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Scranton’s mayor drops out of debate, dismisses millennial population

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Scranton’s mayor, Bill Courtright, dropped out of a debate with candidates Jim Mulligan and Gary St. Fleur at the eleventh hour. A campaign spokesperson cited “scheduling conflicts” Tuesday in an email, despite committing 8 days earlier.

The debate is the first opportunity for the candidates to take questions together directly from the voters. It is also the first-ever time Scranton’s candidates for mayor will unite to address concerns made by the youngest voters — millennials. The League of Women Voters of Lackawanna County hosted a debate last week, but refused to allow live-streaming, making the debate less accessible to young people.

Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor with 30 years of experience as a political media consultant, says it’s not uncommon for an incumbent mayor to avoid a debate.

“There’s really two reasons a candidate would not want to appear,” said Berkovitz in a phone call to Better than the Weekend. “One. He or she knows they are way ahead. They’re most likely to win the election, so they don’t have a lot to gain and they have a lot to lose. Why give a platform to your opponents and allow them a chance to score some points? Number two. There’s some kind of scandal or problem that he or she doesn’t want to bring to the forefront.”

Both are possible reasons Courtright dropped out of the upcoming debate. In 2013, Courtright, a Democrat, defeated Jim Mulligan, the same Republican nominee he’s running against this time around. He’s likely confident his supporters will turn out to hand him another victory. In terms of a scandal, a Lackawanna County judge recently ruled Scranton overtaxed residents and is in violation of state law. Jesse Chobey, a millennial Scranton voter, is convinced Courtright doesn’t want to put himself in another position to answer to a crime crippling his constituents.

“Courtight’s whole term as mayor of Scranton was spent stealing money off the tax payers and now he’s a coward and can’t face up to what he did. Bottom line,” said Chobey.

Dropping out “is not good democracy, but it’s good political strategy,” said Berkovitz.

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Mike Milani feels Courtright’s sudden scheduling conflict is irresponsible and sends a message affirming millennials have no future in Scranton.

“Let’s just give the guy the benefit of the doubt and say there is a scheduling conflict,” said Milani. “You mean to tell me it took days for his campaign to realize he can’t attend? That just shows how sloppy local government is under his scrambled leadership.”

After moving to Scranton from Baltimore, Maryland to attend Lackawanna College in 2011, Milani said he struggled for six years to succeed in the area before making the decision to move to Dallas, Texas this year.

“There was no opportunity for me unless I married into one of the monarch families of NEPA,” said Milani. “There’s too much nepotism for outsiders to come here and succeed. I knew someone who got arrested by a cop, was legally represented by his brother, and the judge was the father. That’s seriously fucked up and sounds like something that would happen in a farm town in Kentucky, not a city with more than 70,000 people living there. The only good jobs are local government jobs. Small businesses can’t thrive in the area. Money isn’t spent on attracting educated entrepreneurs. People should look at the budget. Too much money is spent on a failing criminal system with a recidivism rate through the roof. It’s crazy.” While Pennsylvania recidivism rates are dropping to a historic low, Lackawanna County is jailing people at twice the national average.

Milani said he’s not surprised the mayor dropped out of a debate targeting millennial issues because he doesn’t believe Courtright would know what to say to young people calling out the city’s lack of opportunity.

“The young people in Scranton should pack their bags and run now if they want a chance at any kind of future,” he said.

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Republican candidate Jim Mulligan and Gary St. Fleur, running on a write-in campaign, feel differently about the fate of the Electric City. They see the potential in Scranton with new leadership and will be addressing concerns when millennials take charge at Thursday’s town hall.

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Any millennial voter (born in or after 1981) in Scranton can attend the debate by sending an RSVP to justin@betterthantheweekend.com with their name, contact information and question to the candidates. For those who can’t attend, questions can still be submitted by email and on Facebook.com/betterthantheweekend by commenting on the post announcing the event.

The debate will be hosted by Better than the Weekend at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center and will be live-streamed at 7:30 p.m. on Facebook.com/betterthantheweekend.

Better than the Weekend hopes Courtright will once again change his mind and prove he is willing to prioritize concerns of millennials by participating in the debate but is still looking forward to hearing from anyone running for mayor willing to talk about the future of the city with the future of the city.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Paul

    November 1, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Courtright is up over 10 points right now, so he does not have to debate. To the rest of the article with people complaining about the government here, its the typical millennial “poor me” attitude. The problem with millennials, and I say this even though I am a millennial, is that they feel the government should help them pay for education, find employment, help them start a business etc. That is not the job of government, their job is to provide basic services that the people cannot provide themselves. This area is thriving with small businesses, if one fails it is not the governments fault, it was probably a bad idea.

    • Michael Milani

      November 4, 2017 at 3:26 am

      Where in that debate did he ever mention wanting free college or for the government to pay more for us “poor me” millennials. His whole platform he was adamant about in this debate was slashing irresponsible spending, cutting taxes, and encouraging growth in the private sector. Why don’t you actually watch the entire debate before commenting you dumb ass. Scranton is detiorating and in serious debt because baby boomers like you in Lackawanna county are racist, under educated, and stuck in your ways. Are you happy with the local governments in NEPA? If you are you either are A- A fucking retard or B. A government employee draining are taxes with your ridiculously high pension or C- one of their relatives. Educate yo self fool
      Singed – An entitled millennial that doesn’t rely on the government, doesn’t ask for handouts, and just wants the corruption to stop. You’re part of the problem.

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These Brooklyn Roommates Started a Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan Museum in their Hallway

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Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

Bert and Ernie may appear to be the epitome of roommate goals, but their moment was outdone the day best friends Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen turned their apartment’s hallway into a museum tributing Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

Sorry, Bert. Sorry, Ernie.

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To this day, their has never been an incident like Tonya and Nancy’s in the history of sports. On January 6, 1994, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked with a baton to the knee — the day before a championship that would decide who qualified to move on to the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. It turned out the assaulter was hired by Jeff Gillooly, the ex-husband of her opponent, Tonya Harding.

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Though Tonya claims her innocence in the premeditation of the violent attack, the court of public opinion has been questioning her involvement for more than 20 years — solidifying the scandal’s impression on popular culture.

Matt and Viviana told Better than the Weekend the idea of curating a museum centered around Tonya and Nancy started as a joke.

“We had just watched a documentary called The Price of Gold,” Matt said.

“We both had a memory of what had happened, but both remember Nancy Kerrigan portrayed by the media as this ice princess and Tonya as this white trash,” Viviana added.

The documentary featured interviews with Tonya, portraying the skater as a sympathetic, working-class girl with an alcoholic mother, strong work ethic and record-breaking talent.

After watching the doc, their perspective of the incident changed and they were reminded Tonya and Nancy were fascinating aside from the scandal.

“We wanted to highlight them as strong female athletes, because when it comes down to it, that’s what they are,” Viviana said.

The project started with a Kickstarter asking for $75 to help them blow up pictures of the Olympians. But then people started reaching out with artifacts and fan art.

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

More than 20 artifacts were collected for the exhibit, including scoring sheets from the arena where Nancy was attacked, signed head shots of the skaters purchased on eBay and a TV Guide featuring an interview with Nancy that was signed by the interviewer. There’s even decoupaged Wheaties boxes with Tonya plastered on them, which were supposed to be sold but were never released due to the incident.

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

Matt and Viviana welcomed more than 1,000 spectators into their apartment between 2015 to 2017 to witness the unique exhibit before moving the project to a storefront deemed the THNK1994 Museum.

What started out as a joke evolved into a full-time career path of turning tabloid stories into works of art.

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

“We try to focus on exhibits that look at women who are really confident and torn down about that and celebrate them while also giving a platform to LGBT artists,” Viviana said.

The THNK1994 Museum has also featured exhibits on the Olsen twins hiding from the paparazzi, Nicole Richie’s 2007 Memorial Day BBQ, Kim Cattrall, and The Real Housewives pointing fingers. 

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

General admission to the Brooklyn museum is $6 per person, $3 for students. Year-long memberships start at only $30.

Matt says it’s necessary for the besties to show the world that just because something seems funny and absurd doesn’t mean it can’t be taken seriously.

Amen to that!

Courtesy THNK1994 Museum

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Why Camp No Counselors Founder Adam Tichauer Is the Godfather of Adulting

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PHOTO COURTESY CAMP NO COUNSELORS

Adam Tichauer is the dude who will make you want to adult today.

Adam Tichauer, founder of Camp No Counselors.

Remember that wholesome face in case you ever see him out in public. If you happen to, you need to buy him a drink and shake his hand. Here’s why. He’s the founder of Camp No Counselors, a sleep-away camp for grown-ups, which turned a nostalgic adolescent experience into perhaps the most genius startup operation of the decade. Just imagine a remote place in the mountains where sex, bottomless booze, sports, lip-sync battles and late-night partying is not only welcomed, it’s celebrated with a fucking high-five and chest bump. Sounds like heaven, right?

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In just three years, Camp No Counselors has seen breakneck success at such a remarkable rate that Adam boldly turned down an investment offer from Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank.” Almost 10,000 adults experienced Adam’s wonderland of epic fun at more than 40 camps across the USA and Canada — including Better than the Weekend’s staff — and business is only expanding. Camp No Counselors’s recently rang in 2018 with its first-ever New Year’s Eve warm-weather getaway camp in Malibu, complete with a wine-tasting safari ride, surf lessons, goat yoga, and a ton of liquor, duh!

Photo courtesy Camp No Counselors

Photo courtesy Camp No Counselors

Adam told Better than the Weekend his legendary creation happened by accident. It was 2013 and the then 30-year-old was running a music tech company in New York. When the grind consumed him to the point where he realized he hadn’t connected with some of his closest friends in months, he decided to do something gnarly about it.

“I found myself working on July 4th weekend. The Fourth of July is about getting out of the city and barbecuing and having some beers with your friends and just forgetting about work, but I was doing the exact opposite,” Adam said. “So, for the next long weekend, which was Labor Day weekend, I wanted to organize some kind of event where we would get out of the city and I would see my friends and we would barbecue and have some beers and forget about work.”

Adam figured out the perfect outlet to let off some steam — summer camp! Growing up, camp was the time of year he’d look forward to the most. So, he called around and found a camp only a few hours north of Manhattan that would allow him and his closest friends to stay and experience the same fun he had at camp as a kid, with a lot more freedom! The weekend was such a success, that his friends, and there friends, and there friends’ friends, had a winter camp at a ski lodge in Vermont.

“Some fairly influential people in the tech world were there and they asked, ‘Hey, this was the best weekend of our lives. Can you organize one of these in the summer for me and my friends?'” Adam said. “That’s when the lightbulb went off. If cutting-edge people want me to organize one of these for them and their influential friends, then maybe this is a service people really need and they would pay for and value.”

Photo courtesy Camp No Counselors

And people are valuing the lively separation from reality — but you’ll never know what they’re escaping. The only rule that stands strong is to not talk about what you do for a living. (So no need for a disguise.)

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“As a thirty-something, you meet someone at a bar and you say, ‘What do you do?’ And then you think, ‘Okay, I get you. I know who you are because of what you do’,” Adam noted. “I found when you remove your work identity, you are able to become whoever you want to become, and then you can make friends based on your interests like when you were a kid — not your preconceived notion of what an investment banker likes to do on his free time. As a kid, you didn’t do anything for a living, except have fun and make friends based on similar interests.”

I know, that quote has me thinking Adam Tichauer 2020, too.

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Disconnecting from who you are is perhaps more important now than ever.

“Back in the day, when you didn’t have the newspaper in front of you, you didn’t think about what was going on in the world. When you weren’t at work, you didn’t have to think about work,” Adam said. “Now, we’re getting constant real-time notifications of what’s going on in the world, or e-mails from your boss, even if it’s after work hours. There’s very few times you can shut that off and just have space and not have to worry about what real-time, negative notifications are coming through your phone next.”

Thank God, whoever he or she may be, for the godfather of adulting.

Registration for this year’s camps is now open. Just click right here and thank us later!

We’ll see you there! (We just won’t tell you what we do. Too many cups of beer to chug and flip!)

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Let’s help the Scranton PA Fire Dept. build state’s first fallen firefighter memorial

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While Americans are divided about whether or not the government should build a wall around the Mexican border, because, you know, “Americans are dreamers, too,” Scranton, Pennsylvania firefighters seem to have their priorities in check. The brave first responders of the Scranton Fire Department are working overtime to help construct the first-ever memorial in the state of Pennsylvania to honor the professional firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.

They recently stopped by Better than the Weekend HQ for a livestreamed interview to share how everyone can help their mission, proving instantly why they’re more than just people who fight fires. They’re also heroes.

Here’s the link (right here) to help out in any way you can. Now share this with everyone you know to help this project reach fruition.

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