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.