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Shapiro Taps Montco’s Arkoosh for Human Services Secretary

Governor-elect Josh Shapiro nominated political ally Dr. Val Arkoosh to be the state’s secretary of human services.

Arkoosh, a Democrat who ran for the U.S. Senate last year, was first appointed a commissioner to fill a vacancy in 2015. She also made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2013.

Arkoosh said she was “extremely honored to accept the nomination.”

“As a physician and public health advocate, I spent my career fighting for health care access and affordability for families, and I am deeply honored to be able to continue this fight alongside my friend, Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro,” said Arkoosh. “Working together as Montgomery County commissioners, I saw Gov.-elect Shapiro’s commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of his constituents firsthand. I look forward to advancing the governor-elect’s agenda to ensure vulnerable populations across the commonwealth have the support they need and every Pennsylvanian has equitable, affordable access to health care in their community.”

She added, “I thank Gov.-elect Shapiro for his support and trust in me to continue my track record of delivering equitable, efficient, and data-driven programs and services to the people of Pennsylvania.”

“DHS provides services to care and support Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable individuals and families. As secretary, I will continue the department’s critical work to help Pennsylvanians lead safe, healthy, and productive lives through trauma-informed services. As a physician of more than two decades in Philadelphia teaching hospitals, an advocate for the Affordable Care Act, and the head of Pennsylvania’s third-largest county for nearly eight years, I am fully prepared to lead the commonwealth’s largest government agency.”

“My experience as both a physician and public health professional continues to inform my work. It was front and center as I shepherded Montgomery County’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic through a data and science-driven response, focusing on clear communication and transparency,” said Arkoosh.

Arkoosh leaves behind a big pay hike in commissioners’ salaries she helped push through late last year. In December, Arkoosh and Democrat Commissioner Kenneth Lawrence voted to increase county taxes by 8 percent while giving raises to themselves and other county row officers.

On January 1 commissioners’ salaries jumped from $87,600 to $98,200. The board chair’s salary went from $90,900 to $101,800.

Arkoosh’s handling of COVID wasn’t universally popular. Minority Republican Commissioner Joe Gale called her a hypocrite for criticizing him over handing out flags to put on veteran’s graves at a Conshohocken cemetery before Memorial Day in 2020. He accused her of “mask shaming.”

“You don’t need a mask to put American flags at a cemetery outdoors,” he said. “What you just said was ridiculous…I have been very clear. People should use their own judgment.”

Parent activist Megan Brock tweeted about the Arkoosh nomination, “I think there are few people in the country who worked harder to keep schools closed than Val Arkoosh. She demoralized parents and students. And now she’s going to be the secretary of human services. Many of us predicted this would happen.  Democrats fail up.”

Arkoosh has voted for five tax increases during her eight years as county commissioner. When she was appointed in 2015, the county millage rate was 3.152. It is now 4.627 (including the .39 millage rate for the community college, which was added under her leadership). Taxes have increased 46.8 percent since she took office.

Shapiro and Arkoosh voted to raise Montgomery County property taxes in 2015 and 2016 by 21 percent.

The court wasted no time in announcing the vacancy.

“President Judge Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio, having been formally advised that Commissioner Chair Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh has resigned her position as Montgomery County Commissioner effective January 17, 2023, hereby directs that anyone interested in filling said vacancy shall deliver a resume and cover letter, including contact information, to the following address on or before January 23, 2023: Michael R. Kehs, Esq., Court Administrator, P.O. Box 311, Courthouse, Norristown, PA [email protected]

Candidates will be expected to be available for interviews at a time to be designated by the court.”

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GALE: Entitlement and Greed Behind Montco Commissioners’ Vote To Raise Their Own Pay

While Santa Claus is saying ho, ho, ho Montgomery County’s Democrat commissioners are once again saying go, go, go to higher property taxes.

As a result, homeowners will see their 2023 county tax bill soar by eight percent. It will be the fifth rate increase in the last eight years.

Money grabs have become the new normal as Democrat Commission Chair Val Arkoosh has established a long history of raising taxes (see 2016, 2017, 2021, and 2022). But it wasn’t without help. For example, the 2016 tax hike was passed with “yes’’ votes from now Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro and my Republican predecessor on the Board of Commissioners, Bruce Castor.

 

 

Truth be told, I am the only Montgomery County Commissioner in over a decade to vote ‘no’ to a tax increase.

And I have done so consistently, as it is my moral and fiduciary duty to be a conservative watchdog for the silent majority who are sick and tired of being fleeced by wasteful and reckless spending.

Speaking of wasteful and reckless spending, I recently voted “no” to a 12 percent pay raise for elected officials and went on the record to refuse participation in the compensation package that the Democrat county commissioners voted to approve. That’s right, I am NOT taking the money.

It is stunning and appalling that my colleagues had the nerve to award themselves a taxpayer-funded salary increase during a time when so many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

The sense of entitlement and greed is overwhelming. In fact, the excess is so rampant that it is nearly impossible to detail the county’s many layers of largesse. The most egregious of which involves the decadent renovation of the justice center in Norristown.

Thanks to spiraling construction costs and countless contract amendments, the price of this boondoggle has already surpassed $400 million. The final tab is anybody’s guess. But what’s for sure is Montgomery County taxpayers will be footing the enormous bill.

In addition to shining a spotlight on extravagant capital budget expenditures, I have also opposed millions of dollars in outrageous spending related to the county’s bloated operating budget – which includes, among other things, a multitude of mail-in voting contracts and woke Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training.

Now is not the time for more of the same. Facing the hurdles of runaway food and energy prices, empty store shelves, and shrinking 401(k)s, the last thing families, retirees and small businesses need is the burden of higher taxes thrown in their faces.

In these uncertain times, Montgomery County residents deserve a voice of sanity. And I will continue to be that voice in an effort to restore common sense and fiscal responsibility to the county courthouse.

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