Friday, November 14, 2008

A Moment of Silence for Wayne Grube

This afternoon's Northampton County Council budget hearing was a bit hard to follow because most of the bureaucrats there only speak Governmentese. Amazingly, that language is spoken most frequently in Human Services, where you'd think things would be a little more clear. I had my trusty tape recorder and was prepared to translate what I heard. Like an idiot, I forgot to turn it on. But before everyone started speaking in tongues, something happened that even I understood. Council Prez Ann McHale offered a few words about her colleague, Wayne Grube.

The usually imperious Queen of Hearts, voice quivering, read a statement. It was a moving, yet brief, speech, followed by a moment of silence. I wish I could reproduce it. Summarizing it is an injustice. Peg Ferraro's head was buried in her hands. Ron Angle, believe it or not, wiped tears from his eyes.

Grube's nameplate stood proudly at the front of his vacant seat, draped in black ribbon. Someone will eventually be seated there, but that seat is forever empty.


gsbrace said...

that must have been a tough night for everybody. It's hard to conduct the people's business when your heart aches with grief.

Many prayers go out...

Anonymous said...

Burne, Wayne was a man who was not afraid to use his "capital" to help people. While it is nice that you are remembering him fondly here, it should not pass without it being pointed out that since you've had this blog you have published some pretty vile things about him.

Anonymous said...

That may be true. In fact I have no doubt Ms. McHale had some drama behind her performance. However, we can't read peoples souls(even though O'Hare claims he knows the good guys and the bad guys). So for now lets just rmember The good things and give a moment to Wayne; for a short time we can all pretend to be the people we think we are.

WhetherVain said...

Anon 7:58

The personal rapport that exists while in one's physical presence has frequently been at odds with the emotion expressed either before or after the encounter.

I can envision Bernie's actual visit/interview with Sam Bennett as a pleasant encounter. It sounded like two human beings who really got along to get along. I also imagine his interactions with Wayne were similar.

I wish more of the political sphere could behave that way - both privately, publically and "blogically".

Remember what happened during one of the debates..where all of the candidates and their spouses/children mingled genuinely on stage for all to witness?

Maybe I'm a sap, but I liked what I saw.

May Wayne rest in peace.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"it should not pass without it being pointed out that since you've had this blog you have published some pretty vile things about him."

Wayne Grube is one of the few persons, let alone council members, I've ever met who could ever admit he was wrong. I never uttered a vile word about the man, although he and I disagreed sharply at times. I don't deny that.

On 12/18/06, I called him council's "hardest working and most dedicated council member."

On 1/10/07, he publicly declared his support for the Wind Gap road had been a mistake. At the time, I wrote, "Who can't admire and respect that? Grube is the only member of any council I've watched who can admit when he screws up."

When county council attempted to force Stoffa to accept an IT deal that was $1.8MM higher than the deal ultimately negotiated, it was Grube who stood against them alone bc Angle wwas off in Jellystome Park or something. I pointed it out, too.

Grube is the council member who called a politically motivated American Heros grant a "half-baked deal" and I credited him for taking a politically unpopular position against an ordinance that would never hold up in court.

In January of this year, I noted that I myself had been wrong about him as council president. "Last January, I thought he should step down as council president. But over the past year, he proved me wrong, keeping a tight grip on meetings while ensuring that everyone is heard. In the middle of a meeting, he would occasionally look at me and start shaking his head. Sometimes, he'd step out and whisper to county employees who had items on the agenda, putting them at ease with his gruff, 'Dutch uncle,' approach. 2007 was actually his finest year as council president."

He was a good man. I admired and respected him.

When I first filed suit against the county over the bond, it was actually Wayne Grube, along with Rich Grucela, who sat down with me and tried to work out a deal with the county. Had the county listened to him, we could have avoided a lot of trouble in a lawsuit the county eventually lost. It had to redo its bond ordinance.

He could get very angry with me and let me have it a few times. He was furous when I filed my second suit against a bond, which I ultimately lost. He was also angry when i accused council of violating the Sunshine Act in its appintment of McClure and Branco. But he got over it both times. He actually did leave notes on my jeep, threatening to have it towed. On his last day at the courthouse, he and I left the building together, joking with each other after a quick meeting. I thought to myself that he weas really doing well. He had been sick, but seemed a lot better.

He was a good man who deeply cared about the county and I will miss him.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! They dedid it exactly the same way. Your ego trip cost the taxpayers plenty. Thanks again for that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This post is not about the bond, which is ancient history except for the debt service. I'll talk about it anyway.

There were actually two multipurpose bond ordinances, one for $110MM in 2000 and the other for $111MM in 2001. My challenge to the first bond succeeded. My challenge to the second bond failed.

The second bond was vastly different and superior to the first. Both contained grants for private development. My opposition was driven by a strong belief that government has no business funding private development. This led to the bankruptcies of many states and municipalities in the 1800s, and constitutional prohibitions were enacted in most states, including Pa.

The first bond contained no cost estimates. The first bond provided $ for a industrial park around Wind Gap that did not even exist. The first bond provided for a Rte 33 exit in Tatamy. The first bond contained only $1 MM for farmland preservation.

The second bond (2001) did contain cost estimates and eliminated the exit for Rte 33 as well as the nonexistent industrial park. It increased farmland preservation to $3 MM.

I sued bc it still provided for $29MM in infrastructure for private development, i.e. corporate welfare. This, in my view, constitutes an unconstitutional grant of public money for private development. Unlike stadiums, which are expressly provided for by statute and have held up under challenge, I felt I could establish the ordinance was unconstitutional. I sued, but ran out of money to take it to the supreme court, where I think I had a shot.

I spent most of what little $ I had in this litigation. I lost customers. I was derided publicly. I can think of better ways to launch an ego trip.

Interestingly, the delay that resulted from my litigation meant lower rates and actually saved the county $20MM over 30 years.

Perhaps I was wrong to sue. But under our form of government, a citizen still has a right to question his government when it borrows money, even if he owns no real estate. Perhaps you would like to take that right away. Until you do, one person can still make a difference.

The $ for "economic development" has largely been wasted, $29 MM flushed down the hopper, at least in my view. It has not resulted in the 30,000 jobs promised by then exec Reibman. It resulted instead in tax increases and layoffs even though the claim was that it would pay for itself.

I would sue again in a heartbeat.

I have friends who supported that bond. Some, like Joe Brennan, were on council. Some, like Jim Hickey, were in the administration. One person who supported that bond, believe it or not, is John Stoffa.

Perhaps they are right and i am wrong. People can have different views and still respect each other.

That's something you haven't learned.

Anonymous said...

Hickey is neither your friend nor does he respect you. But you are very usable for the adept.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hickey and I have had differences in the past, especially over both bonds, but I grew to admire and respect him. I consider him a friend. What you say about him insults him much more than it insults me. It also says something about you.

Anonymous said...

"Hickey is neither your friend nor does he respect you. But you are very usable for the adept."

perhaps you shouldn't try speak for him.