And people ask me how I get so many miles on my truck

Article posted on November 30, 2010

Charlotte took a vacation day so we took care of a few things at home this morning including getting her Jeep back from the garage. It needed an alignment. She’s holding up well after 187,000 miles, but still needs a little attention from time to time (I mean the Jeep). The truck turned over 240,000 miles yesterday. I was in Huntingdon tonight, will be at a farm in Huntingdon County tomorrow and will be in Bedford County, Harrisburg and Altoona on Thursday. And people ask me how I get so many miles on my truck.

-John

Nothing gets done overnight

Article posted on November 29, 2010

I had an early meeting this morning with people concerned about diverted prescription drugs. They had good ideas about tightening up the current prescription system and I will try to help. You learn in this job that there is a lot to learn. There are so many different issues to tackle. Many are complicated, but some are pretty straightforward and you wonder why they never got addressed before. Listening is a must followed by a little hard work and a lot of patience. Another thing I learned in this job is that nothing gets done overnight.

-John

The Governor did a lot of damage on Friday

Article posted on November 28, 2010

For anyone who didn’t catch a story on what the Governor did on Friday, he vetoed the Castle Doctrine bill that passed the legislature with large bipartisan support. He used the excuse that this could escalate violence and be an invitation for bad guys to use the law to their advantage. I don’t subscribe to that line of logic. If you did see a story on this you probably didn’t see information about two other bills that he also vetoed. One was a bill that extended workers compensation, automatically under some conditions, to fire fighters who are diagnosed with cancer. This was a big deal when it went through the General Assembly. The other bill is one that I amended in the Senate to include three county government improvements. It updated financial guarantee provisions for county officials, it allowed Commissioners to do away with the office of Jury Commissioner if they saw fit, and it protected certain records of Coroners from public view under restricted circumstances. The Governor did a lot of damage on Friday. The legislature will have to start all over again with these issues, and some others, in January.

-John

I ran in “The Turkey Trot”

Article posted on November 27, 2010

I ran in “The Turkey Trot” this morning in Hollidaysburg. It was a 5 miler and my time was about 38:08, not that good. I ran with the sleeve on my knee. I could really tell that I’m not in the same shape I was before my ligament sprain, but I am getting better. I got a little Christmas decorating done at home, hit the office and visited the Altoona Model Railroaders Association’s open house. They had quite the display including old model engines and authentic railroad memorabilia. I was surprised at the levels of detail and authenticity. They have made a tremendous investment of time and money.

-John

I haven’t done that yet and I’m not going to start

Article posted on November 26, 2010

I got a lot of work done today including some errands I needed to run. The office was closed and it was a great opportunity to catch up, at least catch up a little. I got a haircut and ran into a local school board member. She told me that she still liked me, but was upset over a recent newspaper story in which I said that I thought education funding would be cut next year. The article didn’t mention that I said most things would be cut including education or what priorities I had for spending cuts, it simply said that I thought cuts would be made to education. I asked this lady if she wanted me to tell her the truth or tell her what she wanted to hear. Everyone I know expects cuts across the board next year and considers the Dept. of Education to be a leading candidate for additional cuts because it received increases over the past few years when other departments were reduced. In fact, in the same article, a school superintendent said that he expects cuts next year. This reminds me of dealing with local highway construction companies and engineering firms this summer. They wanted me to say that the legislature would pass a gas tax and fee increases to fund highway construction. I told them that the Senate was working on a funding plan for early next year and would not pass anything like this in 2010. State Representatives said publicly that they would pass these tax and fee increases and blamed the Senate for not acting. As the legislative year ended, the House did not pass anything of the kind and the Senate did exactly what I said it would do. I don’t understand why anyone would want a public official to tell them something that wasn’t true regardless of whether or not it is what they want to hear. I haven’t done that yet and I’m not going to start.

-John

Happy Thanksgiving!

Article posted on November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everyone got to spend some time with family and, or friends today. For those that didn’t have that opportunity, the Crossroads Bible Church of Bedford provided meals to dozens at the Apple Bin Restaurant in Fishertown. I stopped by to say hello to the folks who came for a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. There were several church or non-profit groups in our area that cooked for others less fortunate. This really captured the spirit of the day. These people took their day to help others, we can be thankful for neighbors like this.

-John

This is the second Senator with charges pending against him

Article posted on November 24, 2010

It was a pretty quiet day in the office. I had a couple of meetings early, a TV interview and church tonight. I read more today about the indictments that came down yesterday on retiring Senator Ray Musto from the Luzerne County area. Ray was the Democrat Chair of the Local Government Committee so I worked with him more than most other members. We just had a big send off for him last week where a video was shown about his public service career that included time in the State House and the U.S. Congress. He gave a great speech and brought family and old friends with him to the floor, I knew that there were news reports of a federal investigation, but he certainly showed no signs of being concerned. This is the second Senator with charges pending against him.

-John

No one in Harrisburg can manipulate the numbers

Article posted on November 23, 2010

I spent some time on scheduling today in Hollidaysburg. I don’t remember this many Christmas parades and other events between now and the end of the year. I toured a personal care home this afternoon and will tour a deer farm next week. It seems that there is too much to squeeze in by the end of the year. The front page story this morning in the Altoona Mirror about the state’s cost of living increase generated a few calls and one email. The story said the increase for state officials was 1.7%, it actually is 1.67%. There was no increase last year. My practice has been to refund the COLA back to the Commonwealth for the past two years and I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Any change in pay is determined in accordance with the 1995 law that dictates the raise be tied to a federal inflationary index. No one in Harrisburg can manipulate the numbers. The rate of inflation for the past 12 month period becomes the rate of increase for the next salary year.

-John

Next year should bring more results

Article posted on November 22, 2010

I was invited to speak at the graduation ceremony for The Academy of Excellence in County Government tonight in Hershey. This program is sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. It is a multi-year program of course work for county commissioners and chief clerks. They now also offer an advanced degree program for people who graduated from the Academy and come back for more training. This ceremony tonight included both groups. Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority was one of the advanced degree graduates. It was nice to see a number of my old friends from the Commissioners Association and meet a few new Commissioners from around the state. There has been quite a bit of movement on issues important to this organization by the legislature, but plenty of work still remains. I told them that next year should bring more results. I hope.

-John

Remember what happened on election day

Article posted on November 21, 2010

Charlotte was the emcee for the Hollidaysburg Winterfest Parade this afternoon and I was invited to join her on the review stand after I got through the parade route. She did a great job announcing the parade participants and float winners. The weather was nice and the crowd was big. I went through a lot of candy. There wasn’t much of interest in the papers today, at least as far as I was concerned. There were still a lot of post election stories and a lot of over analyzing going on. It’s hard to tell if the papers want to re-write history, justify their existence or just fill space with some of the commentary I’ve seen. Often, the underlying truth that most people rejected a liberal agenda in Washington and Harrisburg is overlooked. Moving forward, the attitude by some in the media will be used to twist the facts and criticize the new legislature and Governor’s much different philosophy. It will be important to remember exactly what did happened on election day and continue to follow the will of the people.

-John