Letters to the editor July 14, 2011 edition


Clean up after you clean up

Whatever happened to the dust­pan and broom? The leaf/lawn blower, that’s what happened.

It dis­turbs us that homeown­ers who hire con­tract­ors to cut their front and back lawns al­low them to blow the grass clip­pings back out in­to the street.

We live on a block where seni­ors (who no longer can cut their own grass) as well as some who choose to use con­tract­ors total al­most 50 per­cent.

Sure, that man­i­cured lawn looks great, but when they leave, the cen­ter of the street looks like trash, and small cut pieces of pa­per, sticks and as­phalt end up in the mix, lit­ter­ing the road­way.

These are not 14-year-old kids who do this to make a buck for wa­ter ice and pret­zels. These guys are so-called pro­fes­sion­als, paid ac­cord­ingly, mind you, to do a qual­ity job.

Didn’t they come up with a bag that catches grass clip­pings some time ago? I thought a leaf blower could also be a va­cu­um that picks up debris. Also, it ap­pears that some of these lawns have been chem­ic­ally treated, and the clip­pings are be­ing washed down in­to an in­let that is marked “drains dir­ectly to river.”

Pop al­ways told us that the job isn’t com­plete un­til the sweep­ing is done. That still holds true at our place. We sweep our mess and bag it, and, more of­ten than not, someone else’s, also.

Isn’t there a fine for lit­ter­ing? How about pol­lut­ing our wa­ter­ways? Come on, homeown­ers, take a good look and let’s stop these wan­nabe ghost­busters from lit­ter­ing our streets.

The Dy­bal­ski Fam­ily


Be­ware the double whammy on your tax bill

I have a warn­ing for all Phil­adelphia res­id­ents. The 9.9 per­cent real es­tate tax in­crease you paid in 2011 should be elim­in­ated for 2012 and re­placed with the new 3.85 per­cent real es­tate tax for 2012.

When you re­ceive your next real es­tate tax, it should be 6.05 per­cent less. The 9.9 per­cent was for two years only, not an add-on. The 3.85 per­cent is for one year only. That’s what the may­or and City Coun­cil stated ini­tially to the pub­lic.

When you re­ceive your 2012 real es­tate tax bill, check very care­fully. Do not pay 13.75 per­cent more for 2012.

Ron Far­rell


Slum­lords rule with no justice for renters

There are too many slum­lords in Philly that take ad­vant­age of the work­ing poor while sim­ul­tan­eously lower­ing the qual­ity of life for homeown­ers. The slum­lord prob­lem has been per­petu­ated by homeown­ers and renters not com­ing to­geth­er in one united voice to de­mand that city gov­ern­ment provide more in­spec­tions and reg­u­la­tions on ren­ted prop­er­ties in the city.

Homeown­ers are fool­ish to think that the over­flow­ing garbage con­tain­ers are not at­tract­ing mice or even rats to ven­ture onto their prop­er­ties. The bed­bug in­fest­a­tions can eas­ily spread from scuzzy apart­ment build­ing to re­spect­able homeown­er quick­er than you can say, “Good­night and don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

Voice your spe­cif­ic con­cerns about the slum­lord epi­dem­ic in the city with the De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions, be­fore it is too late. Don’t wait un­til your chil­dren or eld­erly par­ents be­come the slum­lords’ next vic­tim!

Write to: Fran Burns, L&I Com­mis­sion­er, 1401 JFK Blvd. 11th Floor, Phila., PA 19102.

Or, con­tact L&I North­east su­per­visor Eliza­beth Car­rasquillo at the Rising Sun Av­en­ue and Ben­ner Street of­fice, right next to the fire sta­tion in Lawndale.

Jason Kaye


Clean sweep in­cludes Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill

May­er Krain’s let­ter to the ed­it­or last week (Coun­cil­man en­titled to take DROP) is an in­sult to the voters of North­east Phil­adelphia. He be­lieves the voters in the 10th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict who sup­port Bill Ru­bin do so be­cause Bri­an O’Neill is eli­gible for the DROP. In case you didn’t know, May­er Krain, we are well aware of his rights. But thanks for the re­mind­er. And don’t render us mind­less.

Wake up and smell the cof­fee. After 30 years, it’s time for a change for the bet­ter. De­cisions on vot­ing for can­did­ates are not solely based on who qual­i­fies for the DROP. Try think­ing out­side the box. Im­pos­ing your opin­ion on us is self-serving. Our de­cisions are based on who will bet­ter help lead this com­munity.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty, not doubletalk. Look out­side the box, May­er Krain, and speak for your­self about how we choose our elec­ted of­fi­cials.

It’s time to do some house­keep­ing with Coun­cil mem­bers, start­ing with the 10th dis­trict.

What this com­munity needs is a can­did­ate who act­ively par­ti­cip­ates, listens and re­sponds to the needs of cit­izens in a timely man­ner. Haven’t seen that hap­pen in a while. What this city needs is Bill Ru­bin, be­cause it’s time for a change, not be­cause his op­pon­ent will be eli­gible for the DROP.

By the way, per­haps Coun­cil­man O’Neill should nev­er say “nev­er.”

Debbie Bon­ner

Pine Val­ley

Corbett’s pun­ish­ing the pub­lic school sys­tem

Who cares about our chil­dren, any­way? Tom Corbett ob­vi­ously does not, even though he pro­fessed that he did while cam­paign­ing for the job of gov­ernor.

Edu­ca­tion and wel­fare have taken a back shelf with the gov­ernor now that he has moved in­to the gov­ernor’s man­sion and tak­ing care of the gas-drillers in the Mar­cel­lus Shale re­gion has be­come the pri­or­ity for him. Ap­par­ently, he has a feel­ing of ob­lig­a­tion to these gi­ants of in­dustry for the big bucks con­trib­uted to his cam­paign.

Too bad that he has no com­pas­sion for the cit­izens who elec­ted him, or their chil­dren, who are go­ing to suf­fer from vast cut­backs in the Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict, par­tic­u­larly. So will the teach­ers and staff who are los­ing their jobs.

The gov­ernor needs to re­set his pri­or­it­ies and real­ize that the people of this state must take pre­ced­ence over wealthy gas drillers, who Tom says are cre­at­ing jobs. I say, “hog­wash.” Wal-Mart cre­ates jobs — why don’t we not tax them?

If we had a gov­ernor who was truly con­cerned and will­ing to tax the wealthy fat cats who are com­ing here to this state to make a for­tune, and who, iron­ic­ally, are per­fectly will­ing to pay their fair share of taxes, there most prob­ably would not be a budget crisis, and cer­tainly no reas­on to pun­ish the school dis­tricts and uni­versit­ies of Pennsylvania. Is there some way that we can bring back Ed Rendell? We de­serve bet­ter than this!

George E. Nor­cross III, the es­teemed chair­man of the Cooper Health Sys­tem at Cooper Uni­versity Hos­pit­al in Cam­den, does in­deed care about qual­ity edu­ca­tion for the chil­dren. He’s an ad­voc­ate of charter schools and sup­ports the Op­por­tun­ity Schol­ar­ship Act, which aids in the se­lec­tion of the most de­serving stu­dents for that sys­tem, among oth­er note­worthy rem­ed­ies.

He has cited Pennsylvania as a mod­el for the suc­cess of the charter school sys­tem, so I sup­pose it’s for­tu­nate that he’s un­aware that our budget ob­sessed gov­ernor just cut off the en­tire $57 mil­lion needed to fund our charter schools here.

James O’Keefe

Castor Gar­dens

The gov­ernor’s stance on teach­ers  is non­sense

Des­pite the ef­fects of poverty, lack of fam­ily  in­volve­ment, the high ab­sent­ee rate and vi­ol­ence in low per­form­ing schools, Gov. Corbett wants to tie teach­er rat­ings to stu­dent per­form­ance in stand­ard­ized tests.

If this were law and you switched the fac­ulty from high per­form­ing sub­urb­an schools with those in low per­form­ing city schools the former would soon be look­ing for work out­side the edu­ca­tion field. It makes as much sense as blam­ing the po­lice who are as­signed to high crime areas.

Mel Flit­ter

Fox Chase

Look­ing for qual­ity?  Check out the charter schools

This is in re­gard to the art­icle in the June 30 edi­tion of the North­east Times (That’s the charter spir­it). I am the par­ent of three (al­most four stu­dents) who at­tend this Amer­ic­an Paradigm.

The schools’ “Caring Com­munity” philo­sophy and high aca­dem­ic stand­ards have en­abled my chil­dren to re­ceive an edu­ca­tion they could nev­er have in the city’s pub­lic school sys­tem. My chil­dren en­joy at­tend­ing school and are read­ing on much high­er read­ing levels than their peers at­tend­ing oth­er schools. I have noth­ing but high re­gard for these two phe­nom­en­al schools and plan on send­ing all six of my chil­dren to them.

I hope the politi­cians who are stalling the con­struc­tion of a new school build­ing for Ta­cony Academy will look closely at the edu­ca­tion the chil­dren at­tend­ing this paradigm are re­ceiv­ing and come to the real­iz­a­tion that if the Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict was run half as well as these schools, the suc­cess rate of our fu­ture adults would be much high­er than they presently are.

I would like to ac­know­ledge both Mr. San­tilli and Ms. Cruise for cre­at­ing an edu­ca­tion­al mod­el that ALL chil­dren in the city of Phil­adelphia should be re­ceiv­ing. I fi­nally feel as though the tax dol­lars that I pay are go­ing to some qual­ity edu­ca­tion.

For all par­ents seek­ing a qual­ity edu­ca­tion for their chil­dren, I would highly re­com­mend both First Phil­adelphia and Ta­cony Academy.

Susan Hemphill

West May­fair

The school dis­trict cre­ated its fisc­al woes

Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man con­tin­ues to over­spend what the school dis­trict is due from the state and city. She is now re­quir­ing the city to kick in an­oth­er $100 mil­lion. The city uni­ons un­der May­or Nut­ter have not had a pay raise in years be­cause the may­or claims the city is broke.

Ba­sic­ally Ack­er­man and her sup­posed bosses, the School Re­form Com­mis­sion, have fin­an­cially “shot them­selves in the foot” and are now claim­ing they are bleed­ing to death. They uni­lat­er­ally want money back from uni­on con­tracts that they all per­son­ally agreed to and signed.

Why are Phil­adelphi­ans put­ting up with Ack­er­man, the SRC and Nut­ter?

Dav­id Krain


Stop play­ing the race card with school stat­ist­ics

Ms. Ack­er­man re­cently left for a two-month va­ca­tion. Hope­fully, she pur­chased a one-way tick­et.

Ms. Ack­er­man was re­cently quoted in The Phil­adelphia In­quirer as say­ing, “Teach­ers, par­ents and ad­min­is­trat­ors cel­eb­rate the suc­cess of our stu­dents and the ac­know­ledg­ment that as a city we are head­ing in the right dir­ec­tion. Nine straight years of aca­dem­ic gains is something we all should be proud of, but the task is far from com­plete.”

Do you be­lieve that? She be­lieves that test scores of 52 per­cent and 59 per­cent for Latino and black stu­dents are an ac­com­plish­ment? In ad­di­tion, the im­proved scores come after nine years of ef­fort! Fi­nally, these scores are the res­ult of pro­grams in­sti­tuted by former school dis­trict CEO Paul Val­las, not her­self! She is tak­ing cred­it for someone else’s work.

When/if we look to the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Edu­ca­tion and at­tend­ance gradu­ation rates, it’s rather clear what the prob­lem is.

On av­er­age, Asi­an chil­dren at­tend Phil­adelphia schools 94 per­cent of the time and score highest in both math and read­ing levels. White chil­dren at­tend school 93 per­cent of the time and score just be­low Asi­an chil­dren.

Black chil­dren at­tend school only 80 per­cent of the time, and score well be­low both Asi­an and white chil­dren. Latino chil­dren at­tend Phil­adelphia schools 76 per­cent. Both black and Lati­nos, on av­er­age, fail to meet “pro­fi­cient” state guidelines for math and read­ing.

The prob­lem ap­pears to be re­lated dir­ectly to at­tend­ance — or chil­dren won’t learn if they don’t at­tend school.

Thus the acts of not go­ing to school and drop­ping out are both vol­un­tary. Say it any oth­er way you want, Ms. Ack­er­man, your job is to edu­cate the chil­dren, and you can’t do it un­less you fig­ure out a way to make the kids come to school. For­get all the oth­er pro­grams (smokescreens such as vi­ol­ence, hir­ing teach­ers of col­or, etc.).

If Asi­an and white stu­dents can learn/achieve today, so can blacks and Lati­nos, if they want to.

Joseph J. Mur­ray

Mor­rell Park

What’s in a word? ‘En­ti­tle­ment’ means plenty

Why do all in Wash­ing­ton — the news me­dia, elec­ted of­fi­cials, pun­dits and politicos — mis­use the word en­ti­tle­ment?

The ori­gin­al mean­ing was a king’s gift of title and lands to a peer in ex­change for money and serfs to fight his wars. The mod­ern mean­ing is king cor­por­a­tion gifts of cam­paign money to politicos to keep their elec­ted titles in ex­change for laws grant­ing spe­cial cor­por­ate al­low­ances, sub­sidies, tax de­duc­tions, etc.

In 1937 Con­gress passed the Fed­er­al In­sur­ance Con­tri­bu­tions Act (FICA) and set up a trust fund of pre-pay­ments for So­cial Se­cur­ity pen­sions, un­em­ploy­ment pay for lay­offs, and work­men’s com­pens­a­tion for work-re­lated in­jury. The in­sur­ance premi­ums are paid by em­ploy­ee payroll de­duc­tions plus em­ploy­er match­ing funds.

In Janu­ary 1983, Pres­id­ent Re­agan had eco­nom­ic ad­viser Alan Green­span com­pute new rates and caps for a 100-year fund life. In­come tax cuts from 1981 on pro­duced huge de­fi­cits. In April 1983 they covered the de­fi­cits by raid­ing and trans­fer­ring all the mon­ies in­to gen­er­al rev­en­ue. Gov­ern­ment notes were and are be­ing is­sued for this money, re­por­ted to be $2.6 tril­lion to $4 tril­lion. The fund is still solvent!

Gov­ern­ment health plans — Medi­care, Medi­caid — are not fun­ded by FICA but some por­tions are fun­ded. Medi­care A only pays 80 per­cent of some but not all items; re­cip­i­ents pay the bal­ance. On Medi­care B, a por­tion is fun­ded by monthly de­duc­tions from So­cial Se­cur­ity pay­ments. Medi­care C is paid by monthly premi­ums plus co-pays plus 100 per­cent over the ba­sic lim­it. On Medi­caid dis­ab­il­ity pay­ments, FICA pay­ments may have been made in pre­vi­ous years’ em­ploy­ment.

Mis­us­ing the word en­ti­tle­ment shows de­lib­er­ate con­tempt for cit­izens.

Irene A. White


Col­lege edu­ca­tion is a great in­vest­ment

Re­gard­ing John Scan­lon’s As I see it column last week (Is col­lege edu­ca­tion really worth it?):

Job pro­spects may look grim these days, but re­search shows that those with some level of post-sec­ond­ary edu­ca­tion have more op­por­tun­it­ies avail­able to them.

The fact is, most jobs that pay a liv­ing wage re­quire some form of high­er edu­ca­tion or post-sec­ond­ary school train­ing. Gone are the days when a high school gradu­ate could walk in­to a fact­ory or an of­fice and earn a salary that could sup­port a fam­ily.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter Re­port cited in last week’s column, the life­time earn­ings of a typ­ic­al four-year col­lege gradu­ate are $1.4 mil­lion.

A typ­ic­al two-year col­lege de­gree re­cip­i­ent earns $1 mil­lion over a life­time, while a typ­ic­al high school gradu­ate earns just $770,000 over a life­time (www.pewso­cial­trends.org).

That’s thou­sands of un­earned dol­lars miss­ing from the Amer­ic­an eco­nomy for each con­sumer who doesn’t earn a post-sec­ond­ary de­gree.

Col­lege edu­ca­tion is so vi­tal to the na­tion’s fu­ture that the White House has made it a goal for the na­tion to pro­duce 50 per­cent more col­lege gradu­ates (roughly 8 mil­lion more) by the year 2020 (www.ed.gov).

This spring, Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden an­nounced new ini­ti­at­ives, such as Col­lege Com­ple­tion In­cent­ive Grants, that re­ward states and in­sti­tu­tions that in­crease their num­ber of col­lege gradu­ates.

A mul­ti­tude of fin­an­cial pro­grams are avail­able to help al­most any­one pay for a col­lege de­gree. At Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity, 95 per­cent of stu­dents re­ceive some form of fin­an­cial aid.

It’s im­port­ant to choose a col­lege that fits your needs. And when you do, it will be one of the most worth­while in­vest­ments you’ll ever make.

Na­omi Hall

Dir­ect­or of me­dia re­la­tions

Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity

Join in the for­um — write to us

Let­ters to the ed­it­or should be 300 words or less. Short let­ters have a bet­ter chance of get­ting pub­lished. All let­ters are sub­ject to edit­ing and MUST in­clude the writer’s full name along with day­time and even­ing phone num­bers for veri­fic­a­tion pur­poses. An­onym­ous let­ters will NOT be pub­lished. Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­it­or, North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053. Fax: 215-355-4857. E-mail: pronews@bsmphilly.com

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