Happy New Year to everyone, be safe

Article posted on December 31, 2017

The papers today were full of their year end wrap up stories.  One was focused on controversial legislation that is carried over into the new year including enacting a severance tax, placing tighter rules on the use of taxpayer-funded settlements of sexual harassment claims, what the plan for PA is if the Feds don’t continue the funding of CHIP, and if there are enough votes to override the Governor’s veto of the abortion legislation we just passed.  A story that hit the news the past few days was about the lawsuit against the legislature concerning the last Congressional re-districting map.  The plaintiffs lost another round in the Commonwealth Court and will have another review by the state Supreme Court in January.  I finished the Twilight Race again this afternoon.  It was a smaller field than usual because of the weather, but there was still a hardy bunch at Lakemont Park for the 5K/2 Miler.  I don’t know how I finished because they cancelled the award ceremony due to the cold.  I’ll find out online later.  Happy New Year to everyone, be safe.


Congrats to Coach Franklin and Penn State!

Article posted on December 30, 2017

Like most people in our area, I was dealing with the snow fall today.  I skipped my men’s fellowship this morning and waited until it stopped snowing to clean up our driveway, walks and deck.  It looked good when I was done, but that can change if we get some wind; it was powdery.  I did get a little office work in this afternoon, and that got me home late for the Penn State game.  I was sorry they couldn’t put a victory away earlier in the game, but a win is a win and it was exciting right up to the end.  Congrats to Coach Franklin and Penn State!


Thank you for your service

Article posted on December 29, 2017

I am often asked to go to two places at the same time.  This morning I could have gone to the Cumberland County Inauguration ceremony for county officials; I was also asked to attend a retirement celebration for 3 Magisterial District Judges in Blair County.  I attended the MDJ event because an old friend of mine, Judge Craig Ormsby, was being recognized for his 30 years of service.  Craig and I went to Jr. and Sr. High School together and have been good friends since.  Given our relationship, I just couldn’t miss his retirement recognition at the court house.  I hope things went well in Carlisle today and wish the new officials the best as they enter public service.  For those that have retired, thank you for your service.


The deadline is the deadline

Article posted on December 28, 2017

I got my last run in for this week this morning and it was colder than last night, 5 with a “feels like” of -2; should have run longer last night.  I spent a large part of the day working with my Education Committee staff getting ready for a committee meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.  Although the General Assembly is in session on the first Tuesday of the year, the schedule is largely ceremonial and no votes are taken.  Consequently, many members don’t make the trip to the Capitol.  But, the Committee is in the unusual situation of being required to review and offer comments on the education plan the PA Dept. of Ed is submitting to the federal DOE.  We only have 15 days to do our work, and the way things fell on the calendar, we need to submit comments by next week.  My staff has been going through the state and federal paperwork for days.  Regardless of Christmas and New Year’s, the deadline is the deadline.


It was an honor to be there

Article posted on December 27, 2017

I’ve had some really cold runs this week, but it’s been manageable.  Johnny was leaving this morning and I did my every other Wednesday radio program on 103.7, so I didn’t get to run early.  I put in 5 miles tonight, however, in 11 degree weather with a “feels like” temp of -1, (maybe I should of gotten up a little earlier).  I got to the inauguration ceremonies at the Blair County Court House today; the DA, Prothonotary, Sheriff, and two Borough Mayors were sworn into office this morning, and a county judge and 4 MDJ’s were installed this afternoon.  Both ceremonies were nicely done and included a large assembly of family and supporters.  Ceremonies like this are held in every small town and court house across the country as part of our democratic election process.  It was an honor to be there.


Waiting for the remainder to speak up

Article posted on December 26, 2017

The Senate offices were closed today in observance of Christmas.  I got some hunting in this afternoon with Johnny.  It was cold, but we dressed for it and had a great time.  Oakley did well, maybe the best he’s done to date.  He listened and worked the field diligently.  There wasn’t much in the way of news today other than the snow storm in Erie.  Many of the papers are entering their usual year end critique of government, including state government.  But they are the subject of criticism in an op-ed piece in today’s Penn Live for their lack of outrage concerning the use of public resources to collect political money by public sector unions.  It was well written and quoted one of their own reporters explaining the issue in very basic terms, as if saying: why doesn’t everyone understand this?  Of course the explanation was part of a story concerning a legislator’s improper use of public resources for political activity some time ago.  Seems the press picks and chooses who they want to criticize, which is interesting from an industry that portrays themselves as impartial arbiters of what’s fair and just in today’s world.  This practice is wrong, period.  It is wrong for everyone who works in government.  Kudos to the Tribune-Review for their editorial on this subject; we’re waiting for the remainder of the state’s papers to speak up.


Peace and God’s blessings

Article posted on December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas one and all.  I hope everybody had a great day with family and friends and remembered to thank God for the gift of his son, Jesus, whose birthday the world celebrates today.  We travelled to my sister Gail and her husband Mark’s home in Bedford County for a Christmas dinner of ham, turkey, and all the fixins plus pumpkin and cherry pies, cookies, fudge, candy, and other desserts.  Everyone was there except my brother Todd and his family; they were with Todd’s wife’s family this year in New Mexico.  We had a wonderful time and wish everyone peace and God’s blessings.


Hopefully, these reports are the extent

Article posted on December 24, 2017

Several stories on sexual harassment/misconduct claims were in the Sunday papers.  The House Republicans and the entire Senate, in response to Right to Know requests from the media, showed that they had no settlements using taxpayer funds for as far back as at least the past 10 years.  More settlements were discovered other places in state government, however, including covering the misconduct of judges and executive branch employees.  A story broke today about, by far, the largest pay out, $8 million since 2001, to settle sexual harassment/misconduct claims against State Troopers.  I only saw a brief blurb on this, but suspect it will gain a lot of attention in the days to come.  It’s unfortunate that this issue has gotten these headlines on Christmas Eve.  Hopefully, these reports are the extent of the cases, and we can go about fixing the system to prevent taxpayer money from being used this way again.


An interesting case to follow

Article posted on December 23, 2017

I wanted to get a few things into my blog last night, so I didn’t have room to add information about the shooting at the capitol yesterday.  We got word last evening that very close to the Capitol, a man shot a Capital Police cruiser four times; the officer inside the car wasn’t hit.  A pursuit ensued and along the way a State Police Trooper was shot, police returned fire and killed the assailant, who was identified as 51-year-old Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty.  The only update I could find today said the Trooper was released from the hospital last night, the police were definitely targeted by the shooter, and that the shooter has ties to the Middle East, but no official word on whether this was an act of terrorism.  This will be an interesting case to follow.


Back for a few days

Article posted on December 22, 2017

At the time I’m writing this, there were no new sexual misconduct allegations today.  The Governor said he doesn’t want the insurance fund where the House Democrat Caucus settlements came out of to pay for settlements or legal fees associated with these cases again.  The payment happened at the beginning of his term, but started through the process during the end of the Corbett administration.  Both Governors said they had no knowledge of the settlement and taxpayer funds being used.  I got some work done today, but a lot of offices were closed, so it was difficult to finish anything.  I was able to take care of a few personal errands myself, including getting a bed cover for the truck.  There are a lot of choices for bed covers, I hope this one works out for my needs.  It looks pretty sharp!  I stopped by a STEM Club demonstration this evening in Altoona at Catalyst Space; the kids did a great job with their experiments and the place was packed.  I then got to the retirement party/ceremony for Duncansville Police Chief Jim Ott, who will be Blair County’s new Sheriff.  He also had a lot of friends and supporters thanking him for his 19 years of service, 18 as Chief.  Johnny is supposed to get home around 2:00 AM tonight.  I’ll either be up or have fallen asleep on the sofa waiting.  It will be good to have him back for a few days.