Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This Stuff Just Writes Itself...The Continuing Saga of Ethics and The Commissioners

I couldn't write this any better than The Times Herald's Keith Phucus:

COURTHOUSE — Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Hoeffel, who wants to appeal a recent court decision that invalidated the county’s authority to prohibit employees from political activities, may be surprised to win support from the ban’s chief opponent.

Hoeffel, the leading advocate for the ethics ordinance that he helped author in the 1990s, voted for its approval in April along with commissioner James R. Matthews. Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., who voted against the measure, routinely disparaged the new rules as a political ploy.

The ethics policy prohibited about 120 county employees from politicking during working hours — or on their own time — as long as they held their government jobs; however, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Sheriff John P. Durante filed lawsuits challenging the rules and won.

In October, county Judge William T. Nicholas ruled the measure “invalid” as it applied to any employee under supervision of the DA or sheriff.

At a press conference Tuesday in the county courthouse, Hoeffel said he would urge Matthews and Castor today to go along with an appeal of the decision that he “fundamentally” disagreed with.

“The decision would throw out 150 years of precedent that allow commissioners to set rules for county employees,” he said.

He also expressed fears the ruling could undercut enforcement of employment policy contained in the county’s Employee Handbook.

“I think it goes too far and threatens to imperil the (handbook’s rules),” he said.

Hoeffel, who is a gubernatorial candidate, planned to discuss a possible appeal with Matthews and Castor today. He believes rules needs to be in place to protect employees from a “rogue row officer” boss who might pressure them into campaigning or raising money for their election.

Castor, who has criticized the ethics policy as nothing more than Hoeffel’s attempt to exert undue authority over more county workers, said he would support filing an appeal, because he’s confident a higher court would uphold the decision.

“I’m going to agree to the appeal, because I don’t want any other pair of commissioners (in the state) pulling this kind of nonsense,” he said. “I want Hoeffel and Matthews forever to be known as the two commissioners who thought they could do anything they wanted until they got spanked by a state court.”

Following last week’s commissioners meeting, Matthews said he suggested including the DA’s Office in the political ban to get even with Castor for trying to include Matthews’ friends in county government in the ordinance.

When Hoeffel was asked if the policy had been used as retribution against Castor, he said no.

“That would be a bad motivation to get back at anybody,” he said. (ed. note: I guess Jimbo forgot to let his new BFF in on the secret.)

Ferman said she sued the commissioners over the ordinance because she saw the policy as a violation of the law.

“We’re fighting for the rule of law and the integrity and independence of the DA’s Office,” she said.

Matthews did not return a phone call soliciting comment for this article.

And the beat goes on...more taxpayer dollars spent to find out what they already know...that the commissioners have no say on setting policy within the offices of duly-elected row officers.

Seems to me to be a political stunt stemmed by Jo-Jo Huffin-stuf's desire to run for Governor.

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Sightings:XXVII, or "They'll Never Think to Look For Us Here".

Last evening, I dined with a couple of friends at Capone's restaurant, in East Norriton. As we left the establishment, who did I see enjoying a cozy, candlelight dinner for two?

Jimbo and his BFF, Barry Miller. My guess is they were scheming a new way to "get back at Castor", now that their ethics policy fell through the floor.

Looks like they've picked a new "hangout" now that the Blue Horse (in Blue Bell) has closed down...see ya there soon, Jimbo!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Republican Commissioner, Bruce L. Castor, Jr. Responds to "The Intelligencer"

Commissioner Castor responds to the Intelligencer editorial, "No More Free Health Care"...

Click here to see the original article.

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Obama Countdown