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Thursday, November 1, 2007

OP-ED

The Truth About Transportation

The collapse of a heavily traveled bridge outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota in August opened eyes everywhere and focused our attention on the safety of our nation’s infrastructure. States all over the country are grappling with this reality and struggling to find solutions. In fact, so dire our crisis, Pennsylvania is at risk of going beyond having some of the worst roads and bridges in the nation, to a real tragedy like the one in Minnesota.

One of the main causes of the transportation funding crisis facing us today can be traced back to the passage of the last federal transportation plan, supported by Congressman John Peterson. Unfortunately, under the law, Pennsylvania received the lowest increase in transportation funding of any state in the country. One question that comes to mind is why Congress would underfund Pennsylvania’s transportation network when all freight and passenger traffic going from east to west or north to south goes through the Keystone State. This federal transportation plan failed Pennsylvanians and Congressman Peterson failed our motoring public and job creators. This clearly, and once again, exhibits his lack of clout in Washington.

Alternatives to fund our transportation crisis have been difficult. Proposals by the Governor to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a foreign company were met with great opposition by the General Assembly. We may get a few billion dollars upfront from a foreign country, but it will be drop in the bucket compared to well over a hundred billion dollars we send t this foreign company over the lifespan of the contract. Maybe Congress does not mind sending our money and jobs overseas, but I will not allow them to send Pennsylvanians’ hard earned tax dollars over there.

Another proposal being floated by some was the idea of increasing the state gas tax in order to provide additional transportation funding. This was a concept that had been embraced by the state legislature of the past. In fact, Congressman Peterson voted in favor of raising the gas tax three separate times during his tenure in the Legislature; increases that cost Pennsylvanians 14 cents per gallon more at the pump. If Congressman Peterson had it his way, history shows he would vote to add 25 cents more per gallon to the current excessive price of gas.

An alternative to those ideas, which would generate the necessary transportation funding for our Commonwealth, is tolling I-80. The genesis for tolling I-80 was in 1998 when the United States Congress passed legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Peterson which allowed for the tolling of interstate highways. In fact, the conference committee’s report on the legislation specifically cited I-80 as an ideal candidate for tolling. The legislature decided that, while not ideal, this idea was the best of those presented to this point and we could not afford to wait any longer to act.

This issue is not about Congressman Peterson or myself and he should refrain from criticism and begin a resume of solutions. In fact, I would welcome dialogue with Congressman Peterson to discuss his alternatives, which he has never requested in the past.

As I have stated before, I oppose tolling I-80, and I would be open to realistic alternatives, but doing nothing is no longer an option. The other options of selling a state highway to a foreign company so they can profit on tolls paid by Pennsylvania motorists or increasing the gas tax $.25 per gallon were far less desirable. Listen, I don’t want to see what happened in Minnesota happen in Pennsylvania, but the reality is that we have far worse roads and bridges and are faced with a crisis. I hope and pray everyday that we are not faced with a similar tragedy, and I am working hard to see that it will not happen.

~~Senator Joe Scarnati

NaNoWriMo

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Is anyone doing this? Let me know and, if there's enough interest, I'll do a story about it -- possibly even a LiveLine or Weekend Wrap. If you're doing it email me at 1490news@gmail.com

Happy noveling!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baby Bigfoot

OK. I wasn't going to write about this but I suppose I have no choice now. Ever since Scott started talking about it on his show last Tuesday, the story has taken on a life of its own. If you do a Google News search for "Bigfoot," you'll see that story about the creature has gone international. It was even the top story on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night.

It's a bear with mange. Granted, it's a really bad case of mange, but that's what I think. Why? No, not just because that's what the PA Game Commission says. I'll admit I'm not an expert on bears, but I do know that mother bears protect their cubs -- fiercely. If some "creature" was that close to those cubs, where the heck was the mother bear? Wouldn't she have been in one of the pictures? So, that's why I think the poor sickly looking creature is a bear -- the mother of the cubs in the picture.

On a side note: In college, I was nuts about a guy whose nickname was Sasquatch. He wore size 15 shoes, which is not why I had a crush on him. I don't remember exactly why I first started liking him, but I do remember he was a really good kisser.
/nostalgic interlude

Back to Bigfoot: With hunting seasons in full swing in this area, I hope we don't get an influx of people searching for Bigfoot. While it would be good for the economy, I'm not so sure how safe all those people in the woods would be.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this story in the next few weeks. *sigh*