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What will happen when Charlie goes?


Dear Friends,

Good morning. First, Mighty Betsy and I wish you the best holiday season and a healthy new year.

The other week, M.B. and I had a date with the Bucks County Coroner, Dr. Joseph Campbell. No, we haven’t been assassinated. Dr. Campbell is our foot doctor. That’s his day job. We always talk Bucks County politics but he refuses to let me write about our conversations, alas. So I’ll have to use my own imagination concerning what I think lies ahead in 2019.

Yes, Dr. Campbell expects to seek re-election. It’s also a most important year for both parties. The top of the county ticket is led by the commissioners’ race. Four candidates will run (two Democrats against two Republicans). The top three vote getters will become the three county commissioners, thus ensuring a minority commissioner on the board.

Rob Loughery and Charley Martin are both Republicans. Diane Ellis-Marseglia is a Democrat. Marseglia plans to run again. After 23 years as a commissioner, Martin will not seek re-election. Loughery is officially undecided but I hope he seeks re-election. He and Marseglia have been effective and trustworthy. The Democratic Party is enjoying a 10,000 voter registration advantage (194,000 to184,000). The key to victory lies in attracting the “other” category … some 74,000 voters who are not registered in either the Democratic or Republican party.

You can be sure that John Cordisco, the chairman of the county Democrats, will guide his party to choose an attractive candidate to run with Marseglia … although he failed to find the right candidate to oppose Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick this year. Fitzpatrick might well have accompanied the other doomed Republican incumbent congressmen who lost their bids. Pat Poprik, the GOP county chairwoman has her hands full.

In my opinion, what Cordisco should do is to run Marseglia against Fitzpatrick in 2020. With the unpopularity of President Trump, all Republican congress people will face uphill battles. Marseglia has won several countywide elections; is seasoned and attractive. She also has the benefit of being female. By having Marseglia resign to become a congresswoman, Cordisco would also have the advantage of leading the Bucks Democratic Party in choosing her replacement as a county commissioner.

And that takes me to Charley Martin and the Bucks County Republicans. If Martin wants to help the GOP, he’ll retire early, say in February of 2019. The Bucks County Court of Common Pleas selects a successor when a commissioner dies or quits before his term is over.

Because Martin is a Republican, the court must choose a Republican to finish Martin’s term. That Republican would have the advantage of running as an incumbent. I know that’s true because it happened to me.

So the moves on the checker board (according to Meredith) are as follows: Martin resigns; the Bucks Republican Party nominates a candidate whom the court will (we hope) choose; Loughery is happy (presumably) and will run again; meanwhile Cordisco readies Marseglia to oppose Fitzpatrick in 2020. But as Mighty Betsy quips: “Charlie Meredith is usually wrong but never in doubt.”

We’ll have to stay tuned. For starters, all the GOP has to do is get Martin to resign. (Bon chance, as the French say.)

Meanwhile, it’s time for college football bowl games. Between Christmas and New Year’s, there will be 40 bowl games. So, 80 teams will perform for television audiences and receive $ zillions.

The six most popular bowl games and their payoffs are as follows: Rose Bowl, $4 million to each team; Orange Bowl, $6 million each; Sugar Bowl, $4 million each; Cotton Bowl, $6 million each; Peach Bowl, $4 million each; and Fiesta Bowl, $4 million each. That’s right folks, 12 college teams will play six games and share $56 million in payouts.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Remember in 40 bowl games, 80 “amateur” college teams will compete for $ zillions in payouts. My old college team (Penn) is prohibited from playing after regular season games. In 1954, the eight Ivy League presidents agreed that football was the tail wagging the college dog. In the Ivy League, every other sport is allowed to participate in post-season games … basketball, baseball, fencing, swimming, soccer, golf, tennis, track, etc. … but not football.

And that takes me to James Michener and his book, “Sports in America,” written in 1976. Michener claimed that big-time football and basketball had eclipsed amateurism. He thought that it would be better to keep big-time players out of college classrooms. In addition, Michener wrote that the big-time college basketball and football players should be paid to play. I agree with Michener.

I remember my father taking me to Franklin Field in the 1940s when 80,000 fans came to watch Penn play the likes of Army, Navy, Princeton, Yale, California, and Notre Dame. All the Penn players had handsome athletic scholarships, prohibited after 1954. When Penn abandoned athletic scholarships but still had to play big-time football schedules, Franklin Field quickly lost its fans … and we lost most of our games. During my four years at Penn, I don’t think that we won a single football game.

Nonetheless, I think that Michener was right. Incidentally, as in 1954, the eight Ivy League basketball and football coaches are paid considerably less than their college presidents are. Not so in the rest of big-time basketball and football.

Readers, what do you think?

Sincerely, Charles Meredith