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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, January 03, 2011

Will Browning Continue to Chair Lehigh County's BOC?

Tonight, Lehigh County's Board of Commissioners will select its Chair and Vice Chair for 2011. Will Chairman Dean Browning, a Republican, be spanked for bucking his party and voting to support Don Cunningham's budget? Will its Republican-controlled Board dump Dan McCarthy, a Democrat, as Vice Chair? Unlike Northampton County, where the leadership question seems to be settled, what happens in Lehigh County is very much up in the air.

Dean Browning would like to continue as Chair, but Percy Dougherty, who stepped down last year, now wants his old job back. Both are hard-working Commissioners, and when it comes to experience, Dougherty has the edge. But I think Browning is better.

First, Browning works harder. Throughout the last year, he had numerous one-on-one discussions with the Cunningham administration, while Dougherty's Administrative Committee remained dormant. That's one of the reasons why Dougherty's last-minute attempt to return the budget to Cunningham was so disingenuous. Putting Dougherty in charge won't make him more productive.

Second, instead of just paying lip service to bipartisanship, Browning has practiced it. It was he who nominated Dan McCarthy, a Democrat, as Vice Chair. In addition, Dean's courageous support of Don Cunningham's controversial 16.1% tax hike, in the face of threats that it would end his political career, puts him in a very rare class that exalts principle over partisanship.

Third, Browning has actually made an effort to work with Northampton County. He actually attended a Northampton County Council meeting and has good relations with Angle. In contrast, Dougherty actually attempted to have Ron Angle ejected from a meeting of the LV Health Commission. That may have earned him some brownie points from the LV Partnership bluebloods, but Northampton County Council members resent his high handed style.

Fourth, at a time when Lehigh County finances need close scrutiny, it makes more sense to have a CFO like Browning than it does to have a geographer. If Commissioners want to know where those coffee beans really come from, they can elect Dougherty. But if they are interested in keeping Lehigh County on firm financial ground, it has to be Browning.

Finally, this attempted coup is pure politics, an attempt to embarrass Browning right before the primary so that other, more partisan, Republicans can step in. This is an election year for four at-large Commissioners, the Controller and the DA. I'll have more to say about that soon.


Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

With all of Browning's supposed knowledge, we still got a 16.1% tax INCREASE. Browning didn't even vote for the 13% alternative.

If Browning wants to vote with the Democrats, let him go to the 4 Democrat commissioners and get THEIR support. Or let him switch parties to get the primary votes of the voters that he truly represents.

I'd respect that a hell of a lot more than someone who wants to send out self-serving mailers claiming to be a conservative and then voting in an entirely different manner.

Anonymous said...

so, a conservative can NEVER vote for a tax increase? interesting...

Anonymous said...

our guess is that Browning gets re-elected if David Jones shows up (is he still around?). Expect McCarthy to back off as VP as rumor is that he is looking to run for judge again in 2011. It might be difficult to balance the campaign with being VP. Expect Andy Roman or Glenn Eckhart to make a play to be VP, though they both seem to be interested in running for county row offices (Roman for Sherrif and Glen for Super Clerk).

Anonymous said...

It's getting rough in partisan politics!

Dean did the sensible thing in rejecting an impossible budget proposal. Either make cuts or pass it!

When 70% of a budget is in the judicial scope, you can't cut 16% of the total out of everything else.

Anonymous said...

Yes, except that what Browning did vis-a-vis the budget was exactly opposite of what he pledged in the course of the previous election just months before. See Mcall article here .

I have no problem supporting candidates that I sometimes disagree with, but I expect my politician to not make promises they know they can not keep. This vote was not even one year after his babelspeak. There just no way around Browning's former words.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I checked your link. Those words are not Browning's.

Anonymous said...

browning was elected in 2007. the 2009 article applied to Eckhart only as none of the other winners bothered to make the announcement.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Browning endorsed that tax payer contract. He further coordinated and backed the GOP effort with his Victory Pac. His effort was spelled out in many GOP press releases and also here in Ken Petrini's article. I don't see how he can shed this

Anonymous said...

You even wrote about it here

True, that technically he was not a signer. He was not a candidate, but the contract was his design. His outspokenness and involvement did more than imply his support.

His run away from that 12+ months after amounts to nothing more than babel speak, which is why most people don't like politicians.

Anonymous said...

least he's got balls. more than can be said for callahan