Three Lackawanna County colleges have seen the light and will remove disgraced former Sen. Robert J. Mellow’s name from buildings that carry it.
Will other, similarly afflicted locations follow suit?
Lackawanna College announced the move first, with Marywood University (motto: “Lead on”) and Keystone College following suit within a few hours. There was little fanfare, in keeping with an action designed to eliminate what is now an exceedingly awkward tribute.
Such moves point to the folly of naming something for a person who’s in elected office — even for a non-politician, who’s still alive. You never know what might happen, what might surface. Look at Joe Paterno, for years a saint, now widely thought to have enabled a serial child molester.
In Mellow’s case, the long-time senator who also served as Senate Democratic leader pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He admitted using taxpayer-paid Senate staffers for political campaign work, and filing a fraudulent tax return underreporting the profit he made when he sold a building that had housed his Senate district office. This year, while sitting in a federal prison in South Carolina, Mellow was charged with corrupt organizations, bribery, bid-rigging, conspiracy and other offenses related to the state Turnpike Commission.
Elected officials rely heavily on donations to get re-elected. The question of an unseemly quid pro quo is ever-present.
By no means must institutions and communities stop naming buildings or public places in honor of distinguished, worthy individuals.
But let them stick to well-vetted, outstanding teachers, scientists and war heroes.
The Pocono Record