Monday, December 18, 2006

Northampton County Council: The Workers & Slackers in 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIf you want to see who works and who doesn't on Northampton County Council, look no further than their committees. That's where the grunt work gets done.

Although Council has eight standing committees, only two were active last year. These are the personnel and finance committees, chaired by Ann McHale and Ron Angle.

Two committees have not bothered to meet at all. Tony Branco's intergovernmental committee is inactive even though a top county priority should be regionalization of services with other counties and communities. Rev. Dowd's Operations and Administration committee has also failed to conduct a single meeting, even though the courthouse project is $3 million over budget and courthouse workers were still getting ill as recently as Friday.

Council's standing committees conducted twenty-two meetings last year. Every member of council is encouraged to participate in every committee. So it's a pretty accurate gauge of the time and effort each councilperson devotes to government service.

Council Prez Wayne Grube attended 19 committee meetings last year, making him the hardest working and most dedicated council member. Running close behind, and in a tie for number two, are Ann McHale and Ron Angle, who attended 16 committee meetings. Nipping at their heels with 15 meetings is newcomer John Cusick, who has been brilliant in his first year on council. Another rookie, Diane Neiper, gets an honorable mention for squeezing 13 committee meetings into her schedule. Rev. J. Michael Dowd attended only nine meetings last year, barely acceptable and very disappointing from a former council president who may have needed a year to get his juices flowing again.

But the real slackers are Tony Branco, Lamont McClure and Charles Dertinger.

Branco has attended just seven committee meetings since his appointment. It's no wonder. He has a daily two hour commute to his township manager job in Douglass Township. Although he quit his position on Hellertown's borough council, where he served for years, he has remained on a county council where he clearly is in way over his head. It's painful to watch him.

McClure, like Branco, is an appointed councilman. He's lost every time he's run for the job. Based on my own experience with the dude, that's no surprise. He once pretended he was an anonymous Express Times reader to make senseless personal attacks against me on this blog. He's also bullied me with libel threats, for correctly reporting he ignored the Sunshine Act. Lamont attended a grand total of four committee meetings. I'd better get ready for the libel threats again.

Joining McClure in the basement is Charles "Don't Call me Charlie" Dertinger, who is still bristling that John Stoffa didn't let him kill the open space initiative. On Sunday, the Express Times reported that Dertinger now compares Stoffa with the Bush administration. That's a stretch, Charlie, I mean Charles. Dertinger must be whiffing too much exhaust in his daily commute to the Big Apple. Like McClure, Dertinger only attended four committee meetings last year. He was too busy running for Congress to engage in mundane tasks like reading the county's Home Rule Charter.

Dertinger, McClure and Branco are furious that Stoffa's open space plan succeeded and their plan to cook the books failed. Dertinger is now calling the Home Rule Charter "yellowcake uranium." McClure is probably drafting an amendment to his code of civility prohibiting references to that nasty Home Rule Charter. Branco is skipping council's reorganization in January so he can attend one in Berks County.

If these three councilmembers made a point of attending a few more committee meetings, they might actually become a little more familiar with the Home Rule Charter. But when they seek reelection, and they will, they'll flood you with mailers telling you what you want to hear. For the truth, look at their committee record. It shows them for what they really are - political hacks who will try to buy your vote.

18 comments:

the lobster said...

Nice job Bernie, somtime I struggle when voting season arrives because I dont have alot of info about these guys, but your honest, non-bias, hard work may go along way at the polls. Thanks again for your hard work .....a concerned Northampton count voter

LVDem said...

I hope these guys gets swatted during the primary rather than during the election. Nothing worse than not being able to tolerate your own candidates.

Bernie O'Hare said...

HEY Lobster, I appreciate the kind words, but I am always highly opinionated. So my work is always biased, although I try and keep it honest.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, I'd love to se someone take these guys out in the primary.

Anonymous said...

I think Russ Shade would make a great County Councilman

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:52, For those who may not be aware, Russ Shade is Stoffa's former campaign manager. He was endorsed by the Morning Call over Harhart for state rep., but the Republican registration edge kept him down.

He'd be terrific in county council. He's attended almost every council meeting since Stoffa came on board, more than me. That's one dude who reads the Home Rule Charter.

Dumb Guy said...

What makes a Home Rule Charter county different than the other kinds of county government? Is it somehow better? How many of PA's 67 counties are run by Home Rule Charter? Thanks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

According to the Pa. Code, 7 of Pa.'s 67 counties have some form of home rule charter. It's a form of county constitution that gives each county some form of hoimme rule. Unlike Angle, who prefers the commissioner form of government, I like a home rule charter, which brings the people closer to its government. Allegheny, Lehigh, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Philadelphia County are the home rule counties. Their charters, like Northampton, prevent the legiuslative body from interfering with estimated revenue. They may only alter appropriations.

the lobster said...

well now that this guy Shade has his name on the blog we'll see what he is made of . This site is tougher than the conformation hearings at congress.

Anonymous said...

Shade didn't lose because of the registration Shade lost because of lack of funding, lack of help and the general feeling that Harhart's a nice old lady who comes to our events and doesn't really do anything too offensive so we don't see any real reason to replace her.

Anonymous said...

If Shade were on council, the Democrats might actually start acting like Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Russ Shade is one of the most honorable Democrats the party has.
The best thing to happen would be Russ getting on county council and giving a counterbalance to Angle's arrogance, and some intelligence in contrast to Grube and McClueless, who are nothing more than party hacks

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're right. Angle is arrogant. But people who think he's stupid and underestimate him as a blowhard do so at their peril. Shade would be a good counterbalance to Angle, something he himself would probably appreciate. Russ would definitely be a step up from the traditional fare we've seen.

dumb guy said...

How does the home rule form beat the commissioner kind in bringing its people closer to its government?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dumb Guy, You ask pretty intelligent questions for a "dumb guy." The charter form of government is superior to the commissioner form of govewrnment in theory only. Most charters, including Northampton's, have separate provisions enabling citizens to address the legislative body. And even more importantly, the charter form of government provides for initiative and referendum. A group of council can conduct a referendum on county issues and is bound by the result. Similarly, 10% of the registered voters can start an initiative and do their own legislating if they wish. Also, a commissioner form of government tends to be detached from the people it represents. Of course, you can point to Reibman as a detached county exec.

i`m not dead yet said...

Bernie shame on you...you missed the most important committee of all : Human Services. Do you know how many times it met ? ...but shucks it is only 62 per cent of the county budget!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I hearsd someone, and perhaps it was you, say that human services did not meet at all last year. But guess what? It did meet once. It had a combined committee meeting w/ another committee. Human services only makes up most of the county's budget. Your point is well taken.

Anonymous said...

Talk about a "Do-Nothing-Congress!"