-view. And that's the real problem. Tony believes in the campaign messaging that inspired 7 percent of Wilkes-Barrians to cast a vote for him when they cared to cast a vote at all, which is that Wilkes-Barre is a horrible place.

Not that the opposition believed any different; it has always puzzled me why Frank Sorick ever ran for mayor when, after you consider the paralyzed state of operations wrought by airy charges of malfeasance one way or another, along with combative residents who intimidate city operations on a regular basis, government in Wilkes-Barre is every bit as limited in productivity as a republican might ever dream. Running for mayor to limit it still more seems like needless stress.

In fact, to me, it was not even clear up until the very frayed edges of the campaign that members of Tony's campaign and Frank's campaign weren't actually working together. Up until one lost the actual election anyone might have assumed so. My impressed alliance of them is the basis for what I've (and now overly used perhaps, sick of it yet?) dubbed the "Facebook/Disqus Party of Wilkes-Barre", since it is in those digital realms they tended to uniformly emote.

Tony's no phony. I genuinely believe he wants to slay the dragons he, at least, sees, and he wants his operating base - the people he works with and his daily operating agenda - to fit him snugly enough to do so. Whether or not those dragons actually exist or whether or not he has a right to be comfortable after admonishing Leighton so frequently, those are the real questions.


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Tony George Becoming Phony George?
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