Winter Musings

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…

  • The reaction to my proposal to cut more than $350,000 from the county’s deficit by eliminating Commissioners’ staffers, a lobbyist, and travel perks was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve heard from many, many constituents who agree that it’s high time Commissioners lead by example. Former Commissioners – of both parties – have told me they agree. Really, the only people who don’t are my colleagues.
  • Speaking of my Commissioner colleagues, I found their quick dismissal of my proposal rather telling. They are rapidly losing credibility among the public – and throughout the Courthouse – for only talking about budget cuts, but not living them. There is definitely truth to the adage that actions speak louder than words.
  • It’s no secret that I was once an aide to a Commissioner. I understand that the position can be extremely helpful. I have a great aide right now in Carol Wentzel, who has been a true public servant. But if the county is going to “do more with less” it must start with us.
  • It was disappointing, too, that my fellow Commissioners chose to respond to my deficit reduction proposal in a written statement rather than stand before the media. If you believe in something, face the questions – and scrutiny – of the media. It helps make us as elected officials more accountable. Don’t hide behind a statement that was no doubt written by the very staff I am proposing to end.
  • Lobbyists are nice, but not necessary. And $90,000 is a lot to pay a “cheerleader” (Commissioner Anderson, February 13th Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  •  My proposal is not “grandstanding” as they called it. Grandstanding is announcing a hiring a freeze, which my colleagues did at the end of 2013, then hiring more than 40 people since.
  • No, Commissioners should not be billing taxpayers for gas to drive five blocks from the Courthouse to Westmoreland Hospital or to cut a ribbon, and certainly not to go golfing or ride in a parade.
  • My proposal is not about punishing anyone. It’s about giving the Commissioners the moral authority to ask others to make similarly tough decisions.
  • Our current Sheriff sure backpedaled away from his plan to patrol Jeannette. I’d like to think he finally realized the limits of his authority and ended his fantasy of being the top law enforcement official in the county. Unfortunately, his reversal likely has everything to do with all the negative publicity he received – from citizens, the (real) police and city leaders.
  • We face a nice problem in this year’s Democratic primary for Governor. Katie McGinty, Rob McCord and Tom Wolfe all are dynamic candidates with unique skill sets. I really am torn about who to support. But I am enjoying watching this process unfold and learning more about these terrific candidates.
  • He may be underfunded and trailing in most polls, but governor candidate John Hanger is very candid and refreshing. He talks straightforward about issues that most want to avoid.
  • I wonder if our local Republican legislators are eager to join Governor Corbett’s re-election campaign? After all, they were all very indignant when he closed the state prison in Hempfield, costing our area 500 good-paying jobs. And they were very critical of him raising your gasoline tax.
  • All the Republican supervisors in Hempfield are in the same pickle. How can they defend, let alone campaign for, a governor who moved all these jobs from their township?
  • My choice for Lieutenant Governor is crystal clear. Despite a number of qualified good candidates, I am supporting former Congressman Mark Critz. Throughout his career, he has been a great friend to Westmoreland County and Western Pennsylvania. His focus has always been on jobs and economic development. I have no doubt that if elected, Mark Critz will transform the role of Lieutenant Governor from its traditional ceremonial function into a working job that helps create jobs.
  • Mark Critz brings, too, the added bonus of geographic balance to the ticket that will be led by someone from the eastern half of the state.