I've voted for Wayne Grube as long as I can remember. When I addressed council yesterday, I complimented his service to the county. He is council's hardest-working member.
But anyone who attends Northampton County Council meetings, even sporadically, knows why Grube should step down as county council prez. It has nothing to do with his age or hearing. It has everything to do with his total inability to conduct an orderly meeting. It has everything to do with his willingness to allow himself to be controlled behind the scenes by other council members.
When I addressed council yesterday, I actually stole and read remarks made by one of the contributors to this blog. "Wayne Grube has been a powerful force in Northampton County politics for decades. His legacy is secure - perhaps no other politician has had a stronger and broader influence than he." But this contributor also had this to say. "Step down, please. Let our memories of you and your service be good ones. Nobody will think less of you; in fact, we will respect you even more."
I told Grube his time is over. His council meetings are an embarrassment. I stated publicly what nearly everyone will concede privately.
Lehigh County's Unofficial Motto? "We're not Northampton County." One of LVDem's most recent posts? "Those Crazy Kids in Norco."
In yesterday's brief council meeting, two sets of minutes from earlier meetings needed approval. Grube was at a total loss on how that should be accomplished. When it became apparent that there were objections to one set of minutes, Grube had to be reminded constantly how he should conduct the votes. The person reminding him? Council VP Ann McHale. Her reward? Dismissal.
He doesn't take criticism well, even when it is tactful.
During a typical meeting, Grube is thin-skinned, intolerant, gets involved in regular shouting matches and is rude to the public. He skips over portions of the agenda, and has to be reminded that he missed an item. He will call for votes on ordinances that have just been introduced.
But what really disturbs me is that he is now letting himself be used to subvert both the Sunshine Act and Home Rule Charter. Wayne Grube, for all his flaws, at one time believed in good government. He stood against Michael Solomon, something that is not widely known. His action on council ended the bribery in Northampton County.
But that Wayne Grube is now letting himself be used to decide the public's business behind closed doors. He has been at the heart of Sunshine Act and Home Rule Charter violations. He has worked against the Democratic county executive's agenda, even when it involves open space. He no longer stands for good government. Instead, he is deciding the county's business in the dark, with the help of new council members who don't know a damn thing about the Home Rule Charter. That's why they were all embarrassed a few weeks ago. If they deliberated publicly, they might have learned their plan to invade the cash reserve was contrary to the Home Rule Charter.
And that's why Grube needs to go.
Anyone who thinks otherwise should do himself a favor and sit in on a council meeting.
Who can replace him? Actually, there's not a large field. The only qualified Democrat is the no-nonsense Ann McHale. The only qualified Republican is Rev. J. Michael Dowd, who actually appointed a citizen to his open space committee when he was council prez.