Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Representative and social media

Sometimes when you employ social media to make your case, it can backfire.

The Representative and social media


And now a little tale about using social media to make one's case.

Last week, in a "Baer Growls" blogpost about our esteemed Legislature, I suggested it is "hunting for progress" in the wrong places. I noted that while it appears unwilling to act on tough issues such as curtailing the costs of public pensions -- costs that are eating tax dollars at escalating rates, impacting all citizens -- it seems perfectly content to push lesser issues impacting a few.

As one example, I cited scheduled votes on a measure to allow leashed dogs to track and recover wounded white-tail deer.

You can read last Monday's blogpost here.

Well, the sponsor of that measure, state Rep. Jeff Pyle of Ford City (Armstrong County), about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, evidently was offended and -- while he never contacted me -- urged his constituents to email me to complain.

I got a handful of emails. Here are samples:

Joseph Hanz wrote, "I think you owe an apology to us folks in Armstrong Co, and I expect one."

Linda Breneman wrote: "Dear Sir: I believe your recent comments regarding Armstrong County deserve a formal apology to us. We are happy that Jeff Pyle is actually listening to the people and doing everything he can for the people."

Richard Bowser wrote: "Dear Sir, any congressional (sic) bill that would be of benefit to the wildlife of Pennsylvania should be considered and not made fun of Mr. Bear (sic). Don't bother to apologize."

But, as an example of how social media can work both ways, I also got this:

Larry Eaton wrote, "I received an e-mail today from my state representative that stated that I should send you an e-mail demanding an apology...It appears to me that he has been indirectly accused of wasting taxpayers time by fiddling around with trivial issues while much more important issues are left wanting. (e.g. 20% unemployment in Armstrong County) I for one, agree with the criticism that Mr. Baer has leveled at my representative. It was not a criticism of me or Armstrong Co. He (Rep. Pyle) is trying to get his constituents to rally to his defense. I for one didn't vote for someone to go down to Harrisburg and passionately plead for the relief of the suffering of gut shot deer.

"I want my representative to find out why the unemployment is so high in Armstrong Co. and why my real estate taxes (here in the middle of nowhere) are as high...

"So Mr. Baer, maybe you should demand that Rep. Pyle apologize to his overtaxed, unemployed, disenfranchised, constituents, before he demands an apology from someone who is reminding him of his own shortcomings."

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

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