Then again, maybe we do

Article posted on December 31, 2008

Happy New Year’s Eve! I got a lot done in the office today with few interruptions. I talked with our Pro Tem and Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati this morning about my committee assignments and received the assignment sheet, along with everyone else, this afternoon. I am staying on all of the committees I was on last session with the exceptions of Aging and Youth, and Policy. I may yet be assigned to policy. I got a new committee, Urban Affairs, at least temporarily until the 29th District seat is filled and we find committee assignments for that new member. We also learned today that the Senate Republican caucus has spent well over a million dollars in legal fees on the “Bonusgate” investigation. For a group that doesn’t have anything to hide and is simply cooperating with the attorney general, that is a lot of money. I’d hate to think what we would spend if we had things that were done illegally, then again, maybe we do.

– John

I have done things the way that I think they should have been done

Article posted on December 30, 2008

I actually had a pretty full day of appointments and meetings, which is unusual for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I have a meeting tonight and hope to get caught up with some more emails if I get time. We got a schedule of official holidays for 2009 today from the Senate and are scheduling things for the first half of 2009. It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. I sent back my cost of living adjustment today to the Commonwealth. It took us days and days to figure out who to send it to and for how much so I overnighted the check to make sure that it was in before the end of the month. If you’re wondering why I am sending back money and not just having it taken off my pay check to start with, you can’t take it off and must return the COLA this way. If you are giving up the money, this is the only way to do it correctly. It shouldn’t be given to a local charity in lieu of giving it to the state. If we “are not accepting it”, then it is not ours to give away. Furthermore, giving it away to an entity of choice does nothing to help with the state’s revenue shortfall, if that is the reason given. So, I have done things the way that I think they should have been done, not what would help me with local publicity at home.

– John

We’ll miss him

Article posted on December 28, 2008

Charlotte and I built our day around a wedding and reception that we attended today. The wedding was that of our friends Terry and Cathy Tomassetti’s daughter, Emily. The wedding was at 1:30 and the reception at 4:30. We had a nice time with lots of friends. We got home to spend a little time with Johnny before he left to go back to the D.C. area. We’ll miss him.

– John

You never have as much as you think

Article posted on December 26, 2008

It was a quiet day at the office. I took some time to go over internal things with staff and catch up on some emails. I am going to play the drums tonight with a couple of local musicians at a studio in Altoona. They were looking for a drummer to sit in on some things and I glad to get the opportunity to play. Charlotte is off for the remainder of the year but is nursing a bad cold so she has been home all day and will probably stay in as much as possible over the weekend. We have a wedding tomorrow and some other things that we try to squeeze in between Christmas and New Year’s. You always think that you have so much extra time around the holidays, but somehow you never have as much as you think.

– John

Remember the Christ child

Article posted on December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas everybody! I spent the day with family as did most people I suspect. I did get a little work in at the office, just enough to get organized on some things coming up. There weren’t any burning news stories that I saw today, not that I expected to. I hope that everyone had a joyous day and took at least a moment to remember the Christ child, his birthday and the hope and promise he brings to our world.

– John

Remember the real reason we celebrate this holiday

Article posted on December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Our offices were open today but we left part of the staff go early to spend some extra time with their friends and family. For the time I was there today, I got more accomplished than usual. Aside from a call on a state contract and catching up on a few emails, I got a big stack of letters out with the help of Julie and Jen. I have two Christmas services to attend tonight that Charlotte is playing the organ and, or piano for and Johnny is coming home this evening. I have one more gift to grab and I can get home. I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve and spends some time remembering the real reason we celebrate this holiday.

– John

There’s always something

Article posted on December 23, 2008

I met with staff for a while today to go over the way we handle my emails. I have always had trouble keeping up with the amount of emails I receive and we have tried different ways to handle them. The current system works but still needs attention. I need to spend a solid day over a weekend doing nothing but emails and I could really catch up. The problem is that I never have a solid day to do that. I still have some running to do before Christmas and tonight I plan to knock off an item or two. On top of all of the activity at this time, our dishwasher went out at home. We have a new one scheduled to be installed tomorrow morning so we should survive. There’s always something.

– John

That’s all part of the job

Article posted on December 22, 2008

This close to Christmas, you would think that I wouldn’t have as many appointments, today I had three in the office. Some people want to wait until January because they’re busy with things but I try to get as much done as possible. Meeting with people and resolving problems is the most rewarding part of this job. I still marvel at the things people bring in to me. I find that my comprehensive knowledge of things and people across the area and the state is my most valuable asset. By virtue of being exposed to lots of people and presentations on all sorts of things, I sometimes know where to turn when asked about a situation. Often, I can put some people together to solve a problem because I know who to turn to. This is the best scenario but it happens frequently. Not everybody needs government money, just advice and direction from someone that can help. Of course sometimes things are much more complicated than that, but that’s all part of the job.

– John

Maybe there should be another round of federal indictments

Article posted on December 21, 2008

After church this morning I hit the office the remainder of the afternoon. I need to get home soon for some supper and to take care of some things around the house. There were a few stories out today and yesterday about the PSERS bonuses and John Rafferty, Jane Orie and I’s news release criticizing the payment. There were also some stories about one of Senator Vince Fumo’s staff who is being charged with wrong doing as well. This begs the question about all of his staff. If he was engaged in as many illegal and unethical things as he is being charged with, his staff must have surely recognized it and been complicit. I can’t believe that they thought what they did on the tax payers dime was okay. I wonder what their special perks were, if any, by playing along? Maybe there should be another round of federal indictments in this case.

– John

We are always too busy

Article posted on December 20, 2008

After my men’s fellowship group this morning, I came home to help Charlotte get ready for our insurance office Christmas party tonight at our house. I had some work to do on some doors and some other items around the house. We finally decorated our tree this afternoon and we were ready for our guests this evening. Our Senate office Christmas party last night at Sharon and Dave Turkovich’s home in Bedford was great. We had lots of good food and good company. The staff got me a renewal subscription for my XM radio and I got them all navy blue jackets with a PA Senate emblem. It’s the time of year to spend some extra time with family and friends. It’s too bad that we don’t take more time throughout the year to enjoy their company, but somehow we are always too busy.

– John