You want to know who works and who doesn't on Northampton County Council? Look no further than their committees. That's where the grunt work gets done. Council has eight standing committees, and seven of them met this year. The most active by far are the personnel, finance and human services committees, chaired by John Cusick, Ron Angle & Diane Neiper.
Council's standing committees conducted twenty-six meetings last year. Every member of council is encouraged to participate in every committee. So it's a pretty accurate gauge of the time and effort each councilperson devotes to government service. The committees that meet are also a good indication of what council members think are important.
Council's busy Finance (Angle) and Personnel (Cusick) committees, usually combined, met eleven times last year. Human Sevices (Neiper), studying the possibility of a bi-county health department, had eight meetings. Mike Dowd's Economic Development committee also conducted three meetings.
Lamont McClure's Legal and Judicial Committee met only twice, although his second meeting, which related to the home foreclosure crisis, was perhaps ther best committee meeting I've seen in several years of following council.
The Intergovernmental (Ferraro) and Open Space (Dertinger) met just once. Rev. Mike Dowd's Operations and Administration committee failed to meet at all, as it failed to meet in 2007.
Council member John Cusick attended 21 committee meetings last year, making him the hardest working and most dedicated council member for a second straight year. Nipping at his heels, just like last year, with 20 meetings to her credit, is Diane Neiper. Both Cusick and Neiper are finishing their third year on council, and their attendance record reflects dedication. They are far ahead of their colleagues.
Two other council members - Ron Angle (13) & Ann McHale (15) - have solid committee attendance records this year.
Peg Ferraro, in her first full year on Council after defeating Tony Branco last year, attended only 8 committee meetings last year. That's certainly better than Tony Branco, the person she replaced, but she could have done much better.
Lamont McClure, who does have a law practice, attended only six committee meetings, just one more than in 2007.
Rev. J. Michael Dowd and Charles Dertinger are tied, at at the bottom of the heap, with an abysmal record of just 5 committee meetings in 2008. That's an 8% attendance record. Dowd, to his credit, at least has the brains to keep his mouth shut at council meetings, knowing he never participated in committee discussions. But not Dertinger. Rarely will you see a person take so much time to say so little.