January 11, 2018
Every year, I am invited to present to the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce issues of importance to county business owners and residents at its annual “State of the County” luncheon. This year, I focused on the importance of county partner agencies to build and renew our county. The complete text of my remarks follow…
December 31, 2017
If your loved one had a mental illness or a developmental disability or suffered from addiction, would you want them in jail or somewhere that could help them get better?
County jails, and your tax dollars, are increasingly being used to house pre-trial defendants and inmates who suffer from such issues; the majority of whom do not pose a public safety risk. Sadly, county jails are now the largest mental health facilities in our nation.
November 3, 2017
Some elections really are this simple, and the choices that clear. For all of us who are sick and tired of politics, promises and pettiness, this Election Day we can vote for a team of proven professionals for key Westmoreland County row offices.
September 29, 2017
If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” we have a glorious path right in our backyard. The Great Allegheny Passage is a nearly flat 150-mile bicycle and walking trail running through parts of our own Westmoreland County as it connects Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, as part of a network of trails that runs all the way to Washington, D.C.
July 11, 2017
Westmoreland County is not shying away from our challenges. We are taking them head on and maximizing our many assets as we work to “Reimagine Westmoreland.” The following is an op-ed piece I authored that was published in the July 11 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
May 30, 2017
Unlike other levels of government, human services are the primary mission of county government. Delivering high-quality services to improve the quality of life for seniors, people with disabilities, the abused, addicted, neglected and forgotten helps stabilize families, build stronger communities and make Westmoreland County a better place.
March 13, 2017
I had the opportunity to testify before the state House of Representatives Human Services Committee regarding proposed changes that would have had a detrimental impact on workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thanks to the work of many advocates, service providers and workers with special needs the state altered its initial proposal to better protect workers and the workshops who employ so many.
The following is my testimony…
January 12, 2017
Every year I am invited to present to the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce a topic pertinent to the state of the county. I used this year’s invitation to explain to the Chamber’s 350 members and guests in attendance the challenging realities of the county budget. I wanted to share my remarks with you here.
October 25, 2016
There is a lot of irresponsible talk going on now about a “rigged election”. It is wrong. And it’s an insult to County Commissioners statewide, of both parties, who are responsible for administering free and fair elections. Despite anyone’s presidential preference, we can all trust in the integrity of our elections.
June 3, 2016
Every year, I host a “State of the County” event. I would like to share my complete remarks to help you better understand what is happening in the county, and in county government..
January 14, 2016
Every year I am invited to address the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce as part of its annual State of the County event. This time I used the opportunity to lay out my goals, and our challenges, for the next four years.
October 20, 2015-A few weeks ago we learned that state investigators were fining the County’s nursing home, Westmoreland Manor, for significant deficiencies in patient care. I wanted this disturbing report released to the public as soon as we received it. Commissioners Tyler Courtney and Charles Anderson overrode me and hid the results as long as they could. They were justifiably embarrassed by it.
September 22, 2015-Election season is upon us. Signs are springing up everywhere. Candidate forums have been scheduled. And before you know it, the campaign spin will begin! The misleading ads will pollute your television. Your mailbox will be filled with digitally-altered photographs. So before my opponents pay tens of thousands of dollars to PR firms to try to manipulate the truth, let’s lay out the facts about the past four years. Just the facts.
August 22, 2015-We’re featuring a guest columnist in this edition. The following letter ran in the August 19 edition of the Tribune-Review, in response to a hateful, ill-informed rant by a local Republican Party operative. I’m honored by the support of this letter-writer, and many other Republicans. The letter-writer is not influenced by blind party loyalty and silly stereotype labels; nor am I.
August 2, 2015-I admit I often refer to my colleagues as the “Republican” commissioners. But it’s more for simple identification than for criticism. While I routinely disagree with them, it’s not because of their party; it’s because they’re wrong. Throughout my term as Commissioner, including recent actions to properly support the county sheriff’s office, I have worked to do what’s best for Westmoreland County regardless of party affiliation.
June 11, 2015-The past week pretty much summed up the past four years of the Republican majority on the Westmoreland Board of Commissioners – bad budgets, poor leadership, and no accountability. Now even public safety is victim to the mismanagement that already is hurting college students and their families, and other county offices.
May 18, 2015-The signs have blanketed highways for months and our mailboxes are overflowing with political mailers. As this primary election season draws to a close all that is left is to do is vote. Here’s why I am asking for your vote to remain your County Commissioner:
April 15, 2015-On the campaign trail and at the Courthouse there is a lot to report, most notably a missed opportunity to finally start a long-overdue specialized Drug Court in Westmoreland County. So here it is, “Notes from the County: Spring Edition”:
February 25, 2015-I’ve always believed that we as elected officials owe it to you to explain where we stand and what we want to do. So if you were not one of the more than 220 people who packed our campaign kickoff event at the Arnold Palmer Airport I wanted to share with you my address that night. It’s my promise to you.
February 15, 2015-While it’s still unclear if the recent confusion about the salary the new county solicitor is earning was a simple mistake or an attempt by my Commissioner colleagues to knowingly mislead the public, the matter should be made right. For taxpayers to have confidence in their government, we as elected officials not only have to do what we say, but also correct errors when they are caught.
January 8, 2015-Every year, I have the opportunity to address the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce to update its members on what is happening in Westmoreland County and in county government. It was the perfect forum to provide an update on the critical work of the Drug Overdose Task Force I am co-chairing. I wanted to share my full address with you here…
December 18, 2014-Today, I voted against the 2015 county budget. The budget passed by the Republican majority is the perfect storm of poor planning, misplaced priorities and panic. Its $6 million deficit continues to spend down the county’s once-robust reserves and pushes residents towards a property tax increase.
September 9, 2014-Great things happening at our Community College, we’re taking steps to take down a longstanding public safety hazard, and good fortune for the county budget. Meanwhile, the Republican “fiscal conservative” Commissioners continue to prove they’re not, and the Corbett countdown continues. That, and more, in the Fall Edition of Notes from the County…
July 24, 2014-Westmoreland County’s pension fund almost never makes the news. It’s rarely, if ever, controversial and certainly not political. The decisions we make are usually commonsense and straightforward. That’s why my Commissioner colleagues’ recent opposition to renewing a contract with our pension fund consultant was particularly puzzling, given that this consultant has a proven track record and is far and away the lowest cost.
June 19, 2014-Every June, I deliver a State of the County address. I believe it is important for me to present directly what is happening in county government and throughout Westmoreland County, highlighting our economy and important projects, as well as our challenges.
May 31, 2014-Public safety, particularly the operation of our state-of-the-art 911 Center, is a critical function of county government. It impacts everyone and every community in Westmoreland County. Yet the means by which it is funded is in jeopardy, putting at risk the operation of this most vital, life-saving service.
May 26, 2014-Throughout our nation we rightfully pause today and remember those who died in our defense. I was honored and humbled to speak at observances today and ask that this Memorial Day, you join me in remembrance.
April 1, 2014-This April, we are raising awareness of two extremely important issues to our county and our society – autism and domestic violence. The more we know, the better we understand. I am hopeful you will join me in helping to promote education and acceptance of autism, and to work to end domestic violence in our communities.
March 17, 2014-Too often the intricacies of a complicated transaction fail to be reported by the media. Such is the case with the recent decision to award a management contract for Westmoreland Manor. I was forced to vote against the contract because it was incomplete, limited our ability to negotiate management incentives and left money on the table.
February 18, 2014-Despite the seemingly never-ending winter that has slowed down a lot of activities there is a great deal going on in county government and in state politics. Alas, the snow is finally melting, and I’m reflecting…
December 23, 2013-Not a lot of holiday cheer at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in the days leading up to Christmas, as the week was marked by a budget with a record-setting deficit and the shocking dismissal of the county’s long-time human resources director. Both happened over my objections, and both are bad for the county and for you.
November 1, 2013-Some elections really are this simple, and the choices that clear. For all of us who are sick and tired of politics, promises and pettiness, this Election Day we can vote for a team of proven professionals for key Westmoreland County row offices..
September 26, 2013-Vacant properties are a problem throughout Westmoreland County. Throughout our core cities, small boroughs and large townships, abandoned and tax-foreclosed properties threaten public health and safety, hurt property values and strain municipal budgets. County government has been limited in its ability to help. That’s about to change with the advent of the new Westmoreland County Land Bank.
September 3, 2013-Often the ones we are supposed to be teaching teach us. I had the pleasure this summer of having a great intern in my office, Dante Decario, a Derry Township native who just began his senior year at Seton Hill University.
July 25, 2013-There is a drug abuse epidemic in Westmoreland County that no one should deny. For too long, everyone – families, addicts, policymakers and others – have turned a blind eye to this insidious problem. We are embarking on some important work now to better understand the crisis and take steps to resolve it.
June 24, 2013-An important part of my job as your County Commissioner is to make sure residents know what is happening in the county. Every year, I host my “State of the County” breakfast to highlight what is going on in Westmoreland County and in county government.
May 24, 2013-The rebuilding of the Westmoreland County Democratic Party is underway. Some important, and long overdue, initiatives are now in progress to put us back in a position to reestablish our traditional strength, reengage voters and begin consistently winning elections again.
April 23, 2013-Anyone who has paid attention to the news over the past few weeks knows it’s a tough time for our current county sheriff. But I don’t intend to pile on here. Instead, I’d like to focus on the limits of power and the need for legal and consistent county policy.
March 23, 2013-Older industrial communities throughout our county and Commonwealth, in particular in the Mon Valley, are struggling to revitalize and reinvent themselves.
January 30, 2013-As we finish up the first month of 2013, I am thinking back to the year that was. While any disagreement we may have in the Courthouse seems to always make the news, it often overshadows our accomplishments. I’d like to reflect on some of those now.
January 10, 2013-I had the pleasure of addressing the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce today about the state of Westmoreland. My colleagues and I shared the stage and each centered on a particular topic that would be of interest to their members; mine being transportation.
November 29, 2012-The dust has settled on the 2012 election. While the Democrats overall had much better results, including the big prize of the presidency, local Republicans had another successful effort.
October 31, 2012- It’s no secret I’m a proud Democrat – always have been, always will be. But this is not simply blind partisanship. I believe in our ideals and our candidates, and unfortunately, through the influence of unlimited money and SuperPACs running amok, both have been brutally mischaracterized and misrepresented. This election is so critical for our country, our commonwealth and our communities so I figured this is the election I actually list my reasons why I am supporting the Democratic ticket.
October 23, 2012- Human services are a vitally important function of county government. It is our primary responsibility. My commitment runs deep professionally and personally. That’s why I opposed my colleagues’ decision to create a new Human Services Director. It robs money from critical programs to fund an unnecessary job.
October 10, 2012- Just like your household or business, health insurance is a significant expense for Westmoreland County government. As we work through options for employee healthcare coverage for 2013, I thought it important to share with you what we’ve done and perhaps where we’re headed.
July 21, 2012- It seems like a long time ago now that all the campaign talk was about a county budget deficit. Now it seems a long way from reality, as it turns out we really didn’t have a budget deficit at all. That’s right, after all the relentless attacks against me, my colleagues and predecessors, the audited statements recently issued by the County Controller show that the budget was essentially balanced overall.
May 23, 2012- It seems almost everyone has a “notes” column about the news these days. So I figured I’d give it a shot. Some points to ponder over the long Memorial Day weekend….
March 20, 2012- It’s never a good idea to make personnel moves for anything other than professional reasons. And making moves for purely political reasons is especially dangerous. But that’s exactly what my Republican colleagues are doing.
January 19, 2012- I have wanted to write about the results of the last election and the various Republican victories for some time – about what happened and why? It is also beyond time we talked seriously about how to fix what is unquestionably broken about the Democratic Party in Westmoreland County. I have my theories, but I need help answering a lot of questions.
January 4, 2012- New Year’s is always a time of reflection – of what was and what is to come. This is especially true for me as I begin a new term as commissioner. If the actions of the end of 2011 are any indication of what’s to come throughout 2012, it’s going to be an interesting year.
November 10, 2011- Thank you to everyone who voted for me in Tuesday’s election. While obviously disappointed with the overall results I am proud of the campaign we ran and so grateful for the support, hard work, prayers and friendship of so many people.
November 5, 2011-After months of fire halls and festivals, rhetoric and debates, campaigning and strategizing, it’s finally time to vote. I am confident that all of our hard work is going to pay off because we have the truth on our side and because we value the important business of county government.
October 29, 2011-I was really impressed by the large crowd that showed up for the NAACP debate Wednesday night. It was a good exchange among the candidates that I think highlighted a lot of differences, and surprisingly a lot of similarities.
October 12, 2011- I had a surprise visitor the other day – none other than Joe Bush, former Republican candidate for county commissioner. I was honored to learn that, without any solicitation, he is actively supporting Jerry Lucia and me. So now, everyone who ran in this year’s primary is supporting us.
September 9, 2011- All four candidates for commissioner finally had the chance to share a stage last night, thanks to the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce. While not a debate, it sure was telling as to what each candidate is all about and the type of campaigns we are running.
July 27, 2011- I am taking a break from the parade circuit and church festivals (and the heat!) to reflect on the state budget and more…
June 6, 2011- Whatever happened to consistency? We used to demand consistency from our politicians and expect it from our newspapers. The latest contrived flap over a county contract with a copy machine vendor demonstrates that the residents of Westmoreland County are being denied on both counts.
May 19, 2011- I am truly honored and humbled by the support I received in the primary election. We got far more votes than any of the other seven candidates. But this was not my victory alone; it was ours. There are many people to thank for their efforts.
May 12, 2011-A wise person told me early in this election season to always end every campaign speech by asking the audience for their votes. As Election Day fast approaches I thank you all for your work, dedication and feedback, and now I ask for your vote.
April 14, 2011-I was the featured speaker at the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce luncheon on April 14. It was a great opportunity to talk to local business leaders about the state of Westmoreland County government. But I also wanted to use the opportunity to talk to them about aspects of county government that are not well known, even though I feel they should be.
March 18, 2011- It’s been a month since we officially kicked off the campaign, so it seems like a good time to share with you what’s been happening out on the campaign trail. I am really honored by the positive feedback I am getting and the efforts to help with the campaign – beginning with nearly 1,500 signatures to get my name on the ballot.
March 8, 2011- I had the honor today of speaking at Seton Hill University’s e-Magnify symposium, a gathering focused on increasing economic opportunities for women and women-owned businesses. I was part of a panel discussing the Status of Women in Westmoreland County Project, and I wanted to share those remarks with you.
February 16, 2011- The campaign is officially underway. We’re circulating petitions, ordering yard signs, and more people are volunteering every day. And last night we had a formal kickoff event that was an overwhelming success. More than 250 people from every part of the county, and beyond, packed the Arnold Palmer Airport! I am absolutely thrilled and, frankly, humbled by the outpouring of support.
December 27, 2010- The following is a letter to the editor that I sent to the Tribune-Review on December 23, regarding the impasse over the county’s budget, and the reality of the situation. I want to share it with you in its complete, unedited form.
December 10, 2010- The headlines in the county’s largest newspaper are meant to grab your attention, but is Westmoreland County’s budget situation any different from our local municipalities? Absolutely not. The challenges are similar, and so are the solutions. But far too often, the reality of government budgets is clouded by presentation, perception and politics.
November 14, 2010- Ok, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. I’ll admit it: that was quite a whipping we took. Like everyone else, I anticipated losses. But that was ugly, no way to sugarcoat it. The question now is, where do Democrats go from here? We need to do some serious re-evaluation, both locally and nationally, about who we are as a party, what we stand for, who are candidates are, and how we get our message out.
September 9, 2010- Because sometimes nothing else really matters…
August 17, 2010-I had the opportunity to meet U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak last evening. What a remarkable man, and what a welcome relief. It was so refreshing to hear a candidate communicate well-thought positions, and solutions, to the challenges we face, instead of the typical recycled talking points that too often pass for political discourse nowadays.
August 4, 2010-I want to sincerely thank everyone who participated in our first-ever fundraiser on July 29. We far exceeded my expectations. I am honored and humbled.When you plan events like these for the first time, you never know what to expect.