Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Lehigh County Comm'rs Take BiPartisan Approach

Geoff Brace
Like Northampton, Lehigh County's governing body, called the Board of Commissioners, reorganized on Monday. They elected Geoff Brace as Chair and Marc Grammes as Vice Chair. They manged to do two things in their brief reorganization that eluded Northampton.  

First, Lehigh took a bipartisan approach, electing a Democrat (Brace) and Republican (Grammes) as their leaders. Here's how Brace explains it: "For six of the 7 years I've served on the Board, I've served in the minority party, sometimes being treated as such. This will not be my approach in serving you. The work we have is too important. The people we serve are counting on us." He added that he'd like to see us rebuild "our region in a way that reflects our shared values, where Liberty and Justice for All are more than the concluding part of the pledge we say at the beginning of our meetings."

John Cusick, an experienced and knowledgeable Council member, was overlooked in favor of someone who has alienated both the courts and District Attorney. This is solely because he belongs to the wrong party. 

Second, Brace abstained from voting for himself, and was clear to note his abstention both before and after the vote. In contrast, Lori Vargo-Heffner was eager to vote for herself in what is at least a technical violation of the state Ethics Act. In 2016, when John Cusick attempted to vote for himself as Council President, then Solicitor Phil Lauer advised he should abstain or waive the extra pay. Cusick opted to waive the rather modest $500 extra paid to a Council President.   The state ethics commission has in the past ordered a borough council member who voted for himself as President to make a $500 payment to the borough even though his violation was unintentional. 

There is one area in which Northampton County seems better. Both meetings were virtual. Believe it or not, Northampton appears to have worked out most of the bugs to their zoom meetings. Lehigh still has work to do. 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two points:

1) Grammes is no Republican, and was instrumental in screwing Lehigh County taxpayers and getting Phil Armstrong's tax hike passed. So I'm not sure that his appointment as vice-chair was as much of a great exercise in bipartisanship as it is continued payback for his voting along with the democrats (his daughter was also hired for the county communications post).

2) I'm pretty sure that in Lehigh the Chair has to forego the extra $500 pay if they vote for themselves. So again, I'm not sure that Brace abstaining from voting for himself is any great example example of virtue or principle, or just preservation of the extra pay. Your post doesn't mention the vote tally, but assuming his appointment was worked out in the back room in advance, he may have already known that he had the Chair position sewn up.

Anonymous said...

Ok I did it, I filed an Ethics complaint about LVG and her self vote, she better give back the $500.00 to the county or she is in trouble

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, crazy Dean Browning was up late again sending out another straight up racist tweet. Rumor is he's running for either County Exec or LC district 2 and that he's trying to bully other candidates out of the race. How did the LCRC not distance themselves from this man after the "gay black guy" sock puppet incident. He's continuously an embarrassment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1) Grammes is a registered Republican. He is willing to work with Democrats, which is the way we should govern after an election.

2) LC follows the law. Under the state Ethics Act, you may not cast a vote to benefit yourself financially. That's why Chair candidates who do ultimately vote for themselves waive the extra money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Ok I did it, I filed an Ethics complaint about LVG and her self vote, she better give back the $500.00 to the county or she is in trouble"

That should prove interesting. Personally, I'd file no complaint because I regard her violation as de minimis and that Ethics Commission consent order is 20 years old.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Meanwhile, crazy Dean Browning was up late again sending out another straight up racist tweet. Rumor is he's running for either County Exec or LC district 2 and that he's trying to bully other candidates out of the race. How did the LCRC not distance themselves from this man after the "gay black guy" sock puppet incident. He's continuously an embarrassment."

Dean's constant and insane tweets have betrayed him as an extremist. I'm sure Phil Armstrong would love to run against him.

Robert E.Smith Jr. said...

love the gutless cowards who do not leave their names to posts.Marc grammes is a registered republican,and friend of mine.Marc has always been an outstanding public servant,and has sacrificed so much but never his time for friend or stranger.We have walked all over this county together to make things better for our community. Marc was willing to resign if there was any ethical problems with his daughter working with county.Marc is still a republican even after his own party challenged him off the ballot because of a piece of paper not filed but was tecnalicality .Republican party should be ashamed at that move. I am life long republican,but always call it like i see it and marc has done an outstanding job as county commissioner.Sometimes you have to compromise in government,that is the way you accomplish great things ,not like our congress. congratulations on vice chair marc,and thank you for your service to our country ,and our county. Robert E.Smith JR

Anonymous said...

Robert @ 10:58 -

A tax hike is not a great accomplishment.

Maybe you should have asked him to move to Allentown so he could have helped you raise taxes on ASD taxpayers.

The communication position is a patronage position. Grammes should have been trying to eliminate the position instead of putting his daughter in there.

But I'm sure it's all legal, and why people distrust politicians.

Dennis P said...

This was not a promotion for Marc ... He was elected Vice President when Zanelli was elected Chair,,, David Jones I note was elected Vice President when Republicans were in charge ... Before being elected Vice President he had talked about leaving the Commissioners ... Which would have met an open seat for District 3 the same time Brace ran for an open seat on District w which was not contested....

Robert E.Smith Jr. said...

I really do not like engaging with cowards who do not give their names,but lets get facts straight.County executive hired Laura grammes on her own merits.2- 16 years I was on school board i voted for o tax increase 12 years, the other 4 years,including my last year on board being only republican negotiated ,and lowered the administration proposed tax increase from 3.50 to 1.75.