New Year’s Eve

Article posted on December 31, 2009

Happy New Year’s Eve! At this time, most people reflect on the past year and hope for a better future, I am no different. If you want to bring back the painful memories of what 2009 was like for Pennsylvania state government, you remember the budget mess, the Bonusgate investigation, passing very little legislation and not seeing much reform to the system. There were some bright spots and things could have been much worse if the Republicans in the Senate didn’t stand between the Governor and final passage of bills. I can’t say that I am optimistic about 2010, but I do think the budget won’t be as big a problem and that at least a few good pieces of legislation will make it through. The important thing is that we all try to do the best we can. The people will need to be engaged in the process and the elected officials will have to work hard to find the right answers and put them into place. We can have a better Pennsylvania and a commitment to making it so is a New Year’s pledge we should keep.

– John

An accomplished day

Article posted on December 30, 2009

I got a lot accomplished today and am thankful for that. I didn’t have too many interruptions, although I did speak with two media outlets and had other calls. At this time of the year, you don’t get as many people expecting you to be working. This is when you can really get things done. The news today included another story out of Pittsburgh on Senator Jane Orie’s situation. Her attorney is denying any wrongdoing and is attacking the District Attorney for his political activity. No charges have been filed yet following the December 11th taking of computers from her Pittsburgh district office. Also, Bonusgate Grand Jury information that concerns House Majority Leader Todd Eachus has leaked out and the Attorney General isn’t happy about it. It’s always bad news when alleged legislative criminal activity gets more ink than any proposed legislation.

– John

The first people he throws under the bus are union employees

Article posted on December 29, 2009

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally ruled on the case between state employee unions, joined by Republican members of the Senate, and Governor Rendell. The question posed to the court concerned the Governor’s decision to not pay state employees earlier this year based on his opinion that since the budget was not passed, money was not appropriated by the legislature and he could not legally make payroll. My office and all Republican Senators told state workers during the impasse that they were protected under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires all employers to pay employees what they are due and in a timely fashion. The court said that we were correct and the Governor was wrong. This maneuver by the Governor was reminiscent of his decision last summer to pay “essential” employees only. Why the union leadership continues to follow this guy is beyond me. The first people he throws under the bus, every time, are union employees.

– John

This opportunity is waning

Article posted on December 28, 2009

There was a news story today on the comments from the Sam Rohr for Governor campaign about the lack of investigation from the AG into the Senate. I must say that I concur with the comments. In February, it will be three years since the Bonusgate investigation started. I was the one who asked for the investigation and I asked for the Senate to be investigated. For some reason, the House was the primary target and the delay into a substantive Senate investigation brings a number of questions. Why wasn’t the Senate looked into along with the House? Has there been evidence destroyed in this period? Are there any people that are no longer available to answer key questions? These questions, along with others, are why many are concerned about the integrity of the investigation. Tom Corbett himself set the parameters of the investigation by saying that it would include all four caucuses of the General Assembly. He needs to carry that commitment out in earnest. This is an opportunity that will not repeat itself often in the course of time. An open investigation into wrongdoing in the state legislature; one that has the attention and support of the citizens of this Commonwealth. For the Attorney General to not proceed with every ounce of muscle his position brings would be a tragic mistake that will have long term consequences on our state. If public officials have committed crimes, prosecute them. If the institutions of the legislature need changed, change them. And if people in the position of power have abided by the law, clear their names. The investigation must be thorough and must include every corner of the General Assembly. Missing this opportunity is not an option and by delaying action, this opportunity is waning.

– John

Don’t mention it to him if you see him

Article posted on December 27, 2009

We got our clipping service back today, but not much was in it. Not a whole lot gets done over the holidays and apparently, the clipping service is short staffed. Hopefully tomorrow, some real work can be accomplished. Charlotte, Johnny and I played a piano/trumpet arrangement of Christmas music tonight at church. It went pretty well. It’s good to have Johnny home. I have some chores stored up for him. Don’t mention it to him if you see him, I like to break these projects to him gently.

– John

I will update with more info as I get it

Article posted on December 26, 2009

We didn’t receive our clipping service reports again today. I don’t know if we will get tomorrows stories or not. The Sunday papers are usually full of commentary and stories about state government. The biggest news this week has been the Senator Jane Orie story. Our local papers haven’t chosen to run anything about it even though the AP has done stories on it. This situation could get uglier if any of it is true or at least has legs. The race for Supreme Court got national attention because it was a Republican victory, like others around the country. This problem will taint the victory at the least, I can’t image that it could derail the election results at this point, but the Democrats will probably make whatever issue they can out of it. It is interesting that a county District Attorney ended up handling the case instead of the Attorney General. There may be more to this as well. Lastly, all of those involved in the Supreme Court campaign may be questioned to see if they knew or were complicit in any wrong doing. Again, these are all fascinating aspects of what could happen if there is any truth to these allegations, which, I don’t think, have been turned into formal charges as yet. I will update my blog with info as I get it.

– John

Merry Christmas

Article posted on December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! I hope that everybody had time today with family and, or friends, I did. We spent most of the day at my mothers, like usual. Johnny is home and had stories to tell from school. He just finished his last term and will officially graduate from George Mason University in the beginning of January with a B.A. in Government and International Politics with a minor in Economics. We are proud of him. Tomorrow’s blog post might have more commentary on the happenings in the Senate, for tonight, my family wishes all a great evening and hopes that everyone understands the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, the Christ Child.

– John

It was a light day

Article posted on December 24, 2009

On this Christmas Eve, Charlotte and I are off to her two church services, 7:30 and 11:00. It was a light day at the office and everyone I spoke with was more interested in getting their last few things done before tomorrow than anything else. The problems in Harrisburg didn’t stop because of the holiday. Papers around the state reported that Senator Jane Orie, R, Allegheny County, is under investigation for allegedly using her staff to campaign for her sister, Joan Orie Melvin. Joan was just elected to the Supreme Court. This story has a lot of side issues that will be monitored by everyone in Harrisburg. I will follow this situation and report back. For now, my wish is for everyone to have a Merry Christmas.

– John

Stay tuned

Article posted on December 23, 2009

Johnny got home this evening from school and we finished, or almost finished, our Christmas shopping. One story tonight from Harrisburg is that there is a deal on the table games legislation. I haven’t heard the details and am not sure that the story is even true. I also know that a reported deal tonight might not be a deal that is able to get the votes necessary for passage tomorrow. There is another interesting story today surrounding the Bonusgate investigation. I received a call about it that I will explain soon. This involves the Senate Republican caucus. Stay tuned.

– John

What is his real motivation

Article posted on December 23, 2009

Where’s the media? In a recent blog post I said something about the Governor crying wolf. Today, our Governor said that unless the legislature gives him a bill to legalize table games by January 8th, he will lay off state employees, close the state museum and close some of the state parks. I wasn’t a math major in college, but I can figure out that if the Governor figured he was getting $250 million in revenue by allowing table games in the budget and we are half way through the budget year, we should only expect $125 million. You can get more if the casinos pay their license fees up front, but that only works if the fees are reasonable and the economy makes it doable. The tax revenues expected from this proposal are not going to compute at this late date. My question to the media and any onlookers is this, if the money expected is not going to come in under any circumstances, why does the Governor get away with threatening state employees, the museum and the state parks if he doesn’t get his way? He must know that the money isn’t there, he just wants the table games legislation and he wants it now. The question should be, what is his real motivation, it’s not the revenue for the state, so what is it?

– John