Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Gang of Four Aims For Dean Browning

Republican political consultant Tim Perskie sent me a news release yesterday afternoon on behalf of the Gang of Four. They are four LC GOP Comm'r candidates united in an Unholy Alliance to purge the heretic, Dean Browning. I'll get to that, but before I do so, I have to say something about this hired gun. I'm informed his services were sought back in February by none other than LC GOP Party Boss Wayne Woodman. He's the dude who told me he was Switzerland in this primary race. Wayne Woodman not only circulated petitions on behalf of three members of this Gang of Four, and now, his hand-picked consultant enters the fray. Instead of making me think about Switzerland, Woodman's conduct reminds me more of Pearl Harbor.

Another thing about Perskie's appearance that bothers me is that it pretty much establishes that candidates Lisa Scheller, Scott "Scrappleface" Ott and attorney Dave Najarian filed false affidavits at the elections office. At the same time they were claiming they had no intention of forming a committee, and had no intention of spending or raising more than $250, they had already enlisted the services of a paid and well-known consultant.

They had also formed a committee, but Ott apparently screwed it up and filed it in Harrisburg instead of Allentown.

I was very impressed to see campaign promises, sworn to under oath, promising to spend no money. But it was all a lie. They even were untruthful about forming a committee.

In their news release, these candidates proclaim that they stand for transparency and accountability. And they prove that by filing a bogus affidavit with their nomination papers.

On her web page, which was up and running before she filed her phony affidavit, Lisa Scheller makes no bones about asking for money, the way most rich people do. "Consider a contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $25...but even $5 helps us buy stamps to let more people know about Lisa."

I'd like more people to know about Lisa, too.

Here's Perskie's "news" release about the Gang of Four.

Team of Four Republicans Mounts Commissioner Run, Sparked by Browning-Enabled 16% Tax Hike

Scott Ott, Lisa Scheller, Vic Mazziotti and David Najarian Call for Transparency, Accountability in Focused Effective Government

(March 21, 2011) -- Four of the Republican candidates for Lehigh County Commissioner announced today that they're running as a team in an effort to change the county's long-term pattern of outspending revenues. They aim to bring transparency and rigorous oversight to a county government which has bled reserves to zero then jacked up taxes 16 percent for 2011, with the threat of higher taxes to come.

The team -- Lisa Scheller, Scott Ott, Vic Mazziotti and David Najarian -- "bring a complementary mix of experience to the commissioner board," according to Ott, an online video news commentator who's developing a show on the U.S. Constitution for PJTV.com. In 2009, Ott narrowly lost his rookie bid to unseat County Executive Don Cunningham by just 862 votes of 41,000 cast.

"County government performs crucial functions," Ott said. "Vic, David, Lisa and I will work to make sure Lehigh County does only what it must do, and does it with efficiency, effectiveness, and ongoing innovation."

The four run as a team because to reform the process and reduce spending requires power to override an executive veto -- in other words, six votes. Republicans now have a 5-4 majority, but they didn't voted [sic] together on the 2011 budget, so County Executive Don Cunningham was able to "divide and conquer," Ott said.

"The problems that spurred me to run 2009 have continued," he said, "and the consequences, sadly, are as I predicted then -- a double-digit tax increase. But when Commissioner Chairman Dean Browning had a chance to do something about it, he voted to reject two lower-tax options, enabling the 16-percent tax hike to pass without a vote. So, he can say he didn't vote for the tax hike, but the truth is, he didn't vote against it. He actually voted with the Democrats to guarantee it."

Lisa Scheller, President and CEO of a global manufacturing firm, Silberline in Tamaqua, expressed shock at the lack of due diligence under Browning's chairmanship which led to the big tax-rate jump.

"Leaders take personal responsibility," said Scheller. "But Chairman Dean Browning blamed his fellow commissioners for failing to do the work, failing to hold important committee meetings to scrutinize the budget. What does it mean to be chairman? Where's the leadership?"

David C. Najarian, a Lynn Township Supervisor who helped to cut spending, restructure government and roll-back taxes, agreed, noting his team has a different perspective on the commissioners' relationship to the executive.

"Dean Browning says his job is to partner with the administration," Najarian said. "If Mr. Browning and the commissioners, and the public-sector union bosses, and the department heads are all partners in this ever-increasing spending, who represents the taxpayer?"

Vic Mazziotti, who just retired as Chief Financial Officer of Northampton County, where he helped to cut millions in spending and to bring in a balanced 2011 budget with no tax increase, said, "Browning's self-proclaimed conservatism is fine, as far as it goes. But voters evaluate behavior, not professed ideology. What he actually did was vote to kill the only two alternatives to the 16-percent tax increase. Browning owns this tax hike."

The May 17 Republican primary, Ott said, will be a referendum on Dean Browning's enabling of the tax hike, and "a definitive statement by GOP voters that the era of Republican excuses is over."


So there you have it. Four Lehigh County Commissioner candidates, three of whom lied under oath, want to replace a Commissioner who follows his conscience.

I contacted Dean Browning, and he has this response.

"I find it interesting that Scott Ott's claim to fame politically is that he LOST an election and it is ironic that Ott wants to run a single-issue campaign on property taxes when he doesn't even pay property taxes in Lehigh County. Republican voters will find it simply unacceptable that Ott, Scheller, Najarian and Mazziotti like to talk about cutting taxes and spending, but when you press them for details about what they would cut, all you get are a bunch of blank stares.

"The fact of the matter is that I am a local small businessman who helped to create jobs in Lehigh County. I took on the public employee union bosses before it became politically popular and I have successfully led the fight to make government more transparent and to responsibly cut spending and to shrink the size of county government. My opponents can try and misrepresent my record but I have the facts on my side and I look forward to running and winning on my record in this year's Republican primary."

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vic Mazziotti: While he may have a good financial mind, he's very difficult to work with and has no desire to listen to the point of view of others. He'll find out that you need both to be a good legislator. This campaign should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

What a disgrace

Anonymous said...

This is a campaign between the Republican political establishment and four candidates who are willing to take them on, based upon principals not personalities.

You can be sure the establishment will do all they can to crush them!

Yes it will be an interesting 8 weeks! It is a fight for the soul of the Lehigh County Republican Party. The voters will determine which side they support on May 17. Let the debate begin!

Anonymous said...

"You can be sure the establishment will do all they can to crush them!"

What crock! They are the establishment! You have the chair of the county party backing his wife, his former employee, a long-time government employee and a township supervisor. they embody what it means to be in the establishment.

Frankly, I find it disgusting that they want to have a fight for the "soul of the Lehigh County Republican Party" at the expense of voters. Have your party fights at your committee meetings. Make the election about what is best for voters, not just your cronies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:42, I'm sure that's how you'd like to spin it. I can see how that might appeal to the tea party element. But it's untrue. Wayne Woodman IS the elected political establishment. HIS WIFE is running so that he can consolidate his power. Four people are running as a group just like the good ol' days, when there was no independence.

You call this a race of principles. Fundamental among these principles is honesty. It's already very clear to me that three of Woodman's Gang of Four are incapable of telling the truth. Instead of being transparent and accountable, as they falsely claim, they filed affidavits in which they falsely claimed they would spend no money.

I find it highly amusing that this disingenuous gang would hone in on one candidate who actually has a backbone, and a conscience.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ann 5:13, I can only speak to Northampton County, but Vic was a very good listener during his time there. I hope he is listening now. He is in league with a group that will target a man with a conscience, even if it means they must lie. Vic is a Thomas More admirer, and I know how Thomas More would react to candidates filing false affidavits.

Patrick McHenry said...

Anon 9:05 -

You obviously are not a Republican or have no idea who is the Republican "establishment".

By the way, this is probably the first time that I've ever heard giving the voters a choice as being "at the expense of voters".

By the way, I'm sure there are many Democrats who hope that Browning wins in the primary so the Democrat commissioner candidates can then jump on him for enabling the tax hike.

Anonymous said...

Good investigative work Bernie. Do not trust Scott Odd. Keep it up!

Guy Williams said...

This is why Vic cant get elected to office,a capable man but a snake. He of all people should know Brownings reasoning.So again a good Rep office holder[ aka Bill Heydt] gets hammered by their own kind.Any difference between a gang of 4 in lockstep with a party boss or a sitting mayor?

Chris Casey said...

I looked at the petitions of the gang of four just yesterday. I thought the financial disclosure form was odd, but they each signed off on it. I'm going to Harrisburg Thursday to look at certain filings. Should be quite informative.

Patrick McHenry said...

Guy -

You're comparison is way off.

Bill Heydt believed that there was always a way for government to operate more efficiently (and at a lower cost). Heydt relentlessly questioned what the city did, if it was necessary, and if there was a way to do it cheaper.

Heydt would go over the budget line-by-line and make numerous, relatively small cuts because he believed that a budget isn't only balanced with one big cut but also with a series of small ones.

As a result, Heydt balanced the budget each year in office, left office with the city having a SURPLUS of $7 MILLION, and CUT property taxes in his last year in office.

To paraphrase Lloyd Benson: I knew Bill Heydt - and Dean "Tax Hike" Browning is no Bill Heydt.

Patrick McHenry said...

Am I the only one who finds it interesting that Bernie and Chris Casey - neither of whom are Republicans - have such an interest in the Republican primary?

Guy Williams said...

Patrick, Then please explain Bills numbers in the 17th ward in 2005. The 17th where reps rule.

Patrick McHenry said...

Guy -

I still can't come up with a rational explanation for Bill's loss in 2005. He was precisely what Allentown needed from a Mayor, at precisely the right time. His loss in 2005 has been Allentown's loss.

If my memory is correct, I think that was also the year that Jane "70% Tax Hike" Ervin was up for re-election. That surely didn't help any Republican, and might explain the numbers you cite.

That said, maybe the better comparison would be Ervin and Browning - and the real reason why Democrats are so interested in seeing Browning make it through the primary.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of primaries is to determine which candidates best represent their party.

Dean Browning's voting record is a fair subject for debate.

Just saying it is a matter of conscience is not the end all. He still must defend his votes.

Can we be fair and assume that all of the candidates have a conscience? Can we stop the personal attacks and focus on the issues? If not, why not?

Anonymous said...

Bernie constantly supports republicans and republican insiders like woodman and his band like that until they get caught lying and playing games. Now they have to feel his wrath. Lying and playing games are traits that drive voters nuts.

But hey, nominate the liars.

Anonymous said...

Mazziotti was known as a hallwalker in Northampton County. Mr. Hammond made all the calls and Vic made nice for Angle and council. Angle praised the guy because he always agreed with Angle, as does all of the Stoffa cabinet.

He was willing to sing the "company line" on Gracedale. Today we know the numbers are bogus as is the tax increase.

He should not be elected.

Patrick McHenry said...

Anon 6:01 -

Woodman isn't on the ballot.

Browning and his surrogates are doing their best to take the focus off of the issue of county spending and voting records.

If a violation of election law has taken place, then I'm certain that the election office will take care of it and hand out the appropriate penalty.

The reality is that this is just another orchestrated distraction.

Anonymous said...

Vic saved Northanpton County millions of dollars and he will do the same in Lehigh County. Why do you think Lehigh had a 16 PER CENT INCREASE IN TAXES and Northampton did not ? Stoffa has a great team...Maziotti was part of that!

Anonymous said...

Difficult, disgrace, puppet, liar, cheat, game player, etc.!

It is a wonder anyone runs for public office!

And them we complain that there are so few good candidates.

Are you proud of yourself?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, I am. The simple fact is that 3 of 4 comm'r candidates lied. Under oath. There is no other way around it. Then they have the audacity to claim they stand for transparency and accountability. That's their news release.

They have made their own honesty an issue, and that trumps everything else. I will take an honest man with a conscience over a slate of lying pols who answer to a party boss.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

If they did indeed lie, what is the Voter Registration Office going to do?

eckville press said...

O'Hare

The waiver of expense account reporting affidavit, when read in it's full content, states a candidate, whom being duly sworn according to law, will abide by the provisions set forth in the campaign finance reporting law.

No smoking gun here.

However, Mr. Browning supported Tom "secrete meetings" Creighton but will throw Najarian to the curb.

Perhaps I will vote for real reform this time around.

Change is good!!!

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Bernie O'Hare said...

Eck, I disagree. It is completely dishonest to file such an affidavit when you have already formed a committee or when you are already soliciting $1,000 contributions on the web. These folks claim they want to be transparent and accountable and prove that by lying. That's reform?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Am I the only one who finds it interesting that Bernie and Chris Casey - neither of whom are Republicans - have such an interest in the Republican primary?"

After 5 years of blogging, people who read me know very well that it is hard to peg me as a loyal Dem or R. But one thing I do hate is when people in politics are dishonest. That should trouble you, too, my friend. If you want to reform government, you don't do that by carting in a bunch of pols who are pretending. You're better off with someone who will tell you to your face when he disagrees with you.

eckville press said...

For sale:

1 used DeLong/Creighton/Christ/Snyder refrigerator. Model# FRT24RAWO, Serial# LA22906384. Yes Najarian Eck's on video!
Works well but needs a good cleaning, quite dirty Eck's told.

Me Bad,
Eckville Press

Bernie O'Hare said...

You always crack me up.

eckville press said...

The waiver of expense account reporting affidavit is specific to the intend of the individual candidate at the time of his/hers signing. If a candidates campaign is funded by a PAC or PPC then their signed affidavit stands true.

However, if a candidate formed a candidate campaign committee before signing the affidavit, then, we must agree.

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

eckville press said...

Eck thinks we should support Najarian for County Commissioner.
If Najarian fails to live up to expectations we can all have a good time Blogging him.

Besides, the Dutch Mafia rates him four and one half stars.
He won't earn the last half star till he eat "grundsau"

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Chris Casey said...

Just got home from work. I do plan on Thursday to look at the recent PAC Filings. By filing their PAC out of Harrisburg, the spirit of the law is being circumvented. By financing their campaigns through a PAC in this manner, it is likely that they would avoid any scrutiny before the election. The deadline for filing is in early MAY, and by the time the reports get ONLINE it could be the end of MAY.
I will look Thursday AM, and my person in Harrisburg will keep an eye out in the meantime. I can't wait to see what might pop up, and I'm taking plenty of cash to pay for copies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Eck & Chris, Ott and Scheller had formed a committee at the time they signed affidavits stating they had not. Ott screwed up and filed it in Harrisburg, but it is on its way to LC, if not already there.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that despite inheriting the largest cash surplus in Northampton County history and then raising taxes, Vic and the Stoffa gang still managed to screw things up to the point where they need to sell Gracedale to survive.

You guys will tell yourselves anything to gain credibility. Terrible job by a terrible crew.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"After 5 years of blogging, people who read me know very well that it is hard to peg me as a loyal Dem or R. But one thing I do hate is when people in politics are dishonest. That should trouble you, too, my friend. If you want to reform government, you don't do that by carting in a bunch of pols who are pretending. You're better off with someone who will tell you to your face when he disagrees with you."

*********************************

Bernie -

I appreciate your argument.

I do agree that you do not seem to play favorites between D's and R's (although you probably do lean a little bit D). But you certainly have favorite candidates who you forcefully advocate for (and against anyone who opposes them).

I think an honest assessment on the subject would be that you, I and most others commenting here are biased one way or another on the upcoming primary and the people running. That's not a problem.

That is why I asked what - if anything - the Voter Registration office will be doing.

It seems to me they are (or should be) the closest thing to being impartial on this subject. It should be they who determine if any wrongdoing has been done, and what the appropriate penalty is. I'll be much more inclined to consider the point, once an impartial body determines how serious the infraction is (if there is one).

Until the Voter Registration office makes a determination and takes action, the bulk of this just comes across as partisan bashing in favor of one's chosen candidate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, The voter registration office is not an election cop force. They d not go after people who thumb their noses at the rules. The remedy is either via a challenge or at the ballot box. It is too late to file a challenge, but not too late to vote.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

They've certainly fined others (Pawlowski, I think) for incorrect filings - or at least required amended filings.

Correct?

Anonymous said...

O'Hare is a hypocrite when it comes to politicians. he always has been and has shown no signs of changing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:35 PM:

You are a liar and a coward!

What you are saying is not true.

Have the courage to sign your name or stop making personal attacks!

Go back under the rock you crawled out from so you can hide like a little rat!

Vic Mazziotti

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, They have fined others, but only when a problem is brought to their attention. I brought the Pawlowski problem to them ... several times. In fact, I could have filed a complaint last year, and he would have been fined again. I did not file this complaint bc I was duped.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

I think perhaps it should be brought to their (the Voter Registration office's) attention so that they can make a determination.

There is the possibility that what a prior poster (Eckville Press) said is correct:

"The waiver of expense account reporting affidavit is specific to the intend of the individual candidate at the time of his/hers signing. If a candidates campaign is funded by a PAC or PPC then their signed affidavit stands true."

I am by no means a campaign reporting expert, but I have been involved in a few campaigns. The reporting requirements do get confusing, and there is something about Eck's post that rings true.

Also, usually the Voter Registration office is very helpful to the candidate(s) who ask what needs to be filed. At this point, it sounds like the four are using a separate PAC (not an individual or candidates committee) to fund their campaigns. It is therefore very possible that they explained the situation to the VR Office and the VR Office gave them guidance on how to file the forms in question.

In any event, I don't think they should be impugned here or anywhere else until we know for certain that an infraction has occurred. All of our speculation and conjecture can probably be resolved relatively quickly by bringing it to the proper authority.

Patrick McHenry said...

[I'm posting this a second time since it looks like my previous post was lost]

Bernie -

I still think it should be brought to their (the Voter Registration Office's) attention. They're the only ones who can say for certain if there has actually been an infraction.

In an earlier post, Eckville Press noted something that stood out to me:

"The waiver of expense account reporting affidavit is specific to the intend of the individual candidate at the time of his/hers signing. If a candidates campaign is funded by a PAC or PPC then their signed affidavit stands true."

I'm no expert in campaign reporting, but I've helped out with campaigns and something about Eck's statement rang a bell. I do remember feeling that the reporting laws are somewhat confusing.

I also know there is a distinction between the candidate and the candidate's committee. I'm assuming that the 4 are being funded by a separate PAC and there might be an additional distinction in such a case. Therein might be the answer to issue.

I do remember that the VR Office is quite helpful when candidates ask for help, so it is also possible that the candidates were instructed to fill out the forms the way they did by the VR Office itself.

So instead of us all resorting to assumptions and conjecture, I think the best course would be to have the VR Office involved. They either have or can gather the facts, and can apply the rules as they are written. They are the best and final authority we have on the matter, and their response to the charges would be a pretty good indication of how serious the matter really is.

Anonymous said...

So Patrick McHenry,

Bring it to Voter Regs attention. Nothing stopping you. Do you need someone to drive you there?

eckville press said...

O'Hare
Eck thinks the advice of the county election board would be as such,

"When in doubt, fill it out"

Chris,
The finance reports are due two weeks before the election, o'plenty o'time to scrutinize before a vote is cast.

That said, Eck also thinks the gang of four be finance by the Citizins For The Perpetual Funding For PIP. :)

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Anonymous said...

Whats with Mazziotti. The guy better grow a thicker skin or he will never last in elected office. No offense fella, but not everyone will be kissing your butt like O'Hare has.

Patrick McHenry said...

Anon 8:58 -

I don't really think there's an infraction here. I do think that those who believe differently have an obligation to take it to the VR Office if they think some wrongdoing has been committed.

Otherwise (as I've stated before), the whole issue just seems to be a diversion from a discussion on county spending and the voting records of certain candidates.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, I don't think dishonest behavior is a diversion from anything. It should be the most fundamental issue in any campaign.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, Let me add that your comment yesterday went into my spam folder and did not post. I have no control over that and corrected the problem when I saw it.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

Thanks for the explanation about the spam folder. I really didn't think you deleted it or anything.

I agree that dishonest behavior is an issue. However, I'm not sure that's what we have here. The voter registration office should be able to put the issue to bed, one way or another.

Guy Williams said...

I agree with the first comment 5:13 am. I will also give Mazziotti credit where credit is do.He has done a good job for NC.He was appointed. His dictator complex is a fit in that position but is downright offensive as a commissoner.This is the second time he has given up a successful tenure.We dont need any more talking heads or news junkies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I can understand Vic's anger. He was no "hallwalker," but saved the County millions of dollars. Every year. I'd add that he ignores most of the slurs, so he gets a pass if he lashesd out at one of therse trolls.

Anonymous said...

Always a 'pass' to the O'Hare mancrushes. To this day no one can find the so-called "millions" Vic saved.

That is why the County is in fiscal problems because they blowed the huge surplus they inherited.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've documented it several times, here and in the newspaper. Maybe you should learn how to read.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare your "documentation" is a recitation of unproved statements handed you by the Stoffa gang. No independent source has proved any of this fiscal saving nonsense.

You love Vic and he loves you, that is sweet. however, as points of fact the County is in worse shape now than it was five years ago and that is with this Administration inheriting the largest cash surplus in County history. The ten million a year alleged savings has as much validity as the 18% tax increase.

Total bullshit. Never proven and continually disproved by those win the know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You have been unable to refute any of the savings by Vic ... probably bc you are uninformed and talking out tour ass, as usual.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to refute since no one has proven any savings. Saying there are savings and proving it are two different things.

Since this Administration has shown that it cannot be trusted, there is no reason to trust their statements.

Truth over Lies!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mazzotti saved $10 MM annually. http://lehighvalleyramblings.blogspot.com/2011/02/vic-mazziotti-man-for-all-seasons.html

eckville press said...

O'Hare

The fridge is no funny.

The fridge, a dirty political hot potato with the potential to affect SB1469.

Follow the money.

The mystery continues.

Respectfully,
Eckville Press