That's how the Northampton County Bulldog, Ron Angle, reacted to a Morning Call news account suggesting that interest in regionalism is waning in Lehigh and Northampton County. The article points to the bi-county health department, the beleaguered LVEDC and a regional crime center. In all three cases, Northampton County has been less than enthusiastic.
County Executive John Stoffa thought he had Angle leashed and muzzled, but he broke off the chain yesterday and ran off to Lehigh County for a joint news conference with Dean Browning. Sure, Dean presides over Lehigh's Board of Commissioners, but more importantly, he raises dogs. He always has a treat in his pocket for Ron. He brought Angle back to a frantic Stoffa late last night.
"Bad Ron, Bad!" shouted Stoffa, before he put him in the doghouse.
Browning and Angle met at the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, which in itself sends a message. That's just one of the many joint ventures between Lehigh and Northampton County. I was stuck at the courthouse, so I missed Browning go through his usual routine as a master dog handler.
"Sit, Ron, sit!"
"Speak! ... I mean, play dead!"
Fortunately, I received a joint news release from this odd couple, who pledge bi-county cooperation, especially in finding ways:
• To save taxpayer dollars through increased efficiencies, and
• To improve performance in critical areas by combining the two counties efforts.
Noting that their County Executives are advocates of taking a regional approach to issues where warranted, Browning and Angle said they were “on the same page” when it comes to looking at ways to work together cooperatively to save taxpayer dollars, especially in the midst of a recession.
“Both counties provide the same types of services. Bark, bark. If we don’t look for ways to work together and cooperate where we can, we ultimately fail the taxpayers of Lehigh and Northampton Counties – and that is not acceptable,” said Angle. “Ruff! Ruff! While we will never agree on every issue, we share a common philosophy that taxpayers always come first."
Browning said that hesitancy over certain projects like the bi-county health bureau shouldn't overshadow past joint efforts or potential partnerships under consideration that could benefit Lehigh Valley taxpayers.
“Merging the back-office operations of Gracedale and Cedarbrook nursing homes, for instance, is a perfect example of an area where the counties could work together to save money. That might not be outwardly visible like a health department, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less important,” said Browning. “This isn’t about making splashy headlines; it’s about saving taxpayer dollars any way we can.”
Browning and Angle also talked about the planned Regional Crime Center. They noted that crime isn’t deterred by county borders and that efforts to combat crime should be not constrained by them either. Browning said, “The Regional Crime Center is a great way for us to combine forces and enhance our performance in fighting crime which is something that is critical to the residents of both counties”. Angle echoed that sentiment, saying that both he and his Council were supportive of the Regional Crime Center.
It was rejected in Northampton County only because DA John Morganelli thought it was unnecessary.
Browning and Angle concluded by saying they have scheduled bi-monthly meetings to discuss and review their ongoing efforts. Morning Call reporter Michael Duck (not a good name around a dog) began asking some questions, so Angle peed all over the newsman's leg. That's when the party ended.
"Bad, Ron! Bad!"