Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cunningham's 16.1% Tax Hike Adopted

A wise man from Northampton County yesterday reminded me of this admonition by Irish politician Edmund Burke: "Your representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” Edmund Burke would be very proud of Lehigh County Commissioner Chairman Dean Browning.

Even here in the People's Republic of Northampton County, people were wondering whether he'd crack. Would he bow to the pressure and threats being exerted on him by virtually every Republican in the universe, from Party Boss to proud tea party member? Would he go along with a last-minute and myopic effort, spearheaded by Glenn "Commissioner 'No'" Eckhart to direct Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham to produce a new budget that completely and unrealistically eliminates a tax hike? Would he knuckle under to political pressure that has more to do with next year's election than good government? Or would he give the people of Lehigh County his best judgment, as opposed to political expediency? Browning decided to do what he, and not Wayne Woodman or Scott Ott, thought was right, even if this ends his political career. He voted with Democrats to defeat what Commissioner Dan McCarthy correctly labeled an "artificial crisis." He rebuked Commissioners for shirking their own responsibilities. Some say it is political suicide, but I thought it an act of courage that sets Browning apart as one of very few government leaders willing to follow his own conscience.

I have lots of video from last night's showdown, but must first commend Jenna Portnoy for a thorough and accurate account of last night's meeting in The Morning Call.

Four Republicans wanted to send Cunningham's budget back, at the urging of Lehigh County GOP Chair Wayne Woodman. Cunningham, who was there, made the consequences of what he called a "party boss" budget, very clear.

"I'll give you a budget back. We will have to take out about $17-19 million to meet your millage rate,Mr. Eckhart, that you propose in your motion. ... I don't need fourteen days. I'll give it to you by Monday. The first thing I'm going to take out is all your staff and your salaries. [applause] I'll tell you why. Let me tell you why. Let me tell you why.

"They just gave me the budget back, and in the world I live in, when you don't work, you don't get paid. You have one job to do as the legislative part-time Council of this government, and that is to set a budget. For two months, you've come up with $350,000 worth of cuts. Five days before the deadline, after the party bosses showed up, twisted some arms, pushed on you and twisted, you sent it back to me. In my world, you did not do your job. You don't need three staff people and you don't need a salary. So the budget you get back will reflect that."


Cunningham went on to say he'd have to take $5 million from the Courts, $5 million from Corrections, as well as money from the DA. This in turn would invite a lawsut by the Courts, the DA and an intervention by the state.

"You can fight the Courts, fight the State, fight everbody to see if you can accomplish what you've tried to accomplish."

But Cunningham makes clear he won't give them a nickel to pay for a lawyer.

"I'm sure tomorrow morning you'll wake up with an awful tea party hangover when people realize that you've effectively shut down this government and gone to war."


Commissioner Percy Dougherty attempted to suggest that this would just give them an opportunity to work with Cunningham, but he saw right through that argument.

"You haven't done your job. You haven't cooperated. That's not a process."

Commissioner Dan McCarthy noted that one group would really love a zero tax increase budget - criminals.


When it was time for the public to speak, the very first person lined up was Lehigh County Party Boss Wayne Woodman.

"I am referred to as a party boss. But after watching our Executive today, I feel I have a lot left to learn. I think the last time citizens of this Commonwealth were referred to the way we were or spoken to the way we were, there was a man on the throne named George."

Scrappleface, aka Scott Ott, told the crowd he's glad he lost his race against Cunningham. So am I.

He portrayed Dean Browning as a "wise advisor" who "schooled" him, kinda' like Yoda schooled Luke. Then he suggests that Dean Browning listen to him.

Dean was quiet most of the evening, and when he spoke, it became very clear that, like it or not, there really is no choice but to accept Don Cunningham's budget.

And that's what happened.

Now there were some harsh exchanges last night, but I was encouraged to see Wayne "Party Boss" Woodman shake hands with Cunningham after it was all over. I also think it was a good thing that so many people were involved in the process. Cunningham was fiery and passionate, revealing a side that many have never seen, and one I actually liked. But the person who impressed me most as the man who impressed Cunningham the most - Dean Browning.

72 comments:

Jacob said...

GOP Party boss compares Cunningham to King George?

The 4 Tea-Party commissioners are on the council and have a chance to vote and propose alternatives and the only thing they have to offer is talking points. These guys didn't even come into the chamber with an alternative budget to vote on.

The sad thing is, these 4 commissioners who have offered nothing will run around screaming about a tax hike next election cycle when none of them went to the meeting with an actual alternative.

The American Political Process is jumping the shark fast when you have representatives who are more interested in their talking points than their policy.

Anonymous said...

Thank God Cunningham's damage will be forever limited to Lehigh County. It's remarkable that such a fiscal incompetent was re-elected. No wonder he almost lost. He's a lame duck and is going to stick it to the taxpayers whom he knows can't stand him.

Jacob said...

@7:00

What was the alternative budget.

Saying Don is an idiot is easy.

Showing what the opposition would have done is impossible when they don't have a proposal to go on the record with.

So my question to the Tea Pary guys out there is what is your budget for the county. It is easy to say your leaders can do better than Don when your leaders won't go on the record with what they would do.

The entire thing is up to the imagination of what a wonderful world we would live in.

Show us the reality or shut up.

Anonymous said...

16% Yikes! I heard this might happen but didn't believe it would.
I wish I could sell my business and real estate and move out but nobody's buying.

Anonymous said...

No one understands the sacrifices small business owners make for their employees. Please stay in Lehigh County.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County voters between state, federal, county, township or city taxes will pay a total of how much in 2011?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget. Cunningham almost lost--only a few hundred votes made the difference. Maybe Scott Ott will run again.

Anonymous said...

Is it accurate to say that Cunningham inherited an extraordinary budget surplus from his predecessor, who (wisely or stupidly) engineered a tax hike at the cost of her own position, and then for each year of his term of office his budgets whittled away at that surplus with little or no attempt to control spending, to the point now where voters are faced with another extaordinary tax hike?

Anonymous said...

god damn, what a fantastic governor cunningham woulda made.






sigh

Anonymous said...

Its amazing to me how gov't can never live within its means like the rest of us. The moment anyone starts talking about cutting government, liberals trot out the teachers, firefighters and law enforcement. Nothing else can be cut except the courts budget? Come on Don. We're not all that stupid. I'm sorry to see Dean capitulate. It's another example of bipartisanship being defined as Republican's caving to Democrats.

Clem said...

"Lehigh County voters between state, federal, county, township or city taxes will pay a total of how much in 2011?"

7:42 AM

The answer, my friend, yesterday, today and forever more, is NOT ENOUGH.

The Pig cannot be satisfied. The only hope is that it will eventually gorge itself to death.

Anonymous said...

Run Scott Run!

Clem said...

Though I think I arrive at this conclusion from a different perspective, Jacob could not be more on target with his observations on the opposition.

Jacob said...

@Clem

The 4 people who voted against the budget were not serious when they go to the executive with $350,000 worth of cuts with a 19 million dollar hole.

You can like or not like Don. He came to the meeting with a budget. The 4 commissioners who get 10,000 a year to serve on that council and share 3 staff with the other 5 members of the commission didn't walk in there with an alternative.

Democracy is about debate. You can't debate something real and something imaginary.

No one will ever know whether or not there was a logical alternative, because one was never presented.

People who are mad about the tax increase should be more mad at the 4 commissioners who objected but didn't walk into the meeting with an alternative.

Don was correct, they had 6 months and came up with $350,000. Political cowardice and grand staging at its worst.

None of those 4 men should be taken seriously and if they complain about the tax increase in public, they should be ridiculed for not presenting an alternative.

There was no courage in what they were pulling yesterday. It doesn't take courage to say someone else is wrong when you won't show why you are right.

Anonymous said...

Yes 7:51 that is accurate but what is also accurate is that Dean Browning did what needed to be done..He stood up to all the idiots and decided he was there to do not what was best for him but what was best for the county...Cunningham didn't do that because he should have passed moderate increases to avoid this 16% increase but he was more concerned with reelection. However let's also stop screaming about a 16% increase like it's the end of the world. My guess is that it will cost the average taxpayer less than $2.00 a week..I doubt that will put anyone into foreclosure..

Anonymous said...

Now if we only had someone like that in Northampton County..Actually Ferraro would be the closest because she called for a moderate increase this year and last like Stoffa and was rebuffed.
I expect that Angle and his little angledytes will pass a no increase budget that will put this county into a tailspin financially..No surprise here..I find it interesting that you admire Browning and still can stomach Angle..You're not completely stupid bernie..You have to see that a no tax increase budget in this county will leave the county in less than desireable shape financially.

Anonymous said...

browning for sainthood. too bad he had to sacrifice his political career. He won't make it through the GOP primary. The back of the LV Conservative newsletter was an article by Browning. It talked about how he is standing up to the public unions. that isn't going to win a primary with the goofballs that are running the gop today.

Anonymous said...

9:57,

Yep..If he has already pissed off the left by standing up to the unions and now has pissed off the right wing lunatics I guess we can say goodbye to him..However, it actually makes his vote more courageous..I for one hope he stays. There are so few like him anymore..

Anonymous said...

Browning is for himself. Alternatives were offered, Browning voted against them, except for his own which were meaningless. Sainthood? Hardly.
Why is it that those who want government spending to reflect the citizens are called lunatics?

LVCI said...

I see VoteScottOtt was nice enough to cop Bernie's video w/o crediting him. Neither did he offer a specific resolution to the budget dilemma.

Lots of chest thumping from Scott and everyone both here and at the meeting.. BUT where's your specific solutions? Here's LC's 2011 Budget. Everyone seems to thing they can do better. The easiest job in the universe is to yell and criticize. The hard part is solving the actual problems. Here's your chance!

Read the link to the 2011 budget. Got a better idea? Go ahead.. please share your wisdom with the rest of us! Money talks.. BS walks.

Kudos to Dean Browning doing what he did. It is exactly why I'm not committed to either party and why the rush to vote all the incumbents out is a really bad idea. What he did took courage. He made his decision based on the issue, not the politics.

I would have hoped, since Scott Ott considers Browing a mentor he might have learned something. Apparently not! Since he swiped Bernie's video to post it on his own YouTube campaign channel (w/o crediting) it demonstrates that he wants to set himself up politically as the guy who went on record to oppose the hike.

Problem is, where's your budget alternatives while you had the chance to speak? The video looks like just another one of those trash talking negative ADs you plan on using. That may play well for some people but it's a cheap shot w/o offering any real solutions. Here was a chance to demonstrate your leadership instead of political sparring. That may make you a great politician, but I think people are looking for leadership in a crises. Politicians are a dime-a-dozen. Leaders are far few and in between during this period of time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I see VoteScottOtt was nice enough to cop Bernie's video w/o crediting him. Neither did he offer a specific resolution to the budget dilemma."

Thanks for looking out for me, but Scott Ott is in the clear. Some time ago, when I posted another video of him, he called me and asked me if he could have it and whether he should acknowledge it. I told him he is welcome to it, and so is anyone welcome to anything I post on youtube. There need be no acknowledgement either. Now I'll have to go and see if my hand was shaking badly last night.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" The easiest job in the universe is to yell and criticize. The hard part is solving the actual problems. Here's your chance!"

Absolutely, and that is the flaw in what Eckhart proposed. Why the hell did h even bother showing uo at the budget hearings if he is not going to do his job.

There is a difference between conservatism and laziness. The simple truth is that, despite his political affiliation, Cunningham's budget is fiscally conservative. Dean Browning, whose knowledge of finance is better than anyone in that room other than Tm Muller, knew that.

The only way he could make the cuts that needed to be cut would be by reducing salaries, and actually he did what he could do in that regard.

Before the meeting started, I was talking to some people and asked, "Why are you here?" They told me taxes, Cunningham, etc. I asked them, "Where were you in January? Where were you in February? You come in and complain, but don't have any answers."

Cunningham asked the people for their input. He asked Commissioners to please let him know their thoughts back in June. He heard from only two of them, and one of them was Browning.

Well, it was fun. I never saw Cunningham so fired up. The crowd was animated, and despite the contentious nature, they were a lot more civil than what I see in NC. I do think the discussion was good, but the motion itself was ridiculous.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why is it that those who want government spending to reflect the citizens are called lunatics?"

I'm not calling them lunatics. I'm calling them lazy. Not all, just most.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You have to see that a no tax increase budget in this county will leave the county in less than desireable shape financially."

Actually, I agreed with Stoffa last year and believed a hike was the best option. I do not believe that voting against ANY tax hike is right, but Angle will never support one and has told me that.

There is no need for a tax hike in 2011 unless we keep Gracedale. Since we are putting it into better hands, a hike can be avoided.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Cunningham didn't do that because he should have passed moderate increases to avoid this 16% increase but he was more concerned with reelection."

I think that's a fair criticism and that it hurt Don last year NOT to propose a hike. People are smart. That;s why, even though Dean may think his career is at an end, I think it is just beginning. People will never this type of bad news, but they respect honesty. That's why Stoffa is so popular in NC, despite all the slings and arrows from political hacks. He follows his conscience as opposed to political winds.

Anonymous said...

Sure hope you are right about dean..Hopefully it will help his career. Although he apparently once wrote that he would stand up to the county unions I hope county workers realize here that this man might have saved alot of jobs..And hopefully they support him because of it..

Anonymous said...

Why am I lazy? Because I oppose a 16% hike? Because I didn't come up with my OWN budget proposal cutting $17-19 million? Are you kidding?

Cunningham should be the one coming up with the cuts. Of course, all he did was threaten cuts to the DA, courts and corrections. His threat is clear: do it my way or I'll let the criminals free. Nice. There is NOWHERE else to cut money?

This all makes me sick. You're cheering a 16% tax hike?

Anonymous said...

"He follows his conscience as opposed to political winds."

Every idiot and despot says this. And, they all think their conscious is sterling and correct.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is it accurate to say that Cunningham inherited an extraordinary budget surplus from his predecessor, who (wisely or stupidly) engineered a tax hike at the cost of her own position, and then for each year of his term of office his budgets whittled away at that surplus with little or no attempt to control spending, to the point now where voters are faced with another extaordinary tax hike?"

I'd say it is somewhat accurate. Cunningham did use the tax relief fund set up precisely for that purpose. That's why it was called a tax relief fund. As for out-of-control spending, there was a Republican majority to control that. So I do not think Don was spending like a drunken sailor. He did reduce the workforce, and started long before anyone thought there was a problem. He is a fiscal conservative, but because he happens to be a Democrat, people deny that.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, don't you ever make yourself dizzy? read what you wrote:

"There is no need for a tax hike in 2011 unless we keep Gracedale. Since we are putting it into better hands, a hike can be avoided."

whose hands are they putting it in? have they already made a deal? do you know that "they" are better hands than the county?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why am I lazy? Because I oppose a 16% hike? Because I didn't come up with my OWN budget proposal cutting $17-19 million? Are you kidding?"

Not one bit. This is local government. The budgets are all online. The meetings are all open. Citizen input is welcome. I have said before that democracy is not a spectator sport.

Let me give you one example, Tea party Stan. he goes to the meetings and offers his ideas. He does not pretend to be crunching the numbers like Joe Hilliard always pretends and never does. He actually comes up with real suggestions. And last night, one of them was accepted and will end up saving taxpayers $2MM.

Not bad.

Incidentally, that's what the 9 commissioners are elected to do.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"whose hands are they putting it in? have they already made a deal? do you know that "they" are better hands than the county?"

Last week a firm was hired to negotiate a sale. A deal will go thru the normal bidding process, but there will be contract language requiring that the privatized home must be willing to accept a specific percentage of Medicaid residents bc Gracedale has 30% of the Medicaid beds in NC. The private owner will still be under the same strict regulations imposed by the state.

Quality of care will improve.

First, most of the same employees will still be there, except they will be getting more money, although they will no longer have a defined benefit pension.

Second, the County can no longer afford to maintain the place or the salaries of the people who work there, and that will eventually hurt residents. There are major capital repairs needed. A private home can take care of that and can install new units like a vent unit to improve the profitability and be competitive. The County has no knowledge on being competitive or marketing a nursing home.

So really, the best way to save Gracedale is by selling it.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, once again you did an excellent job on the video's, although I disagree with many of your praises for both cunningham, and now browning. i would recommend that none of our commissioners ever play poker with cunningham.

when you have time, i would appreciate a slight elaboration on tea party stan's recommendation, thank you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's a simple suggestion to use gambling revenue to reduce the tax burden. So simple everyone missed it. I may have over-simplified this myself.

Yes, I know that Dean's position has found few supporters among Rs.

I will be talking to hm about that separately.

Mike Schware said...

Bernie -

As you know, last night was my first county meeting. I have to say that I was surprised and offended by Cunningham, who you describe as "animated". I would describe him as "childish", "arrogant", and "unprofessional".

I wouldn't accept behavior like that from my two-year old, and I certainly don't accept it from someone who is supposed to be the County "Executive". It's bad enough to show that much contempt for your fellow elected officials, but to demean members of the public who came out to participate in county government is inexcusable.

We can argue over the wisdom of the county budget and Dean's vote all day, but Dean's biggest mistake last night was not using the gavel to put Cunningham back in order. I can only assume that Dean had the same contempt for the county taxpayers that Cunningham was insulting.

I say all this as someone who thought he had seen the lowest points of public discourse over the years at Allentown City Hall. I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Commissioner Browning demonstrated enormous courage last night. It wasn't his vote as much as the willingness to go against party lines and support a budget that was the best for the governance of the county.

He explained the reason for that vote with a clarity of reason and perspective rarely expressed in politics.

In a vote that may have cost him his political career Browning showed enormous courage.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mike,

I'm from Northampton County, where I've seen Council members physically threaten each other and have listened to audience members curse and scream. So from that reference, last night's meeting was quite refined.

I've looked at Cunningham's remarks, and he demeaned no one. The closest he came was when he suggested they would wake up with a tea party hangover. I thought that was basically fair, too. In any event, both of his statements are up for everyone to see and judge for themselves.

I would add that I thought the audience was very spirited but respectful. I think the King George comparison and other comments are over the top, but that's fine, too.

And Browning did stop it when Cunnigham and Eckhart started mixing it up.

But the video is up there and maybe others agree with you.

michael molovinsky said...

i can only surmise that cunningham "embarrassed" dougherty and brown from voting for the proposed 13% alternative, by harping on the "mere" $350,000. he discounted putting the $1.6 million gambling revenue into the general budget by saying it was just deferring maintenance. who said that gambling revenue was intended for capital projects and not general tax relief? tax relief was the justification given by harrisburg for casino approval. who said that cunningham needed to buy the hamilton center just for the 911 center, take it off the tax rolls and into the capital expense column.

Joan C said...

Bernie,
I agree and disagree with you.... Yes, I agree there is no way out of this mess without raising taxes, however 16% is excessive. We are in a recession, people are loosing their jobs and their homes because they can not afford to pay their taxes.

I respectfully disagree with you. Dean did NOT do his constituents will last night, and did not do what is good for the county. What he did was reward the executive for doing a SHABBY job, basically saying, hey! that's ok... you don't need to write a budget with any cuts in governemt.... the tax payers will just dig a little deeper.

It is the COUNTY EXECUTIVE'S job "To prepare, as chief budget officer, the annual operating and capital budgets and submit them to the board prior to September 1 of each year" (Home Rule Charter, art 4 sec 402e) The county exectuive's budget is OUT OF LINE with what the tax payers can afford!

If I do a job, and it's not done right, my boss tells me to take it back and try again. It's not the commissioner's place to try to rewrite the budget. The commissioners job is to "make appropriations, incur indebteness, and adopt the budget" and "To levy taxes..." (Home Rule Charter Art 3 sec 302b&c) So it's there job to tell Don what they need, how much debt they are likely to incur, and then adopt the budge that HE DRAFTS and then the commissioners are required to adopt it.
http://www.lehighcounty.org/Portals/0/PDF/commish/LChomeRuleCharter08.pdf

Therefore, how did the commissioners not do their job? It seems the County Executive was all about fear mongering and putting the blame on someone else. It's his job to write the budget, HIS job to make the tough choices and cut where it needs to be cut. Shame on Browning for not looking out for his constituents.

Anonymous said...

Any tax increase of this breathtaking magnitude amid 10% sustained unemployment and record foreclosures is a monument to bad government.

The executive and entire board should tenure their resignations. They clearly have no regard for those struggling to keep homes and dreams in this county.

Shame, shame, shame.

Anonymous said...

"you don't need to write a budget with any cuts in governemt"

See, here is where the facts get mixed up. Cunningham did HUGE cuts in parts of the 2011 budget over 2010 and 2009. This budgeted was minced and parced for cuts.

I challenge people to give specific 17-19 million dollars worth of cuts. So far, in all the hand-wringing and rhetoric, not one person has given a cut of substance where the value. The lazy commissioners came up with 350k. Think you can do better? Give specifics. real numbers. not the "cut wages" stuff. Are you willing to cut 5% from the DA? The prisons? The courts? Get specific.

eckville press said...

Tom Creighton's "CONTRACT WITH COUNTY TAXPAYERS"

"I will balance the county budget without increasing property taxes or raiding county reserves. Government must live within its means and only spend what it takes in."

Paid for by Lehigh County Victory PAC

eckville press said...

To The Honorable Dean Browning,

In the fall election of 2009, the little people, by electing Tom Creighton, signed a contract with the Republican Party to balance the county budget without raising taxes or raiding county reserves . Tom Creighton, with the financial support of the Lehigh County Victory PAC, Lehigh County Republican Committee, and Committee to Elect Tom Creighton, proclaimed he had a plan to balance the county budget without raising taxes. Now, one year later, Tom's plan will not be considered for a vote, and the contractual obligation with the taxpayers will be nullified?

As always,
Respectfully,
Eckville Press

eckville press said...

Tom Creighton doesn't just talk about cutting taxes....

HE'S DONE IT.

As a Lynn Township Supervisor, Creighton eliminated waste and cut property taxes by 23% for local homeowners. Now he's running for County Commissioner with A PLAN, (that's right, A PLAN) to balance the county budget WITHOUT (that's right, WITHOUT) increasing property taxes or raiding county reserves.

Paid for by Lehigh County Victory PAC

Anonymous said...

Eck -

I don't think you have a beef with Creighton. Your comments should be directed to Browning and the rest of the Dems.

Anonymous said...

Eck -

I would suggest working hard to elect people who don't want to see your taxes raised. Creighton gets it, as do the other 3 Republicans commissioners. But there are nine on the board.

If we don't want to see our taxes raised, we need to get rid of the five Democrats on the board.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that Percy Dougherty also joined Browning in voting for the measure. Indeed the 4 Demos stuck together to support Cunningham and the Former Chair and Current Chair joined in support of the blame . Of course the back benchers were free to do their own thing .... That is the way in politics ... Some will vote no just to say they never voted for a tax raise .... Then when they are forced to vote yes on a tax raise they will only do it after somebody makes a motion to raise the tax even more .... Of course that politician will go around and say that he or she never voted for a tax increase but in reality supported a tax increase but didn't want a larger .

eckville press said...

You missed my point.
In 2009 the voters took Tom for his word.
They signed on to his contract to balance the budget without raising taxes or raiding the county reserve.
That said, where is Toms PLAN???
That's right, another broken campaign promise.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong on the Dougherty Vote ... He voted no on a previous measure to approve a 13% tax increase which I think was note voted yesterday ... But went along with 3 others to call for a no raise budget... Did the 5-4 vote constitute the final vote on the Budget that evening or was there another vote

Bernie O'Hare said...

The vote against the amended budget ensured that Cunningham's original budget would go into effect by default.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" we need to get rid of the five Democrats on the board"

If you worked to get rid of the incumbent Comm'r Chair based on his vote of conscience, you will make Democrats the happiest people on earth.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the LCRC (Lehigh County Republican Committee) I, for one, praise Dean Browning for his vote last night. Do I like having my taxes raised by 16%? Obviously, the answer is no. But, what were the alternatives? Only two commissioners offered any substantive cuts to the budget in the months preceding the vote - 2! Dean Browning was one of them. The others commissioners - D and R - stood by waiting for someone else to make a decision for them. Cowards! Dean Browning is a CFO for a major corporation, which I believe is doing well. This makes him, most likely, the most qualified person on the board to make a decision about the budget. Realistically, Dean must "audit" the financial statements of his employer every day - looking at specific line items, making difficult decisions, which may affect the livelihoods of his fellow employees. Guess what? Dean had to do the same thing with the county budget - he audited the hell out of it - he came up with cuts, and presented his thoughts in a logical manner. Dean understands that a "zero" increase budget would have had dire affects on his constituents – have you visited downtown Allentown recently? Could we afford to have more crime in the Allentown, which would eventually feather out to other areas of the county? NO. And that’s exactly what would have happened. Even president judge William Platt stated, "To disturb that equilibrium, you jeopardize the security of every person in this room and every person in the county of Lehigh”. And, Scott Ott was quoted as saying that Dean Browning is, the "wisest of counselors on county fiscal matters”. So, I’m confused. We have a subject matter expert, who was one of only two commissioners to offer any substantive alternatives to the budget, who was looking out for constituents knowing that it may end his political career – and he’s the one being admonished? Shame on the commissioners who didn’t take the time or effort to offer an alternative, or didn’t ask questions as to how to properly dissect a financial statement, or made absurd promises for a no tax increase for this year. They ALL saw this coming last year – any they did nothing. Wayne Woodman was wrong when he said, "I'm disappointed it didn't pass because it would have opened an opportunity for commissioners and the executive to have serious negotiations about the budget ". Serious negotiations should have happened months ago, but some of the commissioners were just too lazy, un-informed, or scared to act. Hell, I hate agreeing with Don Cunningham, but in this case he was right, the commissioners should have acted on this months ago. To Wayne Woodman I use his own words in saying support of the non acting Republican commissioners, "That's up to my committee people, isn't it?" Wayne, perhaps this also applies to you. Shouldn’t you have demanded that the Republican commissioners take a realistic stand on budget cuts when you were elected as the chair of the LCRC? Shouldn’t you have offered them more guidance in this area? To point fingers and make veiled threats against Dean Browning is objectionable in its own right. To paraphrase Julius Caesar, “et tu Wayne”!

Anonymous said...

O'Hare stop with the regurgitation of your practiced Gracedale bullshit. You really are just a husk of a manchild who does the bidding and mouths the words of your mancrushes Angle and Stoffa.

There is not one scintilla of evidence to prove Gracedale will be better off in private hands.

As to provisions in a contract you know what a crock that is. Even if your old lawyer brain is still drug addled from your past, you know the law is what a judge says it is at any given moment. Sure a firm may buy the Home with a provision in it. Since legally they can't dump people it would be a while before any issues occur. Once they start nibbling away at the poorest applicants they will be in a position to challenge the wording, citing hardship. That is if the County even notices or is monitoring the place. Angle/Stoffa only have dollar signs in their eyes and would never admit they screwed over the most vulnerable people in our community. Given the poor way the Stoffa Administration has run Gracedale for the past few years that won't happen soon. Contract language is changed everyday and judges change up things all the time. This is about a quick $30 million and cutting the county workforce by 30% and let the elderly be damned. Can't Angle/
stoffa allow you to at least be honest and upfront about the real motivation behind this. Better care for the elderly is the last concern on this gangs mind. Amazing!

Stop pissing on peoples legs and calling ti rain O'Hare.

The only thing we truly know, that has not been filtered by the Angle Stoffa political machine, is that except for the past three years of Angle/Stoffa manipulation Gracedale has for half a century done what people wanted it to do and at a profit for the people. Everything else is part of the Angle/Stoffa bullshit universe that you are so eager to sell.

Eventually Gracedale will be like all the private Nursing Homes cherry picking the elderly seniors and letting the ones they don't think will make them money fall between the cracks.

But by then what will Angle/Stoffa care they will be gone and their newbie Republican Council robots will be left holding the bag. But they will be voted out by then.

You are truly a hypocrite.

eckville press said...

Lehigh County Home Rule Charter:

County Eckecutive presents a budget by Sept. 1.

Sept. 1 till Oct. 31, commissioners and public scrutinize budget.

Oct. 31 till Dec. 31, Eckecutive and commissioners no go she ate the budget???

Guy Williams said...

Its quite obvious theres not much that can be cut from the budget without a major negative impact.Don had his night but the humiliation of the Rep commissioners pales in comparison to the bitch slap received by wayne woodman.His backround suggests he should know better then to be caught on the wrong side of this dilemma.A financial advisor to the stars indeed.Tell us Mr.woodman how would you cut the 19 mil

Andy Roman said...

Thank you Scott Ott for your articulate effort to reason with Dean on this very important Vote.

You are absolutely correct when you say that it is the sole responsibility of the County Executive, according to the Home Rule Charter, to prepare a budget subject to Board approval.

So, sending it back to the County Executive for a rewrite is consistent with the roles & responsibilities outlined in the Home Rule Charter.

For Dean to suggest that this was a "gimmick" and that the Commissioners had the onus on them to rewrite the budget is absurd and infuriating and is clearly based upon a false premise.

The Board is responsible for setting "public policy" and the Executive Branch is responsible for "executing" public policy and "managing daily operations".

Therefore, those responsible for daily operations would naturally be responsible for preparing a budget since they are the closest to mechanics of County Government on a full-time basis, not the part-time Board who just sets the policy for which they must adhere.

Therefore, a tie-breaking Vote, based upon a false premise, due in part to a lack of understanding of the proper role of the Legislative and Executive Branch of County Government, by someone who thinks he is the smartest guy in the room, is tragic not courageous, and cost us $14.1 million dollars in new taxes!

Anonymous said...

The false reality is that courts and the DA's office would be cut. Yes, that may have been what the County Executive would have dishonestly returned to the Commissioners, but the Commissioners had until mid-December to restore those areas and cut elsewhere.

Why would they suddenly work together after not being able to find enough cuts in the original budget? Because the County Executive and his democrat Commissioners would not have the tax-hike budget to fall back on.

I think you would be amazed at what can happen when neither party is happy with the proposed budget, and real cuts (not the courts or DA's office) need to be found. Browning and the Dem commissioner's votes made sure that wouldn't happen.

Anonymous said...

"Why am I lazy? Because I oppose a 16% hike? Because I didn't come up with my OWN budget proposal cutting $17-19 million? Are you kidding?"

"Not one bit."

So, I am lazy. Calling names, I see. If that's the game then you are an idiot. An idiot with an internet account. 16% tax increase is a sign that local government is out of control and unable to manage a budget. You call that brave or "voting their conscience." I call that idiocy. Guess we differ.

"This is local government. The budgets are all online."

On Sept 1 a 799 page budget is made available. Every citizen who objects must scour it and come back with their own budget. Presumably 799 pages long. That's a real effective way to govern. Simply make stuff to long to digest. Like a 2000+ national health care plan. Drown the electorate in a sea of data, bills, plans, budgets. Give 'em a few weeks to examine what took months to create. Then call 'em lazy. Nice.


"The meetings are all open. Citizen input is welcome. I have said before that democracy is not a spectator sport."

What a revelation. Insightful. BTW, it's a representative republic. If it were a democracy, we'd all get to vote on the budget, not just the 4 commissioners and 5 idiots that did.

"Let me give you one example, Tea party Stan. he goes to the meetings and offers his ideas. He does not pretend to be crunching the numbers like Joe Hilliard always pretends and never does. He actually comes up with real suggestions. And last night, one of them was accepted and will end up saving taxpayers $2MM.

Not bad."

He 'offers his ideas.' Captures it perfectly. Citizen goes before elite elected class and humbly offers a 'suggestion.' It gets 'accepted.' Wow, what an idea. There was once an idea that the elected worked FOR the people. Dems have turned that idea upside down. With their superior 'conscience' and 'leadership' and 'courage' they will now save the great 'unwashed' electorate with a 16% tax increase. Premise: things would be MUCH worse without us. Be thankful. And we have idiots like you agreeing with and promoting that premise.

"Incidentally, that's what the 9 commissioners are elected to do."

Exactly. And, they failed. I expect the Dems to ALWAYS increase taxes. It is their way of purchasing power. I don't expect that of republicans. And yet, increasingly, that's what I am seeing.

Right now, close to 50% of this nation pays no income tax. Those 50% would be making an entirely rational choice to vote for that party. I actually don't blame them. That doesn't make it right, or equitable. (where's the conscience when you need it?)

In the end, your point seems to be that 16% tax increase is what you get when people are "too lazy." Too lazy to get consumed (799 page budget would require anyone with a private sector job to be consumed)
in the disgusting mess that is politics. You love this stuff. That's sad.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1) You can get as angry as you want but democracy is not a spectator sport. If you choose to sit on the sidelines and just complain, then you are lazy and that defeats the urpose of home rule.

2) The budget is long bc it is extensive. But you have a lot more time to examine that than any congressional bill. Instead of hours, you have months. If you want to complain that it's too hard for you to review, then perhaps you should not open your mouth and bray to begin with.

3) Citizen input does work. I provided you an example. You sneer and then decide to trash one political party and start ranting about who is paying income tax.

The truth is you, like most people, love to complain but come up more than a little short when it comes to actually doing something. But you'll slam the people who take the time to do it.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing more than sitting in my PJ's in my mom's cellar blogging on a computer...like you. A$$hat

Anonymous said...

"Governor" Cunningham was an obnoxious ass because he's an angry lame duck who has nothing to lose because Scott Ott, using his entire $16.00 war chest shot down Don's entire political future. There's no way Don gets another term as executive. He likely wouldn't survive a recall vote held today. Don's going to have to pursue honest work shortly. And I'll bet he doesn't do it in Lehigh County because he won't want to pay the outrageous taxes.

Run Scott! Run!

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, i must take exception with your repeated phrase that democracy is not a spectator sport. for most people their required participation should not be beyond voting. perhaps they should attend a meeting if they want to express their opinion, although it is my well informed opinion that even that does little good. it should not be incumbent upon citizens to dissect the budget. it's not rocket science to understand that a $390 million dollar budget could be cut, dean browning's "expertise" aside.

Anonymous said...

...now if Bethlehem can only get rid of DC's twin. DC scrammed out of Bethlehem whilst he still held the "Rising star, junior achiever, hot newcomer" label or whatever it was. He's a phony as is Callahan. Phony on the personal side AND as a public figure. Here's a guy who inherited an enormous surplus (70% tax hike) and ran through it like a drunken sailor on shore leave. But as Ronald Reagan famously said, that's an insult to all drunken sailors, because at least it was their own money.

VOR

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm doing more than sitting in my PJ's in my mom's cellar blogging on a computer...like you."

I do spend a lot of time blogging, to be sure, but I do it mostly nude.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Cunningham was an obnoxious ass "

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I thought he said exactly what needed to be said, and the way it needed to be said.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"it's not rocket science to understand that a $390 million dollar budget could be cut,"

True, and a great way to do that would be by selling Cedarbrook, which is not a core county function. True, it is the highest rated nursing home in this area, but if the goal is to raise a lot of $ quickly, that's a cut that could be made, and then the courts could stay open. I don't think you'd go for that, right?

michael molovinsky said...

i would not go for selling cedarbrook, however, unfortunately cunningham's first act as county executive in 2006 was to unionize the nursing home via of card check. actually his current sellout of senior citizens with this budget, pales in comparison with that assault in 2006. when cedarbrook is sold, it will be a direct consequence of don cunningham.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, I'll also add that it is a good idea to attend meetings from time to time. You may feel that you make no difference, and I know your own personal experience would justify that conclusion, but you are making a difference. It may not be noticed right away, but it will happen.

On Wednesday night, a lot of people spoke, but one of them really got to Cunningham. It was the county retiree on a fixed income. She probably thinks she did not matter, but I know he'll be thinking of her.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Just so you know, Cedarbrook and Gracedae are completely different animals. I was using it to make a point If you have to cut, and are told not to touch the courts and the DA, that leaves cedarbrook.

We all want a tax free government, but we also want the courts to stay open and the DA to continue prosecuting the bad guys. And you want Cedarbrook. So where does Cunningham come up with $17 million?

He can't. This budget is down as far as it can go without endangering vital county services that are taken fro granted. That's why Dean Browning, whose financial expertise needs no quotation marks, did the right thing. He also voted his conscience, and is being burned in effigy for it.

Guy Williams said...

Bernie,Your right about some of these complainers.When they had their party representation,Bausch and Baker,They still pissed and moaned.Baker was a shrewed one,almost brilliant,Never raised taxes!!!!And then bailed leaving poor Ervin the mess resulting in having to hike tax rates.As serious as it should be politics can be fun to observe.

Anonymous said...

Scott Ott's has these Tea Party people so upset at Browning it's funny. Republicans eat their own especially when they do the right and unpopular thing. Dean deserves a pat on the back and I think that's you Justin Simmons (anon )stay in the basement blogging, or how about getting a real job...and maybe a

Chris Casey said...

I would like to respond to the 2:47Pm commenter who cried "Run Scott Run!"
I'm not going to call you a name, I think most thinking folks already have their own opinion of your statements. Statements that belie the ignorance of those who would govern, but have no clue what it takes.
The nine commissioners had 60 days to review the budget, and four months before that to sit down with the administration and give suggestions.
Only two did, Bill Hansell and Dean Browning.
The other 7 sat on thir hands and offered nothing of import.
It is on them as commissioners to be involved, and for them to sit around after almost 6 months and cry is ridiculous.
For people to defend them for taking so called stands is even more ludicrous.
They were elected to govern, not put on political dog and pony shows such as holding 4 hour budget cut hearings that have no chance of passing.
Yet that is exactly what they did
Here's one for you, Percy and Glenn are Chair and Vice Chair respectively of the County Administrative Committee.
Guess how many meetings they called in 2010?

ZERO!

Dean Browning is a portrait in Courage, the four Tea Party Republicans area portrait in
IGNORANCE.