WEB EXCLUSIVE: Eich on Bonus Ban: “We’re gaining a lot of support”

Article posted on February 28, 2007

PITTSBURGH (02/28/07) – State Senator John H. Eichelberger Jr. (R-30th) told a Pittsburgh radio audience that momentum is building for his proposed bill to ban controversial legislative bonuses. The first term senator told KDKA radio talk show host Fred Honsberger that the bill is “gaining a lot of support quickly,” citing a total of eight Senate co-sponsors in the first week of circulation for the measure.

Eichelberger said the measure is in response to a wave of recent bonuses awarded to state legislative staffers. “I had asked for the Attorney General to come in and investigate. He is, and that’s step one. The next step is sponsoring a bill that bans bonuses in all branches of government.”

The Hollidaysburg lawmaker cited the case of a $20,000 bonus awarded to a Senate staffer as evidence that the reward system is flawed. According to Eichelberger, the staffer in question was on a leave of absence for a significant portion of the year as a consultant to Lynn Swann’s failed 2006 gubernatorial bid. “The bonuses were done secretively. Money was taken from leadership accounts and done without the knowledge of me and other people in the Senate. How are you going to defend that?” said Eichelberger.

February 27, 2007 Press Conference

Article posted on February 28, 2007

Eichelberger Launches New Website

Article posted on February 28, 2007

One of your state lawmakers says he’s making good on his campaign promises by planning to save you about a half-million dollars during his four-year term.

30th District Senator John Eichelberger says he’s not going to print calendars or newsletters most other legislators send to their constituents, because he says they’re too much like campaign material. He also says he won’t be reimbursed for the miles he drives within his district, or for the meals he eats while in Harrisburg. Add it all up, and Eichelberger says he’ll save about $500,000 of your tax dollars.

Read the full WTAJ-TV article here.

We’re Live and Online!

Article posted on February 28, 2007

KDKA LiveYesterday my staff and I completed the second of a two-day roll out of our online Constituent Service Center. Thanks to everyone who has been contacting me through the web. The response to the launch has been truly amazing! If you were among the many people who have written to me via email over the last 24 hours, please know that I’ve read your thoughts, and am working hard to get you a timely response.

This afternoon I will appear on KDKA Radio’s “Fred Honsberger Show” in Pittsburgh at 2:05pm to discuss my proposal to permanently ban the practice of political bonus checks for legislative staffs. Log on the kdkaradio.com to listen live this afternoon, and feel free to call in to the show. My Senate colleagues have shown a great deal of interest in the bill, and our staff is fielding numerous requests for co-sponsorships. The ban is an important step toward the bigger goal of restoring the reputation of a badly damaged state legislature.

The rest of the week is as busy as the first half. Tomorrow night I’m hosting my first Online Town Hall Meeting, and before the week is over I’ll be participating in several public events including one for the important “Read Across America” program. If you haven’t done so already, please make sure to sign up for a password so you’re able to join the conversation. See you online at 7pm! The topic is Governor Rendell’s State Budget.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sincerely,

John

Legislative Bonus Ban Sought

Article posted on February 27, 2007

A freshman lawmaker is drafting a bill to ban controversial bonuses that have been secretly awarded to state government staffers. Bonuses have been a burning issue in the Capitol since legislative leaders recently acknowledged paying millions to their staffs during the past couple years. Attorney General Tom Corbett’s office is investigating whether any were rewards to staffers who helped lawmaker campaigns – which would be illegal.

Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, is circulating a memo asking senators to co-sponsor his bill, which would apply to all branches of state government.

Read the full York Daily Record Article here.

Eichelberger on KDKA Wednesday

Article posted on February 27, 2007

PITTSBURGH: State Senator John Eichelberger (R-30th) will appear on KDKA Radio’s Fred Honsberger Show Wednesday afternoon at 2:05pm to discuss his proposal to ban legislative bonuses. Listen to the interview live at:

Breaking News: Eichelberger Seeks to Ban Bonuses

Article posted on February 26, 2007

By Brad Bumsted
STATE CAPITOL REPORTER | Tribune-Review
Monday, February 26, 2007

HARRISBURG — A state senator said today he will introduce legislation that would ban staff bonuses, which are now the target of an investigation by the attorney general.
Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Altoona, said he is preparing a memo to seek co-sponsors to eliminate legislative staff bonuses, which totaled $3.6 million in the 2005-06 legislative session. Some bonuses for top staffers ranged from $20,000 to $28,000 a year.

Attorney General Tom Corbett is investigating whether any of the bonuses were payback for legislative staffers doing political work.

House Democrats’ bonuses increased from $435,000 in 2005 to about $1.9 million in 2006, when Democrats recaptured control of the House. The increase in an election year was “enough to raise your eyebrows,” Corbett has said.

House Democrats and other caucus leaders deny that any of the bonuses were related to campaign work by staffers.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, last month banned bonuses in the Senate Republican caucus upon learning of the practice under previous leaders.

“I believe Joe. But if 10 years from now Joe isn’t pro tem, another leader could reinstate them, ” Eichelberger said.

Eichelberger also said Scarnati’s action doesn’t apply to the Senate Democrats or the House Democratic and Republican caucuses, which temporarily have put the practice on hold.

“There needs to be a law in place,” Eichelberger said.

Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Uniontown, said last week he will ask the Speaker’s Legislative Reform Commission to ban bonuses. But whatever the commission does amounts to a recommendation.

Brad Bumsted can be reached at bbumsted@tribweb.com or (717) 787-1405.

Putting on the Miles!

Article posted on February 26, 2007

HarrisburgMy team and I had a busy weekend with the Jaffa Sports show in Altoona. Planners were expecting 13,000 people to attend the annual outdoor hunting, fishing and camping show. From the hundreds of people I met, it looks like they met their targets! I have to personally thank so many constituents who made a special effort to say hello. After the show, we wrapped up the week with a Saturday evening dinner in Fulton County. We’re looking forward to announcing the official opening of the Fulton County district office soon. You’ll get the information first on this web site.

Today I’ll be driving east through the snow most of the afternoon heading to Hershey for the Pennsylvania School Board Association dinner. Then it’s off to the hotel room tonight to prepare for our press conference with the State Capitol press corps tomorrow morning announcing the launch of our online consitutent center. Tuesday I’ll be back to Hollidaysburg for the website’s official launch in Hollidaysburg.

Please make sure to sign up for Thursday’s first Online Town Hall meeting. We’ll be talking about the governor’s plan to raise taxes and increase spending. Stop by if you’re able, and have a question ready!

I’ll be updating the blog frequently and am looking forward to your messages.

Sincerely,
John

Eichelberger Takes Reform Revolution Online

Article posted on February 22, 2007

Senator Ends Taxpayer Mailings, While Increasing Access

HARRISBURG (02.22.07) State Senator John H. Eichelberger Jr.(R-30th), will unveil his “next generation” online constituent center at the State Capitol Monday. The first term state lawmaker, who ran on a commitment to end taxpayer funded mass mailings while increasing citizen access, is unveiling the first legislative website not designed, programmed or hosted at taxpayer expense.

According to Eichelberger the website represents, “a generational shift in approaching constituent service.” Adding, “we’re not treating the web as a technological novelty, it’s the centerpiece of a strategy to empower the people I represent. From the standpoint of function and design, this project simply has no precedent.”

WHO: Senator John H. Eichelberger Jr. (30th District)
Jeff Coleman, President Churchill Strategies

  • WHAT: Briefing on legislative website launch
  • WHERE: Capitol Media Center
  • WHEN: Monday, February 26th, 2007 | 9:30-10:00AM

Please embargo print coverage until the formal launch on Tuesday, February 27 at noon.

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30th District Staff: Michele Adams

Article posted on February 17, 2007

Michele AdamsMichele Adams

Michele Adams is the Economic Development Director for Senator Eichelberger working throughout the 30th District on economic development and transportation projects. She joins the team with a diverse background, including almost 20 years of experience in the education, defense contracting, public non-profit, and private consulting sectors. Most recently, she served for 10 years as the Director of Planning & Community Development with a regional development organization.

Michele graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Science Degree.

She is a native of Cambria County and enjoys golfing and boating.

Contact Michele at mmadams@pasen.gov