Northampton County Council already have their own lawyer, but they have an operations fund, too. They call it a "contingency fund," but it's really a slush fund that council members use to dole out favors to their pals. It's loaded with $500,000 for favors next year. Last night, county council members were spending that dough like Wall Street financiers.
First, they doled out $75,000 for Paul Marin's rail study, five to three. Cha ching! Dowd, Dertinger, McHale and McClure were all for it. Angle, Ferraro and Cusick were less enthusiastic.
Peg Ferraro called Marin's proposal "visionary," but asked council to wait a few months because our economy's in the tank. "I don't feel the timing is right. . . . We should hold off on this for a few months until we see that the economic stimulus package comes into being, if the financial markets get a little better, where our pension fund is. I just feel that we should hold off on this for three, four, five months." Ferraro's motion to delay the funding failed.
Angle also tried to table the funding resolution, based on the argument that this $75,000 is already included in next year's budget. That motion also failed. They want that money and they want it now. Of course, it helps that Marin is chummy with McHale, sitting on a few boards with her.
Meanwhile, our finances continue to slide down the toilet, but it's not their money, it's yours. Don't worry, be happy.
After kissing goodbye to $75,000 in real estate tax revenue, council decided to throw another $10,000 away. Lamont McClure persuaded fellow council members to give that money to Catasauqua's YMCA, which incidentally is located in Lehigh County. Northampton County has Ys located in Easton, Bethlehem and Nazareth, but we decided to give it Catty. In fairness, the Catty Y (Suburban North Family YMCA) does have child care sites located in Northampton County and promised the money would only be used for the financial assistance of Northampton County members. Really!
Here's McClure's argument. "Council, there's a place you can go. I said, Council, when you're short on your dough. It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A."
Peg Ferraro, who must have eaten her Wheaties yesterday, was skeptical. She asked the Y guy, Tom Beidel, who was there with his hand out. "Is there anything in particular that differentiates your request from Bethlehem, Nazareth or Easton? I know Nazareth. I'm very familiar with Nazareth. When Nazareth needed some money, we got together, we had this big thing, we raised a lot of money. I know they give a lot of financial aid and their day care programs are outstanding. Is there anything that differentiates your request from the same kind of request that might come from Nazareth?"
Nothing specific could come to the Y guy's mind, but he sang, "You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, You can do whatever you feel ... ."
A child care facility happens to be in McClure's district. And McClure pointedly told Angle that many people who use this Y are in his district.
"Angle, are you listening to me? I said, Angle, what do you want to be?"
Angle claims that when he was thirty pounds lighter, he went to the Easton Y. "Now I go to Wegmans." He concluded all Ys are worthwhile.
Hoping that this snags a few votes next year, council was quick to adopt this resolution. Incidentally, they makes no provision to ensure that a Lehigh County Y will actually use the money for Northampton County residents. If I'm the Y-guy in Nazareth, Easton or Bethlehem, I'll be at County Council's next meeting with my headress on and hand out.
After all, it's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A.