Like Northampton, Lehigh Commissioners are encouraged to participate in every committee, so it's a pretty accurate gauge of the time and effort each member devotes to government service. The committees that meet often are also a good indication of what is considered important.
Lehigh has eight standing committees, and they met a whopping 135 times last year. To give you some perspective, that's well in excess of Northampton County's total over the past four years. Here's the breakdown, committee by committee: Administrative (24 meetings, Browning - C); Cedarbrook (12 meetings, Jones - C); Development (18 meetings, McCarthy - C); General Services (19 meetings, Raber - C); Human Services (12 meetings, Hamm - C); Intergovernmental & Appointments (18 meetings, Eckhart - C); Judiciary & Corrections (18 meetings, Leiner - C); Planning (18 meetings, Roman - C).
Northampton County has no Planning Committee, which might explain why it has no idea what it will be doing next year. It also has no Comittee devoted to its nursing home, which might explain all that red ink.
Chairman Percy Dougherty has credited those committee meetings for Lehigh County's collegial commissioner meetings, which are completely unlike the circus atmosphere in the People's Republic of Northampton County.
So who are the workhorses, showhorses, jackasses and talking horses?
Dean Browning has that title sewed up. Not only did he attend every one of the 27 Commissioner meetings, he also attended every one of the 135 committee meetings. Now Browning is a busy guy, the Chief Financial Officer of an airline charter company, yet somehow finds the time to dedicate to the County. He's living proof of the adage that if you want something done, ask the busiest guy you know.
Commissioners Sterling Raber (121), Percy Dougherty (120) and Dan McCarthy (119) also qualify as workhorses. Raber, retiring at the end of this year, outworked seven other Council members. Dougherty had added duties as chair, and probably had a cot installed somewhere in the government center. McCarthy is a busy and successful attorney who could be seeing clients, yet obviously takes his role as Commissioner seriously.
Interestingly, these Commissioners are relatively quiet at meetings, saying what they need to say succinctly.
Gloria Hamm (100) and Bill Leiner (98) could easily be workhorses, but Hamm has been plagued by medical problems, and Leiner spends way too much time looking for feral cats in Coplay. Their records, however, are very respectable.
The three most vocal members of Lehigh County's Band of Brothers (and one sister) are Glenn "Comm'r No" Eckhart (81), Andy Roman (76) and Rev. Dave Jones (64). Those dudes would fit in nicely in Northampton County. On any given Wednesday night, Eckhart might start blasting Allentown, a brooding Roman could deliver another Hamlet soliloquy and Jones could easily preach several sermons. All three are great bullshitters. Very entertaining. All three need to attend more meetings. Davey Jones' attendance record is actually just 47.4%. Now that's still a lot better than Lamont McClure's 26% in Northampton County. But Dave, you need to pick it up.