Montgomery County residents who welcome the new alliance between Republican Matthews and Democrat Joe Hoeffel as a bipartisan effort to govern don't understand how wrong it is for public officials to abandon their principles for political expediency or personal vindictiveness.
You can't spend months bashing an opponent on the campaign and then form a pact with the same person. You either stand for something or you stand for nothing.
While everyone talks about the need for bipartisanship and how American politics have deteriorated into an "Us vs. Them" mentality, you can't tell voters you oppose tax increases and then align yourself with a politician who never met a tax hike he didn't like.
Matthews' alliance with Hoeffel is a betrayal of 85,000 voters who elected a Republican majority to government Montgomery County. If the voters wanted Hoeffel to have a say in how government would be run, they would have given Hoeffel and his runningmate, Ruth Damsker, control of the commissioners' board.
There were two examples this week of genuine bipartisanship. In Berks County, the two Republican commissioners who control the commissioners' board elected a Democrat to serve as vice chairman. Republican Mark C. Scott, the most experienced commissioner, was elected unanimously as board chairman. In the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship, Scott and the other Republican commissioner, Christian Leinbach, supported Democrat Kevin Barnhardt for the post of vice chairman.
In Chester County, Republican Commissioner Carole Aichele was elected chairwoman by a 3-0 vote, including the support of newly elected Democrat Kathi Cozzone.
What should have happened in Montgomery County was the election of Matthews, by virtue of his experience, as chairman, and Republican Bruce Castor, by virtue of being the top vote-getter in the commissioners' race, as vice chairman.
The axis of evil formed by Matthews and Hoeffel was not done with the best interest of Montgomery County voters at heart. It was a petty move by a small-minded politician (Matthews) to get back at Castor for daring to challenge the status quo in Montgomery County politics.
These are verbatim comments from political mailings sent on behalf of Jim Matthews last year:
"Montgomery County can't afford Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker."Matthews told voters throughout 2007 that Hoeffel and Damsker were not fit to hold office. But on Jan. 7, 2008, Matthews nominated Hoeffel to serve as commissioners’ vice chairman. Was Matthews lying then or is he lying now?
"Joe Hoeffel & Ruth Damsker will raise your property taxes."
"The Hoeffel-Damsker team is pushing for a new assessment. That means higher taxes for homeowners in Montgomery County — taxes we can’t afford."
"Did you hear that Joe Hoeffel is 'proud' he raised our taxes?"
"We not only can’t trust them, we can’t afford the Hoeffel/Damsker team either!"
"It’s wrong & should be illegal. Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker put their own interests ahead of yours."
"Influence Peddling: Joe Hoeffel used his position as County Commissioner in 1993 to get more business for his law firm."
"Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker: Double Dipping on Taxpayer Dime. Influence Peddling."
"The Hoeffel & Damsker Record … Higher Social Security Taxes, Higher Income Taxes, Double Dipping on Taxpayer Dime, Making Harder to Appeal Your Tax Bill."
"The Hoeffel/Damsker Team: They've Raised Our Taxes For Too Long. Don't Let Them Raise Taxes Again."
"Over the past 30 years, Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker have supported tax increases totaling billions of dollars. Now they are asking us to entrust them with our tax dollars by electing them to be County Commissioners?"
"The Joe Hoeffel & Ruth Damsker Team: A History of Raising Taxes. No Way They Should Be Our Commissioners."
Matthews' dishonesty is exactly why people have lost faith in politicians. They talk out of both sides of their mouth.