A different environment

Article posted on November 30, 2008

I ran 8 miles this morning then made it to church. I got some work done at the office this afternoon then a few things at home. This evening, Charlotte and I went to the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society’s Chili Fest at the Ramada Hotel in Altoona. I tried all 15 chilies in competition and the two “celebrity” chilies. It will be interesting to see who wins, we didn’t stay till the end. There wasn’t much in the news today that I saw anyway. Joe Scarnati will be officially sworn in as Lt. Governor on December 3rd, it will be a different environment in Harrisburg when we go back.

– John

It is a privilege to live in this country

Article posted on November 29, 2008

After my men’s fellowship meeting this morning, I got home quickly to load a sofa onto my truck and head to Johnny’s apartment in Alexandria, VA. We picked up my mother along the way and made it with the sofa, strapped to the bed, intact. Johnny gave us a tour of the White House’s West Wing. It was very impressive. We are proud of Johnny and it was great to spend the day with him. Washington is in transition mode these days. Construction has begun on inauguration parade stands and paraphernalia of the new administration is on sale and display everywhere. The White House is being decorated for Christmas and is beautiful. I have been to the White House once before at this time of year, I really enjoy the decorations, they are very tastefully and elegantly done. It is a privilege to live in this country, we forget that sometimes.

– John

Black Friday

Article posted on November 28, 2008

The Senate offices were closed today so I got a five mile run in this morning, took care of a number of things around the house and headed to my insurance office to work. Charlotte and I are going to the Hollidaysburg Soup Sampling and tree lighting event tonight and then doing some shopping. It will be important to see how the retail sales are going today and for the remainder of the year. Although the numbers for the state’s sales tax will be up, in a big sales month, the projections estimated at the time the budget was signed will probably be up even more, making the shortfall worse. I heard a report on the national news today that the sales figures were expected to be down 7% for “Black Friday”, we’ll see what happens in PA and how far off the budget prognosticators were.

– John

Happy Thanksgiving

Article posted on November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everyone remembered and celebrated the real meaning of this important day. Each year I see this holiday slipping away as our society goes into Christmas mode earlier and earlier. It seems that Christmas advertisements and store displays start just after Halloween and I see homes decorated for Christmas right before Thanksgiving. I think that all holidays are too commercialized but Thanksgiving seems to be forgotten altogether by many. I ran 9 miles this morning and got through at least 30 or 40 newspapers before going to my mothers for dinner. My son Johnny is home for the day and we had a good time with him. I thought that I might make it to the office tonight to catch up on a few things but decided to do what I could from my computer at home and spend some time with Charlotte. Between the 9 mile run and the big meal at mom’s, I’m beat. I’ll get caught up tomorrow.

– John

I hope to make a few improvements

Article posted on November 26, 2008

I didn’t have any appointments scheduled for today so I worked with staff on a number of items and finished some emails and letters. I stopped this morning at the East Freedom Elementary School to make good on a promise. I told a teacher at the school a few weeks ago that I had a large hornets nest in a tree at my house and would cut off the branch and bring the nest to the school for their instructional use. When I cut off the branch this morning I noticed a bird’s nest and cut it down as well. I hope that the school can make use of these marvels of nature in the class room. Four important things happen at this time of the year to legislators. We elect our leadership, which was done last week. The President Pro Tem picks the committee chairs and the remaining two appointed leadership positions, which is being discussed currently. The President Pro Tem gives all of the Senate their committee assignments, which will be done soon. And everyone is given an opportunity to change office space and parking, which is being done currently. These decisions greatly affect the life of a legislator over the term of a session. I was fortunate in every category as a freshman for the last two years and hope to make a few improvements going into the next two.

– John

To do the best job that I can

Article posted on November 26, 2008

I made the journey this morning to Pittsburgh to the funeral of Catherine Baker Knoll. It was an interesting event. There were a lot of people there at the Cathedral in Oakland including members of the Senate and House, a number of priests, Bishops, and an Arch Bishop, other religious leaders, the Governor, Senators Specter and Casey, the Auditor General, the Attorney General, the State Police Commissioner, a couple of federal judges and other officials and former officials. The service was like nothing I’ve ever seen. She was a nice lady who will be missed by many people across the state. I had a town hall meeting tonight in East Freedom, it went well. We had a good crowd and a lot of questions. These meetings are one of the ways to really understand what is on the mind of the people I represent. That is critical to do the best job I can.

– John

We won’t know the outcome till early next year

Article posted on November 24, 2008

I ran a mile this morning before heading to the office to do a radio show. I haven’t run just a mile in a long time. Mondays seem to be the worst day for me to get going in the morning, it’s garbage day and I usually try to lay out some plans for the week before hitting the day. I just didn’t leave myself enough time for a good run and the weather doesn’t look good for a couple of days so I might be pressed this week to get in my 30 miles, somehow I always get them in. I ended up doing two radio shows today as well as a number of office appointments with constituents. We have a town hall meeting tomorrow night in East Freedom at 6:30 so we are getting ready for that along with a number of other projects in the office. The AP reported the final Democrat to Republican numbers in the state House today, 104 to 99. The D’s picked up a couple of very close races in the official count. The current number is 102 to 101 so there will be some more breathing room going forward on close votes. The Senate Republicans will either stay with the same margin or pick up a seat depending on the special election to fill the seat held by Jim Rhoades. We won’t know the outcome of this till early next year, it will be interesting.

– John

It’s scary to take a real close look

Article posted on November 23, 2008

After church, Charlotte and I were in the Hollidaysburg Winterfest Parade. It was an honor to be the Grand Marshal this year. I had to wash the truck before the parade and get the signs, decorations and candy ready. We had a good time and the people were real nice. Now that the elections are over, Pennsylvania’s papers are writing about more state government stories than they were but still talking a lot about the now President-Elect. The Vince Fumo trial is getting a fair amount of attention as his former and present girlfriends and staffers testify both for and against him. At this point, it looks like he will be going to prison for a long time to come, a death sentence given his age and health problems, but we’ll see what the jury says. Sometimes you need to step back and look at some of the people you work with at the capitol, it’s scary to take a real close look.

– John

Go State!

Article posted on November 22, 2008

After my men’s fellowship group this morning I had breakfast with some of the guys then worked all day. It was a rare Saturday with no events except for theater tickets tonight. I had my truck back in the shop because my four wheel drive didn’t work coming home from Harrisburg yesterday on very bad roads down there. It turned out to be good news. The switch on the dash panel was disconnected by the guy who installed my XM Radio tuner. The mechanic just had to reconnect it. I’m glad it’s fixed, once you get used to four wheel drive, it’s tough to not have it, especially when travelling in this district. I’m going to try to catch a couple of minutes of the Penn State game before I have to leave for the play, go state!

– John

It is important to go

Article posted on November 21, 2008

This morning was our farewell ceremony for all of the Senators who are leaving. We had a memorial service for Jim Rhoades yesterday so he was not included in today’s program. It was an interesting event with a lot of accolades for the honored members. Immediately following that program, we went to the rotunda for a memorial service for Catherine Baker Knoll. The speakers included the Governor, Joe Scarnati, Congressman Jack Murtha and Hillary Clinton. They all spoke very well and shared personal stories about Catherine. Her actual funeral service will be in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and I am scheduled to go. I have been to a lot of funerals over the past 4 to 6 weeks. I was brought up that it is important to go, speak to the family and pay your last respects to the deceased. I never like to go but always feel better afterward.

– John