I don’t think that they are paying attention to the news

Article posted on May 31, 2009

I got through the race I had scheduled this morning. It was a 10K at Penn State Altoona. I took 1st in my age group and 10th overall with a time of 46:23. Not great, but not bad. I had an interesting Eagle Scout ceremony this afternoon. The Eagle project was placing and reconditioning a caboose at a park in Bellwood. The caboose came from Ohio with the help of Norfolk Southern. Over 5,000 hours of volunteer time went into the project. I think that this scout should get special recognition for getting through all of the bureaucracy in getting something that big moved into place. I spent part of the evening at the Mishler Theater recognizing local high schools for their musical prowess at “The Isaacs”. I then spoke at the Pinecroft Fire Hall for their Spring Banquet. It was a busy day. Tomorrow I’m back in Harrisburg. I don’t expect much action this week, but a lot of work will happen to get us to the final budget. No increased taxes and reduced spending are tenets that we need to stand by. Incredibly, the Democrats will argue against both of these principled stands in this tough economy when everyone is cutting their costs and are unable to generate more funds. I don’t think that they are paying attention to the news these days.

– John

I don’t always feel that way

Article posted on May 30, 2009

I ran a 5K this morning at the Rails to Trails in Williamsburg. The weather was great and the course was nice and flat. I came in 6th overall and first in my age group with a time of 21:35. I have a 10K in Altoona tomorrow morning and I don’t ever remember doing two races in two days, tomorrow probably won’t be pretty. I attended an Eagle Scout ceremony this afternoon at Canoe Creek State Park for a scout who’s parents immigrated to this country from Switzerland. It was interesting to talk to them. I also have an Eagle Scout ceremony tomorrow. This is a busy time of year for the scouts. I try to support that organization as much as possible, they produce good young men. I cut the grass this afternoon and hit the office and got caught up on a bunch of odds and ends. I felt that I actually got something done, I don’t always feel that way.

– John

This is another example of poor decision making

Article posted on May 29, 2009

I had another busy day today with constituent appointments, a tour of a local business, media interviews and a FFA banquet at Southern Huntingdon High School. I also got a letter out this afternoon to the Secretary of DCNR, the department that oversees the state parks, about having state employees engage in lobbying activities during work hours. Lee Derr from my staff did the legal research on this situation and it looks to me like there are two problems with state employees stopping visitors at parks and encouraging them to contact their legislators and ask for more money for DCNR. Firstly, state employees shouldn’t engage in political activity during work hours and secondly, supervisors of state employees shouldn’t coerce their employees to lobby on behalf of the department. This also is a colossal waste of state resources. This is another example of the poor decision making by the management of this department.

– John

We can only assume the worst

Article posted on May 28, 2009

Today was one of those days that went by and I don’t know where it went. I started this morning at 8:00 at Altoona High School to present two awards to outstanding seniors. I went to Tyrone Elementary School today, Claysburg Kimmel High School a Blair Chamber Event and ended the day in Bedford for the “Everlasting Games”. In between things, I did as much work as possible and a number of interviews on the Marriage Amendment, school funding and the administration’s decision to threaten to close state parks. I found out that the park directors are telling their park employees, state employees, to encourage all visitors to state parks to contact their legislators and ask for more funding for DCNR. This is an outrage. Having state employees, possibly coercing state employees to ask people, on state time, to lobby for more money for their department may be or should be illegal. I wouldn’t want to be at a state park and be stopped by a ranger and given a pitch about calling a state rep. or state senator and asking for money for the park. Who knows what these people are telling their patrons? Given all of the misinformation coming out of the DCNR Secretary’s office, we can only assume the worst.

– John

Things need to change in Harrisburg

Article posted on May 27, 2009

I had breakfast with some of my old Ambucs friends this morning at Granny’s in Altoona. Those guys get together every Wednesday and I join them when I can. We talk a lot of politics and everything else, I enjoy seeing them. My 10:00 event cancelled so I got the oil changed in the truck. I had almost 5,000 miles on it since the last change. The guys at the garage say to change it every 3,000, but my manual says 5,000. I try to stay somewhere in between. I had a LEAD meeting tonight in Blair County. We went to the Spring Cove School District Administrative building. It was a nice group that had a lot of questions about the economy and workforce development. Blair is faring better than many counties in this part of the state mainly because of the diversity of the economy here. Things are still worse than they were a year ago and they should be better. With the legal climate in this state, our onerous regulations and stifling taxes, it’s tough to attract business. Things need to change in Harrisburg.

– John

I try to support this program

Article posted on May 26, 2009

Boy did the weather change today. We did have a great weekend and holiday though. I did an interview today on the marriage amendment and read through a couple of stories about the subject. The radicals that oppose this effort are not coming forth with all of the facts and distorting what I am saying. This is nothing that I didn’t expect, but it still surprises me a little, I guess that you never get used to things like that. Some people that don’t agree do so with professionalism and logic, that I don’t mind. I have an Eagle Scout ceremony tonight for a friend of the family. I don’t remember going to one that was on a weeknight, most are Saturday or Sunday afternoons. I get to a lot of these, which tells me that there are a lot of good kids out there. The statistics of an Eagle Scout getting into trouble with the law are miniscule and many have gone on to do great things. I try to support this program whenever and however I can.

– John

Happy Memorial Day

Article posted on May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day everyone. I hope that everybody that reads this blog had an opportunity to get to a ceremony somewhere today and took some time to remember those veterans that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I rode in a parade and was the speaker at the Huntingdon service this morning. The organizer told me that the crowd was bigger than usual. They had a light lunch afterwards at the VFW Post and I got to see a lot of people. I then traveled to the Grandview Cemetery outside of Altoona for a very different service. A monument was dedicated at the cemetery that was nothing short of spectacular. It is a bronze sculpture that sits on a granite base. It includes six or seven figures of men and women and five of them are local veterans that date back to the Revolutionary War. Several of those local people are buried at that cemetery. The families or, more aptly in some cases, the descendants of the figures on the sculpture were in attendance. A retired Navy Vice Admiral was the Keynote speaker and the artist was there from California for the unveiling. It was a very nice service and one that I was glad I was part of.

– John

Remember that next time

Article posted on May 24, 2009

After church this morning, I went home to mow, finish some other yard work and wash the truck for a parade tomorrow morning. Johnny and I hit the office this evening. I have been bringing him to one office or the other since he was born. He brings his own work with him so he gets some things that he needs done as well. The news was full of the usual Sunday political speculations about who looks good or bad for next year’s elections. The Altoona Mirror apologized to me today for their headline earlier in the week concerning my Marriage Protection Amendment story. I think that they got a fair amount of heat over their misleading headline. I generally leave the news media alone after they print or air a story. Sometimes I’m happy about their handling of it, sometimes I’m not. I’ve found that they don’t really care if you like the story or not and if you point out any factual inaccuracies, some take it well and others hold it against you for the next story. Dealing with the media is part of the job and I do whatever I can to be absolutely accessible to them. My staff is generally not permitted to speak on my behalf so I speak to the reporters myself. This is not the typical model, but it should be, in my opinion. It makes the elected official more accountable when they don’t hide behind someone else’s words. Remember that the next time you see someone’s spokesperson talking for them.

– John

Looking forward to a lighter schedule tomorrow

Article posted on May 23, 2009

I volunteered to do some yard work at my men’s fellowship building this morning. I ended up using my weed eater for about an hour while some other folks cleaned up branches. Fortunately, a work group was in during the week and took care of mowing and some other things. The Bedford Area Ambulance folks had an open house and a poster contest this afternoon, I was one of the judges for the kids posters. The posters were from K through 5th graders. Some were good and some needed some work. I would have been a still needed some work contestant myself. One 5th grader’s poster looked like it was done by a graphic artist, that kid could go places. I did a lot of yard work today, since Johnny was home from school for a few days. We spread five truck loads of mulch. The place looks pretty good. Charlotte and I helped with an event for Habitat for Humanity tonight at Blair County Ball Park. I’m looking forward to a lighter schedule tomorrow.

– John

We can’t afford mistakes like this

Article posted on May 22, 2009

I went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania today for Senator Don White’s student program. His program is different than mine. He had both the Attorney General and the Auditor General to speak at the kick off event this morning and then the kids attended break out sessions on one of five subjects. I was on a panel to discuss Health Care issues with them. We had lunch next with the speaker being the President of IUP then had an open session with the kids. I liked the format, but I liked what we do better, don’t tell Don. An interesting story broke today about former Representative Mike Veon and charges that were filed against him in the Bonus Gate investigation. For some reason, the charges didn’t stick. These weren’t the original indictments but charges that were connected to his involvement with a non-profit organization. This doesn’t look too good for Attorney General Tom Corbett. I hope that the other Bonus Gate charges aren’t mishandled. We can’t afford mistakes like this.

– John