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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Are Lehigh County Comm'rs Bi?

Four years ago, Dean Browning was Dan McCarthy's opponent in a District 4 race for Lehigh County Commissioner. McCarthy easily won, with 57% of the vote. When he was sworn in, Dean was there to shake his hand.

That's bipartisanship.

Now Browning is a Commissioner, too, having won a county-wide race in 2007. On Monday, when the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners reorganize, I am informed Browning will likely be elected Chair of the Lehigh Valley's most collegial legislative body.

Percy Dougherty, who led Lehigh County's Commissioners for an unprecedented six years, is unfortunately passing on the baton to someone else. Dr. Dougherty set a bipartisan tone that, more often than not, resulted in good government.

So who will be Vice Chair? It is rumored that this Republican-controlled Board is seriously considering Democrat Dan McCarthy, who qualifies as one of three workhorses in my most recent rating of Lehigh County Comm'r attendance.

That's bipartisanship.

As word of this has leaked out, Allentown Republican Joe Hilliard has fired off a snotty email to GOP Commissioners. "I hope no Republican would sell out the party and the base with yet another 'bipartisan' 'compromise' by voting for a Democrat for Vice-Chair." He then goes on to insist that McCarthy be forced to publicly disavow President Obama, all support for the Health Care bill, Cap & Trade, the stimulus and card check. He ends with the threat that his "limited government" groups will be tracking all votes, and this is a "critical" one.

That's partisanship.

How Dan McCarthy feels about Obama or Cap & Trade really has no bearing on most county issues. What does matter is his willingness to work. He attended 119 of 135 committee meetings last year. Conservatives Glenn Eckhart and Andy Roman attended just 81 and 76, respectively.

County Comm'rs are elected to do what is in the best interests of Lehigh County, not the GOP. There is little question that, after Dean Browning and Percy Dougherty, the most capable member of Lehigh County's board is Dan McCarthy.

That's good government.
Update: Admitted partisan Joe Hilliard has popped on this blog to justify his "to the victor belongs the spoils" theory, which was first put into practice by Democrat Andrew Jackson. He observes Democrats would never share power. Hilliard forgets one of the mantras of his own party's first Republican President. "With malice towards none, with charity for all ..."


Joe Hilliard said...

Yes Bernie, I am a partisan. I support lower taxes, less government, no operating deficits by government, not raiding surplus funds to pay for government today that we have to pay for tomorrow with higher taxes.

I wish that elected officials in the GOP would agree with those declared principles. They do not.

And does anyone really think that a Democrat majority would make such a magnominous gesture to support a Republican for such a position (unless it was a liberal, Big Government, big spending tax hiking Republican like Dougherty)?

Of course not. I am for good government. Those in both parties could accomplish that. But members of both parties in Lehigh County have been spending too much, growing government too much, and there is no distinction at all between either party.

You can call it "snotty". I call it "principled". Perhaps that is why the Tea Party outpolls BOTH political parties right now. The average voter likes principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility. It would be nice to have at least one party that supports such common sense principles as well. Today, NEITHER party does.

Anonymous said...

No gay marriage in Lehigh County!

Joe Hilliard said...

Anon 4:10,

Thanks, but your comment is way off the mark. I declared my basic principles which apply to all levels of government:

Lower taxes
Less government
No operating deficits
Not borrowing today to pay for government that will have to be paid for tomorrow.

Pretty simple. Don't see how a gay couple fits into those principles (except for conservatives who I know who happen to be gay and support the same principles). I don't care what people do in their bedroom.

I just want politicians to stop spending money we don't have to be paid for by future generations. And the "bipartisanship" displayed by Dougherty and Browning support such fiscally irresponsible attitudes. Because Commissioner Dougherty's views on card check, health care, etc. ABSOLUTELY have a bearing on how he would govern as a Vice Chair because they CLEARLY indicate his views about the role of government. The fact that any GOP elected official would support such a thing indicates THEIR views as well. It is the GOP's job to defeat Democrat principles and policies. Not to appease them. But, that probably explains quite a few votes by Dougherty and Browning which will be brought to the attention of voters - which is why we have elections which introduce the principle of accountability to the citizens.

That is where the limited government movement has failed. We succumbed to the fearful "oh my god, a Democrat might win if we don't support anyone who has an R by their name" philosophy. That is coming to an end.

Thanks for your meaningless comment.

Joe Hilliard said...

oops, should read "Commissioner McCarthy's views on card check, health care, etc."

It is so hard to tell the difference between Big Government Republicans and Big Government Democrats anymore it is easy to transpose their names.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

Perhaps you should dig a little further and find out which Lehigh County elected official (not one of the Commissioners) is pushing to have McCarthy made vice-chair.

You might find that the selection has less to do with "bi-partisanship" and more to do with political paybacks.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for your meaningless comment."

If you don't have something nice to say about people, then marginalize them - The Republican Creed.

Anonymous said...

Who posts on a blog @ 4 in the morning?

This is not rational behavior. I think rest would help Mr. Hilliard.

Anonymous said...

Who here can name the current vice-chair? Crickets?

Much ado about nothing.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Bernie's absolutely right. We'd be much better off with just one party and no serious dissent. Way to end the year on a most moronic note.

Bernie O'Hare said...

""Of course not. I am for good government"

Bullshit, Joe. You can't simultanmeously claim that and insist on one-party rule. Like Scorr points out, this is a minor matter. By sharing like this, Lehigh Republican build good will among the Democrats. In your goofy world, even republicans must undergo a litmus test and are threatened for trying to reach out.

Anonymous said...

"The average voter likes principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility."

I've only found this to be true as long as the programs being cut are not ones personally favored or used by the individual. For example, most senior citizens will not favor a tax cut that is funded on a dollar-for-dollar reduction in social security payments. And most parents of, say, soccer players, would not favor a reduction in school taxes that is funded by eliminating the school soccer team.

Everyone likes lower taxes, but almost everyone prefers it to come at the expense of reducing or eliminating someone else's program or benefits.

Anonymous said...

i still question your belief that attending committee meetings is the sine qua non of "work".

i have found a compulsion to attend all those meetings is a detriment to doing effective work.

(and i am a former office holder)

Bernie O'Hare said...

Perhaps that's why.

Joe Hilliard said...


We do not have "good government" in Lehigh County and splitting the leadership will not magically create such a thing. If I thought that having more Democrats in office would produce "good government" I would vote for more. Why are elected GOP officials voting for more Democrats?

Good government is fiscally responsible which is not solely measured by a lack of tax hikes. Officials like Dan McCarthy do not hold those principles and his voting record clearly shows that.

The GOP can build up "good will" among rank and file Democrats by actually standing for their declared principles of low taxes and fiscal responsibility. This is how Reagan garnered 30% of the Democrat votes in two Presidential elections. The Contract with America achieved the same level of "good will" among Democrats which swept the GOP into a majority in the House.

Yes, there is a "litmus test". We have certain declared principles at the national, state and local levels. I don't think it is extreme to expect that the elected officials of the party actually follow those principles a significant percentage of the time. They have not been which has created ill will among Democrats, independents and a rapidly growing number of Republicans.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Joe, Yes, you are a partisan extremists and everything has to be your way. This is completely contrary to the spirit of bipartisanship, which recognizes that both parties may be right from time to time, and that people need to work together. That's the whole point of democracy. Yours is the view of bullies, who in government become jack-booted thugs.

Here's how you threaten your own Republican Comm'rs: "I can only warn, as I have done consistently for the last several years, about this rapidly growing sentiment which, frankly, has shocked even me with the speed of its growth and strength. Those who get on board will be okay. Those who don’t…. well time will tell. And it won’t only be during an election cycle. Constant HUMILIATION over a four year term will take its toll on those who are a problem. We will use our rapidly growing email lists and hand out thousands of flyers about such “Republicans” for the sole purpose to inform the voters about those who truly represent taxpayers and those who sell out to the Democrats and Big Government groups who feed at the government trough at the expense of taxpayers. And no, we won’t be coming to meetings before a vote to wage this battle at the podium. This battle will be fought before hand to some extent, but ESPECIALLY after such votes are cast."

Baserd on your previous experience on the campaign warpath, I'd tell them not to lose any sleep.

Anonymous said...

Ok I thought Joe either resigned from the Republican party or was asked to leave because of his involvement with setting up a third party in Lehigh County...Tea party maybe?

Joe Hilliard said...


Actually the Censure Movement, which I was a part of, was a principal reason that a long time United States Senator switched parties. Not bad.

Principled Republicans, what you call "extremists", are taking over the GOP all over the county. I will be blogging extensively about this stunning movement.

Montco Commissioner Jim Matthews, a previous Lt. Governor candidate, was censured by his party for voting for a Democrat to be a "bipartisan leader".

Apparently in Virginia, County Commissioners were just swept out of office for displaying the same kind of "bipartisanship". More on that when I confirm.

Bernie, Democrats can be part of the solution when they agree with some common sense principles. Spend LESS than you have. Stop living on credit cards. Reduce taxes, do not increase them. Few Democrats agree with these principles. McCarthy does not either (and far too many GOP Commissioners as well).

Do you think those three principles are "extremist"?

And yes, GOP elected officials who support Big Government, higher taxes, more debt, and deficits will be exposed and the voters educated about it. An informed electorate is our best weapon.

And what campaigns have I run? Frankly, only one that was run a proper way with full issue development and adequate $$. In East Penn we won two seats with more to come despite the Union who sent out letters, emails and yanked teachers from Allentown to work the polls.

But they can disregard what is happening. Being underestimated is one of the greatest advantages in war and politics.

ANON 1:01 - I was kicked out of the party at the request of "Charlie Dent's office" shortly after I made a motion to have "other" as a choice during Dent's endorsement vote. About 1/4 to 1/3 agreed with the two voice votes that were required. Doesn't bode too well. And I thought the GOP was a Big Tent? It is as long as you blindly support all incumbents and accept Big Government advocacy.

The third party idea has only recently gained any credible viability with the Tea Party outpolling Democrats and the GOP a far distant third place. I still hope the GOP wakes up and embraces its own declared principles. But that is far above my pay grade. But I will ONLY work for principles of Limited Government and Fiscal Responsibility. I will not blindly follow a party like some sports team.

Joe Hilliard said...

Paragraph two should read "country" not "county".

Anonymous said...

I prefer my government to be by the people and for the people. Not by the party and for the party.

Joe conveniently ignores the fact that the number of employees of Lehigh County has dropped over the last several years. That does not sound like "growing government too much" as he claims. He undermines his other positions when he doesn't get his facts correct.

Anonymous said...

I think we're mixing apples and oranges. Principled does not equate to Party. No party has a monopoly on limited or good government, and certainly not the republicans any more than the democrats. I would work with anyone that shares in the same principles regardless of party.

Likewise, how can the Republican party espouse limited government and and the same time promote social conservatism?

If a democrat expressed principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility, would he share in leadership in Joe's world? Does that make Joe partisan? Anyone remember Paul Tsongas or Graham-Rudman? There are those democrats.

I think the problem is that the respective Parties beat away independent or its "rogue" members.

Anonymous said...

NLVlogic said...

If a democrat expressed principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility, would he share in leadership in Joe's world?

I don't know about Joe's world, but that democrat would share in leadership in MY world.

However, the county has been running some huge negative numbers in the last few years, and we're running out of Jane Ervin's remaining surplus to cover it. That's a real problem and the democrat commissioners - including McCarthy - have been silent on the problem.

To me, that's not worthy of a leadership position on the Board of Commissioners.

Joe Hilliard said...

Anon 3:14,

Yes, your one fact would seem to "prove" that Lehigh County has been on the limited government, fiscally responsible path.

Yet, spending has exploded as have the operating deficits. $12 million last year. $20 million this year...

Your argument would be that same as the person, like me, who is trying to lose weight and goes to McDonald's:

"Give me two quarter pounders, an extra large fry, and two cherry pies... Oh, yeah, and a diet Coke."

Then you turn and hold up the diet Coke and declare, "See! I'm on a diet!"

Please make a better argument. The number of positions is one good fact. But the overall situation and the aggregate of decisions have produced growing government and fiscal irresponsibility because elected officials cannot act like responsible adults.

Joe Hilliard said...


Yes. Such a Dem would have a place in "my world". As I have declared I will ONLY support limited government and fiscally responsible positions, issues, candidates and elected officials.

Those who are not, I will work tirelessly to research, expose and educate the public - especially Republican primary voters. The Game must come to an end. Our future is too important.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Ohare, you miserable bastard!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank you. I'm out slicing tires in honor of the occasion

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Things are not as they appear to be. Monday will be filled with surprises

rylock. said...


Will you be supporting Benol and/or Towne for congress in 2010?

Joe Hilliard said...


I will fully support Benol for Congress. He is a principled Republican.

Yes,as Bernie quoted Lincoln, "with malice towards none and charity to all". Yet, Lincoln was OPPOSED to slavery. And he took us to war to end that abominable practice. Kind of "extremist".

I think the new fight is the abominable practice of current generations spending WAY BEYOND OUR MEANS for our benefits and PASSING ON THE BILLS to future generations. That is a form of tyranny as well.

I have full "charity" to any politician who opposes such practices - regardless of their party label. Those who continue the unsustainable practice must be exposed and removed from office. I consider the fight not much different from the opposition to slavery. If we fiscally enslave future generations for our irresponsible benefits of today, are we much different?

And far too many so called Republicans engage in that practice. NO politicians should be supported who agrees and engages in such a practice. McCarthy is one and any Republican who would vote for him is one who is guilty as well.

2010 and beyond will be quite interesting.

Joe Hilliard said...

This explains a little more what I will do in 2010:


Bernie O'Hare said...


Don't use Lincoln as an excuse for partisanship and extremism. Lincoln did not take us to war to end slavery, as you claim. That is nonsense.

Lincoln's mere election resulted in the secession of a number of southern states. In his first Inaugural address, Lincoln makes very clear that his goal was to prevent secession. If he could do that by ending slavery, he would do so. if he could do that by continuing slavery, he would do so. The war was forced upon him, and although he opposed slavery, his feelings were rather ambivalent.

During the course of his presidency, his views changed. two years into the war, he promulgated the Emancipation Proclomation. By the end of his Presidency, his feelings about blacks had completely changed.

In his second Inaugural address, he was quite concerned about the partisans within his own party who wanted to make the South howl for the damage it had caused. lincoln had a different view. he was willing to restore states even if only 10% of the voters accepted the union. That is what he meant by malice towards none and charity towards all.

Rebels and Yankees, divided over foery issues like slavery and states rights, were still Americans. Lincoln recognized that, and wanted Southerners back in the fold. When Richmond fell, he even asked an Army band to play Dixie.

You're no Lincoln. Because he is your first President, I would think you would be better informed about this amazing man. You have demonstrated you are not.

On an issue as minor as the vice chair, you actually threatened Republican Comm'rs if they select a Democrat. Amazingly, you did next to nothing to help any of them get elected, but bark out orders as to what they are supposed to do as members of a party that booted you as a committeeperson. That is precisely the kind of rigid partisanship that has led to problems in both parties. It is exactly the kind of behavior that Lincoln hated as president.

I have no problem with your conservative views. I do have a problem with your partisan insistence that others must do exactly what you think. If your thinking about current issues is as flawed as your understanding of Lincoln, it is little wonder you are ignored.

And incidentally, when it comes to county issues, you don't get any smarter. LC Comm'rs and the Exec have very little control over spending. Most of the county real estate tax dollar pays for the back end of crime, and there is little you or anyone can do to change that. Some of your goofy ideas might actually make things more expensive.

If you have specific ideas for saving money, make them known instead of braying. Some may be worth pursuing. Most will not be because others from both parties have already considered them.

Sorry, Joe, but this behavior is completely contrary to good government. In the end, you are no better than the Long Dems. And since when do you speak for the tea party movement? Are you their grand wizard? I would think many of them would be embarrassed by your threats.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this read, I especially enjoyed Bernies 330 post about Lincoln. I have attended a few Conty meetings and always enjoyed Percy Dougherty colloquialism qualities (for lack of a better expression).

Best wishes the Sly Fox Raber. Thank You for your years of service. This DEM salutes you.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive my typing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your typing is much better than mine. I am embarrassed when I go back to read my comments. I will do better next year.

Anonymous said...


This man in The Circle said...

What a way to start of the new year. Join me in praying for all the distressed souls. May you all have a peaceful, safe, fruitful, and blessed new year. Even the trolls.

Peace be with you, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

If you are holding Hilliard (a registered Republican) to some sort of standard about Lincoln, perhaps you should hold today's Progressives to a similar measure.

A little knowledge about the roots of the Progressive movement in the early 1900's might be enlightening. Seeing who is still willing to call themselves a "Progressive" (after learning about the history) might then be revealing.

Anonymous said...


The current vice-chair is Dean Browning.

I agree that Dean and the rest of the republicans should have another R as Vice-Chair. That's politics. To the winner go the spoils!

For the record: Joe Hilliard is an extremist who belittles and slanders anyone who does not agree 100% with his agenda. He is a blowhard and thinks he is snarter than everyone else. Oh, and he will tell you he is an engineer. See what happens when you ask him where he works, what he has engineered in the last five years, and what his credentials are to avow everyone agree with him. He will dance around these questions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not holding Joe to any Lincoln standard. I'm just setting the record straight and correcting some misinformation about Abe.

A Real Conservative said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

"Real conservative," I just deleteed you. Look at my comments policy. Joe Hilliard is welcome to express himself here, as are you. But let's avoid the name calling.

Joe Hilliard said...

Anon 9:19,

What "dance"? I have not worked in the corporate world for about 8 years now. It has been a relief.

I have been a steady advocate for limited government for the last five or so years - for little pay.

What do I advocate? Government should spend what it has, taxes should be lowered, government should have less power and the public debt should be reduced. You consider this "extremist"? I think those who don't hold such common sense principles are the extremists.

And what have I "engineered" in the last five years? Look around. I have been working with many other people to build a principled, limited government movement across the state. 2010 should yield some interesting results.

Anonymous said...

Joe, in all seriousness, what specific County programs would you cut back to save money? I question your knowledge of County governemnt.

At the City level just what would you cut to significantly reduce the cost of government.

I doubt many disagree with your idea but local governemtn is about services, what would you cut to save?

Anonymous said...


You have been working with many other people to build a principled, limited government movement across the state?

Please elaborate.

As far as I know, you do nothing but chastise elected officials and call Republican parry officials names when they disagree with you.

And please, as the other poster requested, be specific about what you'd cut, and how/who you believe would pick up these programs/responsibilities that were cut, if necessary.