If you attend many meetings of local government, as I do, it's easy to see the hypocrisy.
Mayors and council members hold themselves up as incorruptible public servants looking out for you, but many of them serve the agenda of the special interests that got them elected in the first place.
Democrats serve public sector unions whose contracts have enslaved the rest of us. Republicans serve businesses, whose bottom line means more than the welfare of the people who work for them, or the public who buys their product.
Few of them really serve us.
In Bethlehem, for example, Mayor John Callahan recently wanted Council to fork over $5,000 to the Bach Choir, which is loaded with tenors, campaign contributors, sopranos and voters.
But he was unwilling to spend a dime for a K-9 dog that might actually save your life. He nearly got away with this hypocrisy, too. And what Callahan wanted to do is really the norm for most politicians.
Now let me tell you about another kind of public servant. You won't find him making speeches or blowin' oil at your Town Hall.
I recently spent an hour talking to Bethlehem Township police officer Dan Barsnica about his partner, a four-legged dog named Castro. While Barsnica waxed on about Castro, he never bothered to tell me that he paid for the dog himself. I had to found that out from someone else.
Bethlehem Patch Editor Daryl Nerl and I wereto true public servants just a few days ago, when a 16 year-old chocolate lab named George tumbled into a sinkhole.
For seven hours, volunteer firefighters and emergency responders from all over the Lehigh Valley worked together to save this lovable animal. No turf wars. True regionalism.
Shawn Lubenetski, a member of the Lehigh County Special Operations unit, tunneled his way to the dog, who was wedged in a crevice with his front paws dangling over a ledge. At any moment, the earth could have collapsed on them both.
Why would Lubenetski risk his life for a dog?
We all know there's a special bond between man and dog, but there's another reason for this daring rescue. George's owner, Dan Kenny, explained. Calling George a "reluctant hero, Kenny told me his grandchildren, ages 2 to 16, were scheduled to visit soon. "George unknowingly made everything safe for everyone."
Last weekend, you may not have seen public servants, but you undoubtedly heard their wailing servants. We were all greeted by a visitor who just wouldn't go away. And when Hurricane Irene finally left us on Sunday, she had flooded roadways and basements, knocked over trees, and left many of us without electricity.
In Bethlehem Township, Nancy Run firefighters saved 8 drivers stranded by flash floods on Willow Park Road, and were still pumping out basements on Monday. In Hanover Township, forty trees had to be moved from the roads. It was the same story all over the Lehigh Valley.
You may never have heard of them, but Northampton County Emergency Services helped coordinate a response. In eight situation reports, they warned about the flooding and power disruptions that ensued, and even made arrangements for emergency shelters in Bethlehem and Easton.
Thanks in large part to true public servants who worked together, they were able to make the one report that matters most - no casualties.
So next time I see one of these true real public servants holding out a bucket at some red light, I'll give my campaign contribution to him.