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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, May 18, 2007

How a Little Old Lady Beat a Young Dude for Lehigh County Superclerk

"Records Deeds faster than a speeding bullet. Collects fines with more power than a locomotive. Able to leap tall bookshelves in a single bound --- 'Look, up in the sky,' 'It's a bird,' 'It's a plane,' 'It's Superclerk....' "

Last November, Lehigh County voters were conned into consolidating the Clerk of Courts, Recorder of Deeds and Register of Wills into a single office known as Clerk of Judicial Records. Superclerk!

The politically ambitious sponsors of this measure? County exec Don Cunningham. He'd like to be governor. Andy Roman. He'd like to be exec. Glenn Eckhart. He'd like to be Superclerk. Nothing was broken, but they just had to fix it. They successfully argued Superclerk would both save money and "modernize" row offices. In truth, this idea saves no money and is actually a throwback to our colonial period.

Not surprisingly, Clerk of Courts Andrea Naugle and Recorder of Deeds Marie Dean, both of whom opposed this Superclerk crock, won the Democratic and Republican nominations. I know and like them both. Whoever wins will insure row offices run smoothly.

Lehigh County Commissioner Glenn Eckhart, Young Dude, tried his best to beat Marie Dean. He was going to come up with a "plan" to save money in 100 days. And let me tell you about Mr. Young Dude's campaign strategy.

Young Dude is just 40, while Marie is 77 years young! His plan of attack - exploit this obvious age difference to his advantage. Experts picked Eckhart to win.

In the final week of the campaign, Young Dude sent out a flier to convince voters to get rid of that old bat.

“IN WITH THE NEW” – GLENN ECKHART (on left) “I have the energy and real world experience to streamline and modernize county government.”

“OUT WITH THE OLD” – MARIE DEAN (on right) “We’ve been doing business like this for 80 years.”

Young Dude uses a PDA, an SUV and a computer to show how fresh and with it he is.

Poor, Marie Dean gets an old rotary phone, a classic old car and a stack of papers.

But guess what? Septuagenarian Dean easily beat whippersnapper Eckhart at the polls with 58% of the vote.

Oopsie. Just about the only people who turn out regularly to vote in off-year primary elections are seniors! In one fell swoop, Young Dude alienated an entire major demographic. This serves as a classic example of how an idea often sounds great on paper but can actually damage you when other commonsense factors are not taken into account. You must always know with whom you are communicating.


Dean N Browning said...


I was all set to send you a pithy message to make the point that you should rename your blog to the Not West Of Route 33 Ramblings. But before I could do that you go ahead and post something about Lehigh County. Talk about taking the wind out of my sails. :-)

Bernie O'Hare said...


Your criticism was and remains very valid.

Recent LC coverage includes Karoly, Maria Dantos, LVEDC and here. I'm trying to improve. Either that, or I'm spreading my insane thinking elsewhere.

We'll have to talk about your campaign and do a blog interview once the election cycle starts up. I will try to be a little more inclusive in the next election cycle, but my focus will always be NC. That's where I'm in my comfort zone.

Anonymous said...

Well, the "we've been doing it this way for 80 years" quip might also be apropos for defending practices that are no longer efficient. Marie should stop using county employees on county time with county equipment to deliver all her northern lehigh valley fund raisers (cherry pies, soup, dumpling etc.) around the government center.

Rumor has it that she and Andrea have cut a deal that whoever wins will hire the loser.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I hope they have cut that deal. Nothing was wrong in their offices, but someone had the bright idea of consolidating them all into one position, and then pushed the idea with the commissioners. Looks like the joke's on him.

And if Marie Dean is doing what you say, don't report it here. Report it to the DA and Controller.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know whether the consolidation will be better or not. Lehigh is not the first county to do this- Erie has done it and so has Lackawanna.

I do know that it is the regular employees in those offices that make the system work. The clerk of courts and the recorder of deeds could take 6 months vacation and the offices would still run smoothly without them.

Eckhart probably would have not made a d*** bit of difference, except to make everyone's life miserable for a few months. Nothing in his resume suggested he had the managerial experience to handle those three offices. I am just sorry Sandy Schantz decided to bow out. She is a class act.

Anonymous said...

Like it or not people complain to you. Should they go to the DA sure but for whatever reason they look to you as some guiding light of clean governemtn. A legislative Sherlock Holmes. I know that is nonsense and you pick and choose targets like everyone else, but many folks out there believe you are objective.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Dean, there's a blog out here that is tracking down "All About Dean." And we are west of the Lehigh /Northampton County Line

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 4:21,

Your criticism is valid. I'm by no means objective and have said many times I'm a miserable bastard. This is not intended as journalism, but is merely a complement. The local papers are the pros. I'm just one person.

But for many years, I've advocated open and accountable goverment. That goes across party lines. I think I've been consistent in that. I haven't cherry picked my targets. If I see a local government that violates the Sunshine Act or plays games in other ways, I point it out. I think I'm fair. Opinionated, but fair.

And in this instance, as a title searcher, I know how those row offices work. I knew all along this proposal was nothing more than political bullshit, and I'm happy to see the two row officers get the nominations.

And by the way, people don't "complain" to me about things. If they see the law is violated, they go to the police or DA, not me. Anon 12:19 was reporting rumors and making statements hear to smear a candidate, but really should be taking that complaint to the DA.