For more than two years, Montgomery County's feuding Republican commissioners have publicly declined to bury the hatchet. On Monday, it emerged that the two also disagree on what to do with the chairman's gavel.

Chairman James R. Matthews' dispute with Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. is partly rooted in a row over who would get to be chairman after they won election together in 2007.

So Matthews offered May 27 to divide the ceremonial aspects of being chairman - though not the authority or the corner office that come with the gig - by rotating control of the bimonthly meetings among the three commissioners. Democratic Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, with whom Matthews has a power-sharing deal, quickly spoke approvingly of the "historic offer," but Castor demurred.

In a letter to Matthews on Monday, Castor declined the proposal and said he could not "advocate or condone" Matthews' policies, which he called fiscally irresponsible. "Your rotating chairmanship would only confuse the voters," Castor wrote, "and further avoid the transparency and accountability that they deserve." Matthews did not return a call. - Derrick Nunnally