Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, the Democratic candidates for Montgomery County commissioner, today urged incumbent Commissioner Bruce Castor, to put his mouth where the money is and support legislation that would give the county revenue from the Valley Forge Resort Casino scheduled to open next spring.
Last month the board of commissioners, including Castor, sent a letter to the county’s state legislators asking that they support legislation that would give the expected $1 million-plus in revenue directly to the county. Under current legislation it will go to a state fund and be used for narrowly designated county projects.
Last week, Shapiro, who represents the 153rd district in the state legislature, filed amendments to a gaming bill on the House calendar that would give the county commissioners direct access to the funds. Today he urged Castor and his colleagues to support his amendments the next time a gaming bill is brought to the floor.
In a newspaper article over the weekend, Castor complained that Shapiro’s action put him in a bad position – he either has to give his opponent a pat on the back or oppose an idea he originally supported.
“Commissioner Castor and his running mate, Jenny Brown don’t have to give me a pat on the back, but they should give the taxpayers of Montgomery County a helping hand in their struggle in this poor economic climate,” said Shapiro, who was joined at the press conference by his running mate, Leslie Richards. “I urge Commissioner Castor and Ms. Brown, to put aside their childish, petty partisanship and stop worrying about who gets credit for what. Apparently the last three years of sophomoric bickering has robbed Commissioner Castor of whatever good government sensibilities he might have once had.”
Richards, a supervisor in Whitemarsh Township, also urged Castor and Brown to step up. “I’m not a legislator, and I’m not a commissioner – yet, but in Whitemarsh, if I or any of my colleagues acted this petty, we would be skewered. Obviously, Mr. Castor and Ms. Brown are more interested in getting a pound of flesh, rather than doing a ton of good.” She also referenced a candidate forum recently in which Brown said bipartisanship is a terrible idea.
Shapiro and Richards also criticized Castor and Brown, for lying about Shapiro’s voting record on this issue and claiming that he voted to take the casino revenue away from the county’s direct control.
“The story in the Philadelphia Inquirer spelled it out simply and accurately,” Shapiro said.
He (Shapiro) did not – as Castor’s campaign has alleged – vote to take the local share away from the commissioners; he had not been elected to the House when the original 2004 gaming legislation restricted the county’s direct access. – Philadelphia Inquirer, October 22, 2011.
“The original gaming bill, which took the slots revenue from Montgomery County, was passed before I was elected to the General Assembly,” Shapiro said. “I voted against the subsequent bill in 2009 that took the table games revenue away from the county.
“To characterize any of my votes as being anti-Montgomery County is not only wrong, it is a lie,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro and Richards also detailed their plans for improving inter-governmental relations after they are elected, especially the relationship with the county legislators. The commissioners found out only recently that the revenue from the Valley Forge casino would not go directly to the county.