Thursday, April 24, 2008

Political Odd Couple

The Intelligencer

LAST WEEK MONTGOMERY County Democratic Commissioner Joe Hoeffel told fellow Republican Commissioner Bruce Castor, “You’re acting like a little boy on the playground who was not selected quarterback so you’re taking your ball and going home.”

There are probably a lot of days when Castor would like to take his ball and go home. It’s been like that in the few months since he was elected one of the county’s two majority GOP commissioners along with Jim Matthews.

It’s not unusual to see commissioners of different parties sniping at each other. What is strange is that Hoeffel the Democrat and Matthews the Republican have forged an alliance that has left Castor the odd man out, a majority commissioner in name only, as it were.

What sparked Hoeffel’s playground analogy is an economic development plan that he and Matthews set in motion by voting to establish a 22- member task force that will help establish the direction for the county’s policy. Castor voted against the action, saying he was only given the list of task force members late Wednesday before the Thursday vote and that he does not know most of the people on it. When Hoeffel said Castor was given weeks to suggest his own names ˜ and told his colleague he “must be sadly out of touch if you don’t recognize these names”, Castor said he offered no names because doing so would have validated the plan, which he called “a sham.”

Hoeffel and Matthews favor a countywide approach to economic development; Castor wants something on a smaller scale. Of course the charge of politics is being tossed around.

Some people may find it entertaining to see Montgomery County’s version of the political odd couple calling the shots in Norristown. As long as good government isn’t sacrificed, having the recognized watchdog on the board of commissioners being from the majority party isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It appears Castor, rather than Hoeffel, is destined to be the commissioner cast in what is ordinarily the minority party representative’s role.

Disillusioned voters will have to pay special attention: What they have in the courthouse is not what they voted for last November.

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