Monday, December 17, 2007

Unholy alliance between Jim Matthews and Joe Hoeffel?

Wild rumors flying around that Republican Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews has worked out a secret power-sharing deal with Democrat Joe Hoeffel, an Ed Rendell confidant who finished second in the race for three open seats on the Board of Commissioners. Matthews finished third.

The odd-man out of the unholy alliance between Matthews and Hoeffel would be the top vote-getter, Bruce L. Castor Jr., who gave up his office as Montgomery County District Attorney to run for county commissioner when it appeared the Democrats had a good chance of taking majority control of the county government for the first time in more than 130 years.

Will Matthews stab Castor in the back? He's done it before. What about the 85,000 voters who supported Castor in the Nov. 6 election? There's a reason why Matthews is often referred to as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). Why would a Republican share power with a liberal Democrat he spent months attacking before the election?

Matthews and the people pulling his strings, Montgomery County Party Chairman Ken Davis and moneyman Bob Asher, have been working for years to splinter the Republican Party in Montgomery County. A Matthews-Hoeffel alliance would destroy the party and open the way for a Democratic takeover.

Below is a letter Castor sent to Matthews Sunday outlining how Castor would like the reorganization of county government to go. There's a possibility of a last-minute meeting tonight to avert Jim "Benedict Arnold" Matthews' scheme to give Democrats control of county government.

Having received no response from Matthews, Castor sent an e-mail to Matthews on Monday seeking a meeting. The text of the e-mail is also printed below.

I've been warning Montgomery County Republicans that the party has been hijacked by Matthews, Davis and Asher, who have their own agenda (and that does not necessarily mean it's in the best interest of the Republican Party.)

There's a press conference scheduled for Tuesday where Matthews and Hoeffel are expected to announce their deal.

A Matthews-Davis-Asher deal with Democrats would destroy what little credibility the trio has with GOP voters. Matthews isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but even he must realize that forming an alliance with a liberal Democrat would end any hopes Matthews has of ever winning statewide office.

And if Matthews and Hoeffel emerge with some sort of power-sharing coalition, it would be a final nail in the Montgomery County Republican Party's coffin.

Here's Castor's Sunday memo:

TO: The Honorable James R. Matthews
FROM: Bruce Castor
DATE: December 16, 2007
RE: Reorganization

In three weeks you and I have the responsibility of taking the helm of county government. The voters selected us to form the majority government in Montgomery County. We have had several discussions about the reorganization, and below is how we last left the issue. I have not heard from you since before Thanksgiving, and while we certainly have time, the clock is ticking. Obviously, it is imperative that you and I work together over the next few weeks to reach some kind of agreement that is acceptable and fair to both of us. As you have repeatedly stated, making a deal with the other side is completely unacceptable for either of us. In fact, I told the minority commissioner-elect that directly.

You have expressed in each of our meetings that you would like to serve as chairman, you would select the county solicitor, and you want Peter Leis to remain as the county’s Human Resources director. Obviously, those are the three most important positions in county government under our direction. I likewise expressed a desire to serve as chairman and select the county solicitor. Traditionally, the recipient of the most votes in the election becomes chairman and names the solicitor. Despite that longstanding tradition, I am willing to support your desire to be chairman for the sake of unity and compromise.

I reiterate from our last discussion that we must reach an agreement that establishes a spirit of cooperation, fairness and compromise. There has been intense speculation in the press as to whether we will be able to govern together as a team. I can think of nothing worse than you and me beginning this administration in disagreement on the key positions in the government. The voters chose a Republican majority, and we have an obligation to implement their wishes.

I propose that if you are chairman, I select a solicitor acceptable to both of us. If I am chairman, I will support your choice for solicitor.

With you serving as chairman, I am willing to support any of the following candidates for solicitor: Carolyn Carluccio, Bob Sander, Tim Woodward or Frank Bartle. Each brings strength and extensive experience to our administration and would enhance our ability to govern effectively. If none of these candidates are acceptable to you, I propose we discuss additional names. There are many fine lawyers in Montgomery County. Surely there is one on which we both could agree.

I have no objection to Peter Leis continuing to serve as the county's Human Resources director. He is your very close friend, and from what I know and can tell, has done a capable job. The minority commissioner-elect during the campaign stated his desire that we conduct a search for another Human Resources Director. I propose to resist that effort.

If we reach this compromise I will be supporting two of your three stated objectives and asking only in return we identify a mutually agreeable individual to serve as our legal counsel. If that is not acceptable to you, I am willing to serve as chairman and allow you to select the solicitor.

When are you available to discuss these proposals? I have sent this memo to you via e-mail and hand delivery to make certain you receive it. As a universally respected party leader, Alma Jacobs has offered to mediate and help us resolve these matters and therefore I have copied her. Our party and the voters of our county have given us the responsibility to govern together effectively. We agreed to do that. Honor dictates we carry out those wishes.

Thank you for your consideration.

cc: Hon. Alma Jacobs

Text of Castor's e-mail to Matthews send Monday:


I know you received my e-mail yesterday and a hard copy today. I attach an additional copy for your convenience. A copy of this e-mail will go out to our list as evidence of how serious we are about cooperating.

As I have not heard from you, and there are many wild rumors flying around, I consider it imperative that we meet or correspond soon to work out the reorganization. As far as I am concerned, everything is on the table and we have three weeks to put something workable together. I understand that we may be meeting tonight at the Aviation Club. I'll be there for sure.

It has been my position all along that the committee and the voters chose a Republican majority. We simply must implement their wishes. To that end, we both have repeatedly pledged that under no circumstances would either of us agree to any reorganization issue with support only from Joe Hoeffel. I take that pledge very seriously. So I ask you outright: Can we agree that neither of us will make a deal with Hoeffel on anything?

Everything else can be worked out but that issue is not an issue of you or me it is an issue of Republican or Democrat.

A refusal to deal with Hoeffel on important re-organization issues guarantees that the will of the people prevails and that we have a Republican majority government. Everything else can be worked out, but only after we have a firm agreement that we will not negotiate with the other side on how we run the government. That is what the public expects from us, or they wouldn't have put us in the majority. Even if we could agree on nothing else (which won't happen), we still would be running the government together (as co-chairmen or alternating chairman or something) without empowering the Democrat. Empowering Joe Hoeffel would be a disaster this time as it was the last time.

I look forward to meeting with you tonight and in the future to iron out these important governmental issues.



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