Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welsh & Browning: The Gang of Two

I've told you about the Gang of Four, which is hellbent on ousting LC Comm'r Dean Browning. But Dean does have fans. The Morning Call's Bill White is one of them. And so is LC Commissioner candidate Mike Welsh. In fact, over a breakfast of spam and eggs yesterday, Mike confessed he'd happily form a Gang of Two with Dean.

Welsh's admiration for Dean Browning goes back to February 2009, when Dean voted against a Don Cunningham plan to save the nearly bankrupt LV Zoo by injecting $525,000 in cash that year, followed by $325,000 over each of the next four years. Browning was willing to give the zoo $200,000 to meet its immediate needs while commissioners and zoo officials worked out a business plan.

The final vote? 7 to 1.

A 10 year-old girl named Ashley killed Dean's plea for fiscal sanity.

"I have no animals at home, only a hamster and a fish. At the zoo, I got to watch a lot of happy faces. If someone closes the zoo, it will make me very sad."

The place was packed with LV Zoo advocates, and Commissioners crumbled. Except Browning. There were no tea party people in the audience. Wayne Woodman was lounging on his yacht in Beverly Hills. Scott "Scrappleface" Ott was at that time more concerned about Rush Limbaugh. Neither stepped foot inside Lehigh County's meeting room.

Browning quietly and amiably voted his conscience, notwithstanding the pressure of special interests.

Mike respected Browning's courage.

Later that year, when Lehigh County was preparing its 2010 budget, Dean Browning proposed cutting $100 thousand in "quality of life" grants for the foo-foos. County Exec Cunningham tipped them off, and this time, instead of a 10 year-old girl, Pip the Mouse came and blasted Browning. He even stuck a little mouse bomb in Browning's car. It just went P-f-f-f-t, but it's the thought that counts.

In addition to Pip, Arts Director Robert Metzgar was so mad his false teeth nearly fell out. "What are you, cRaZy?" is how he started from the podium. From there, things went downhill. He told Commissioners they could forget being re-elected if they insisted on these cuts. "You're going to bring the wrath of our community down on you," he roared. When Commissioners nervously laughed at this old dude on his way to cardiac arrest, he yelled even more. "Something funny up there?" Metzgar looked like he wanted to hop over the dais and roll around with both Glenn Eckhart and Dean Browning, but must have had second thoughts. He settled by condemning Browning's proposal as a "draconian insane cut." After being repeatedly condemned, Dean Browning finally said, "I get it. I'm a Visigoth barbarian."

Scott Ott was nowhere to be found that night. Perhaps he was doing voice overs for one of his witty essays. Bossman Wayne Woodman was likely livin' the dream, sipping Margaritas on the French Riviera.

Agree or disagree, Browning stuck to his guns, even though he lost. Mike Welsh could see again that Browning was willing to stand by his convictions.

In addition to Browning's political courage, Welsh admires Dean's loyalty. He told me that Dean and his wife stood on street corners for him when he ran for state rep against Jennifer Mann.

"What were they doing, selling their bodies?"

"No, they were holding signs, Bernie."

"Just asking. I'm a journalist, you know."

Courage, loyalty and honesty are character traits that mean something to Mike Welsh. "Your word is everything," he flatly stated.

He also rejected the Woodman-inspired effort to send the 2011 budget back to County Exec Don Cunningham, with instructions for a do-over. "To throw something back at the County Executive for no purpose whatsoever is just not my way."

Mike is employed with AC Thompson Insurance and Financial Services Co in Allentown, and has spent 23 years in the insurance industry. He ran a very spirited campaign against Jennifer Mann a few years ago, and in my opinion, trounced her in several debates. He has also ran for Commissioner against Dan McCarthy in 2009, but tells me his heart wasn't in it because Dan's a "really good guy."

"You didn't vote for him, did you?"


"Just asking. I'm a journalist, you know."

Mike is hoping the third time is the charm. "I want to make a difference in the lives of every day people." He said he'd support a return to the core functions of County government, mentioning public safety and human services as his top priorities.


Anonymous said...

"everyday people", really?? Mighty white of him!

Anonymous said...

seriously, "everyday people?"

That guy said...

We everyday people didn't want the tax cut. In the end it doesn't matter how many "groups of" are running. What matters is the will of the voters and if they want Dean they will elect him, if not they will elect someone else.

Bernie, I find it odd that you (of all people) would pick this fight againt supposed "party bosses" instead of reporting on the important issues of this campaign cycle.

That guy said...

Ughh, not enough coffee. I meant tax HIKE!

Bernie O'Hare said...

The most important issue in any political race is the honesty and integrity of the candidates seeking the office. Candidates who purport to be accountable and transparent do not establish that by fling a PAC in Harrisburg called "My Lehigh County." They do not establish accountability when it is obvious that the purpose of this PAC is to make it difficult for "every day people" to see who is funding the Gang of Four. They do not establish their honesty by filing affidavits stating they have no intention of forming committees or raising money when, in fact, they have been doing just that for over a month.

But if you want to elect candidates who mislead the voter, I won't stop you.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie O'Hare said:

"They do not establish their honesty by filing affidavits stating they have no intention of forming committees or raising money when, in fact, they have been doing just that for over a month."


But the do establish their honesty when they don't form - or raise money for - their individual candidate committees, which is exactly what they attested to when they signed their affidavits.

Raising money for a PAC is a separate issue and has nothing to do with the affidavits, which are used to determine if the candidates or candidate's committees must file reports with the county.

Also, the use of a (joint) PAC that files in Harrisburg isn't a violation either - it is allowed by the law. I know this because Dean Browning has a PAC that he set up there as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, Your argument might be a good defense in a criminal prosecution, but to those of us in the real world, if a person says he is not spending $250, we take him at his word.

Patrick McHenry said...


They're saying that they won't be setting up individual candidate committees that will be spending more than $250, so that the county knows not to be expecting a report (from an individual candidate's committee). BIG DIFFERENCE!

Honestly Bernie, a five-minute (maybe fifteen in your case :) phone call to the Voter Registration Office would clear this up for you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, As I've just indicated on another thread (and I have to get to work), look at Scheller and you'll see your own analysis is wrong.

More than a month before filing her affidavit, Scheller had a personal website, and on that website, is soliciting money for HERSELF. At that time. Then a month later, she claims she's not raising or spending money for herself on a sworn affidavit.

I agree that it would be difficult to mount a criminal prosecution bc the word "intends" is subject to a myriad of interpretations. If you file an affidavit claiming you have no intention of raising money ,and it is learned that you have been doing exactly that for a month, I think I'd call that person disingenuous.

Your argument does not hold up bc in Scheller's case, she is raiding money for herself, not some PAC. I think that's a distinction without a difference anyway

That guy said...

I hate to say this Bernie, but you're wrong on this one. The four candidates are actually being fiscally responsible by sharing costs if that is what the reason for the PAC is. And hopefully they will keep it in place for any other Lehigh County candidate who wants to run in the future.

There comes a point in time when one "jumps the shark", I feel this constant attack on the four people who are running is getting close to that for the LC Commissioner race coverage for you Bernie. I respect you for your tenacity and honnesty, but I believe you're starting to grasp at straws on this one to make the story line fit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The story line is what it is. Wayne Woodman told me he would maintain neutrality and has not done so. Lisa Scheller solicits money for herself and a month later, files an affidavit claiming she is not. Scott Ott files a PAC in Harrisburg inappropriately named "My Lehigh County." While claiming to be accountable and transparent, the very reason fort that PAC is not efficiency, but to hide the money.

And at the time this is happening, they trash one candidate who has a conscience.

I don't think this jumps the shark at all, but have never let my writing be influenced by what others think. So that's the wrong argument to use on me.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd rather have a candidate in office who is looking out for "everyday people" than establishing a "slate" just to knock off an incumbent. To hell with having a worthwhile platform, or an agenda that works for the "everyday people" - that group seems hellbent on looking out for themselves; screwing the "everyday" people in the process. Didn't we similar ideas in the Pelosi/Reid/et al slate pushed down our throats. I don't believe that ended up working out too well for the "everyday" people did it?

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:52, but for different reasons. I like independent thinkers who will not get caught up in group think. Whether that group think is some "liberal-progressive theism or Tea Party Dogma".

The candidate that can see the good and bed in both of those ism's is more likely to get my support, regardless of the Party moniker they have around their necks.

Lets be honest, in old Pennsylvania you must be a Republican or Democratic candidate to get elected. Many times when I hear candidates from both parties, I tend to think tye are just mouthing the words to get support.

Joe Hilliard said...


Once again, you play fast and loose with the facts.

The "Tea Party" was not there in February of 2009 because.... it did not exist yet! DUH.

Our first event we tax day protests in April of 2009.

Nor was "party boss" Woodman there in February of 2009 because..... he wasn't Chairman of the Lehigh County GOP.

Hmm, go figure.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Joe, I am not playing fast and loose with the facts. That is your specialty. The simple truth is that people like you were not around for the 3 years that Browning was taking it on the chin, and party boss Woodman was not there either. You folks had NO interest, but people like Dean were working their asses off then to save money. All of a sudden you get interested and, like idiots, you take aim at the one person who actually knows what he is doing and could save money.

In the meantime, you're still working on your audit of the 2009 budget.

Anonymous said...

Don't be a hater Mr. O'Hare. There is plenty of dirt on your guys that could be dished!

Joe Hilliard said...


And yet, you ignore the facts.

The "Tea Party" was not there because we did not exist yet.

Wayne Woodman was not there because he was not Chairman.

Spin it all you want, but facts are facts.

And of all of Dean Browning's attempts to save money, how many have been IMPLEMENTED?

Any? Sorry, I expect RESULTS, not ATTEMPTS.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Speaking of results, where's the audit you talked about over a year ago?