The bureaucrats don’t seem to care about cost

Article posted on February 28, 2010

I finished up the weekend at the Jaffa Sports Show. The big topic discussed today was the coming building code requirement to put sprinkler systems in single family homes. I spoke with contractors and homeowners about the issue and no one was happy. Not only did everyone think that the cost of a sprinkler system at 5,000 to 15,000 dollars, plus a water tank and pump in non-public water areas, is excessive and would slow home construction, they are concerned about the problems and costs associated with freezing pipes, generators and inspections. The broader debate concerns the idea that the government pass laws to protect citizens from virtually every possible danger. How far do we take these building codes? If we require all new buildings to be fire proof, wind proof and flood proof, we could protect everyone. The problem is that almost no one could afford a new home under those circumstances. The bureaucrats don’t seem to care about cost. That’s why they shouldn’t be in charge.

– John

This is one heck of a weekend

Article posted on February 27, 2010

We are into the second day of the Jaffa Sports Show. Yesterday the weather wasn’t cooperative and the crowd was down a little. Today, it seemed that everyone had cabin fever and came out to the Mosque. This show has always been successful and this year is no exception. I talked to hundreds of people about quite a few issues. Believe it or not, I heard very little about game or fish problems. I did hear about the President’s health care proposal frequently, let me say that it wasn’t well received by anyone I spoke with. Charlotte and I left late afternoon to get to the Six Mile Run Fire Hall for their annual dinner then went to the Bedford Elks Club for a Bedford Lions Club dinner. I’ll be back at the Jaffa Mosque tomorrow, this is one heck of a weekend.

– John

Please keep his wife, children and family in your prayers

Article posted on February 26, 2010

I just received word this evening that newly elected Altoona City Councilman Jason Ibrahim passed away at his home. I would guess that Jason was about 30 years old. He was a dedicated Christian and family man. I believe that he had three small children. I’m sure that we will learn more about what happened over the next couple of days. Please keep his wife, children and family in your prayers at this very difficult time.

– John

It was an interesting evening as well

Article posted on February 25, 2010

I spent part of this afternoon at YTI in Altoona. I had a meeting with their new president and several of their key administrative staff then toured the school. The teachers and students welcomed me into their classrooms. I engaged several of the students in conversations about how they got there and the answers were varied. Many of the students are there for a second career. In fact, one entire class I met with was comprised of women who had recently lost their jobs. Several of them had worked for their previous employers for up to 15 years. The school is a good fit for many people. They have to place at least 70 percent of their graduates in jobs after graduation to meet their state accreditation requirements and YTI places well above that rate. It was an interesting tour. I stopped by a Blair County Chamber reception tonight before attending the Huntingdon County Penn State Extension Dinner. The speaker was the manager of the Penn State Creamery and gave us a history of the creamery. I have been through the newest building that is very high tech. We saw photos of all of the past structures. One included horse drawn wagons and chickens in the yard. It was an interesting evening as well.

– John

They aren’t glamorous, but they top the list

Article posted on February 24, 2010

I did all of the things today that I typically do when I am in the district. I answer emails, review and sign letters, work on scheduling, meet with constituents, answer phone calls, make planning decisions with staff and attend a meeting or event. Of course, I’m sure that I’m leaving some things out like writing my blog, but these tasks are part of most days. I also read. I read a lot in this job. Just keeping up with news items takes a lot of time. Reading bills and co-sponsorship memos and materials on various subjects and newsletters from organizations and office reports and many other items could take all day if I didn’t work on other things. When people have asked me if I had any surprises about the work I do in the Senate, the two that come to mind are the amount of reading that is required and the amount of time I spend on the highway driving. They aren’t glamorous, but they top the list.

– John

I hope that the rest of the week allows time

Article posted on February 23, 2010

I had another full schedule today. I spoke at 7:00, this morning at the Morrison’s Cove Rotary Club meeting. I took questions from the group and was asked mostly about the looming pension problems. I have been hearing a lot from folks that they cannot afford to pay anything more in taxes for any reason. They get even more adamant that they don’t want to pay for a shortfall in a very generous public pension fund. The current system appears to be unsustainable and that is why private sector companies have changed from defined benefit to defined contribution programs long ago. We need to change our state systems as well. I was in Huntingdon County and Hollidaysburg this afternoon and Bedford tonight. I hope that the rest of the week allows time to get at least a little work out.

– John

Maybe that makes too much sense

Article posted on February 22, 2010

I met with a group in Huntingdon today to discuss Pennsylvania Highlands Community College’s plans for the area. There has been a push for a community college for several years and financially things are moving ahead. I was impressed with the progress and with the possibilities for future growth. I signed more letters today and got through some scheduling. Tonight I had a Habitat board meeting. I have been on this board for a long time and believe in the Habitat program. People purchase the homes at a zero interest rate and have “sweat equity” in the build before they can move in. The idea is to give working people a step up, not a hand out. Habitat would be a good model for many of our government social service programs. Maybe that makes too much sense.

– John

It is a unique experience

Article posted on February 21, 2010

I failed to mention in my blog anything about the recent passing of Alexander Haig. I met him during his time in the Reagan administration. I was in Washington at the Young Republican National Leadership Conference. He was our speaker at a dinner and I remember being in the banquet room early, he showed up and no one went to greet him, so I did. He was very nice to this country boy. I never forgot the experience. My son Johnny and I attended a church service for the victims of crime this evening. I have been to this service before and can tell you that it is a unique experience. The relatives of murder victims attend and speak so it gets emotional at times. The service is sponsored by the Victim/Witness Unit of the Blair County District Attorney’s Office. The service was a mix of music and personal presentations. Sue Griep, the office coordinator, does a good job every year with this very difficult subject matter.

– John

I’m sure tonight will be no exception

Article posted on February 20, 2010

I finally got a haircut today and replaced a headlight on the truck. These necessary errands have escaped me lately. Saturdays are generally catch-up days for me with commitments as scheduled. Tonight, Charlotte and I are going to the Altoona Community Theatre to see, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf”. We are season ticket holders and have been for many years. The plays are usually very good. I am often surprised how good local productions are. I’m sure tonight will be no exception.

– John

It was a productive day

Article posted on February 19, 2010

I started today at yet another Chamber of Commerce function. This morning the Bedford Chamber held its annual Legislative Breakfast featuring Rep. Dick Hess, Rep. Carl Metzger and myself. We answered questions from the audience on transportation, agriculture, the budget, taxes, etc. We went a little overtime, but it was a good morning. I saw a constituent in Bedford and then went to Huntingdon to have lunch with the DA there and go over some issues with him. I got a lot of letters out again today and did some more scheduling. For dinner, we went to St. Pat’s in Newry for fish, it’s lent already. It was a productive day.

– John