I really thought this one was heading to the courts. Northampton County Council is already a dysfunctional mess, and Wayne Grube's death left an evenly divided council who can't even make it through courtesy of the floor without a few earthquakes.
But Ron Angle is the council member who suggested Patti Grube. Peg Ferraro, who knows her, quickly agreed. So did the editorial boards of both local papers. Council's four Democrats were still trying to forge a coalition to appoint fighter pilot David Haines, and may have lured Cusick into their web. After Tuesday's budget hearing, he confessed to fellow Republicans he might support Haines.
Angle then went to work on Democrats, pointing out that no one knew Wayne better than his own wife. McHale vainly tried to claim Grube had eliminated herself by not submitting a formal application. But Angle quickly and correctly called that position "an excuse for people to explain why they won't vote for her.'' By Wednesday night, every Democrat had called Grube to offer their support.
As soon as last night's meeting got started, Diane Neiper offered a resolution naming Grube, trying to make things sound like it was their idea. Angle quickly seconded the motion, but simultaneously scolded council members for claiming they needed to have an interview process. Grube was appointed unanimously. The last person to vote was Cusick. He waited a few seconds, doing a slow burn, knowing he had been stabbed in the back.
In the meantime, Peg Ferraro apologized to applicants who had travelled to the star chamber for interviews that never occurred. "I heartily apologize to the people brought in here for an interview." A disgusted John Cusick added, "Absolutely. It's a disgrace." But Queen of Hearts Ann McHale imperiously told them, "You'll all consider running."
Although there was no judge around to swear Grube in, Angle wanted Grube to take office immediately, suggesting that the county council solicitor do the honors. Anthony Martino, council's legal eagle, politely declined.
When she finally had a chance to speak, Patti Grube apologized "for the trouble I've caused. I know [Wayne] would want me to fulfill his term. I hope you all run next year. If there is anything you need from me, I'll be glad to help out." Patti also had a warning for her council colleagues. "I will think for myself. ... I have a mind of my own."
When she ascended the dais, the peanut gallery gave her a standing ovation. The first person to rise was one of the applicants, Republican Mark Schwartz.