February 2, 2017
LAKV class was hosted by Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Tarentum, PA. The class started the day off with local Pittsburgh figure Jon Delano, Political Analyst for KDKA News. Jon gave the class a bit of background on himself to start his presentation. He explained that he started out as a lawyer and then spent 14 years on Capitol Hill in Washington. In 1994 he was hired by KDKA as a political analyst. The news station then offered Jon a full time position in 2001 as Money & Politics Editor. Jon also started teaching in 1995 at Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz College of Public Policy & Management. Mr. Delano currently hosts the KDKA Sunday Business Page, a weekly public affairs program, and writes a monthly column called “Government Busters”. The LAKV class was very fortunate to have Jon speak with us on “How the Media Shapes Public Opinion of Government”. He is a great source of information having government and private business experience and really makes the issues he is addressing understandable for any audience.
Our second session for the day was “Pennsylvania Politics” with members of staff from Representative Dermody’s office and Senator Don White’s office. We engaged in a Q/A session and talked about the opioid epidemic that is effecting so many people. The class received education about what types of programs are available in Pennsylvania to help fight this epidemic. We also got a bit of insight on legislation that would eliminate school property taxes and shift to an increased personal income tax and an increased and expanded sales and use tax. They explained that this is not the first time that the legislation was brought up and that the bill was defeated in a prior session.
The LAKV class had an opportunity to talk “Hot Topics in Pennsylvania” with Representative Jeff Pyle. Again the opioid epidemic was discussed, which really shows the impact this problem is having in our local community, as well as in Pennsylvania, and the country. Jeff was able to explain more in depth about the programs available in Pennsylvania to get help. He spoke of Narcan and how it brings a person back from an overdose and also spoke of Naltrexone that actually blocks the effects of opioids. He explained the work of trying to get a person to enroll in these programs to get the help they need, but that it is all voluntary when a person is arrested or taken to a hospital. Representative Pyle also elaborated on the school tax-elimination bill that is back and a “Hot Topic in Pennsylvania”.
Our fourth session was titled “Local Government” in which the Allegheny Township Supervisors Kathy Starr, Joe Ferguson, and Ren Steele came to speak with us. It was really interesting that all three run successful local businesses in the area and still have time to serve in local government. They explained the responsibilities of Township Supervisors in the area. I liked how they were very proud of what they had accomplished and that they really put the interest of their constituents in front of any other political views or agendas. They explained how they have never raised taxes in the area and how they were able to accomplish this. My class gained valuable knowledge by interacting with these three impressive individuals who are serving the community they live in.
The final speaker of the day was Chad McCutcheon from McCutcheon Enterprises, Inc., and he gave a presentation on “How to be an Engaged Citizen”. His advice was to identify your beliefs, identify your party, and to be informed. He then explained more about the party system so that we could figure out which party best represents our beliefs. One of the best ways to be informed is to get involved. You could serve as a volunteer, community opinion leader, local candidate, or an elected official. You can donate your time to support local candidates running for the school board or supervisor. Gaining support in your community is the first step to getting involved and being informed. This may lead to you running for office yourself to fight for the things that you believe in. The main take away of this presentation for me was that leaders are involved, engaged, active members of society.
-Blog submitted by Chris Gary of LAKV Class XXV & Apollo Trust