That is my hope

Article posted on August 31, 2008

I had another busy weekend day with mostly personal things on my agenda. After church, Charlotte, Johnny and I went out to brunch in Huntingdon County. Johnny and I went shooting this afternoon and then Charlotte and I went to a corn boil in Altoona tonight where Ricky Lee and the Mustangs were playing and I got to play a couple of numbers with them. I always enjoy playing with these people, they’re good and they’re very nice to me. We stopped to see some friends after that and got home late from their house. For a Sunday, there wasn’t much in the papers about state issues. With the legislature not in session and the Presidential campaign heating up, not much is written about Harrisburg. People are starting to wonder about the Bonusgate investigation. The rumors were that there would be another round of indictments in mid-August, that didn’t happen. It seems strange that it has been so long since the last announcement given what was said at that time. Most people figured that the public would be receiving pretty regular announcements about who was involved with what. For everyone’s sake, I hope that future charges are filed promptly so that the guilty people are taken out of the system and that the remaining system can be fixed. That is my hope.

– John

Little Pink Houses

Article posted on August 31, 2008

I had a busy day today. After my men’s fellowship group in the morning I hit the office for a couple of hours then went to the Huntingdon County Airport for a gun raffle that benefited the Mount Union Fire Dept. This has got to be one of the largest gun raffles in the state. They sell 30,000 to 40,000 tickets and people from all over the country attend. The food is good and there are a lot of prizes including ATV’s and a $20,000 cash prize. I then went to a Labor Day weekend party at a friend’s home and then to the American Freedom Concert at Lakemont Park. This is the second year for the concert, which features Ricky Lee and the Mustangs. The event benefits the military men and women now serving and includes local, state and national VFW officers. I spoke to the crowd and later in the show got to sit in on the drums for a number, “Little Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp. I had a good time.

– John

Watch the video

Article posted on August 29, 2008

I worked at the office today and went over some things with staff. I helped out with a fund raiser for Habitat For Humanity Blair County tonight at Blair County Ballpark. We are raffling off a kid’s playhouse, a big one made to look like an Altoona Curve locker room. I saw a lot of people and had a nice time. Charlotte joined me later and we stayed for some of the game. It didn’t look good for the Curve when we left, 7 – 1 Reading. One of the news stories that hit most papers today was the latest TurnpikeFacts.com piece done by the Commonwealth Foundation. These videos give a lot of information about the operation of the Turnpike and this latest one focused on the “family tree” of the Commission. It talked about patronage and political favors and corruption. The Commission would not respond to this latest video when asked by reporters about it, they couldn’t. If you ever questioned how bad things are with that agency, watch the video.

– John

The new staff are doing well

Article posted on August 28, 2008

I didn’t have much on my schedule today. The radio show I normally do got bumped but I did do a newspaper interview with the Harrisburg Patriot. It was about an interesting matter with the administration, I’ll let them tell the story. I went to a Business After Hours reception tonight for the Tyrone Chamber of Commerce at Windy Hill Furniture. The company was very kind and the store was beautiful. I had a nice time. There wasn’t much in the news today about state government issues. The Democratic Convention and now the speculation about the Republican Vice Presidential pick are dominating things. I got some things done around the office and am working with the new staff to get them acclimated to the way I like things done. They are doing well.

– John

Some people like big government spending programs

Article posted on August 27, 2008

I stayed at a hotel in the City of Lebanon last night so I would be ready for our Finance Committee hearing this morning. I got up and ran 6 miles early. I enjoy running when I stay somewhere, it’s a unique way to see an area. The hearing was interesting. The subject matter was two bills, sponsored by Senator Mike Folmer, which would give tax credits to small employers who contributed to an employees Health Savings Account (HSA). All of the testifiers were in favor of the bills except one person from a Harrisburg organization that thinks that we should pump a lot of public dollars into the existing health insurance system. She wants the state government to subsidize premium payments without any regard to fixing any of the system’s problems. This is the last thing we should do. Some people like big government spending programs, I don’t.

– John

I can use the break

Article posted on August 26, 2008

I spoke to a large group of seniors in Bedford this morning. They were full of questions about the budget, transportation, municipal laws, the legislative process and the ethical issues in Harrisburg. Everywhere I speak, I get asked about the ethical problems of the legislature. People are paying attention, and that’s great. I joined Senator Arlen Specter and some Bedford County business people for lunch. He was in town for a town hall meeting. I asked him about what impact Barrak Obama has had in his short time in the U.S. Senate, he said, none. I had a meeting in McConnellsburg tonight and then headed to Lebanon for a Finance Committee hearing tomorrow morning. I’m glad the price of gas is down a little, with days like this, I can use the break.

– John

American government at it’s best

Article posted on August 25, 2008

We had two new people join my staff today in the Hollidaysburg office, Julie and Jen.  Both were hired to replace other staff who are no longer with us.   We had training set up for them today and I bought everyone pizza for lunch.  They did very well and we are glad to have them on board.  I had my first town hall meeting in Mifflin County this evening.  The 30th Senatorial District includes only one township, Menno, from Mifflin County.  We thought that it was important to try to have a town hall meeting there this year and hear what those folks had to say about the issues and ask me what I thought about things.  We had 19 people, including two of their three Twp. Supervisors attend.  We went over a lot of issues including the budget in general and funding for the Dept. of Aging in particular, the Chesapeake Bay initiative and its’ effect on sewage treatment plants, the proposed dog kennel law, electric rate caps and some other topics.  It was a good exchange of ideas and I enjoyed it very much.  To me, this is American government at it’s best.

– John

An interesting time to be in the legislature

Article posted on August 24, 2008

After church this morning I hit the office for as long as possible before going to a fund raising event for the Easter Seals of Central PA. I got a lot done, or at least organized. I finished installing the file folder holders in the file room and fixed the magazine rack in the reception area. I vacuumed and cleaned things up in general. We have some new staff starting tomorrow and I want things to be the way I expect them to stay. The event tonight was very nice. Charlotte was with me and we saw a lot of people and had fancy but good food. I find that sometimes the fancy food isn’t always good, but this was. There really wasn’t much in the papers today about state issues, the Olympics and the Presidential race took most of the ink. I guess that we are at nine session days left this fall, down from ten. The House had originally scheduled nine. Everyone is speculating about how much will get done, if anything, and what the state of the House will be in given the Bonusgate indictments and the power struggle within the Democratic Caucus over Bill DeWeese. It is an interesting time to be in the legislature.

– John

This season will be over soon

Article posted on August 23, 2008

I went to my men’s fellowship meeting this morning then went to the office for a couple of hours and ran a few errands. I went to an Eagle Scout ceremony this afternoon in Hollidaysburg for a young man named Joshua Luther. I happened to know his family which usually isn’t the case. It was a nice ceremony and I presented a citation from the Senate, as usual. Charlotte’s nephew Max and I attempted to put up some file holders in the office today. We got one up and the other one started, I can finish it up tomorrow. We had to make a trip to the hardware store for some screw anchors, that slowed us up. Charlotte and I went to a big picnic at a farm in northern Huntingdon County this evening. We talked to a lot of people and had some great food. I have really been hitting the picnic circuit lately, but this season will be over soon, too soon.

– John

A speedy recovery to Catherine

Article posted on August 22, 2008

My wife and I have house guests this week, Charlotte’s brother Steve and nephew Max. Steve is a big model railroad buff and went to a show in Everett today so I took Max with me. Max is 18 and got to see how my office works from the inside. He is going to the office with me tomorrow to help hang some file folder holders. This is the kind of thing that needs done from time to time, now he knows what it’s really like. The news broke yesterday about CBK, Catherine Baker Knoll. She has cancer and is under treatment. I have gotten to know Catherine over the last year and a half and like her personally. She has been very kind to me and has treated any guest that I have brought to the chamber very well. She especially loves kids. She showers them with candy and other gifts like coloring books about state government. She has a big heart and I wish her a speedy recovery.

– John