Glenn Reibman should stay at bottom of Crystal Lake

I can't imagine there are many things more frustrating than being the heroine or hero of a horror movie. Whenever you think you've vanquished the mad stabber or machete wielder, the maniac pops back to his feet and comes at you again.

Michael Myers and Jason, for example, not only showed amazing recuperative powers after being shot, stabbed or falling from balconies, but they kept returning for sequels. Heck, hockey-masked Jason was chained to the bottom of Crystal Lake, and those poor camp counselors still weren't safe from him.

I guess you can't keep a good serial killer down.

Some politicians are the same way. Just when you start thinking you've seen the last of them, they rise from the dead to run for something again.

Occasionally, it turns out well. I think Easton Mayor Sal Panto II is way better than Mayor Sal Panto I. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter emerged from crushing defeats to become respected statesmen and humanitarians.

But most of the time, the last thing we want is to see one of these guys unhook his chains and swim up from the bottom of the lake, particularly when we had very good reasons for putting him down there.

Our state party leaders have no appreciation for this frustration, perhaps because no one would remotely consider them to be heroes or heroines. The Democratic and Republican caucuses in Harrisburg routinely hire representatives and senators who have been ousted by voters, in some cases under scandalous circumstances. It's such a smooth transition that they don't even have to miss a paycheck.

Jolting these political careers back to life is an insult to voters. Our message on the rare occasions when we reject incumbents is: Get a real job. The party leaders' message when they rehire them is: Drop dead.

Still, the guy who really got me thinking about resilient mad slashers was Glenn Reibman. Reporters Scott Kraus and Samantha Marcus wrote last week that Reibman is preparing for another run at Northampton County executive, confirming a horrible rumor I'd been hearing for weeks. Reibman served as county executive from 1998 to 2005.

I reacted pretty much the way Jamie Lee Curtis did when Michael Myers wouldn't stay dead. Democratic loyalists hungry for sweetheart county contracts and cushy county jobs aside, does anyone really want to see this guy haunting our nightmares again?

If I were being selfish about this, I would long for his return from his patronage soft-landing pad at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, The Island of Misfit Hacks. He has been the subject of some of my favorite columns over the years.

I had Young Frankenstein bringing him to life as a future state legislator. I had him as a robot planted on Earth by aliens. I had a character in another satirical column refer to him as "the comatose gentleman." I called him "The Zombie King" and "semi-lifelike." I compared him to the captain of the Andrea Gail, the fishing boat that went down in the Perfect Storm.

I pointed the finger at him for the disastrous financial scheme — known as a swaption — that at one point had the county $25 million in the hole. For his budgetary ineptitude, which helped lead to back-to-back huge tax increases. For handing the reins of power to over-the-top political consultant/crook Michael Solomon, who ended up in federal prison. For hiring a succession of party hacks to walk the halls and orchestrate his photo opps. For failing over and over to exhibit even minimal leadership.

In fairness, I also have made a point of praising Reibman for his role, through the county's $110 million bond issue, in helping pave the way for redeveloping South Bethlehem. But since the bond issue was conceived as a scheme for spreading money around the four corners of Northampton County to win Reibman re-election — I described him as Santa Claus at the time — that praise came with reservations.

When you weigh Reibman's responsibility for county corruption during his tenure, the best case scenario is that he took the area's most controversial and arrogant political operative in Solomon and handed him the power to draw up and award county contracts, hire and fire county employees, reshape county departments and authorities, and plan the county's economic future. And then didn't pay attention to what he was doing.

Under this scenario, Reibman could be ethically indifferent rather than dishonest. He also would be a monumental dolt.

Is there really a thirst to resurrect the political career of this brutally bad county executive? John Stoffa, who has his own shortcomings, defeated Reibman in the 2005 Democratic primary specifically because he was the anti-Reibman, relentlessly honest and apolitical. I have to believe voters still prefer those qualities to cronyism and partisanship.

So if I could put on my scuba gear, swim to the bottom of Crystal Lake and hold up a chalk message from Glenn Reibman to read through his hockey mask as he's contemplates another run at county executive, it would be simple.

Stay down there.

bill.white@mcall.com 610-820-6105

Bill White's commentary appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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