Friday, July 31, 2009

LC GOP Comm'r Candidates Unveil "Contract With County Taxpayer"

OK, I lied a a little bit about yesterday's trip to Allentown's Scottish Rite Center. LC Comm'r Dean Browning really did meet me at the door. I never was forced to eat haggis. There really were free sandwiches, and from Primo's, too. Finally, there really was a news conference starring three of Lehigh County Commissioner candidates - incumbent Glenn Eckhart (facing Hillary Kwiatek in District 5); Allentown School Board Prez Bob Smith (opposing appointee David Jones in District 3); and Mike Welsh (challenging incumbent Dan McCarthy in District 3). Chairman Percy Dougherty (District 2), on vacation celebrating his 43rd wedding anniversary with his lovely bride, was unable to make it. Neither could candidate Tom Creighton (District 1), who was unable to get away from his job.

Lehigh County Republicans are very entertaining because they have a flair for the dramatic. Don't let those suits fool you. Not terribly long ago, before Snarlen Arlen Specter saw the light and jumped into the warm embrace of the Democratic party, Lehigh County's rank and file were trying to censor him or burn him in effigy or something. They can really get fired up. If you pop on their site, they actually seem to have some sort of loyalty oath. Most Democratic sites, in sharp contrast, are little more than directories of local bars and clambakes.

What I remember best about Lehigh County Republicans is the way they reacted after then County Exec Jane Ervin - herself a Republican - imposed a very unpopular 70% tax increase. Before you could say Newt Gingrich, there were all prancing around in tri-corner hats, signing all kinds of important declarations and carrying muskets and stuff like that.

A lot of these dudes should be doing Shakespeare.

GOP commissioner candidates certainly lived up to their reputation yesterday, this time unveiling a “Contract with County Taxpayers," a hand-me-down of Newt Gingrich's 1994 Contract with America. Here are the salient points.
1. Balance the county budget without increasing property taxes or raiding county reserves by 2012. Only support budgets for 2010 and 2011 that significantly cut spending and make credible strides towards that end.

2. Not approve any public employee union contract that allows wages to grow faster than county revenues or the COLA received those on Social Security.

3. Oppose any effort by Lehigh County to levy a 1% local sales tax in addition to the current state sales tax of 6% as is now being proposed in Harrisburg.

4. Limit to $3,000 the cumulative amount of contribution, either direct or in-kind, we accept from any single campaign donor during the upcoming general election.

5. Reject the taxpayer-funded pay raise we’d be eligible to receive if we win election in November.
Now, this pledge is being sent to all the Democratic candidates, too. Commissioner Dean Browning, who was on hand yesterday, mentioned that all ten candidates - Democratic and GOP - are in this race because they care and want to do what is right for our children. Noting that all county legislators serve as both fiscal watchdog as well as a check and balance for the administration and elected officials, he is asking Democrats to sign on, too.

But Democrats appear to be troubled and slightly offended by this pledge. They adamantly deny "raiding reserve funds," as claimed by GOP Comm'r Glenn Eckhart. They admit using a tax relief fund to balance the budget, but that's exactly why that fund was established in the first place. "The stabilization fund is our reserve or rainy day fund. We have not touched that, nor will we," said one administrator who asked to remain anonymous.

As far as saving money goes, administrators pointedly note that Republicans actually added to LC Exec Don Cunningham's most recent budget. Instead of reducing wages or planned increases in salary, administrators have curtailed spending by reducing the actual number of employees who work for the county, noting that the current county employment is at its lowest level since 1995.

After the news conference was over, the reporters all left without eating any sandwiches. The Morning Call's Scott Kraus looked really hungry, too, but he's known me for years and knew I'd dime him in a heartbeat. I stuffed all the sandwiches in my laptop bag and met Ron Angle outside, where we unloaded them on Hamilton Street for 50 cents each. I made $3, and bought a Rolexx from some guy on 7th.

Below, I've posted the statements made by Eckart, Smith and Welsh, along with links to the video. For Smith, I posted his actual video because he is such a passionate speaker.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie... how did you get my picture?? :):):):)

Anonymous said...

Can't you stir up some crap in Northampton county? This Lehigh stuff is boring. Isn't it time for a Ron Angle news conference. This good govt news is lame. Oh for the days of dysfunction...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"This Lehigh stuff is boring"

Then the fault is mine for not writing about it in a more interesting way. Next time I write about Lehigh, I'll post some porn w/ it.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Unless they're forming a contract of celibacy like Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol did, I'm bored. I prefer Norco antics. Has Angle gotten the Slate Belt to secede from the Union? McClure and Long in jail yet? What is happening on the eastern side of Smallville? Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

The Contract on America was such a success the Lehigh County Republicans coudn't resist their own Contract on the County.HAHAHA!!

Do any of these guys comprehend history.

Jacob said...

Very simple, you don't raise taxes or use you reserve funds you have to cut services. The question is what services do the Republicans locally wish to cut?

Jacob said...

"I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn."

Wonder how this works with the Special Election scheduled 5 weeks before the General Election that will probably cost Lehigh County tax payers $200,000 before they are reimbursed by the State and will end up costing State Taxpayers close to $500,000.

I wonder what the local candidates think about this decision and support that decision made by the Lt. Governor?

Party of fiscal responsibility my butt.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jacob, As correct as you certainly appear to be in blaming the scheduling of a state senate race on the political machinations of the Republican Lt. Guv, it is entirely incorrect to tag an entire party as a result, especially guys running for local office. Those are the antics of a lever puller.

These guys have indicated they do support cuts in the form of stoppinmg wage increases that exceed the county's rate of growth as well as requiring the county workforce to contribute a little more to their own health care.

Jacob, you certainly can't, as a general principle, always support a government that spends more than it takes in.

ironpigpen said...

TAX, TAX, TAX

plus

SPEND, SPEND, SPEND

equals

DEMOCRAT

...Sorry, go back to bashing Republicans, please.

I hear Vince Fumo does not get a pension now. What party was FUMO in since we are discussing Bristol Palin?

What about that scandal with all the guys campaigning on the state's dime. How many DEMOCRATS are under investigation or already indicted?

"Corruption: No Longer An Iffy Proposition In Pennsylvania"

FRANKLIN + MARSHALL COLLEGE article from April 23, 2009

www.fandm.edu/x22228

Bill Leiner Jr. said...

Bernie,

Disney World has competition......

Come to Coplay this Tuesday, 8/4 from 5:30 to 8 PM. Attend the Coplay Town Watch 14th Annual "National Night Out Against Crime" celebration at the beautiful American Club of Coplay pavilion, 300 Cherry Street.

This is a "Free" event. The CTW has received four times national recognition for our NNO event from the National Association of Town Watch.

Jim Martin, Sheriff Rossi, our Coplay Police Chief, a TARGET store rep,and a homeland security person are all on the speakers (brief) program.

Games for kids, free kids bike raffle, free food and drink, LVHN Medivac, and much more.

Come out and see what a great community is all about.

When you arrive ask for me and I'll introduce you to some wonderful folks.

Oh ... the Disney comment does not apply to the NNO.....

Have a great weekend. Bill

Jacob said...

Bernie,

If my party pulled this stunt during a depression and I was running for office I'd scream bloody murder.

You can call me a lever puller all you want, I'm not. The Lt. Governor is the defacto head of the GOP in PA and well, he's doing the same crap George W. Bush was infamous for. Spending where it is politically expedient not where it benefits the people elected.

Hopefully if these guys are serious they are saying somethings to Harrisburg behind the scenes.

Jacob said...

Ironpig,

You say Fuomo I say Cheney.

Who was more corrupt.

Jacob said...

spending where it is politically expedient not where it is good for the people who elected them. That is what I meant to say. I had a nice non-political picnic today and am exhausted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jacob, Corruption is a human problem, not a Democratic or Republican problem. Fuomo, who has been convicted of corruption, is obviously more corrupt than Cheney, who has never been charged. I don't think either party has a lock on moral superiority.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bill, I'll post youtr oplay night out on Monday and will stop by.

Jacob said...

Bernie,

On Cheney.

They got Al Capone on Tax evasion. Doesn't mean that Al Capone wasn't still a ganster and murderer.



Jake

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jake, Now you bring up someone else who was convicted. The simple reality is that Cheney has not evwen been charged with anything, to say convicted. So I think it is safe to say Fuomo is more corrupt. And as I've already indicated, corruption is a human problem.

Jacob said...

Your right. Comparing Cheney to Al Capone or Vince is not fair to either Al Capone or Vince.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I see. And you're no lever puller.