Leave it to two Montgomery County political opponents to find a way to disagree on something they both fundamentally support.
After calling on state legislators last month to restore local officials' direct access to an expected million-dollar pot of casino cash, Republican Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. on Friday tore into the lawmaker who proposed a way to do it.
Days after State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D., Montgomery) filed amendments to give 2 percent of slot and table-game revenue from the soon-to-open Valley Forge Resort Casino to the county, Castor condemned the move as disingenuous and political.
Shapiro, who is running against Castor for a spot on the commissioners' board, fired back.
"Hopefully, Bruce will put aside his pettiness and work across the aisle to advance legislation that he claims to think is important," he said. "This is one of the ways we can address some of the deficiencies in the underlying law."
Amid the excitement over the windfall the Valley Forge casino might bring when it opens this spring, Montgomery County commissioners discovered last month they would not see a dime - at least not directly.
Other Southeastern Pennsylvania counties that have gaming centers collect 2 percent of all slot and table-game revenue to mitigate the casinos' impact.
Under current state law, Montgomery County's portion would be funneled instead to the Commonwealth Financing Authority, a state agency charged with doling that money back out to the county in the form of grants for environmental cleanup, water improvements, and economic development projects. The CFA's board is appointed by the governor and the party leadership of both chambers of the General Assembly.
That difference could cost the county commissioners access to big bucks. The local share from the Valley Forge casino is expected to come in at $1.5 million a year or more. Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia Counties have drawn more than $5 million annually from hosting casinos.
Rep. Mike Gerber (D., Montgomery), who designed this setup, defended it as a more transparent and equitable way of distributing the money.
His colleagues in Harrisburg seemed loath to approve a change. Responding to a letter from the county commissioners last month, Rep. Bob Godshall (R., Montgomery) wrote, "As of right now, there really is not much we can do."
Any bill proposing to change state gaming law would become too laden with amendments and mired in debate to make it through the legislature, he said in a sentiment echoed by many in Montgomery County's 23-member Harrisburg delegation.
Still, Shapiro pushed on. This week, he proposed shifting the 2 percent casino cut back into county coffers by attaching amendments to an existing gaming bill.
That measure, sponsored by Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R., Monroe), would limit the number of resort casinos within 30 miles of each other.
"The underlying bill has nothing to do with Valley Forge, but it is important to some members of the House," Shapiro said, suggesting that Brown's bill stood a better chance of coming up for a vote. "If that bill is going to be considered, my amendments will be there to get brought up before the House."
Castor was quick to point out another possible motive: Shapiro put him in a tight spot politically.
Since the issue arose, the incumbent commissioner's campaign has tried to pin blame on Shapiro for cutting the county out.
Shapiro voted for language in 2009 that moved Montgomery County's share of Valley Forge profits from one state agency - based in the governor's office - to the CFA. He 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.
By proposing a solution now, Castor said, Shapiro forces him to either give his opponent a pat on the back or oppose an idea he originally supported.
Castor chose neither option, instead endorsing the bill in spirit but not in practice.
"I think that this is cover to deflect from the fact that he screwed it up originally," the Republican said. "Now, he's put forth a bill he knows will go nowhere."
Shapiro did not respond to requests Friday to react to Castor's criticism.
Brown's gaming bill and Shapiro's amendments have yet to be scheduled for a committee vote.