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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Conservative NorCo Republican Calls For One Mill Tax Hike

Ben Hedrick (L) and Hayden Phillips (R) at a debate last year.
Some of you like to disparage conservative
Republicans as "teabaggers" who only watch FOX news and do nothing unless they have orders from Rush Limbaugh. This is a distortion. To be sure, there are intolerant and unthinking ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum. But I thought I'd focus a bit on one of the tea party types who are regularly maligned. His name is Ben Hedrick.

He is an old fart and white. He has a beard, too, and is often featured in the Republican Action Team. That's the right wing of the right wing of Lehigh Valley Republicans. I'm pretty sure I've seen him at a few tea party meetings.

On October 2, at a Council meeting attended by close to 300 County workers who are rightfully upset about major reductions in their health coverage, Hedrick spoke up and asked them to to think about fixed income senior citizens like himself. But before you stereotype him, let me tell you I see him at nearly every County Council meeting, along with nearly every meeting of the Bethlehem township Board of Commissioners. I even see him, usually with Hayden Phillips, at local debates. He cares about his government.

He also thinks.

At a sparsely attended budget hearing last night, this conservative Republican delivered an eloquent address, calling for a tax hike. Here's what he said.

Good evening, guardians of the county fisc. I recently cam before you and, in my own awkward way, asked you to show restraint in the budgeting process so as not to balance the budget on the backs of fixed income senior citizens. The corollary to that is that I doubt anyone here dislikes taxes more than I do.

But reality intrudes.

It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that something must be done to help this new administration dig out of the inherited budgetary hole in which they find themselves.

Mr. Brown has proposed a plan of budgetary constraint, with no tax increase, that he says will solve the problem. Maybe so. Others have called for a large tax increase as a way out of the mess. Maybe so. I'm here to ask you to consider a compromise approach that involves moderation and control.

I believe we should give credence to Mr. Brown's plan to address the problem, but I also think we should put something in place to augment that plan. Bite the bullet, if you will. A half mill seems too small, but two mills seems too much if Mr. Brown's plan works in tandem with the increase. You folks have access to the numbers, but in my opinion, moderation calls for a one mill tax increase.

The second part involves control. We need to make sure that any funds raised are used for their intended purpose.

As a reformed, three pack a day cigarette smoker, having given it up primarily to the onerous taxes that I dislike intensely, I was appalled to see that the tax settlement monies go everywhere but where they were intended. To avoid this, and the possibility of these new funds being used to bail out under water and unsaleable golf courses, we should make sure that the money is only used for emergencies and to replenish the savings, with any expenditures being under your absolute control.

Moderation and control.

Thank you.

I am covering him, word for word, because what he said made more sense than anything uttered by the people we elected.


Anonymous said...

This is total bull shit, Bernie. These idiots bashing Open Space don't seem to understand we are paying 1/2 mill to fund it, because we voted to preserve these spaces in 2002. 65% to 35% - a mandate margin. There is money for this specific purpose collected - $3.7m a year. Even your loudmouth buddy Ron Angle can't keep from poo-pooing steep slopes and wetlands. Put it to the voters, but don't keep acting like the money is being taken from cash reserves or something.

The rest of what he said made some sense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then it is not total bullshit, is it?

Anonymous said...

"we are paying 1/2 mill to fund it"

No we are not. There is no dedicated county real estate tax for anything. Try and grasp that simple concept.

Bernie O'Hare said...

We historically have used the half mill for open space, but the money goes into the general fund and can be used for anything. The strength and weakness of Stoffa's plan is that it is flexible. Also, there is no need to be insulting.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, the phrase is repeated so often that it is important that county law have some place in the discussion. Argue for open space till the cows come home but if your argument hinges on a non obligated real estate tax you will get no where.

Actually, I am trying to help. If you wan ta true dedicated source you must fund it that way. An Executive's desire is not law. Maybe it is tough love but it is the truth.

Anonymous said...

I have heard this guy before the election and even after. All he does is go off on spendthrift Democrats who raise taxes. He has said it many times. During the last year campaign the guy bad mouthed every Dem running claiming if you elect them raising taxes is inevitable because that is all they od.
Now after the election, his guys win and taxes are A-OK. More teaparty nonsense hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Some hypocrisy here but you need to compromise! This is public service..not a profit situation. The county is in the business of service to the public so act accordingly..everyone. Stop pointing fingers and start solving problems. Taxes MUST be raised..finally it has been said. Now..get the amount of the increase settled and move forward .

Anonymous said...

Ben must be OK with overspending for Gracedale ambulance services and giving Shelley Brown another $50K. The so-called Tea Party was never well organized has been co-opted by smart Ds who use the movement to run nasty R primary battles. At the end of the day, the problem is Gracedale, Gracedale, Gracedale. Stoffa warned us and he was right.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to attack someone, stop being a coward and identify yourself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:45, You are telling me something i know and you do not help when you insult.

Anonymous said...

BO-It wasnt an attack just pointing out the fact that he was all for compromise when he feared a large tax increase but was against compromise and took a hard line approach when it came to county employee health care. Compromise on all levels of government is a good thing. Just pointing out hypocrisy but maybe he's changed his mind on the health care issue as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You personally attacked him and did so anonymously. If he were a pol, I'd allow it, but he is not. He spoke out at a council meeting attended by 300 people. He did not back the unilateral decision by Brown, but simply stated then that he was hopeful that something could be worked out bc he is a senior on a fixed income. In fact, employees applauded him. Now a conservative who hates taxes seems to see that the county really does need a tax hike. I thought that was worth noting, especially bc it was put in an eloquent way.

1 mill is just $7.5 million. That's not a lot of money in a county that spends $8-10 million per month. So I disagree with his figure. But i agree on the need for a tax hike.

Anonymous said...

Checked out the Republican Action Team that you refer to. Looks like a group of solid, common sense, personally and fiscally responsible types. I am questioning what is wrong with trying to save our country from the destructive path it is headed on?

Anonymous said...

Save the country? How about we save the county first and worry about the country later?

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of the me-centric retired baby boomers always showing up at meetings where we get to hear about how any tax hike, any extra child or any extra spending in a school district will spell doom for them and their "fixed" incomes. What's their point? Only ones on fixed incomes in the county? Note that for the past ten years everyone is on a fixed income. Incomes haven't risen for a long time. You aren't at all special.

Aren't they the ones who experienced their prime earning years during some of the best economic times in the country's history where the incomes rose and the taxes fell? Aren't they the ones who borrowed from the reserves to balance budgets and avoid tax increases yet also run up debt for years and got us in this mess in the first place?

And now they want to exit stage left because things are tight? What hypocrisy!

You never hear any concern or compassion for the single mom trying to make ends meet or the people who work low paying jobs or the average family- just like they had 30 years ago- coming out of their mouths. Let's cut jobs, benefits and services for everyone- but them. Don't touch my social security! Or medicare! and don't you dare raise my taxes!

Hoffert said...

Very well said 12:39 but may i also add that the hosue they purchased back in 1960 for $12,000 is now worth $250,000! Plus they got a 1.7% cost of living raise unlike the county employees who's wages have remained stagnant or have been decreased. Now i gotta get back to watching reruns of Honey Boo Boo on TLC.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Did either of you even read this guy? He supports a tax hike.

Anonymous said...

Why do all of these guys try to look like Robert E. Lee?

Hoffert said...

Of coure we read what he said now but that doesnt change the fact that he backed the employee health care cuts becasue he was on a "fixed income" or are we supposed to ignore that fact?

Anonymous said...

Yes you are. Just like you must ignore the fact that he condemned the Democratic candidates because he claimed they would raise taxes if elected.

Anonymous said...

Play the race card much 3:29?

Should you be out torching buildings or something constructive?

Anonymous said...

anon 5:19,


Bernie O'Hare said...

"Checked out the Republican Action Team that you refer to. Looks like a group of solid, common sense, personally and fiscally responsible types."

I did not disparage them in this thread. I merely stated they represent the right wing of the right wing of the GOP. I think most of them would agree with that assessment.