May God bless them all

Article posted on May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day everyone.  I was asked to be the guest speaker today at the Juniata ceremony following their parade.  I haven’t been in the parade for a few years and enjoyed it very much.  The parade route takes you  through  residential areas with narrow streets.  You are close to the people on the sidewalks and even folks on their porches, close enough to have a quick conversation as you go by.  There were a lot of kids out this morning and a lot of dogs.  I don’t ever remember seeing that many dogs out at a parade.  They didn’t seem to be as interested in me as I was in them, I like dogs.  The ceremony had all of the right elements.  It had that hometown feeling with many local people in attendance and the military presence of an honor guard and a Stryker vehicle.  The VFW Post has a big feed afterwards and I stopped up for a little while.  We can never thank our service men and women enough nor can we forget those who died in the line of duty.  May God bless them all.

– John

The Incumbency Protection Program

Article posted on May 30, 2010

I went to church early with Charlotte this morning so that we could get to a wedding outside of Schellsburg by 12:30.  This is our second weekend in a row to go to farms in Bedford County for weddings.  Last week it rained, today it was warm, but both weddings were special to those who attended and certainly the couples who were married.  There wasn’t much in the news today, aside from a story in the Altoona Mirror about the Governor’s attempt to reassign staff at Penndot.  The staff are in a special unit designated to help legislators with constituent work.  I am all for getting rid of the unit if it’s purpose is to make legislators look good.  There are problems that legislators contact the department about on behalf of constituents and having staff in place to help with these problems is important.  The abuse comes in when legislators push to get Penndot work through their office.  They advertise for it, and I’ve been told get customized envelopes bearing their name for work they bring to the department.  Constituent service is good, but creating constituent service and exaggerating what you have done for a constituent isn’t.  There is a line between helping a constituent who solicits your assistance and soliciting a constituent to work through your office for a standard piece of Penndot paperwork.  Unfortunately, this process has become part of the “Incumbency Protection Program”.

– John

Hopefully they will be accurate

Article posted on May 29, 2010

For the first time in weeks, I had time to do yard work.  After my men’s fellowship this morning, I hit the office for a little while then got the oil changed in the truck (she’s got over 223,000 miles on her now) then came home and worked in the yard until 7:30.  I have so much work to do and no time to do it.  I planned to move some decorative stones today, but everything else took so long that I never got to the stone work.  Lucky for me Johnny was there to help.  There wasn’t much in the news today.  I suspect tomorrow’s papers will have some interesting stories with one or two including quotes from me.  Hopefully they will be accurate.

– John

It’s no wonder we’re near the bottom

Article posted on May 28, 2010

I attended a Blair County Health and Welfare Council meeting this morning.  They meet every other month at the Arc building in Altoona.  It is a varied group of social service agencies and government program administrators.  I know and have worked with most of the people and enjoying seeing them.  I left there to appear on the cable access TV program “Weekend Wrap Up” with Terry Tomassetti to talk about the methadone legislation that was announced this week.  We got out a lot of information on this subject this morning.  I left there to meet with a man from Harrisburg to discuss local government and economic development issues.  We have gone down the wrong path in Pennsylvania concerning economic development.  Our government funded programs generally don’t work.  In addition, we have created a very unfriendly business environment.  It’s no wonder we’re near the bottom of the pack in economic growth.

– John

There is no substitute for personal integrity

Article posted on May 27, 2010

I got a couple of critical emails today on my methadone legislation that was announced yesterday at the capitol.  One fellow sent a second email apologizing for his first communication after he read what the bill said.  I appreciated his willingness to write back and apologize, a true gentleman.  The second man obviously never read my bills since he accoused me of things I didn’t address.  I get an angry email now and then, it comes with the job.  Some are honest differences of opinion, but many, I’ve learned over time, are people who have a personal and, or financial interest in an issue.  In other words, “fund something so I can make money off of it”.  They usually don’t disclose that fact, they attack me on altruistic grounds with phrases like, “the children are our future, we must fund ____” or “this a safety issue and deserves top priority”.  I can usually detect their real purpose immediately, if I miss it, they make it clear in a response to my answer.  There is no substitute for personal integrity.

– John

These bills can help reign in bad practices

Article posted on May 26, 2010

We got a bill of mine through the Senate today.  SB 918 codifies the tax assessment laws of Pennsylvania.  Passing this into law is a critical step in addressing the various issues surrounding tax assessment.  I was part of a news conference this morning where we announced the introduction of 7 bills and a resolution on methadone.  It was a bipartisan event and included Marti Hottenstein who lost her son in 2006 to a single dose of diverted methadone given to him by a friend for pain relief.  She has a compelling story to tell.  I hope that the bills, three of which I sponsored, become law.  Methadone deaths have increased expedentially over the past ten years.  These bills can help reign in bad practices from providers and bad behavior from users.

– John

Putting on an act for the public is something else entirely

Article posted on May 25, 2010

It appears to me that there is an awful lot of posturing going on in the Senate at this time.  I guess it’s because this is an election year.  At committee meetings and on the floor, members make remarks about things for little or no reason.  They pontificate and play to the cameras with the end result being simply a longer meeting or session.  They don’t change peoples’ minds or explain the issue any better, they just want to talk.  It gets a little ridiculous when member after member stands up and says that they really don’t like the bill, but they are going to vote for it.  It seems a little disingenuous, but maybe it’s just me.  Some of the speeches are very passionate and some hone in on the finer points of the subject.  What they don’t do is make a lot of sense to the people who have worked on the legislation and really understand the issue.  I appreciate someone having a different opinion about a bill, but putting on an act for the public is something else entirely.

– John

Maybe it isn’t so hard to believe

Article posted on May 24, 2010

I’m back in Harrisburg and had a full schedule for a Monday.   I attended a luncheon at the PMA building that was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute.  The speaker was from the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization of attorneys who represent people who are being discriminated against for their conservative or Christian views.  I learned that one of the biggest offenders are colleges.  They often have speech restrictions with an anti-Christian intent and refuse to sanction Christian organizations on campus.  It’s hard to believe that the administrations of some of our institutions of higher learning hold that view.  After all, these are the folks that preach tolerance and inclusion.  Well, maybe it isn’t so hard to believe.

– John

They’d be doing something else

Article posted on May 23, 2010

I had a 10K race this morning in Altoona.  My time wasn’t great, 45:29, but I won my age group.  The event raised money for the Family Service agency’s domestic abuse program.  The papers were full of election recap stories today.  The members of the media are big Monday morning quarterbacks.  I appreciate the information, but some of them could loose their superior attitude.  The way I figure it, if they really knew that much, they’d be doing something else.

– John

Another busy Saturday

Article posted on May 22, 2010

I had another busy Saturday with 5 places to go.  Each thing I attended was special, from my men’s fellowship group to planting flowers at a park in Huntingdon to seeing friends get married.  This afternoon our men’s fellowship group, The Light House, held a ground breaking ceremony for a major addition to our building.  This group is made up of great people from all walks of life and all denominations.  It’s pretty incredible that these guys can handle the ongoing costs of a nice facility and expand it in this economy.  Tonight Charlotte and I were at the Bedford American Legion for a dinner honoring PA Western Section Vice-Commander Walt Edwards.  Walt is a 30 year Marine vet who has risen in the ranks of the American Legion.  He also is a heck of a nice guy.  It was an honor to be there this evening.

– John