Department of Community and Economic Development, where she pulls in $87,000. We know that she served as Director of Scranton's Office of Community and Economic Development for a few years, and also worked for the state DCED. but what is her background? Where did she go to school? Did she get her jobs because of what she knows, or who she knows?
A profile by allBusiness indicates that Hailstone first came to prominence in 1999, when she took over the management of First Night Scranton as a Project Manager for Scranton Tomorrow, a tourist agency. She also came up with the idea of a "Happy Hour" and "Parties in the Park" at a struggling local museum. Prior to that, she was apparently employed at The Limited, a women's clothing store.
Does any of this sound like a reason to appoint her to direct Community and Economic Development in Scranton? According to Scranton gadfly Joe Pilchesky, who publishes a controversial Internet site called Doherty Deceit, Hailstone got the job when Mayor Chris Doherty assumed office because of her family's political connections.
Her brother-in-law, Rob Farrell, happens to be Scranton's Solicitor. Her sister, Alyce Hailstone-Farrell is a Scranton District Judge. Her father, Andrew Hailstone, is an attorney who raised money for Doherty when he ran for mayor.
Now Pilchesky, who most recently claims that Judge Hailstone may be fixing tickets, ranted about Sara so much that her sister, the judge, called the Pennsylvania State Police and requested them to investigate the matter as a "threat" case. Never mind that no specific threat was ever mentioned. In the meantime, her brother, another attorney, went to work on the site administrator and met with an Assistant DA. Her father had a "lawyer's letter" hand-delivered to Pilchesky.
Though he had no Court Order, a trooper convinced the web host to shut down Pilchesky's site until he determined that there was no basis for even a harassment prosecution, although Sara did feel threatened.
Pilchesky ended up successfully suing the PSP, enlisting the ACLU as an ally. You can read a lot of the documentation on his narrative, The Family That Tried to Silence Your Free Speech, which includes links to PSP reports.
Now Pilchesky bothers me. When he addresses Scranton City Council, he refers to himself as a "political activist and advocate for free speech." He also throws the term, "We, the People" around an awful lot. His wife Joanne was just sent to jail for looting her father's estate. And for someone who assails local government as financially irresponsible, he ran into his own jam 2 years ago when he fell behind on his real estate taxes.
He's no Abraham Lincoln.
On the other hand, his world is the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton area, where judges sell kids for cash and County Commissioners are convicted of bribery.
Once installed in Allentown, one of the first things Hailstone did was order all staff to cease communication with the Allentown Authority. The idea of stabilizing Hamilton Street with mixed income residents had become passe, far less important than the empty Cosmopolitan or a hockey arena on a sinkhole. She's sweeping the mostly minority merchants off the streets to make way for Happy Hour at the Hockey Rink. As blogger Michael Molovinsky has noted, "Save for them, we would have no downtown. We have rewarded their lifetime of work, loyalty and investment with deceit and threats."
Before publishing this piece, I contacted both Pilchesky and Hailstone for comment, but received no reply.
Updated 11:29 AM: I am told Hailstone has a Master's from University of Scranton. This is unverified.