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Happy New Year

Did you know that the tradition of New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C.? Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar (January). With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. The god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances, he was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31st, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.

By looking back at the past year and, more importantly, forward to the coming year, we get a chance to reflect on the changes that we want to make and resolve to follow through on them. There are many popular resolutions (spend more time with family and friends, get in shape, enjoy life more, learning something new, help others, etc.), but for 2011, my resolutions are for the 42nd Senatorial District. Won’t you join me in making this year a positive one?

A RESOLUTION

Celebrating the successes of 2010 and taking the opportunity to express the hopes, expectations and pledges for the residents of the 42nd Senatorial District for 2011.

         RESOLVED, jobs and employment remain a very real concern for the residents of the district. The official unemployment rate for November was 8.6 percent, down from October's 8.8 percent rate and well under the national rate of 9.8 percent for November. Retail sales, industrial production and factory orders are on the upswing, and new claims for unemployment benefits are trending downward. I will continue to explore ways to provide information on employment opportunities to my constituency through the expansion of the Brookline Office Job Corner, by working with local employers to share their job search and workforce needs with the Commonwealth and the community, and by partnering with organizations that can provide career support and assistance in conducting a job search.

         RESOLVED, Our nation's economy is comprised 97% of small business, and 50% of the workforce is employed by small business. I commit to continue relationships with the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne Small Business Development Centers to provide opportunities for small businesses to grow and expand and to entrepreneurs to begin their own small business. I will continue to work with the Small Business Advisory Council and other organizations, on a statewide and regional basis, to support their efforts, understand the barriers that exist for small businesses and entrepreneurs and to work with my colleagues to address those issues; and

         RESOLVED, In the five years I have served in the Senate, I have brought back over $13.5 million to the district, focusing on those programs that have provided services to the community, have relieved taxpayers of additional costs, and have provided economic development opportunities in our communities. I promise to explore every opportunity to continue to support these efforts in our district, particularly those that support job creation and serve as a conduit to further development and revitalization in neighborhoods; and

         RESOLVED, I have been proud to play a part in securing funding for the renovation of the South Hills High School into the South Hills Retirement Residences, the development of the Shannon Transit Village transit-oriented development, the commitment and location of the IGA as a new grocer in Beechview, the ongoing programming for Sharing and Caring that provides an opportunity for hospital-bound veterans to have a day out on the three rivers, the support of the business district in Brookline, and the redevelopment of parks and green space in many of our communities. I promise to continue my commitment to our neighborhoods and communities through the funding of projects that are important to the residents, to work with existing groups to address the needs that they have identified and to communicate what I am doing to the community at-large; and

         RESOLVED, As Democratic Chair of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, I have had the opportunity to provide for our libraries in the expansion of gaming in Pennsylvania by securing local revenues for their use. The committee has also had the opportunity to use its organization to identify programs that support job creation and economic development and to discuss ways to improve current initiatives so that they better serve our constituents. I will strive to work with my colleagues to have the state continue investing in local projects that spur growth, improve the quality of life and provide jobs in our region; and

         RESOLVED, The Commonwealth faces a deficit expected to top $4 billion next year. I commit to working with my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, to ensure that revenue neutral proposals are considered as we move our way through this budget process and that, where possible, cuts are made that do not impact the most vulnerable in our population. Such commitment means exploring each and every available option to secure funding and cuts costs in our Commonwealth; and

         RESOLVED, Government is instituted for the safety of its citizens. I pledge to continue working with my colleagues from both parties on legislation that protects our citizenry from a variety of ills. This includes efforts to prohibit private transfer fees, address child abuse by school employees, and establishing a structure to ensure the continuing education of homeless children. I will accomplish this through partnerships with members of both Chambers, working relationships with advocacy organizations and continual improvement of these efforts with feedback from my constituency; and

         RESOLVED, Although the lack of collegiality has recently been lamented at the national level, it remains the cornerstone to successes in our own local communities. I pledge to continue working with officials at all levels of government in a regional manner that benefits all of our communities – and our region. Securing funding for projects, addressing local issues and promoting our region requires officials to put aside their own interests, to recognize the importance of our cooperation to the communities we represent, and to make good on our promises to work together with you for a better community; and

         RESOLVED, One of the most important services that I can provide to you is constituent service. If you have problems and concerns regarding state government or are encountering bureaucratic red tape and frustration, please tell me about it. If you need an answer concerning state government, I will try my best to assist. If I can't answer your question, I will certainly work to get one for you. I can't provide help unless I know what your concerns are, so please call, e-mail, write or stop in. I will strive to increase constituent services provided by my offices and to make those services already provided more efficient, effective and accessible to my constituents. Each request will be treated with equal respect and importance, no matter how involved it is, and my office will explore every available solution to a problem or question posed; and

         RESOLVED, I came to the General Assembly from Allegheny County Council, a citizen’s council, that has been focused on being responsive, efficient and transparent; I will strive to apply those same lessons to the General Assembly and to support and encourage reforms that make the body more responsive, efficient and transparent and remain supportive of the consideration of any necessary reforms through a constitutional convention; and

         RESOLVED, Recent reports have shown that Pennsylvanians have fallen behind in civic engagement. The Commonwealth ranks 35th among all states in voter registration and 39th in voter turnout. The good news is that Pennsylvanians are expressing their political voice in non-electoral ways by contacting a public official or attending a rally or protest. The PA Constitution provides that citizens have a right to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes by petition, address or remonstrance. I commit to continuing to listen and be responsive to the residents of my district, regardless of the forum or means. I will remain consistent, prompt, honest and provide as much information as possible; this includes, but is not limited to, letters, phone MyGov365.com calls, meetings, visits, e-mails, e-news updates, one-subject newsletters, community paper news articles, radio feeds, website, Twitter, Comcast Newsmakers tapings, press releases, MyGov365.com and general conversation;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that I pledge that these resolutions will make a difference to the district. I will create a plan to accomplish these goals, work with my staff and colleagues to put those plans into action, will be flexible and expect that the plan can and will change, and will focus on year-round changes to accomplish these goals. I will recognize successes with you and pledge to continue to work together with you for the improvement of the 42nd Senatorial District, our region and our Commonwealth.

Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana