|Hayden Phillips and Phil Lauer|
Lamont McClure suggested that a change of this nature might require a government study commission or a referendum vote. But Solicitor Phil Lauer pointed to the Supreme Court's decision validating term limits on Bethlehem's Mayor. Although he agreed that it would be safer to go the referendum rote, his opinion was that "it can be done."
And so it was.
The debate, if you can call it that, was marked by some good-humored jabs. When Peg Ferraro announced that she had served for 21 years, McClure immediately joked, "Well, then I'm for [term limits]."
Ferraro went on to say that she was once "term-limited" at the ballot box because of a controversial vote on 911 some years ago. She complained about signs all over with her name and an "X" running though it.
"I might have one in the garage," deadpanned Kraft.
Despite their humor, McClure and Kraft agreed with Ferraro. Kraft suggested that Seth Vaughn, the Bill's sponsor, could term limit himself if he wanted. Peg Ferraro added that, at this level of government, term limits are meaningless unless you want to send a message to the state and federal government.
Term limit supporter Hayden Phillips told Ferraro that's exactly what he wants to do. "I do want to make an example," he argued. He also criticized elected officials who use the "position of incumbency to perpetuate their careers."
Review of campaign finance reports reveals that incumbents do attract more and larger donations than challengers.
Mat Benol proposed making the ordinance even tighter by banning anyone from serving more than three terms, regardless whether they are in succession. Bob Werner, Glenn Geissinger and Seth Vaughn agreed with him, but Benol was unable to get the five votes needed to make this change.
In other business, an attempt to put off an important review of wage hikes unilaterally granted by Executive to 14 top-ranking County officials has been rebuffed.
When Council last met on May 21, they unanimously adopted a resolution calling on Executive John Brown to provide them with his justifications for those salary increases so they could be reviewed at Ken Kraft's Personnel Committee on June 17. Brown has complied with this request, and Kraft stated he plans to review them, one-by-one, so they can be approved retroactively or rejected.
But Peg Ferraro sought to have this review postponed a week. This is because both she and Glenn Geissinger, who are both members of the Republican State Committee, have a conflict in Philadelphia at that time.
"If anybody votes for this, you should resign," roared Democrat Ken Kraft, who was shocked, shocked to learn that the president and VP of Northampton County Council wanted a postponement for "partisan political reasons."
Piling on, with a slight smile on his face, McClure said he was dismayed to learn that "the people's business is being moved for a cocktail reception party."
Knowing she had a loser, Ferraro still defended herself. "Number one, I don't drink, and number tow, I'm in bed by 8:30 pm."
Ferraro and Geissigner abstained, and all remaining Council members save Hayden Phillips, voted against delaying the review of those wage hikes.