Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Democratic Fight Club

The County Commissioner's meeting yesterday made for interesting television. The highlight had to be the fight that erupted between Democrats David Pepper and O'Dell Owens regarding the Coroner's budget requests for travel. The Enquirer reported it on their blog here. I rarely complain about the local media, but you will find no mention of the fact that this squabble was an intra-party squabble between Democrats. Several months ago, we had one of our elected officials and one of our commissioners disagree and it was, certainly, reported that they were both Republicans. The level of anger directed at Commissioner Pepper by Dr. Owens was far more serious than anything we've seen during this budget battle thus far. Here is part of what happened:
  • Dr. Owens accused Commissioner Pepper of asking him to "break the law."
  • Dr. Owens accused Commissioner Pepper of "disrespecting him."
  • Dr. Owens pointed out that Commissioner Pepper "wouldn't be here next year"--a clear reference to Mr. Pepper's attempt to climb the political ladder by running for statewide office.
  • During one testy exchange, Dr. Owens told Commissioner Pepper, "Go to medical school, become a doctor, and run for Coroner."

It was ugly.

These are very difficult times with the county budget. I watched the county commissioner's special meeting and I watched person after person (most of whom I know personally) come before the commissioners and discuss the serious impact this budget crisis is having on their offices. It is a tough time to be in government and it seems the county is running out of money to offer the most basic services. Setting priorities will be very important and it is my hope that the Democrats who run the county budget set those priorities better than their Democratic counterparts in the city have.