Letters to the editor August 11, 2011 edition

A gi­ant help­ing of cus­tom­er ser­vice

On Ju­ly 26 I went to the Mc­Don­ald’s at 7901 Ox­ford Ave. My fath­er-in-law was at a nearby hos­pit­al and would not eat. All he wanted was an Egg McMuffin — that’s all he talked about. It was 3 p.m. when I went to this Mc­Don­ald’s. My hus­band told me, “No way. You aren’t go­ing to get a McMuffin.” I saw no harm in at least ask­ing.

I asked to speak to the man­ager and ex­plained the situ­ation: My fath­er-in-law had eaten very little in two weeks and I was con­cerned. To my amazement, the man­ager was more than happy to make the sand­wich and showed genu­ine con­cern. It showed me there are still good people out there who will go above and bey­ond.

I went back to that store today and told them he ate the whole sand­wich. I ex­pressed my ap­pre­ci­ation and feel they should be re­cog­nized for out­stand­ing ser­vice and con­cern for someone they did not even know. They are the best pub­lic re­la­tions per­sons and it came from the heart.

People like to com­plain, but this store de­serves spe­cial men­tion. I hope every­one in the area pat­ron­izes this store and tell them they really know how to take care of their cus­tom­ers.

Lynda George and fam­ily


Calls to 911 get no re­sponse

Can someone ad­vise me how to get a po­lice re­sponse without ex­ag­ger­at­ing the prob­lem?

With­in the last six weeks I found it ne­ces­sary to call for as­sist­ance. At 2 a.m., an un­known male was try­ing to get in our house through the front door. My grand­daugh­ter, who was sleep­ing down­stairs, was awakened by his per­sist­ence on the doorknob and door glass and was scared to death. She called 911. For­get it. Maybe they only re­spond to crime scenes.

Re­cently my hus­band was in­volved in a fend­er-bend­er with non-Eng­lish-speak­ing people. They ex­changed info but didn’t want to leave the scene without an of­fi­cial po­lice re­port (in­sur­ance com­pan­ies ad­vise this). Three 911 calls were made with­in one and a half hours, but there was no re­sponse.

If all the cops are out chas­ing mur­der­ers and rap­ists, this city is worse than I thought. Makes me think that our fam­ily really should leave this city! Don’t try wav­ing them down — they won’t stop.

Maria Barowski

West May­fair

Movie night a big suc­cess at Gif­ford

Gif­ford Re­cre­ation Cen­ter held its an­nu­al Com­munity Movie Night on Aug. 1 with the help of Gif­ford staff, two gen­er­ous busi­nesses, a com­munity ad­vis­ory coun­cil and state Rep. Brendan Boyle and his staff.

Des­pite heavy rain and a bleak weath­er fore­cast, over 200 people showed up to watch Toy Story 3 at their loc­al park. The skies cleared up around 6:30 p.m. just in time for the mu­ni­cip­al work­ers to set up the equip­ment for the 8:30 p.m. show­ing.

I want to per­son­ally thank O’Mare’s Pub, Sub­urb­an Phar­macy and the Gif­ford Play­ground Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil for their fin­an­cial sup­port. I want to thank state Rep. Boyle’s of­fice and staff for pro­mot­ing the event and se­cur­ing the funds from the loc­al busi­nesses. For the second year in a row, we had a suc­cess­ful night and I hope to con­tin­ue this part­ner­ship in the years to come.

Jeff George

Fa­cil­ity su­per­visor, Gif­ford Re­cre­ation Cen­ter

Tony’s Place own­er is a class act

I en­joyed read­ing John Loftus’ piece on some of the tra­di­tions sur­round­ing the Phil­adelphia land­mark that is Tony’s Place in May­fair (Dough Boys, Ju­ly 21 edi­tion). 

It re­mains a stop for me whenev­er I am in the neigh­bor­hood. Al­though the cur­rent own­er, Joe Mal­lamaci, is much too un­as­sum­ing to pro­mote him­self, he is and has been a tire­less sup­port­er of many neigh­bor­hood and city­wide char­it­able causes.

Joe gives freely of his time, en­ergy, en­thu­si­asm and or­gan­iz­a­tion­al skills, work­ing most of­ten in the back­ground. 

He is truly a cred­it to his fam­ily, past and present, as well as to the com­munity the Mal­lamacis have been a part of for so many years. And, speak­ing of ser­vice, Joe is a humble, dec­or­ated Vi­et­nam vet­er­an who over­came ser­i­ous com­bat wounds to suc­cess­fully carry on his fam­ily’s busi­ness. To Joe, I say wel­come home, and thank you for your ser­vice (then and now).

Tom Corcor­an

Fox Chase/Sea Isle City

Sec­tion 8 houses are eye­sores

It may seem a little strange that I talk about shov­el­ing snow in the sum­mer, however I’ve no­ticed a trend.

Per­haps it’s iron­ic, but I have two Sec­tion 8 houses on my block, neither of which shoveled their snow once this past winter.

Here we are in Au­gust, and both Sec­tion 8 houses have yet to cut their grass. Is it not enough my taxes provide their shel­ter?

Both Sec­tion 8’ers have much nicer cars than I. I’m aware the city does sched­uled Sec­tion 8 in­spec­tions, but what about un­sched­uled in­spec­tions? What about in­come re-veri­fic­a­tion?

Steve Garvin

Castor Gar­dens

Words of wis­dom from FDR

I am against wel­fare as are many hard-work­ing people. One of our great pres­id­ents was a lib­er­al, Frank­lin D. Roosevelt, who de­tested wel­fare, or re­lief, as it was called in his day. This is what he said to Con­gress on Jan. 4, 1935:

“Con­tin­ued de­pend­ence upon re­lief in­duces a spir­itu­al and mor­al dis­in­teg­ra­tion fun­da­ment­ally de­struct­ive to the na­tion­al fiber. To dole out re­lief in this way is to ad­min­is­ter a nar­cot­ic, a subtle des­troy­er of the hu­man spir­it … The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment must and shall quit this busi­ness of re­lief.”

I be­lieve this sin­cerely.

Jerry Foglia Sr.


It’s all about the politi­cians

“Gov­ern­ment of the people, by the people and for the people?”

I feel that it has changed to “of the politi­cian, by the politi­cian and for the politi­cian.”

Our pres­id­ent re­cently threatened to hold back our So­cial Se­cur­ity checks. He won’t hold back the politi­cians’ wages or stop giv­ing away our money to oth­er coun­tries or ban pork.

Let us not for­get that it was the politi­cians that took our So­cial Se­cur­ity money that they had no right to touch and put in the trouble it is in now.

I feel we should re­name our gov­ern­ment “Pleas­ure Is­land,” and you know what hap­pens to people when they go there.

John F. Rauchut


Earth to school dis­trict: Get rid of Ar­lene Ack­er­man

The Phil­adelphia In­quirer has been telling people for at least six months that the schools are fail­ing un­der the (so-called) lead­er­ship of Ar­lene Ack­er­man.

As far as I can see, state Rep. Mike McGee­han is the only con­cerned per­son try­ing to re­verse the dam­age be­ing done here by the “wicked witch” from the land of failed school dis­tricts. The only really in­tense in­vest­ig­a­tion ini­ti­ated by her was when she was try­ing to find out who the whistle-blowers were who called the pa­per to re­port what she was do­ing in the be­gin­ning. And of course, they were all fired. Duh!

Let’s just take a mo­ment to re­flect on how a su­per­in­tend­ent is judged for her per­form­ance:

PS­SAs, first and fore­most, and where has the bulk of the im­pro­pri­et­ies and out­right cheat­ing by prin­cipals and teach­ers in one-third of all Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict schools been proved to oc­cur? PS­SAs, of course!

And do we sup­pose that those prin­cipals and teach­ers de­cided on their own to get those test levels el­ev­ated? Duh again! It has been ex­posed in At­lanta, the same identic­al pat­tern, and we can’t see it hap­pen­ing here? Come on, wake up, you people! For the chil­dren, they are the ones be­ing pun­ished; they will suf­fer for the rest of their lives for not be­ing edu­cated.

The one per­son who is gain­ing from this trav­esty has just buf­fa­loed the may­or and a suf­fi­cient num­ber of City Coun­cil mem­bers in­to for­cing an ad­di­tion­al tax on the very people of this city whose chil­dren she’s been cheat­ing out of their edu­ca­tion, and has be­gun her two-month va­ca­tion.

Don’t think that she doesn’t see the hand­writ­ing on the pro­ver­bi­al wall. If she is fired, she stands to have her­self a $1.5 mil­lion wind­fall (if we al­low it) plus a nice cushy job for life (as she calls it) with a prom­in­ent uni­versity, not in Phil­adelphia. I be­lieve it’s Columbia. Her com­ment was picked up from an in­ad­vert­ent open mi­cro­phone.

Let’s get be­hind Mike McGee­han and kick her butt out of here, and re­place the School Re­form Com­mis­sion with a mean­ing­ful group of people who will ac­tu­ally over­see the new su­per­in­tend­ent.

The state De­part­ment of Edu­ca­tion is fi­nally in the pro­cess of in­vest­ig­at­ing all of the non­sense be­ing per­pet­rated by the witch in Philly, with hope­fully the in­ten­tion of do­ing something about it, but we don’t have to wait for them. Write to your own state rep­res­ent­at­ive and tell him to talk to Mike McGee­han and get this mess cleaned up. Don’t waste your time with May­or Nut­ter or City Coun­cil — they’re in Ack­er­man’s parade.

Jim O’Keefe

Castor Gar­dens

Just tell us the truth, Madam Su­per­in­tend­ent

Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man has nu­mer­ous com­mu­nic­a­tion staffers mak­ing well in­to the mid $100,000s. Coun­cil­man Bill Green wants that de­part­ment’s staff cut way back to save dol­lars due to her ex­cess­ive de­fi­cit of $629 mil­lion.

Why does she need so many spin doc­tors? The product that she is try­ing to pro­duce is our “edu­cated” chil­dren. Can’t she per­son­ally just tell us the truth? Why does her ad­min­is­tra­tion have all these prob­lems that need spin­ning?

Dav­id Krain


Help the poor

I was very angry when I read the let­ter about So­cial Se­cur­ity giv­ing to the un­deserving (Ju­ly 28 edi­tion).

Why in the world should they get any money when there are people who have worked and don’t get that much? No won­der there isn’t enough money in the So­cial Se­cur­ity fund to even give us a small raise each year.

The gov­ern­ment needs to cut down on their wages and also their in­creases and pen­sions, to help the poor and needy.

Na­omi Fisc­her


Con­gress is a na­tion­al em­bar­rass­ment

As I see it

By John Scan­lon

Dec­ades from now, his­tory books will still re­late how Wash­ing­ton, Jef­fer­son and Frank­lin helped found our na­tion, but don’t count on a chapter about how Con­gress hero­ic­ally pulled it from the edge of cata­strophe on Aug. 2, 2011.

I think George, Tom and big Ben would have been mighty em­bar­rassed by the le­gis­lat­ive Laurel & Hardy show that fi­nally ended with that af­ter­noon’s Sen­ate vote of 74-26 to en­able the coun­try to keep ful­filling its fin­an­cial ob­lig­a­tions. The vote came just hours be­fore a mid­night dead­line for Con­gress to in­crease the gov­ern­ment’s bor­row­ing lim­it or put it in a bind as har­row­ing as a broke teen with $2.98 on his ATM card.

It wasn’t a pretty mo­ment in our na­tion’s his­tory. But if you like me­lo­drama with your polit­ics, there was plenty of it, from the funny his­tri­on­ics of neck-vein-bul­ging, crim­son-faced House floor speak­ers do­ing lousy Patrick Henry im­per­son­a­tions to the elo­quent ap­pear­ance of re­cu­per­at­ing Ari­zona con­gress­wo­man Gab­ri­elle Gif­fords, a tender mo­ment that stopped just short of bring­ing con­flic­ted Demo­crats  and Re­pub­lic­ans to­geth­er for an arm-in-arm rendi­tion of We Are the World.

Of course, as soon as Pres­id­ent Obama signed the le­gis­la­tion to raise the gov­ern­ment’s $14.3 tril­lion debt ceil­ing — but also to pro­duce sav­ings of $2.4 tril­lion over the next dec­ade — it was time for the great de­bate over polit­ic­al vic­tory. You tend to for­get how stu­pefy­ing it is to keep press­ing the TV re­mote, glid­ing from one news net­work to the next, and see­ing the same party blow­hards giv­ing pun­dits their take on what just happened:

The Demo­crats stuck to their guns for a debt ceil­ing that pre­serves en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams … It was a ban­ner day for Tea Party fisc­al con­ser­vat­ives and their un­yield­ing de­mand for deep spend­ing cuts … Obama was too cozy with the Re­pub­lic­ans by sur­ren­der­ing his de­mand for rev­en­ue in­creases … . 

And blah, blah, blah.

Hey, they can spin the out­come however they want. That’s OK; it’s polit­ics. But it’s ut­ter horsebleep — con­cili­at­ory, per­haps, but still highly de­lu­sion­al horsebleep — for some to laud the last-minute ac­cord as a shin­ing ex­ample of bi­par­tis­an gov­ern­ment in ac­tion. If any­thing, the days be­fore that Aug. 2 rush job were a shin­ing ex­ample of why our na­tion’s le­gis­lat­ive branch is so in­ef­fec­tu­al. 

It’s why the fisc­al fright show came down to the last hours, and it shouldn’t have. Four months ago — way back dur­ing the first days of April — Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Timothy Geithner had star­ted to lay out the im­pend­ing debt crisis for mem­bers of Con­gress and its dire rami­fic­a­tions for the na­tion.

Of course, we all knew that the pols wouldn’t let their par­tis­an stone­walling and rhet­or­ic and grand­stand­ing to al­low those last grains of sand to pass through the hour­glass without con­gres­sion­al ac­tion. They knew the cata­clys­mic con­sequences. Even more, in this era of an ornery con­stitu­ency hope­lessly mired in a junk eco­nomy, job­less­ness and dis­in­teg­rat­ing life­styles, these politi­cians wer­en’t stu­pid enough to com­mit ca­reer sui­cide by for­cing a gov­ern­ment melt­down.

So what both the Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats gave us was polit­ic­al games­man­ship. They gave us pom­pous swag­ger; they wanted us to know that without a debt-ceil­ing pack­age sat­is­fact­ory to party lead­er­ship, they had the brass ones to just let the chips fall where they may on Aug. 2.

But when the mo­ment came, they didn’t have brass ones. They hur­riedly passed a slapped-to­geth­er fisc­al blue­print built more on fantasy money as­sump­tions than real­ity. They were just so pre­dict­able.

Not so the sur­prise ar­rival of Rep. Gab­ri­elle Gif­fords at the Cap­it­ol dur­ing the vic­tori­ous House vote (269-161), which paused for a poignant re­cep­tion of ro­bust ap­plause, hugs and even tears from col­leagues who gathered around her. This had to be quite thera­peut­ic for Gif­fords, as well as af­firm­a­tion for all of us that she, in­deed, has made amaz­ing med­ic­al pro­gress since a lun­at­ic shot her in the head as she chat­ted with con­stitu­ents sev­en months ago. 

But Gif­fords’ dra­mat­ic en­trance to cast her own “yes” vote — fol­lowed by her im­me­di­ate re­turn to Hou­s­ton to re­sume her ther­apy — wasn’t as sym­bol­ic as it was a bit of over-the-top polit­ic­al theat­er.

The Gif­fords mo­ment was more Hol­ly­wood than Wash­ing­ton. As the scene played out that night on TV news cov­er­age, it struck me as the polit­ic­al ver­sion of that epic mo­ment in The Nat­ur­al when washed-up and sickly ball­play­er Roy Hobbs (Robert Red­ford, re­mem­ber?) crushes a majest­ic, cham­pi­on­ship-win­ning homer that slams in­to the light tower, ig­nit­ing an ex­plo­sion of sparks that bathe Roy in white light as he takes a slo-mo vic­tory trot around the bases.

So if you look bey­ond the Gif­fords feel-good mo­ment of the sum­mer, the real­ity is that Con­gress didn’t de­fuse this crisis, its mem­bers cre­ated it. Their lax­ity to ad­dress alarms soun­ded months ago brought it down to one chaot­ic week­end when a fren­zied House and Sen­ate quickly had to tackle the com­plex­it­ies of debt re­duc­tion and push something through as the clock ticked down to fin­an­cial Armaged­don for this coun­try.

If in­cum­bents on both sides truly have di­ges­ted the freshly re­leased pub­lic-opin­ion polls — in­clud­ing last Thursday’s New York Times/CBS News poll that re­cor­ded an 82-per­cent dis­ap­prov­al rat­ing for Con­gress’ job per­form­ance — they should have had a queasy feel­ing that the 2012 elec­tions could be pretty ugly.

I think Sen. Kent Con­rad, a Demo­crat from North Dakota, is one law­maker who has a firm grasp of his job de­scrip­tion.

“We need to think about why we are really here,” he told CNN. “We’re here to solve prob­lems. We’re not here to worry about the next elec­tion, and, un­for­tu­nately, there’s too much fo­cus on pure par­tis­an polit­ics and not enough fo­cus on solv­ing prob­lems con­front­ing the coun­try.”

The policies, self-in­terests and de­cisions of these law­makers have cre­ated the myri­ad prob­lems that now over­whelm them, and us. The coun­try is weary of the polit­ic­al new­comer who will be “guided by con­stitu­ents” but even­tu­ally morphs in­to a hanger-on whose ac­tions are guided by polit­ic­al self-pre­ser­va­tion.

Those poll re­spond­ents rightly re­gard this Con­gress as an em­bar­rass­ment. Per­son­ally speak­ing, that’s not the way I’d want to go down in the his­tory books. ••

John Scan­lon is ed­it­or of the North­east Times. He can be reached at js­can­lon@bsmphilly.com

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