Well, RenewLV's Steve Bliss is a lot like me, except the date he's hoping for is with Northampton County Council and a possible resurrection of the all-but-defunct bi-county health bureau. I thought it died on the operating table in July, when six Northampton County Council members (Angle, Cusick, Dowd, Gilbert, McClure, Thierry) and three Lehigh County Commissioners (Browning, Creighton, Eckhart) refused to approve a budget or authorize the establishment of a Board of Health.
But they forgot to cut off its head and drive a wooden stake through its heart.
That's why on November 4, when Northampton County Council adopted its 2011 no-tax-increase budget, an anxious Steve Bliss was there, wondering if he was going to get lucky. At the time, Council member Mike Dowd hinted around about the bi-county health Department., "[W]e indicated that we would at least be prepared to consider - and I'm not asking for a vote at this point - that we would be prepared to consider revisiting that. And so my sense is I do intend to bring that to the table for us as we move into the new year, once we've got a decision as to where Gracedale goes." At the time, Council member John Cusick stated that, "until the Gracedale issue is resolved, I don't think we can even consider that."
Fast forward two weeks, to Council's November 18 meeting. Once again, a hopeful Steve Bliss is in the peanut gallery, patiently listening to Upper Mount Bethel NIMBYs and the usual Gracedale goons claim that they are "We, the people." This time, he got lucky!
Council member Ann McHale started things off, stating they really should give some kind of signal of their direction so that Lehigh County could go it alone, if need be. "Do we have a mandate for them to continue? Are we going to continue to let them waste their time if we're not going to be participating? It's an issue that this body has got to address ... . [I]t's my understanding that Lehigh County will in fact continue to move forward with their own department."
Really? In the face of a 16.1% tax hike? In the middle of a recession? Comm'r Andy Roman, an ardent health board advocate, recently withdrew his support for precisely those reasons.
"It's interesting you had those conversations because they are kinda' opposite the same conversations I had," remarked Rev. Dowd. But he's all for keeping public health "on the table" until we know what is going on with Gracedale.
Council member Tom Dietrich stated that, in his conversations with LC Comm'rs, "[I]t sounds like we're the ones holding them back."
But Ron Angle scoffed at that, claiming LC Comm'rs are just scapegoating NC Council as the "dirty dogs" and "rats" who prevented them from initiating a health department. "That's a fraud, that's not true," barked Angle. "That's a great Percy play. ... I never seen any action on their part or money on the table from them. They're game playing."
When McHale repeated she had been told that LC will pursue it on its own, the Bulldog snarled, "They better pursue taking care of their taxpayers. They're not doing a very good job at that."
But then County Council voted 5-2, with only Angle and Thierry dissenting, to continue discussions leading to the creation of a bi-County health bureau.
So Steve Bliss is in bliss.