Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lehigh County's Tom Muller to Run For Exec

Tom Muller with his wife, MJ
After freezing my ass off at the Callahan announcement, I treked over to Emmaus for another Executive announcement. Outside. In the frickin' triangle. But it was worth it. Lehigh County Director of Administration Tom Muller shocked everyone with the announcement that he'll be running for Lehigh County Executive. And he'll be doing it as a Democrat. He switched parties a year ago.

He chose the triangle for his announcement because that's where the so-called "reform" team of County Commissioners wanted to send $209,000 in CDBG funds back to the federal government.

"I'm running for Lehigh County Exec because I'm not running for Congress. I'm running to serve the people of Lehigh County.

"I've heard an awful lot of talk over the last year over why we can't take this money (referring to Emmaus Green Future fund grant money) from the government because we have a national debt or we owe China money. I think the job of County Executive is to serve everybody in the County, to work for you, to bring as much of our money that we send to Washington back here rather than to say, 'No thank you, I don't want it because you've got a national debt problem.'

"We have - they happen to be Republican - but we have two very solid people who are down there representing us right now. Actually three if you count Mr. Casey. But we've got Charlie Dent, we've got Pat Toomey. I know them both very well. Their job is to solve things like national debt. That's not what I think we have to do in the County, and unfortunately, we've come close to turning down some money."

Muller referred to what Lehigh County's ultra-conservative block of Commissioners do as "cliffsmanship."

"It's a word I've made up. It's an interesting game. What happens is you invent an unnecessary cliff that wasn't there, then you dance around the edge for weeks at a time, holding things hostage, and then you find some very lame reason as why you can back away from the cliff without falling off, ... and then you declare that you did something wonderful, that somehow you did your job and were diligent ... . That's nonsense. That's the kind of nonsense I think belongs in Washington. It doesn't belong in Le- t doesn't belong in Washington, either. It certainly doesn't belong in Lehigh County. That's not what everyone out there wants. I think they want straight talk ... ."

Surprisingly, businessman Muller stated that one of his focuses as Exec would be to get at-risk kids out of that category and on the straight and narrow by working with community leaders and schools. "It's a lot easier to build strong children than repair broken adults," he said, claiming he has heard that phrase.

Muller's announcement was attended by Lehigh County Democratic leaders Bar Johnston and Rick Dougherty, Allentown mayor Edwin Pawlowski, Democratic Commissioner candidates Geoff Brace, David Jones and Wes Barret. His wife, MJ, was also with him.

When Muller saw me, he called me the "pseudo press," as he likes to call me. I called him the "pseudo Exec."

I told him I was already half-frozen after Callahan's announcement at Gracedale, and that if he went longer than five minutes, I'd be voting for Scott Ott. He went six. Bastard! I live in Northampton County.

In an attempt to warm up, I tried shaking hands with Pawlowsi. My hand immediately turned to ice while Fleck stole my wallet.

Assuming that Muller has no primary opponent, he will face the winner of the Republican primary battle between Scott Ott and Dean Browning. Scott Ott is part of the "reform" team about which Muller complained. Muller refers to Browning as a gentleman.

Text of Muller's Announcement:

My name is Tom Muller, and I am a Democrat running for Lehigh County Executive.

My wife and I moved to the Lehigh Valley twenty-three years ago. What we found was a close-knit community where common sense prevailed and we’ve built our life here with two wonderful kids. My extraordinary wife, MJ, is deeply immersed in the Valley—running the St. Thomas More School kitchen, where she feeds 600 people each day, and getting a women’s shelter she launched last year through its first year and well-funded for the future. Our son is a freshman at Wake Forest University and our 6th grader, Joy, has us on the field hockey or soccer sidelines most weekends. We have a very full life in the Lehigh Valley.

I’m running for Lehigh County Executive because I believe in this community. I believe in our businesses. I believe in our law enforcement community. I believe that it is the place of government to keep our communities safe and to create the kind of environment in which businesses and families can thrive.

I am not particularly concerned with partisan labels. I’m concerned with results. I have worn many hats in my lifetime. I have worked in the private sector, and I have worked in the public sector. I’ve been a union member and chief negotiator for management teams negotiating fair contracts with unions. I have been a Republican and I have worked in a Democratic administration for seven years.

But I will always bear in mind that this is the people’s government. It’s “Your” Lehigh County. This government is here to provide what’s required for you, what you need and what you believe the County can provide best of what you want.

My time in the private and public sectors has taught me that total quality of life is most critical. It’s what makes Lehigh County attractive to businesses. It’s what makes this an ideal place to raise a family.
Good quality of life starts with a first-rate public safety and justice system, but it also extends to providing services to those in need and providing the kinds of recreational, entertainment and developmental opportunities that can only exist in a safe community.

I also believe that it’s important to balance quality of life, public safety and the delivery of services with a "right-sized" government operation focused on efficiency and effectiveness. I believe that government exists to serve its residents and I believe that it’s important to spend our taxpayers’ money wisely.

I don’t believe that we should simply gut government and slash spending just because some politician or team of politicians made an uninformed but convincing campaign promise. There is always room for improvement in any operation and Lehigh County government is no exception, but I believe that government has a job to do, and we must fund it appropriately in order for it to perform those functions.

I believe in straight talk. I don’t like empty promises, and you won’t hear any from me. I plan to proactively seek input from Lehigh County’s taxpayers. I won’t just assume that I know what’s best or that there’s only one side to an issue just because I won an election.

I will not turn away your tax dollars when the Federal government tries to return them to us in the form of grants and programs. I’m running for Lehigh County Executive, not Congress. We send some very talented elected officials to Washington to deal with big issues such as the national debt. If I can get some of your tax dollars back from Washington or Harrisburg to apply to Lehigh County’s needs, I’ll do it.

But getting those funds is not where my responsibility should end. We need to ensure that those funds are being applied effectively and efficiently, which means a greater focus on outcomes and being more demanding with the service providers.

We still have more to do on the public safety front but there are other key issues that I believe need to be addressed in the coming term. They include overhauling our outdated senior center concept, partnering to bring the number of recreational venues in line with the demand and working with community leaders, schools and groups to get “at risk” kids on the right track and keep others from becoming “at risk”. As I heard someone say not too long ago, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults,”--- and it’s a lot less costly to the taxpayers.

You may be wondering why I’ve chosen to launch my campaign at this location—Triangle Park in Emmaus—on this brisk winter afternoon and what credentials I have to be County Executive.

I chose this location because it has a strong link to what I believe is a disturbing trend by a bloc of our Lehigh County Commissioners who have become adept at what I call “Washington cliffsmanship”—creating an unnecessary “cliff,” dancing along the edge until the last minute, finding a lame way to avert the fall and then declaring that they’ve done something good.

Triangle Park was supported in part by Green Future funds from the County and it was budgeted Green Future funds for another Emmaus project and projects for five other municipalities that those commissioners recently held hostage for two months. They have also balked at approving pass-through CDBG funds.

CDBG funding has been applied to provide mandated curb cuts throughout downtown Emmaus that otherwise would have been an additional cost to the citizens.

The need to end this “cliffsmanship” and the focus on political philosophy is what has encouraged me to run for County Executive and I know it’s what has inspired Wes Barrett to run for Commissioner in this district. Save the political philosophy for Washington; this is Lehigh County and here our citizens want and need action, not debate.

As for my credentials, I’ll give you the short version. A more detailed version will be posted on my website when I get it launched.

I have 40 years of experience in the private sector, including very senior positions in large companies, including President and Chief Operating Officer for Binney & Smith—now Crayola. I’ve also owned small businesses, served on numerous boards and for the past 7 years I’ve been Director of Administration for this county, during which time the County’s bond rating has been raised twice, the infrastructure has been significantly upgraded and we have moved to the top of the class in public safety advancements. I also teach at Cedar Crest College, Chair the Easton Hospital Board that I’ve been on for over 20 years and serve as ViceChairman of the Board of Directors for the Lehigh County Authority.

Lehigh County government is a large business—over $350 million in size and with over 2,000 employees—and I’ll proudly put my credentials for managing it up against any other candidate.

My bottom line is simple. I want to work for the citizens of Lehigh County on Lehigh County issues and needs and without “Washington cliffsmanship” and political philosophy. I believe I have the qualifications needed to do that job for you and hope you’ll agree with me at the voting booth.


Anonymous said...


Tax Tax Tax Spend Spend Spend.

Word to Tom: there's no more money. It's been in all the papers.

Anonymous said...

He must resign to run for office. This is a clear violation of the Hatch Act.

Anonymous said...

No Hatch Act issue. Hatch Act was just amended in December of 2012 to allow this type of run if candidate's salary is not funded 100% by the Feds.

Mark Baker said...

Vote Browning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Seems like a decent guy. Muller has been the power behind the throne for years. No one is more knowledgeable than him about county government.

Anonymous said...

If not a Hatch Act issue, it certainly presents a conflict of interest. If he's running, he should resign.

Anonymous said...

In the pension world of having one's cake and eating it, too, this guy wants more cake. The gravy train never stops with these guys.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 6:48 & 8:02 -- It is not a Hatch Act problem, but if it was the reform team returned all the Federal Money so with no Federal Money there would be no problem.

As for conflict of interest how about reform team member Vic Mazziotti who resigned to run (when he ran you had to under the Hatch Act). Then once elected Ken Mohr who is helping with Luzerne County's transition to Home Rule Government had him put in as interim budget director.

Stoffa's buddy taking care of a Stoffa crony. Gotta love it.

Really the reform team is not about reform if it involves them directly.

Anonymous said...

Tom I wish you luck ... Should you win I would have enjoyed working with you as County Commissioner District 3 ... But it appears that David Jones wants to remain County Commissoner which is a change in his attitude of about a year ago.

Although I do want to be a County Commissioner I will not challenge an incumbent.

If the Democratic Party leadership had any interest in my candidacy they would have contacted me to be at that announcement.

Dennis Pearson

Anonymous said...


Rob Hamill said...

I wonder if Tom(in his words) will continue to "Bitchslap the tree huggers"? This is how he talked when he was pushing for 2 huge new wells on the banks of the Little Lehigh Creek in Lower Macungie. Oh yeah, he was also on the board of Lehigh County Authority, which is creating it's own fiefdom of bureaucratic largess. He represents the worst of big government policies.

Anonymous said...

Browning = 16% TAX INCREASE.

Muller = Browning.

Tax. Tax. Spend. Spend.

Thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...

Tom is part of the reason air-travelers drive by ABE on their way to less expensive flights from EWR and PHL. I'll be doing so tomorrow AM to catch an early PM flight from PHL. Even with turnpike toll and parking, I'm saving $320.

Tom's zany airport economics have served EWR and PHL very well. Not so much, ABE.

Let's put in charge of more things to screw up!

Anonymous said...

Let's see - Ott ran in 2011 saying the 16% increase was unnecessary and that he had a plan to immediately roll it back once he was elected. Did Ott propose a 16% tax cut with this year's budget? If he did I must have missed it.

Anonymous said...

The send back vote was just a political trick to make Cunningham look bad,Browning wouldn't play ball so the team punished him for disobedience. If the 16% tax hike wasn't necessary the team could have tried to undo it after. Did they?

Anonymous said...

Give the tea party a break...they've been preoccupied sending money back to the feds

Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to sit with Dennis and explain the way it works on earth? His outer space views won't get him appointed to anything.

By the way the words "outer space" do not mean phyisical space. but his views outside the realm of conventional thinking.

Attending lots of council meetings is not a qualification for office. There are several people who live just to be distractions at city/county meetings. They attend and think they are an active part of the process.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Hatch Act has been amended and this is completely proper.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

9:24 AM

My comment was more reflective then sour ... It's seems I can't reflect disappointment ... If I go the other direction I am an intruder.

Those who attended City Council and Lehigh County Commissioners know that I am knowledgeable on issues.

Those who attend my neighborhood meetings know this too.

The fact is I had a commitment to serve and would have done well.

Maybe some other day I'll go back into the fray and maybe then the door would be finally open for my full participation ... Yes indeed I can still speak out on issues but it does make a difference when you have a seat at a table.

Dennis Pearson

Anonymous said...

Knowing the issues is indeed a qualification and I know the issues.

You don't how to sit down with me to tell why it was hard for me to get an appointment ... It's politics ... The big boys think they can't control me and maybe they are right ... But I am fair .

Indeed I think out of the box and sometimes thinking outside the box produces the solution.

I do not apoligize for my passion for history,travel, the space program, baseball,participating in civic causes, and my faith in Christianity.

Any criticism of this is an attempt to bury me and those who engage in that should soul search.

Dennis Pearson

Anonymous said...

Clear violation of the Hatch Act. If my fellow Republicans want to take the word of the Cunningham lawyers, they desrerve what they get. I urge Mr. Woodman to contact the federal attornies officie and give them Mr. Mullers name, his announcement and a "current" not quickly anmnedned copy of his job descrption. They will do the reserach. They will even do it per an anonyomus complaint.

Their desicion, not county lawyers, is the only decsision is what counts.

No question the Director of Administration is covered under the federal Hatch Act regardless of who pays him it is much more involved than that. This is a flagarent violation. He will either have to witdraw from race or resign immediately.

The 2012 amendment soes not apply in this case.

Anonymous said...

The last post is the perfect commentary to encapsulate the essence of the Woodman-Ott wing of what used to be the Republican party.

The 2012 amendment clearly states that the only employees precluded from running are employees whose salary is paid IN ITS ENTIRETY by federal funds. County Administrators are just simply not paid 100% by federal funds. They just are not. There is no discussion needed. It is not more involved than that. It is crystal clear.

But facts notwithstanding, one crackpot who can't even spell "flagrant" is going to lend his legal expertise on the matter.... and everyone is expected to fall in line with the crazies.

Yet another made up problem by the pretend conservatives. It's insulting that we let our party look like a bunch of buffoons.

Dean Browning is the real conservative. Let's take our party back this primary season.

Anonymous said...

the party doesn't ask you to run you just run. That's what a primary is you twit

Anonymous said...

Tom is a good man. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Tom is an ass. If the Republicans have a brain they will send the challange to the Fed's. It will hold up.

This guy is being propped up to keep Cunninghams old hacks in jobs. He was a ereal arrogant prick in the county and everybody knew it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" If my fellow Republicans want to take the word of the Cunningham lawyers, they desrerve what they get."

The law does not depend on whether an attorney is selected by Woodman or Cunningham.

I researched it for an unrelated matter. S.2170 reduces the Hatch Act coverage of state and local government employees to those whose salary is completely paid by federal funds.

You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. But please file a complaint and watch how quickly your ass is handed to you.

Anonymous said...

Everry citizen has th eright to file a complaint. Your complaint will be kept anonymous. You need not worry about O'Hare and his hate blog going after you.

The law is clear, crystal clear. the only lawyers opinin that matters are the Fed's. You would be a fool not to file.

Anonymous said...

Tell us more about your leadership at the Lehigh County Authority, Tom?
Care to elaborate on " bitch slapping " people opposed to well drilling along the Little Lehigh?

Anonymous said...

Muller drips with contempt for regular folks. Arrogant and contemptuous toward any open input. Fundamentally opposed to an open collaborative process to his core. A product of a corporate hierarchical model------although his arrogance made him unpopular at Benny & Smith also.
In that attitude he no different than his Lehigh County GOP rivals.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If by regular folks you mean people who come on blogs to smear others anonymously, I share his contempt. I certainly have contempt for you.

Anonymous said...

Typical country club Republican. He has contempt for most of the employees, sees them beneath him. He is well known in Lehigh County for his arrogance. I would take Browning or Ott over this prick any day of the week and I'm a Democrat. He is just being pushed to keep the Cunningham croonies in jobs.

Anonymous said...

BOH, I just love it when you are so righteous dude.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not righteous. Just being honest with anonymous assholes.