Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Norco Solicitor Rules Exec Lacks Power to Fire Elections Chair

I've told you about Wally G, aka Walter R Garvin. He's Northampton County's elections commission chair. He's also a Democratic committeeman and serves as area chair for a portion of the county. The Home Rule Charter provides that "an officer in a political party" is ineligible for the elections commission. Since Garvin is clearly a party officer, you'd think County Exec. Stoffa would tell Garvin to take a hike, right?


County Solicitor, Karl Longenbach, Esq., says Stoffa lacks the power to remove Garvin. And unfortunately, he's right! Under the Charter, a commission member "forfeits" his office if he lacks any qualification or violates any prohibition. But nothing in the Charter gives our Exec the authority to remove a wayward elections chair. How's that for a kick in the pants?

Now this doesn't mean that Garvin is home free. Council might have the authority to declare the office "forfeited." And the Attorney General or DA has authority to commence proceedings against someone who has forfeited his office.

Although I doubt a Democratic Council has the political will to rule against one of their own, they certainly should ask Garvin to resign. We all should. And although Attorney General Tom Corbett has the authority to commence proceedings to remove Garvin, he's no miracle worker. November is only weeks away.

Right now, the best service Wally G could perform for Northampton County would be to step down from the elections commission. But he's not really interested in what's best for the county or he would have already resigned. He just wants Democrats elected, no matter how bad things look.

In the long run, he's actually hurting his own party.


PA progressive said...

Interesting Bernie. You really uncovered a good story. Do the County Commissioners have the authority then?

That's what happened here. The Commissioners fired the elections guy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

They may have the auhority. I think the best approach would be to ask the AG to start quo warranto proceedings. I gave your example to the county exec here. Unfortunately, Berks is a different form of government. NC is home rule.

Thanks for all your nice words all along.