Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Random Thoughts About The Past Week

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on and then comment on the ethics debate at the Montco Commissioners meeting.

One thing I noticed throughout the meeting...whenever Republican Commissioner, Bruce L. Castor, Jr. agreed to vote yes on the Hoeffel ethics package of 1998, they other two commissioners backpedaled and hesitated to vote on it.

Jimbo then laid out about 19-20 changes that he'd like to see, exempting many people from the ethics statute, and Hoeffel, who was the one who touted the need for this reform to begin with, also laid out a list of those who he wanted exempted.

Only Commissioner Castor was for a total ban of politicking in the courthouse.

For Hoeffel and Jimturd, this amounted to a "have your cake and eat it, too" proposition.

You may say, why does Castor want a total ban on politicking? Simple. Jimbo and Joe will never agree to a total ban, because it's not in their best interests to agree to it.

A total ban would exempt Jim Maza from working on the judicial races for the democrats. A total ban would keep Jim's (former) assistant from her political appointment as County Human Resources Director (a change in the job requirements paved the way for this glorified secretary to become Jim's tool for hiring and firing in the courthouse), and would never have allowed a democrat political leader from gaining the First Deputy Controller's job.

This "I was for it before I was against it" policy making stinks of John Kerry and his 2004 run for the White House. Electioneering 101, so to speak. Flip-flops, pure and simple, when the situation requires it, period.

I had the opportunity to ask Jimmy-Matt about his ban on District Attorney's employees being banned from running for office. I posed the following scenario: How could they be for banning what may be some of the best and brightest minds from running for office, simply because of where they work?

The example I gave was Sandra Schultz-Newman...a former ADA who subsequently became the first woman to be elected to Pennsylvania's Supreme Court.

Jim's answer to me? He argued my position that these people are the "best and brightest" was false (I guess on the job training would never produce such a stellar District Attorney, vis a vis Bruce Castor and his successor, Risa Vetri Ferman), and he made it a point to let me know that Schultz-Newman was not a DA when she became a judge (BTW, I knew that, the situation I posed was hypothetical...and, Jimbo knew this).

Jim yammerred on for a few more minutes, then called for a vote to table the ethics reform that his lackey, solicitor Barry Miller (along with Hoeffel's lackey, asst. solicitor, Jeff Albert), wrote. Mind you, this is the same Barry Miller who, as a county employee, threw his hat in the ring to fun for DA, now writing an ethics policy that could, essentially, stipulate that he could run for anything, but could also stipulate who could not...a severe conflict of interests? I'd say so.

Anyway, here is the gist of the debate, in Castor's words:

"This (ethics reform statute) would have passed with Matthews' wholehearted approval had I not raised the obvious defects on Thursday. That the other commissioners feel they have POWER over the independently elected row officers on non-budget matters is stunning. No place in Pennsylvania is this so, but the other commissioners are drunk on power and believe their two votes can overrule the thousands of county citizens who put our row officers in their jobs.

Already, several of the row officers are threatening legal action against their own county government. Madness. (So) I offered a series of amendments to impose campaign finance reform (something both my colleagues have said they are not interested in) and true ethical restrictions from practicing politics by our county employees at the highest levels. 

I suggested that we step back and rewrite the proposal taking the care the authoring of a "law" warrants.

Even Commissioner Matthews who was avidly seeking to ratify Hoeffel's dangerous and illegal proposal, saw the wisdom in taking a step back to reconsider. Are you ready for this? Hoeffel OPPOSED being careful and still wanted to bull ahead even in the face of the patent defects in the proposal."
Who said politics wasn't fun? Kudos to Commissioner Castor for keeping his word and putting the interests of the taxpayers of Montgomery County first.

One of the more interesting aspects of the meeting was when Jim, speaking about hiring done by row officers, said this:
"If you want to hire somebody as a row officer, and it is within budget, it cannot be stopped..."
I submit one name...Marcy Toeppel. Jim voted against approving her salary when the Recorder of Deeds, Nancy Becker, wanted to hire her. It took the threat of a lawsuit to reverse his vote at the next meeting. I'll be posting a recording I made at the meeting later this week to corroborate the quote above.

Oh, and finally, the county hiring freeze? I guess it only pertains to those not recommended by Hoeffel or Matthews...figures.


1 comment:

Steve said...

And this Guy is trotting around the state in an attempt to run for LG. Jimbo is a joke.

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