NORRISTOWN -- Montgomery County Commissioners Joseph M. Hoeffel III and James R. Matthews Tuesday said they welcomed the prospect of fellow Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. "finally" becoming engaged in county government.
However, the pair took exception to Castor's claim of a lack of significant accomplishments during the three's first six months in office.
"That just shows how uninvolved Bruce has been," said Hoeffel, noting that Castor does not have much to say to his fellow two commissioners and is the only commissioner with blinds on the interior windows of his office.
Matthews, who is the chairman of the commissioners, said the administration set three priorities at the outset of the administration.
Those three priorities include the development of a county commerce and economic development policy, the creation of a transportation funding program and the continued "greening" of the county through programs such as its open-space grant program and greenhouse gas reduction program.
"As a businessman, I have learned that you have to remain focussed on a handful of priorities or nothing is accomplished," said Matthews.
Hoeffel said the administration has made "great strides" in putting together an economic development policy. The county has created a commerce and economic development cabinet of county officials, created a citizens' task force and has hired a consultant.
Matthews said that the county currently has put its planning commission to work to develop a transportation funding program that will address traffic congestion issues in the county.
"These are big things that are under way and they take time," said Hoeffel.
Matthews said that many of the proposals raised by Castor at his press conference Tuesday have been discussed by the commissioners and will continue to be discussed.
For example, Matthews said, he has spent the last month reviewing recommendations of a former home rule commission that studied county government in 1976.
"I happen to believe that you don't mess with something that works," said Matthews, noting that taxes have decreased since 2003 while the size of county government has decreased since 1999.
Matthews also said he was a strong proponent of the 311 system, but that it might be "a clumsy vehicle" to achieve what the county wants achieved since he has learned that more than 50 percent of the callers likely wanted services provided by the county's more than 100 school districts and municipalities.
"Mr. Castor's priorities are just an affirmation of what we are doing," said Matthews. Still, "a lot of the issues raised by Bruce have merit and should and will be discussed," said Hoeffel.
He noted the commissioners now are in the process to streamline their bi-weekly meetings to allow for more discussion of policy issues.
As for allegations of cronyism and patronage leveled at Hoeffel and Matthews by Castor and county Republican Chairman Robert J. Kerns during Castor's press conference, Hoeffel claimed "that coming from those two guys, those complaints are just the height of hypocrisy."
"After both of them engaged in those activities for a number of years, now they are coming off so pure," said Hoeffel. "I knew both of these two before they were virgins."