This afternoon my kids were playing with their walkie talkies. This are the inexpensive plastic ones available at fine discount stores everywhere. They had been up in their rooms with calling each other for about 20 minutes. Both of them came downstairs and one said “Hey, someone’s talking with me.” Just then Mr. Jane heard the other child say into the walkie talkie “Daddy, is that you?” And a male voice said “Yes, it’s your Daddy.” He walked over and gently took it away and turned it off. The other walkie talkie was still on and the voice asked “what is your location?” We are assuming it was a neighborhood teen with a similar walkie talkie on the same channel. They only have a range of a mile so it was someone closeby. We hope it was a teen. The voice was deep but could have been a high schooler; the Little Janes are still pretty young and their voices are clearly those of children. It was more than a little disconcerting and the walkie talkies will stay tucked away for awhile and from now on only be used under adult supervision.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
In case this hasn’t been mentioned before, I have a good sized ego and can be vain. For the most part I like to keep a low profile, just because it is easier to get things done when no one is paying attention to me. But I don’t like being brushed off. Twice this week my complete irrelevance has been pointed out to me. A local pol, who has declared her candidacy and in whose area I live, hasn’t announced any public meetings. I signed up for her email list but so far haven’t received anything. The calendar area on her web site is empty. However, a friend of mine received an email saying this person would be a guest at a public meeting this coming week. So I called her campaign manager and left a message asking if this was the only public appearance she would be having before the primary election or if there would be others. Next week is pretty busy. I’d like a chance to see this person and hear what she has to say but if there will be other opportunities I’ll go to one of those. So far my call hasn’t been answered. I hate it when that happens. Maybe I’ll get a call next week. Maybe not. But so far the message I am hearing from this woman is that either her campaign is woefully disorganized or that she doesn’t’ really care if people have a chance to meet her or not. I’m one of those people. Chances are she will win the election but so far she hasn’t won my goodwill. Chances are she doesn’t care. Chances are it won’t ever make a real difference to her. I hate it when that happens. Chances are she won’t get my vote, now or at any time in the future.
By a quirk of fate I have ended up being president of my union local this year. I’ll spare you the details. We are part of a larger union for the whole organization and then a subset of the national union. This year we are considering affiliating with another union as well. We had meetings with representatives of both unions, discussed the issue electronically, sent around some things to read, and then the executive council had a vote on whether or not to put the issue before the entire membership. It passed by a wide majority and the ballots went out. Thursday night the president of the national union, who had not weighed in previously, sent out an email to all members stating her opposition to the plan, and saying that local leadership had refused to send out her thoughts with the ballot. Local leadership would include me. I’ve never heard a peep from this woman before. So the executive council members are all feeling like we have a shiv sticking out of our backs. I fired off an email to her and the general secretary of the national union. Both have said that the strength of the union lies with the actions of its individual members. I pointed out that they have just made it clear to membership that national officers feel very comfortable publicly dissing local leadership with no advance notice or warning and that it might be a tad difficult to find people to run for office in the future. I ended up with the office primarily because no one else was willing to run. In fact I ended up with the office because the guy who was elected took off for the south seas a few weeks after the results came in. Hmmm, maybe he knew something I didn’t….
It was a bad week. Hopefully next week will be better.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Monday, February 21, 2005
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m from a military family. Last Sunday I got the elementary school age kids together at church and we put together care packages for soldiers in Iraq. This is a fairly painless process. Take a look at www.anysoldier.com. Through that website one soldier will volunteer to be the contact person for their company or area and distribute any packages that come through. They will tell you what they would most want or need. For example, beef jerky, twizzlers, reading material, drink powder to break up the monotony of bottled water, personal hygiene items, maybe an air freshner or something to make the trailers or tents smell better. These aren’t exactly big ticket items. You can also purchase prepackaged materials through the site. One of my readers also recommends solidierlife.com, which has links to other, similar sites.
Next time you finish the current issue of Sports Illustrated or Time, get a mailing envelope or a small box, pick up some beef jerky at the grocery store, and mail it off. The postage is domestic; the military will get it overseas. It might really brighten the day of someone who gets shot at regularly or has to worry if they will step on a bomb the next morning. You may not support the war itself. I don’t think the effort was as well thought out as it should have been and we have put our soldiers at unnecessary risk. Regardless of this, there are troops on the ground and as long as they are there I feel an obligation to provide a little support.
Get your friends together for pizza and beer and have everyone bring 10 things – 10 traveler size shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, microwave popcorn (for those troops who have a microwave), snacks, flavored drink mix, etc. and put together some care packages. See if your boss will let you use the staff room one afternoon for a group effort. The web sites will tell you how to decide what to send, and how to sent it. A group of women might prepare packages for women soldiers. I tucked in a few extra personal care items in some of the kids’ packages and noted they were for female troops.
This is inexpensive for you, might get you some brownie points at work or with your friends, and can make a real different to someone who is far from home.
Aha! While there are too many bills introduced into the PA General Assembly each week to post them all, the number of bills voted on and passed is much smaller. So, I will try to post those every week. Non-controversial items such as those designating "National Commonwealth Education Week" and so on, are not included. The bill history, the committees the bill went through, has been deleted. As mentioned previously, I have not found a way to easily find out how each legislator or senator voted. Keep in mind that bills can be drastically amended so the item introduced is not necessarily the same item that is voted upon.
HB 2 By Representatives QUIGLEY, HARPER, ADOLPH, HERSHEY, BUNT, McGILL, CRAHALLA, CORNELL, RUBLEY, E. Z. TAYLOR, WATSON, SCHRODER, FICHTER, FLICK, GODSHALL, O'NEILL, PETRI, WRIGHT, HENNESSEY, ALLEN, ARGALL, ARMSTRONG, BAKER, BALDWIN, BARRAR, BASTIAN, BOYD, BROWNE, CALTAGIRONE, CAPPELLI, CIVERA, DALLY, J. EVANS, FAIRCHILD, FEESE, FLEAGLE, GANNON, GEIST, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, GOOD, HARHART, HASAY, HERMAN, HICKERNELL, M. KELLER, KENNEY, KILLION, MAHER, R. MILLER, MUSTIO, PYLE, RAYMOND, REICHLEY, ROSS, SATHER, SAYLOR, SCAVELLO, S. H. SMITH, STERN, T. STEVENSON, THOMAS, TRUE, YOUNGBLOOD, MICOZZIE and HESS.
An Act providing for submission of a question to the electorate authorizing incurring of indebtedness for the maintenance and protection of the environment, open space and farmland preservation, watershed protection, abandoned mine reclamation, acid mine drainage remediation and other environmental initiatives.
HB 3 By Representatives QUIGLEY, HARPER, ADOLPH, HERSHEY, BUNT, McGILL, CRAHALLA, CORNELL, RUBLEY, E. Z. TAYLOR, WATSON, SCHRODER, FICHTER, FLICK, GODSHALL, O'NEILL, PETRI, WRIGHT, HENNESSEY, ALLEN, ARGALL, ARMSTRONG, BAKER, BALDWIN, BARRAR, BASTIAN, BOYD, BROWNE, CALTAGIRONE, CAPPELLI, CIVERA, DALLY, J. EVANS, FAIRCHILD, FEESE, FLEAGLE, GANNON, GEIST, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, GOOD, HARHART, HASAY, HERMAN, HICKERNELL, M. KELLER, KENNEY, KILLION, MAHER, R. MILLER, MUSTIO, PYLE, RAYMOND, REICHLEY, ROSS, SATHER, SAYLOR, SCAVELLO, S. H. SMITH, STERN, THOMAS, TRUE, YOUNGBLOOD, MICOZZIE, HESS and T. STEVENSON.
An Act amending Title 27 (Environmental Resources) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for definitions; establishing the Environmental Endowment Account and the Environmental Stewardship Sinking Fund; continuing the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund; further providing for agencies; providing for intergovernmental coordination, for evaluation of applications and for extension of fees; authorizing incurring of indebtedness, sale of bonds, temporary financing and debt retirement; providing for certification and publication of certification; further providing for deposit of disposal fees, for sunset and for adjustments; and making a repeal.
HB 398 By Representatives HERMAN, PERZEL, DeWEESE, NAILOR, SAMUELSON and WILLIAMS.
An Act amending the act of December 10, 1968 (P.L.1158, No.365), entitled "An act creating and establishing the Legislative Data Processing Committee: providing for its membership; prescribing its powers, functions and duties; and making an appropriation," further providing for the establishment of the Legislative Data Processing Committee.
SB 18 By Senators TOMLINSON, TARTAGLIONE, ERICKSON, COSTA, GORDNER, PICCOLA, KITCHEN, WONDERLING, WENGER, MADIGAN, M. WHITE, C. WILLIAMS, WAGNER, RHOADES, ROBBINS, O'PAKE, EARLL, THOMPSON, SCARNATI and BOSCOLA.
An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further defining "racketeering activity."
SB 148 By Senators RHOADES, PICCOLA, PILEGGI, RAFFERTY, GREENLEAF, WOZNIAK, KASUNIC, PIPPY, ERICKSON, BOSCOLA, STACK, WAUGH and GORDNER.
An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for continuing professional development and for program of continuing professional education.
SB 146 By Senators RHOADES, EARLL, MUSTO, LAVALLE, C. WILLIAMS, RAFFERTY, STOUT, GREENLEAF, WOZNIAK, KASUNIC, STACK and GORDNER.
An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for powers and duties of the intermediate unit board of directors; and providing for academic improvement programs.
SB 147 By Senators RHOADES, PICCOLA, PILEGGI, RAFFERTY, GREENLEAF, WOZNIAK, KASUNIC, PIPPY, ERICKSON, BOSCOLA, STACK, WAUGH and GORDNER.
An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the
Public School Code of 1949, providing for technical assistance and information provided by department.
SB 149 By Senators M. WHITE, BRIGHTBILL, THOMPSON, ERICKSON, GREENLEAF, PILEGGI, ORIE, D. WHITE, GORDNER, RAFFERTY, VANCE, EARLL, WONDERLING and LEMMOND.
An Act providing for the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund, for its funding and for expenditures from the fund; and making repeals.
SB 199 By Senators THOMPSON, MADIGAN, GREENLEAF, ERICKSON, PILEGGI and RAFFERTY.
An Act providing for a temporary suspension of a limitation on the amount of sales tax revenue transferred to the Supplemental Public Transportation Account.
Monday, February 14, 2005
There are three special elections this spring to fill state senate seats. In the 4th district, Rep. Leanna Washington is the endorsed Democratic candidate, to date no Republican candidates have formally entered the race. In the 16th district, GOP Rep. Pat Browne, is expected to face off against Democratic Rep. Jennifer Mann. In the 42nd there are a number of people jockeying to run in both parties and no endorsed candidates have been declared. One interested party is Rep. Mike Diven, who recently changed his party membership from Democratic to Republican. It is interesting to look at how these state representatives voted for HR 1, the house rules. The rules were changed this time around to allow representative to check in and then give their proxy vote to house leadership and disappear for the day, as long as they stay in the “greater Harrisburg” area, which remains undefined.
The state senate has similar rules already. It is interesting to look at how these prospective senators voted on the house rules. Leanne Washington voted in favor of the rule change. Jennifer Mann did also, although she said she did so only because the new rules also included regulations on gaming that she favored and did not want to vote against. Browne and Diven? I don't know.
What surprised me most while looking into this is that the way representatives vote is not easy to find. With two of the four I could find online versions of reputable print sources. What, you say, the information is not readily available? Well, no it isn’t. While the house posts a list of bills introduced and referred to committee and those voted upon, it does not post any information on who voted for what. If the local papers don’t provide this information voters are completely in the dark. Doesn’t this seem a bit odd?
Washington hasn’t announced any public meetings before the election. Browne and Mann will have a debate on March 23rd, 7p.m. at Cedar Crest College. If these folks are campaigning to represent you, you might go ask them about it. Maybe some official out there with some backbone will introduce legislation or a rules change so that voting records are made public. Any takers?
Monday, February 07, 2005
I’ve never watched a football game all the way through, start to finish. I caught most of one of the playoff games. Sunday night I went to get groceries during the first quarter but watched the rest of the Superbowl. This was not so much out of interest, but to take notes. There is a small boy in my house and Mr. Jane and I do what we can to ensure he doesn’t get beat up in gym as much as we did. The family motto might as well be “Geeks R Us.” So I paid attention to the paper and coached my son on what the playoffs and Superbowl are so he could make intelligent conversation on the playground. I learned a few of the player’s names so he would be familiar with him. Mr. Jane tried to show him a few plays to introduce him to general strategies. Some of his questions we couldn’t answer. Mr. Jane has a better concept of what a “down” is than I do, but neither of us has a good grasp on the whole game structure.
A few years ago I was in San Francisco for a professional conference. It fell during the same week as the annual Gay Pride Parade so there were a lot of tourists in town. I found myself talking with a couple, two men, at a corner intersection while we waited for the light to change. It was right after Mike Tyson had bitten someone’s ear off. It was the first time in my life that I found myself the group expert on sports. Just goes to show, everything I relative.
In any event, I was sorry that the Eagles did not bring the state the Superbowl trophy and all the hoopla and swagger rights that go with it. It was nice to see so many people united in wishing for one thing in particular. That alone was worth the effort The team did a good job and we’ll just have to wait and watch again next year. Winning a championship is still pretty neat, and being second in the nation is nothing to sneeze at.
It looks as though Howard Dean has sewn up chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. This is not good news. He’s a gassy blast of unpleasantness, not unlike the impolite bursts blocked by the over the counter product called beano. I say this as a Democrat. Governor Dean, Dean for America, and Democracy for America sent me a number of unsolicited emails over the summer and fall. I recall very little of what was said other than that most asked for money. After reviewing the ones remaining in my inbox I can tell you my memory was correct. I saw him once on tv and thought he presented himself well. I had the opportunity to see him in person at a local campaign stop this fall and was not impressed at all. His primary message was “don’t vote for the other guys – they’re Republicans.” His face was primarily a saucy smirk mostly associated with small boys who have misbehaved and are daring you to catch them at it. His public remark that he “hates Republicans” is equally disturbing. I looked at the Democracy for America website and at his announcement that he was running for DNC chair. The gist is: “Republicans are bad. Grassroots are good.” What is missing here is a message. Something to fight for instead of against. He has a laundry list of what he wants to reform but no real programs. No ideas. He wants to empower people to take back America. To do what?
What impressed me most when I saw him on the talk show was his frank discussion of the campaign. He said all but one of his primary opponents had contributed to a fund to defeat him. He didn’t say who the one was but if it had been John Kerry I image he would have been more forthcoming. It was interesting to hear him talk about the campaign but, again, I don’t remember hearing any strategy or vision beyond the “Republicans are bad” message.
What I would rather have in a party spokesman is someone who talks about our positives, not just comparisons to the “bad guys.” I want someone who can build coalitions, support candidates, and work to put qualified people in the pipeline. His emails asking for donations for candidates were based solely on the candidate’s party affiliation, not their personal attributes. I want someone who will do away with backroom political deals and patronage, the kowtowing to big donors, the things that kill politics for many voters, and disenfranchise them. Most of all, I want someone who can articulate a future and a way to get there. Trashtalking the other guys doesn’t do much to achieve these goals. I was hoping for better in a national chair.
I'm very sorry but I won't be able to keep up with the work required to post weekly legislative updates. The senate and house are, together, producing over 100 items a week and it's more than I can keep up with. Plus, the postings, when done, are about 16 pages long and that's a bit much to post. I will try to keep an eye on things and post on specific legislation from time to time.