Chris Kelly: A Big Story Getting Too Little Attention.

Chris Kelly had another opinion piece in today’s paper about the lack of coverage of the proposed Landfill Expansion. We thank him for bringing to light the fact that outside of the Scranton Times and Corbett’s WILK radio show, there has been very little coverage of the story.

Our fight and our focus is stopping the LANDFILL’s expansion. We will fight the zoning. We will voice our opposition to the DEP and fight the permit. We will continue to put pressure on elected officials. Please stand with us. Voice your opposition. Donate to our legal fund. And in the coming weeks, come out to our first organized FOL meeting. We must stand together if we have any chance of quashing this expansion.

Friends of Lackawanna continues to try to bring greater media attention to the egregious landfill expansion. Next week we should have some exciting news to share about an interview we had with a local affiliate of a national TV station.

Chris Kelly: A Big Story Getting Too Little Attention.

Speaking truth to Louis DeNaples’ power is a lonely proposition.

He owns Keystone Sanitary Landfill, Mount Airy Casino and damn near everything else he surveys. “Uncle Louie” has countless friends. They are outnumbered only by those who fear becoming his enemies. No one smothers criticism more effectively than Mr. DeNaples.

Ask Matt Birkbeck, an investigative journalist and author of “The Quiet Don: The Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Bufalino.” Matt was a reporter for The Morning Call of Allentown and has written several books. People claim to revere investigative journalists, but Matt found himself unwelcome here.

His book, based on years of dogged reporting and exhaustive research, was extremely popular in regional bookstores and libraries. “The Quiet Don” has been among the most popular in the Lackawanna County Library System since its release, which is likely why the library system booked Matt for its lecture series last summer.

It paid him $1,500 but canceled his appearance. The official explanation was fear that he wouldn’t draw a large crowd, but many — including Matt and me — believed the cancellation was due to pressure from Mr. DeNaples, whose business practices are scrutinized in the book.

Like Charles Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses,” Matt’s book contends that the late Mr. Bufalino, of Kingston, was one of the most powerful Mafia bosses in America and may have ordered the assassination of former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa.

The book also addresses the process by which Mr. DeNaples obtained a casino license.

Matt made other well-attended appearances. He drew a large audience at Marywood University, but not without incident.

“Someone called in a fire alarm to a room that did not exist,” Matt told me when I called him Monday. A planned appearance on WVIA-TV’s “State of Pennsylvania” was also canceled. The public television station called it a “budgetary decision.”

Matt has been very supportive of The Times-Tribune’s coverage of the proposed mammoth expansion at Keystone Sanitary Landfill and was surprised when I told him other media outlets have largely ignored the biggest environmental and economic story the region has generated since the Anthracite Age.

“Wow!” he said. “That’s outrageous.”

I thought so, too, and set out to find out why. Word on the street is that Mount Airy threatened to pull advertising from TV and radio stations that pursued the story. The word on the street is most often hooey, so I called the news directors of WNEP, WBRE and the general manager of WILK News Radio.

All vehemently denied any pressure to lay off the story.

Jim DePury, news director at WBRE, called the landfill expansion story “important.” He acknowledged that his station hasn’t spent much time or resources covering it, but, like WNEP News Director Carl Abraham, he pointed out that the local TV market spans 17 counties, which Mr. DePury called “the largest broadcast market east of the Mississippi.” TV stations must prioritize stories to attract viewers. Snowstorms, car crashes and house fires happen everywhere.

Fair enough, but no snowstorm, car crash or house fire unfolds over half a century, as Mount Trashmore would. There is no more important news story facing this region. It’s odd that it isn’t getting more attention from media outlets other than The Times-Tribune.

WILK GM Ryan Flynn pointed out that Matt Birkbeck was a guest on the station when “The Quiet Don” first came out, and that landfill expansion opponents Friends of Lackawanna were also guests. The issue simply hasn’t generated listener calls, the lifeblood of talk radio.

While it can be “very lonely” pursuing a story like this, Matt urged me not to be discouraged. The Times-Tribune’s coverage, and the public response, means “people are coming to their senses,” he said.

Mount Trashmore threatens to be huge, but we’ve got it covered.

CHRIS KELLY, the Times-Tribune columnist, is reading “The Quiet Don” and thinks you should, too.