Burns challenges governor’s assertion on constituent service

Lilly man goes 10 days and counting without a response from Wolf

EBENSBURG, April 8 – On the same day the governor’s spokesman was reiterating that "nothing has changed" regarding how he and other Democrats obtain constituent service, state Rep. Frank Burns was surveying the property of Chuck Onder, whose request for help had gone unheeded 10 days after being forwarded to the governor’s office.

Unsurprising to Burns, he discovered that Onder had a separate state-related problem resolved in just two days a year ago, when Burns and 10 other Democrats who voted with Republicans to end the 2015-16 budget impasse were permitted to deal directly with state agencies.

Burns visited Onder’s property Thursday, largely because his March 28 request for direction from the Department of Environmental Protection regarding his options to remedy a creek that floods his property was among the first impacted by the selective change imposed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

"The governor and his press secretary keep saying ‘nothing has changed,’ but I’d like them to explain that to Mr. Onder," Burns said. "He’s the guy being hurt by this childish political gamesmanship. It’s been 10 days and he hasn’t even received a courtesy call acknowledging receipt of his request."

Burns said that since the Wolf administration changed the system after the budget vote – mandating that Burns’ constituent inquiries of this nature go through the governor’s office, instead of through the pertinent state agency – Burns and his staff have had no way to track progress or determine whether a matter has been handled.

Burns, D-Cambria, decided to personally check with Onder, who lives in Lilly, because that’s the only way he could ascertain whether the governor’s office has been telling the truth.

"The facts speak for themselves," Burns said. "One year ago, under the system still used by all House Republicans and a majority of House Democrats, Mr. Onder’s request for help with a PennDOT matter was resolved in two days. Under the change imposed by Governor Wolf to punish a handful of Democrats who believed it was time to end a nine-month budget impasse, Mr. Onder hasn’t gotten a phone call in 10 days and counting."