It was an ugly and sad scene.
Ann McHale, a hard-working Democrat well into her second term on county council, was unceremoniously dumped as VP on Tuesday. Her replacement, Diane Neiper, is a newcomer who just two weeks before conceded she doesn't know what the hell she's doing.
So why did council get rid of McHale? What was really going on behind those closed doors? I can't be sure because council deliberated privately in violation of the Sunshine Act. But I have a theory.
Ann McHale intends to run for exec unless Stoffa decides to seek re-election. She won't oppose an incumbent Democrat. Ann's pals on council know this. And they're not happy about it.
Here's why. She's not the only Democrat with her eyes on that office. State representative Rich Grucela is tired of banging his head against the wall in Harrisburg. He is considering a run at county exec as well. Truth be told, he's always felt most comfortable in county government. Obviously, he'd like to avoid an expensive and possibly divisive primary against McHale, who is very popular in Bethlehem. And just as Henry II asked his courtiers, perhaps Grucela asked, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome [councilwoman]?"
And guess who works for Rich Grucela?
None other than council prez Wayne Grube. If I know Grucela is considering a stab at county exec, you can be damn sure that Grube knows it, too. And just as Henry II's knights murdered Archbishop Becket inside Canterbury Cathedral, Grube and his council cronies eliminated Ann McHale inside council chambers. It was a disservice both to McHale and Grucela, who will ultimately be tarnished by these dirty politics.
Just three years after Becket's murder, he was canonized. And three years from Monday, the next county executive will be sworn in.
Update:Rich Grucela has contacted me. Like Henry II, he denies being involved in McHale's removal in any way. He's always beeen honest with me and I believe him. This dark work is not in Grucela's nature, anyway. When he does run, he tends to run for an office and never against anyone. I can't say the same for Grube and his council cronies. They are obvoiusly shoving McHale out of the way for someone.