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« Sicko: It's Time For Civilized Healthcare | Main | CIGNA and Me »

July 07, 2007


Ghost of Tom Joad

The scumbags in the legislature and their staffs won't get paid during the furlough, will they? Sounds like we needs more change in the state Senate.


The legislators just need to have their own pay withheld until they pass a budget. What are they getting paid for if not to do their jobs?

John Morgan

Come on folks you're spewing the kind of reformist rhetoric I'm known for, "the Matt Drudge of Pennsylvania," according to one reporter.


What's wrong with reform when something broken is in need of fixing?

Who called you the Matt Drudge of Pennsylvania?

John Morgan

Kori Walter, late of The Reading Eagle.


So again, I'll ask what's wrong with talk of reform if something is broken and needs fixing? It certainly beats burying one's head in the sand and pretending the problems will solve themselves or don't really exist.

Just remember that many of the best ideas never begin as popular ones. :)

John Morgan

I've been posting lists of critical reforms for months and nothing has been done on them. Instead the general assembly has focused on what time to end their sessions.


M told me you are in a funk because of what I'll call an abusive comment. Kori appears to have taken a "step-down" in the career ladder, if you ask me. Can you say - chip on your shoulder?
If he covered our local political machine and didn't uncover 1/2 of what we know he is not worth his credentials. It doesn't take that much investigative work to find some real skeletons and multiple rackets. Politicians and reporters are in each others pockets now a days. This could be a snipish remark made because you have touched a few nerves.

You are not a gossip. You help keep me informed when I get no time to learn from other sources. Certainly, my news and radio don't tell me a fraction of what I learn in a few minutes on your blog. And what I learn is important. And your links and news articles are beyond crucial to me.

You also give me a place to check and vent and spend a few minutes when I;m overwhelmed with my legal writing. You blog in beyond invaluable. You are creating an alternative community wthat is getting more attention than "philyburbs." Jealousy is involved.

Another thing, I can almost bet he is wroking for JRC which owns a lot of local papers and is a horrible company and the pay is SHXX.

Lee Levan

A recently retired state employee told me yesterday that there are approximately 55,000 people designated "essential" and only about 25,000 non-essential state employees. How would you like to be furloughed (no pay) and also be told you are not important enough to be paid as most of your co-workers are?

Btw, the drivers license center will be among those state offices close. The line Friday was literally out the friont door and onto the sidewalk. How can people know about the possible closing of this office in advance, but so uninformed otherwise about government and political affairs?

John Morgan

No funk here. I had a bad day health wise so I couldn't write much. Last week was extremely busy and it caught up with me.

Kori's a good guy and, if I know him he made the comment with a chuckle. I take the comment as a compliment because I feel I understand what Kori meant.

I may feel an urge to add a siren to the site however.

John Morgan

Because they care deeply whether or not they can drive but not about Iraq, health care, etc.


Just this morning as I checked PA Power Port to see if my husband was indeed furloughed I reflected on a recent post I read from some Pennsylvanian. This fellow wanted to know why the State workers would not be permanently furloughed. I thought to myself...well pal, let's see how you like it when you can't get the services you are accustomed to in the timeframe you are accustomed to get them!

To me it unconscionable that Governor Rendell has played chicken with the lives and families of 25,000 employees. It is as unconscionable that the legislature and the Governor have waited until the very last minute to stop this juvenile pissing contest and come to the table to negotiate in earnest.

Re-election? If the parties run a goat against the incumbent, the goat has my vote. I doubt we would see any change in leadership ability as a result.

Joyful Alternative

From the state workers I know, lots of nonessential employees have been declared essential. I wonder if the furloughed folks have been chosen to make the citizenry yell, like my father, who's already worried about renewing his driver's license.

Ghost of Tom Joad

A court has ordered the casinos to remain open till Tuesday, at least. I wonder what the deal with that is. Luckily those workers will get paid.

John Morgan

Thanks for the comment Robin. It helps to hear from those directly affected. As far as I'm concerned the only "essential" state workers remaining on duty should be the state police. Everyone else, from the Guv on down should be furloughed if that's required.


You're quite welcome John.

I am astonished by the essential/non-essential classifications. A friend's husband is a recreation therapist at the State Hospital. He is essential. She supposes "the Hokey Pokey and Bingo are necessary services"...but is glad he is not furloughed. I find myself wondering if I took the drive from Allentown to Harrisburg and went to see the governor at his mansion if his staff would be absent...furloughed? Or in his office if his secretary would have been furloughed?

As it turns out...after two phone calls thi morning and an hour of checking around to make sure of the facts, my husband is indeed working. When he received his letter last week he was told he had bumping rights within his classification. So he inquired Friday as to how many essential workers were in his classification and he was told ALL employees in his classification received letters and were not essential.

This morning he spoke with Harrisburg and was told he bumped somebody and he should perform X tasks. He questioned how/why since just Friday all people were ostensibly non-essential. A couple of phone calls later...and about an hour of was determined he was indeed bumping. (He works for DEP, by the way, and there are Federal mandates for compliance that must be met and/or lose funding from the Feds so it seemed incredible to me they would have furloughed the whole team!) However, the amount of confusion in trying to get to the decision and any information leading up to today was astonishing. Like watching a Chinese Fire Drill (with apologies to the Chinese who are extraordinarily organized and efficient people!). Bottom was clear to me that in the State Government the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing...ever!

This debacle is one of the silliest things I have seen. I am sick for the folks who ARE furloughed and whose personal budgets it will impact terribly. They'll get one more paycheck...the 13th or 20th depending on their pay cycle. I understand that one week of that pay is pre-budget impasse and the second week is post. My understanding is they will receive one week of it...with benefits costs for both weeks deducted. Then, when they return to work, all benefits costs that they would normally have paid during their furlough will accrue...for deduction from their return to work paychecks. The fiscal pain of this will go on and on if the furlough lasts more than one day...and many of these folks can't afford to lose even one day of pay!

As you can tell, I am impassioned on this subject and could go on and on with examples of stupidity in government. But I'll stop ranting and raving.

I thought it might be interesting for folks to read this perspective on the PA budget/spending. It's somewhat took a bit of digging for me to find it.

John Morgan

Robin it would be nice for all those idiots who don't think all state workers are essential to write a bit about what your husband does with DEP. Too many people think all state employees are goof offs and don't do important stuff. All DEP does is keep us safe from environmental hazards and all..... pretty important if you ask me.



Pa State maintains air monitoring stations throughout the state. They are tiny little chicken coop type shacks to look at, and although they don't contain a bathroom facility for the employee as you might find in your place of employment, they DO contain very sophisticated electronic equipment, gas cylinders, climate measuring equipment etc. Much of this equipment is connected by computer to a Harrisburg central office where they monitor for alarms, outtages of equipment, spikes in data etc. When there are spikes, outtages etc since the stations are assigned within a geographic territory to a specialist, the specialist is sent out to correct the issue...and in the normal course of duties, maintain/calibrate/pickup and reset filters. (this is my husband and the team members like him)

On a typical day he is changing gas tanks, calibrating equipment, repairing equipment, and more importantly, pulling the filters and replacing/resetting them for their next run so that PA's air quality is monitored and measured 24x7.

On a real life day to day note as to how this affects the casual reader...Got asthma, emphysema, lung cancer and it's summer? When you are warned to take care because ozone levels are high, my husband or another team member has made sure somebody knows. If you are near an industrial area (that still functions and you are in PA and not in the Far East)and sulphur dioxide is spewing into the air, one of these stations picks it up and alerts are raised and investigations launched to prevent further incident so it doesn't kill you. Essentially, the efforts to ensure your respiratory health are performed and maintained by these guys....who report it out to EPA as well to ensure we are compliant with Federal Clean Air standards. Additionally, if there is some biohazard that is airborne, PA DEP guys will see it in their samples.

Likewise, in water quality there are similar employees who ensure your water is potable (drinkable), your swimming hole (maybe Beltzville) is safe from giardia, shigella and other bacteria or parasites so you don't end up with one of those intestinal disturbances...or worse.

Yeah, the lazy state employees who everybody takes for granted perform the day to day services that make us a safe and healthy civilization but frankly, take for granted and assume they just happen automagically. Those are the guys that got furloughed. And did I mention? The salary the state employees make is in no way comparable to the salaries in industry in the private sector. So indeed, the loss of a days wages is often devastating. My hubby knew that he wouldn't make a lot of money when he went to work for the state 27 years ago but he wanted a job where he could make a difference...that had noble goals and did good. And he got it. We are all able to breathe easier for the work these guys do.

I suppose I will have to add my last rant/rave of incredulity. PA requires companies in the state to notify employees up to 30 or 60 days in advance of a layoff if they employ X number of people and are laying of Y% of them. So I am wondering how our Governer got away with 3 days of notice to State employees? It's something I am researching to find out if there is some Marshall Law-like loophole that exempts the government from the same requirements it places on other employers in the Commonwealth for my nastigram to Mr. Rendell about his and the senate's irresponsible leadership.

Robin a's plainly stated. Governments are specifically exempted from the notice requirement when laying off people. Here's the WARN Act substance. So now I must wonder WHY they are exempt from that which they hold the private sector liable to...!?!

John Morgan

To illustrate how bad air quality affects us, rates of asthma in Pennsylvania are skyrocketing. Counties which are classified as "non-attainment" have difficult times competing for new industry and jobs. This is because companies locating there must spend more money for pollution controls. Therefore they take their business, and jobs, elsewhere.

EPA's work tells us the air quality so we can protect our health, our children's health and still attract economic growth.

Joyful Alternative

Ah, yes, I remember the old days of living downwind of a pickle factory and a rendering plant but not quite within smelling distance of a Rohm & Haas chemical plant!

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