This week Altoona City Manager, Joe Weakland, was quoted in the media as saying, "I would challenge anyone on council - or anyone - to find any other" expenditures to cut. So I thought I would take up that challenge. Let’s see... what to cut, what to cut? The ideas began pouring in. I’ll limit my discussion here to just three easy ones.
Let’s start with city vehicles. Eliminate all city automobiles that the city provides to employees. We could start with your automobile Joe. You could lead by example. Hand in your city car keys. You and everyone else that has a city car; code enforcement, inspectors let the bureaucrats ride bicycles. Then we can eliminate all those reserved staff parking spaces around city hall. Make them available to the tax payers. After all they pay for them. Then install a bike rack just like the bicycle rack that you want private businesses to install. So put those helmets on the bureaucrats heads and start peddling. We’ll save money right away on gasoline, maintenance and insurance for starters. Then maybe we will finally see the $300,000 bike path to no where get some use. Of course we would want to issue a bicycle to each member of city council. (Their bicycle, of course, would have a bell.) Then the same people leading the city no where can ride the bike path to no where. Do you see the irony here Joe?
Back to Joes challenge to cut expenditures. One need only to drive on Eleventh and Twelfth avenue downtown at night to recognize a prime opportunity for savings. Apparently there was a sale on street lights when they were installing these. Most likely it was a two for one sale. All that extra illumination might be fine for a night football game or in an operating room but in downtown Altoona? At night? All those glaring street lights are wasting tax payer dollars. Just say “no!” Joe to wasting the watts. Shut half those lights off.
There is only time and space for one more expenditure cutting idea. This is just so obvious that I feel I should not receive any credit for it. Here it is: Get rid of every third person working in City hall and on any city crews. You know the ones. You always see them. Inside or outside of city hall, they are always holding a coffee cup leaning or sitting or reading a newspaper while the two other employes in the group are working. Just let that third person go and watch the savings add up. You have them in your office too don’t you Joe? Wait a minute. I’ve heard that you are usually the one with a coffee cup in your hand.
Challenge issued, challenge met. Now where’s my coffee?
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." -- Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster (January 18, 1782 – October 24, 1852) was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He was one of the nation's most prominent conservatives.
We need term limits at both the State and Federal level.
In the early morning hours of July 7, 2005, State Representative Rick Geist and a majority of the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed pay increases for themselves, judges, and top executive-branch officials. The vote took place at 2 in the morning without public review or commentary and Governor Ed Rendell signed the bill into law. The raise increased legislators' base pay from 16% to 34% depending on position.
After the pay increase vote and contrary to the Constitution of Pennsylvania Geist practically ran to the paymaster window pushing people out of his way to collect his illegal pay raise. Later, November 16, 2005, Governor Rendell signed a repeal of the pay raise after a near unanimous vote for repeal. Most of the legislators wrote checks to repay their ill gotten gains.
When Geist was asked if he was going to return the pay raise money he took he first said he was giving to his church for their parking lot. Later he claimed he repaid the money to the State treasury. One area resident inquired with Harrisburg about whether Geist had repaid the money as he claimed. The resident was told he needed to go to Harrisburg to get that information. He claimed that he went to Harrisburg but found no record of repayment by Geist. Recently a Geist campaign member was asked again about repayment of the pay raise. The representative confirmed taht Geist repaid the money and that he, a member of Geist's campaign, claimed that he saw the cancelled check. When the citizen asked the Geist camp to show him the cancelled check and to make the cancelled check public they declined. Why?
People want to believe Geist. But as Clara Pella would say: "Hey Geist! Where’s the check? Show us the check!"
Contact Geist's office Altoona Office: Gables Building, Suite 104, 1331 Twelfth Avenue, Altoona, PA 16601
Phone: 814-946-7218, Fax: 814-949-7915 or contact his Harrisburg office Phone: 717-787-6419 or Fax: 717-772-5142
Call and ask him if he to show you the cancelled check made out to the state treasury. "Where's the check."
 Article 2 Section 8 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania states: Compensation The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise. No member of either House shall during the term for which he may have been elected, receive any increase of salary, or mileage, under any law passed during such term.
Article 3, Section 1
Changes in Term of Office or Salary Prohibited
No law shall extend the term of any public officer, or increase or diminish his salary or emoluments, after his election or appointment.
(Emolument: salary, fee, or profit from employment or office (from the Merriam Webster dictionary)
PA public pensions’ future may mean even higher taxpayer costs
Major private-sector pensions, investment experts suggest lowering rates
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent | March 30, 2012 |
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s two public pension systems have a combined unfunded liability of about $37 billion, but because of the way the liability is calculated, the actual amount to be paid in coming years is likely higher.
If the funds used assumed rates of return in line with the private sector and as suggested by investment consultants, the actual liability exceeds $50 billion.The state’s two pension systems — the Public School Employee Retirement Commission, or PSERS, and the State Employees Retirement System, or SERS — are funded by state taxpayers, employees in the system and investment returns. See the full story here: