And so on.
Aside from a few health care professionals, nobody was there, not even the press.
But at the rescheduled meeting in Peanutville last night, the house was packed. A TV camera whirred in the front of the conference room. Reporters anxiously took notes, and a photographer gave his flashbulb a workout. Around forty vocal spectators were on hand, too, along with a deputy sheriff ready to shoot anyone who misbehaved.
This time, Northampton County Council was able to produce a quorum. Six of its nine council members actually showed up. Eight of nine Lehigh County Commissioners were on hand as well. Northampton County Exec John Stoffa quietly took a seat.
As expected, the LV Health Board's initial budget was overwhelmingly adopted, with only Ron Angle dissenting. Just as important, a financial intermediary was unanimously authorized to accept a $1 million grant from the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust and the Two Rivers Health & Wellness Foundation.
But the real story is the contrast between two county legislatures, seated at opposite sides of the room, sometimes glaring at each other. Lehigh County Commissioners were cordial and professional, but were clearly put off by what they saw from their neighbors to the East. Northampton County Council certainly lived up to its reputation as the most dysfunctional legislature in the Lehigh Valley.
I was very proud.
An exasperated Percy Dougherty at one point threatened to have a petulant Ron Angle removed. Big mistake, Percy. Shadtown always beats the shit out of Peanutville. Sure, a Deputy Sheriff was ready to spring into action. He even had his revolver. But Angle would have rolled him. For one thing, Ron wears bulletproof vests whenever he visits downtown Allentown. For another, he's been working out a lot at the Y lately. Finally, I'm not sure he's human. Once, Hickey accidentally ran him over at 70 mph. Ron's skin broke open and it was all titanium underneath. You just don't want to mess with that.
The highlight of the evening has to be the roll call vote on the budget.
Clerk: "We will vote on the adoption of an initial budget for the Lehigh Valley Board of Health."
Commissioners Dean Browning, Glenn Eckhart, Gloria Hamm, Dave Jones, Bill Leiner, Dan McCarthy, Sterling Raber and Percy Dougherty all answered with one word - "Yes." Very nice.
Clerk: "We have eight votes in favor from the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners."
Clerk: "Councilperson Angle?"
Clerk: "Councilperson Capozzolo?"
Capozzolo: "I have a question on this vote. Does this have to be five votes? Am I like the guy in the middle ..."
Dougherty: "Yes you are."
Capozzolo: "... because I don't think that's really fair."
(Audience starts laughing.)
Dougherty: "That's why you get the big bucks."
Capozzolo: "What would Mr. Grube [Capozzolo's predecessor] do if he was here?"
Angle: "He wouldn't have come over to Lehigh County." [Audience starts laughing again.] "Mrs. McHale, you'll agree with that."
Angle: "He wouldn't have came [sic] here."
Ferraro: "It moves the process forward so we can get information. It's not ...."
Angle: "It grows a life of its own."
[At this point, Angle, Ferraro, several other council members and various members of the audience begin talking at the same time. Commissioner Leiner's jaw drops to the table.]
Dougherty: "It's a yes, a no, or abstain. No discussion."
Capozzolo: "I'm going to abstain."
Ferraro: "Come on, Yes. Come on, we need a Yes or it's gonna' die. We worked for twenty years , I've been thinking about a health bureau. And we just, we just, it's not fair ..."
[Audience members begin yelling at Capozzolo to vote yes. "Come on, it's the people's health." Once again, several people are talking at the same time. Jones reaches for his bible while Browning passes a flask to Hamm. One nurse menacingly pulls out a syringe.]
Capozzolo: "All right, I'll vote Yes."
Clerk: "Councilperson Cusick?"
Cusick: "Aye." [Hey, it's better than "present."]
Clerk: "Councilperson Dertinger?"
Clerk: "Councilperson Ferraro?"
Ferraro: "Yes, with pleasure."
During a roll call vote, Northampton County Council members repeatedly interrupt each other. Even the audience gets into the act. Capozzolo votes to abstain, then changes his mind after a browbeating by Ferraro and all the nurses in the room.
I'm not sure what the hell happened, but I doubt Lehigh County Commissioners will ever be the same. Several were reportedly hospitalized. No wonder we need a public health bureau.