Tyrone does a tremendous job with holiday activities

Article posted on November 30, 2012

I spent most of today on Act 47 issues for the City. Things look a little brighter than they did, but as I said yesterday, it’s going to be a long haul. I went to a ribbon cutting for a new business in Hollidaysburg today and Charlotte and I attended the tree lighting ceremony and Christmas parade in Tyrone. The weather was warmer than usual and there were lots of people out along the parade route. Tyrone does a tremendous job with holiday activities. The folks tonight were very kind to both of us.

-John

Obviously, this is an important issue for folks

Article posted on November 29, 2012

I spent more time today on the city’s Act 47 issues. It will be a long haul for everyone in this process. Watch for the final report that will be finished next Friday. It is the blueprint for what’s ahead and hopefully will include significant changes from the draft currently under review. Tonight I attended another Small Games of Chance seminar co-sponsored by myself, Mike Fleck and the Huntingdon Chamber. It was at the Smithfield Fire Hall and was packed with about 200 people. Obviously, this is an important issue for folks. The BLCE Supervisor did a good job and we all learned a lot.

-John

There had better be more to this report than that

Article posted on November 28, 2012

I attended the Act 47 Hearing this evening in Altoona. The presentation from the firms that wrote the report wasn’t as good as I thought it should be. Furthermore, after reviewing more of the report, I can clearly see the concerns of the city regarding the accuracy of what was written. I spoke with a variety of people from city government tonight and they don’t have faith in the plan. One of the most prominent ideas presented was to have the city fire department do ambulance runs in place of the local ambulance service. This didn’t fly with anyone and doesn’t seem to make sense financially. There doesn’t appear to be a path to help with the structural deficit, just a short term plan, primarily consisting of a tax increase to balance the budget. There had better be more to this report than that.

-John

Taxpayers and businesses are very concerned about how this report will impact the future of this community

Article posted on November 27, 2012

The news today included stories about the Municipal Financial Recovery Act – Recovery Plan for the City of Altoona, otherwise known as the Act 47 report. The City has now read the 282 page plan (plus appendix) presented by the firms contracted by DCED. The City contends that there are many inaccuracies or misleading conclusions contained in the report and suggests that the city staff weren’t consulted enough in the preparation nor were they given an opportunity to do any final review of the report before it was published. I am privy to some of the observations made by the City and I can understand their concerns. There is a hearing tomorrow evening and maybe the consultants can explain why they did what they did. I was surprised that I was not interviewed during the months long process. I know that they spoke to community members, but they didn’t ask to meet with me. Again, maybe they don’t typically ask other officials for input and maybe we’ll learn who they spoke with and how they were chosen. Aside from the City officials and employees, taxpayers and businesses are very concerned about how this report will impact the future of this community. It is not a mandatory plan for the City, but it will be often cited as decisions are made.

-John

It will make for an interesting session

Article posted on November 26, 2012

I’ve been asked frequently about what I think the priorities will be for the legislature next year. The Governor is half way through his term and is looking for ways to make his mark since his first two years largely fizzled. There were some good bills that passed, but the larger issues that have grabbed national headlines for other states, have passed us by. According to what he has said publicly, his three priorities are: pension reform, liquor store privatization and transportation funding. Now, those are the Governor’s priorities. The Senate and House have yet to announce theirs. I think that two of the three will probably be on our list along with possibly others. Typically, a Governor in the same party would work together with the General Assembly to develop a priority list, but the relationship with this Governor has become strained. So, we’ll work together on some things and go our own way on others. It will make for an interesting session.

-John

Something’s not right about that

Article posted on November 25, 2012

What happened to the Steelers today? I heard or saw bits and pieces of the game while I worked, the turnovers and penalties seemed to be overwhelming. I know that we’re on our 3rd string quarterback, but that’s not an excuse for the fumbles or special teams performance. And this was against the Browns? I read an interesting Thomas Sowell piece today on lessons learned from the Hostess Company’s downfall. He made the point that the labor union hurt the profitability of the company, not simply with wage and benefit demands, but with make-work rules written into the contracts. He explained that Wonder Bread and Twinkies could not be delivered in the same trucks. That the truck drivers weren’t permitted to load their own trucks and that those loading Twinkies couldn’t load Wonder Bread and vice versa. These are rules put into place to protect or create union jobs, they also hamstring the business and run up the costs significantly. He ended his column by saying that private companies can sell or close down when things get too bad, but the government, saddled with the same union protectionism, goes back to the community and takes more from each family’s pocket. Something’s not right about that.

-John

How about those Nittany Lions!

Article posted on November 24, 2012

We had a good day with Johnny before taking him to the airport for his trip back to Texas. I’ll miss him, but he’ll be home for Christmas before we know it. We started to put up a few Christmas decorations this morning at home. It’s probably the earliest we’ve ever done it. I hope this early trend continues with the rest of our holiday preparations. Staff and I are expecting to decorate the Senate office in Hollidaysburg on Monday. It’s nice to have a display window, but it requires more time to make it nice than I thought when we first moved in. We’ll do the best we can. How about those Nittany Lions! Congratulations to Coach Bill O’Brian. He did a better job than anyone expected this year. What a season for the team both on and off the field. Much of what affects these kids will get more difficult, not better. The new coach seems to be the right person to see the team through it all.

-John

I guess the Christmas season is upon us

Article posted on November 23, 2012

It’s “Black Friday” and I contributed to the retail sales figures today. The Senate office was closed (although I was in for a little paperwork) and Charlotte was off, so I promised her that I’d go along for our first round of Christmas shopping. We did pretty well. She always develops “the list”, and we knocked off about 15 items already. I went from the stores to Hollidaysburg to help with the Soup Sampling on the Diamond followed by the tree lighting. I guess the Christmas season is upon us.

-John

Happy Thanksgiving!

Article posted on November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everyone had some time with their family and, or friends and thanked God for the blessings they have received. I was particularly thankful that Johnny was home this year for the holiday. He goes back Saturday, so we’re squeezing in what we can in the time we have together. We got some shooting in this morning before heading to my sister Wendy’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I hope everyone had a great day.

-John

I’m looking forward to a little down time

Article posted on November 21, 2012

It was a typical day before a holiday, everything needed to be done and half the people you needed to get things done, weren’t at their offices. I did get a lot accomplished, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t have anything scheduled this evening, but both Charlotte and I had things to finish at work so we had a late supper. I’m looking forward to a little down time and Johnny will be home tomorrow. The dogs were groomed today for the holidays. They look pretty sharp, and they smell good too.

-John