Letters to the editor, June 23, 2011

Thank you, Madam Of­ficer 

On a sul­try Me­mori­al Day even­ing, a short­ness of pa­tience, a broken Chevy and the de­sire to just wish this day were over ma­gic­ally trans­formed in­to the best oc­cur­rence of all day.

The ar­rival of Of­ficer Rodrig­uez to my res­cue was both for­tu­nate and re­ward­ing. Say what you will about Phil­adelphia’s finest.

In her case, pro­fes­sion­al cour­tesy, pa­tience and a de­gree of com­fort­ing com­pletely turned this day around, for the bet­ter.

Our fam­ily will forever ap­pre­ci­ate her aid in get­ting us through this prob­lem. We can­not be­gin to ex­press fully our heart­felt thanks for all she did. As with all your fel­low of­ficers, we com­mit our re­spect and ap­pre­ci­ation for all that you do for us. Of­ficer Rodrig­uez, we thank you from the bot­tom of our hearts. Stay safe and well. We need your pres­ence.

Har­old and Helen Miller


Ramp it up

Con­struc­tion of I-95 ramps at Prin­ceton and Cottman av­en­ues has been go­ing on what seems forever. The Em­pire State Build­ing was built in a shade over 13 months. I rest my case!

Bill Sha­na­han

Holme Circle

How dare you ques­tion FOP lead­er!

Mr. Steve Schmidt, as a sup­port­er of the Phil­adelphia po­lice, I must ask you what makes you think you have the right to ques­tion the pres­id­ent of the FOP. By ac­cus­ing Of­ficer John McNesby of selling his badge is like say­ing cops do not care about our com­munity.

You stated in your May 26 let­ter that your son says, “Thank you for pro­tect­ing and serving us,” but if Of­ficer McNesby was selling his badge just to of­fer cour­tesy cards, then they would not be ser­vi­cing us, would they? But no, they put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.

What would be the point of hav­ing a gov­ern­ment with a law-en­force­ment team if they just give out cour­tesy cards? That would mean any­body could buy one, and cops wouldn’t have much of a job since any­time they catch some­body break­ing the law, they could use their “Get out of Jail” card.

I don’t know about you Mr. Schmidt, but from what I’ve been read­ing, you have little faith in our po­lice to be ques­tion­ing them in little things such as be­ing sup­port­ers for fund-raisers. I com­pletely trust our law en­force­ment 100 per­cent, and un­less you are risk­ing your life every day in that blue uni­form out on the streets pro­tect­ing me, my fam­ily and the won­der­ful city of Phil­adelphia, I don’t know why you think you have the right to ques­tion the men and wo­men who are.

Lastly, by say­ing Mr. McNesby is be­ing child­ish by us­ing a name such as “Stevie” is such a double stand­ard. In your open­ing state­ment you clearly said you have known him for more than 25 years.

If you know a man and re­spect him as a per­son for that long, there should be some sort of friend­ship, wouldn’t you agree? But it seems to me and the rest of the people read­ing this that you are only con­cerned with your­self and be­ing heard, in­stead of real­iz­ing your own child­ish faults by chal­len­ging the pres­id­ent of the FOP dis­respect­fully by in­vit­ing him to come vis­it you any­time. Is the pot call­ing the kettle black?

Thomas Mc­Namee III


Schwartz fi­nally got the mes­sage

Con­gress­wo­man Allyson Schwartz vig­or­ously sup­por­ted the new na­tion­al health care law. In fact, I be­lieve she co-sponsored it. Now she seems to be in full as­sault against part of it.

I was sur­prised to see that Schwartz placed a full-page ad in a re­cent Sunday In­quirer stat­ing she is fight­ing against one of the main pil­lars of the new law, the In­de­pend­ent Pay­ment Ad­vis­ory Board (IPAB), which will dic­tate pay­ments and cuts to Medi­care pro­viders.

Pay at­ten­tion, seni­ors. Schwartz notes that the face­less, bur­eau­crat­ic board will lim­it Medi­care health ser­vices and treat­ments. The IPAB de­cisions are un­re­view­able by the courts. This is scary. The IPAB may be mak­ing ir­re­voc­able deni­al-of-care de­cisions.

Sounds to me that Sarah Pal­in’s charge that the new law would provide “death pan­els” was not so far off the mark, after all. Gee. Re­mem­ber how every­body laughed at the little lady? I guess she ac­tu­ally read the law.

I’m glad Allyson Schwartz fi­nally got the mes­sage. (And Sarah the last laugh.) The health care law was ill-ad­vised —sneak­ily rushed in­to law without pub­lic de­bate and re­view.

Allyson Schwartz is now listen­ing to her con­stitu­ents. Who knows what’s next? Co-host­ing with Rush Limbaugh? Maybe she’ll even vo­lun­teer to drive Sarah Pal­in’s bus. She’s very ad­ept at U-turns.

Richard Iac­on­elli


Don’t drop DROP for our her­oes on the street

Phil­adelphi­ans are be­ing led like sheep by the me­dia and May­or Nut­ter. Oth­er­wise, I think there would have been at least one fa­vor­able let­ter about DROP and an hon­est as­sess­ment and dis­cus­sion of what DROP’s cost is or could be; per­haps the “neut­ral cost” ori­gin­ally pro­jec­ted. It looks like I’ll have to do that my­self.

My wife was a cross­ing guard for 34 years and was a re­cip­i­ent of DROP, the pro­gram that al­lowed her an op­por­tun­ity to “re­tire” and be cred­ited with her pen­sion. This wasn’t paid to her but kept by the city un­til her of­fi­cial re­tire­ment date four years later. Then she re­ceived the ac­cu­mu­lated pen­sion plus in­terest in a lump sum, sim­il­ar to a 401k.

Now what does all this mean? It meant she could work at her present job for four more years. Maybe that was a be­ne­fit be­cause she didn’t have to go out and get a new job, al­though she may have done bet­ter col­lect­ing the city pen­sion and get­ting a bet­ter pay­ing job.

How did that af­fect the city? Double dip­ping? Well, they paid my wife for work­ing but the job didn’t dis­ap­pear, so they would have had to pay someone, wouldn’t they? True, her pay scale was a little high­er be­cause of her years of ser­vice, but they no longer had to pay in­to her pen­sion be­cause she was “re­tired.” She also honored the spir­it of sick leave and was paid one hour for every three at her re­tire­ment, a sig­ni­fic­ant sav­ing for the city.

I be­lieve my wife’s use of the DROP pro­gram was an ex­ample of “neut­ral cost” re­gard­ing the city’s cost. It is your elec­ted and ap­poin­ted of­fi­cials who cre­ated the cost prob­lem.

DROP can be and should be fixed for your city work­ers and es­pe­cially the fire­men, po­lice and yes, the cross­ing guards, for whom I can speak after watch­ing my wife drag her body to her post in the heat, the rain and the in­clement weath­er to safe­guard your kids and some­times their kids, your grand­chil­dren. C’mon! Fix it! Don’t end it!

James Moore


Money doesn’t grow on trees

As CEO of the city of Phil­adelphia, May­or Nut­ter must fo­cus on ideas that will bring more people to our city in an ef­fort to gen­er­ate more in­come; in­stead, he pro­posed a soda tax — which City Coun­cil re­jec­ted — that had the po­ten­tial to push people out­side of the city lim­its to do their food shop­ping.

Think about it. People who live in the city but work in the sub­urbs, or those who live near the city bor­ders, can eas­ily do their food shop­ping out­side of Phil­adelphia to avoid pay­ing the soda tax. This would place a huge fin­an­cial de­fi­cit on loc­al mer­chants. Phil­adelphia busi­nesses would not only lose the soda sales but would pos­sibly lose the sales for the en­tire food or­der; when busi­nesses lose money, the city loses rev­en­ue.  A soda tax would have been coun­ter­pro­duct­ive.

Ex­or­bit­ant taxes are not the an­swer to the city’s rev­en­ue short­fall for the school dis­trict. Bet­ter man­age­ment, less waste and per­haps a less gen­er­ous an­nu­al salary of $348,000 and a less gen­er­ous bo­nus of $65,000 to Ar­lene C. Ack­er­man, the su­per­in­tend­ent of the Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict, should be con­sidered.

The hard-work­ing tax­pay­ers of Phil­adelphia must live with­in their budget. What a nov­el concept it would be for the may­or to live with­in his cur­rent budget in­stead of rais­ing taxes over and over again to meet his budget short­falls.

In April, May­or Nut­ter gave Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey an in­crease from $195,000 to $255,000 an­nu­ally. We still have the DROP pro­gram, which is bleed­ing money. Amaz­ingly, there al­ways seems to be plenty of money in the kitty for bo­nuses, in­creases to the highest paid, up­per-ech­el­on of city em­ploy­ees and for  DROP, which does ab­so­lutely noth­ing for the av­er­age cit­izen of Phil­adelphia.

As the old say­ing goes, money doesn’t grow on trees; we, the tax­pay­ers of Phil­adelphia, are not the may­or’s per­son­al money tree from which he can pick dol­lars to re­ward cronies only to com­plain later of short­falls.

Res­id­ents of Phil­adelphia cur­rently pay a steep city wage tax, a high sales tax, and in Janu­ary we re­ceived a hefty real es­tate tax in­crease, with an­oth­er hike on the way.

Step up to the plate, Mr. May­or; try earn­ing your keep by find­ing cre­at­ive ways to draw people and busi­nesses to our city, thereby gen­er­at­ing ad­di­tion­al in­come. Pla­cing yet an­oth­er bur­den on res­id­ents who are already ex­cess­ively taxed would be un­con­scion­able.

Car­ol O’Bri­en


A tax­ing prob­lem with the nasty city

The city came after me with a ven­geance when they made a mis­take on my real es­tate taxes. I had to make an agree­ment to pay the amount that they left out of my am­nesty. This agree­ment had to be not­ar­ized and signed and re­turned with the first in­stall­ment.

So how come when it’s time to send my pay­ment, I get no bill? I call real es­tate and the nasty wo­man tells me I am not on the com­puter and no bill will be gen­er­ated, but I will be late if I don’t pay be­fore May 15. If I am late they will call in the en­tire bal­ance be­cause I am in de­fault. She then tells me to send a check with a piece of pa­per with my ac­count on it.

I do not trust this city. No way will I send a check with a piece of pa­per in the mail to this messed-up tax de­part­ment. I go to the mini-City Hall. Seems you can’t pay a bill without the bill! A very nice man who works for the city prints a bill so I can pay my for­got­ten year of taxes that the am­nesty people for­got and now the com­puter for­got!

Hope­fully, they cash it so I avert a de­fault on my second pay­ment ($50).

Fran­cine Kam­in­sky

Ox­ford Circle

Re­duce the length  of the school day

May­or Nut­ter is seek­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to edu­cate pub­lic school chil­dren. Prop­erty own­ers will have to foot most of the money. The may­or has an op­tion: School will open for only five hours a day. Our kids only need to learn math, Eng­lish or Span­ish, and com­puter skills.

Sub­jects like sci­ence, for­eign lan­guage, his­tory, chem­istry will be taught as elect­ive col­lege sub­jects. A small head tax should be paid by par­ents of pub­lic school stu­dents. May­or Nut­ter should only seek a five-hour day.

John M. Horner


Broth­er can you spare a $100 mil­lion?

May­or Nut­ter and Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man have stated that $100 mil­lion is needed “for the kids.” Oh, so now it’s about the kids? These two re­mind me of those “Spon­sor a Child” in­fomer­cials. I can see them now: “Hi, I’m May­or Nut­ter and I’m Dr. Ack­er­man. Do you know that for $100 mil­lion you can spon­sor a child?”

An­thony P. John­son

Ju­ni­ata Park

Pub­lic stu­dents need a pray­er

I agree with Joseph Mur­ray’s let­ter in the June 2 edi­tion about the cost of pub­lic schools and re­li­gious schools (Why pay twice the cost for half the res­ults?) ex­cept for the part where he said the gov­ern­ment should fund the Cath­ol­ic and re­li­gious schools but block the re­li­gious teach­ing.

Most of the people who send their chil­dren to re­li­gious school do so for the train­ing and be­cause they’re al­lowed to pray.

In 1962, Mada­lyn Mur­ray O’Hair, an athe­ist, got the Su­preme Court to ban pray­er in pub­lic schools, but back then the pub­lic schools were run­ning fine. Maybe they should let pub­lic schools al­low the stu­dents to say their own pray­ers. There­fore, keep gov­ern­ment out of the re­li­gious schools.

John F. Rauchut


Ack­er­man should be ex­pelled from the schools

City Coun­cil is poised to pass a 3.9 per­cent prop­erty-tax in­crease to help cov­er the $100 mil­lion de­mand of Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man. While it ap­pears Coun­cil be­lieves it chose the best of the worst pro­posed op­tions, this latest prop­erty-tax in­crease must sig­nal the end of the cur­rent School Dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion and be­come the im­petus for a fun­da­ment­al change in how the city edu­cates our youth.

Un­der Ack­er­man’s lack of lead­er­ship, the dis­trict faces a $629 mil­lion de­fi­cit. I, and the rest of Phil­adelphia, knew since the be­gin­ning of the year that the dis­trict would face budget is­sues with Gov. Corbett cut­ting edu­ca­tion fund­ing and the end of fed­er­al stim­u­lus money. And yet, Ack­er­man waited un­til the 11th hour to de­mand $100 mil­lion from the city. She al­lowed what could have been, at best, dif­fi­cult budget ne­go­ti­ations to be­come an un­man­age­able budget crisis.

The school dis­trict, un­der Ack­er­man, de­cided the best way to make cuts was to lay off 1,500 teach­ers. The dis­trict’s sole func­tion, and Su­per­in­tend­ent Ack­er­man’s job, is the edu­ca­tion of Phil­adelphia’s youth. Any per­son who be­lieves the best way to edu­cate Phil­adelphia’s youth is to lay off edu­cat­ors clearly does not care about ac­tu­ally edu­cat­ing stu­dents.

The most egre­gious as­pect of Ack­er­man’s de­mand and the prop­erty-tax in­crease is the fact that there is no ac­count­ab­il­ity or over­sight of dis­trict spend­ing. A $629 mil­lion de­fi­cit is clear evid­ence of both the dis­trict’s and Ack­er­man’s in­ab­il­ity to man­age a budget. Now the dragon of mis­man­age­ment is be­ing fed an ad­di­tion­al $53 mil­lion, and I can guar­an­tee it will be mis­spent. Re­mem­ber, too, Ack­er­man thought it wise to in­vest fed­er­al stim­u­lus money in­to salar­ies rather than in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments.

It looks like Su­per­in­tend­ent Ack­er­man will have her de­mands met and the dis­trict will re­ceive more money. I fear that will be the end of the story with con­tin­ued lack of ac­count­ab­il­ity, con­tin­ued no-bid con­tracts, and con­tin­ued lack of an­swers to the city con­trol­ler’s re­quest for ex­plan­a­tions.

How can the cur­rent school dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion edu­cate our chil­dren in sub­jects like math­em­at­ics when they can’t man­age their own budget? It’s time for a change at the school dis­trict. Re­cess is over. Phil­adelphi­ans can’t af­ford any more taxes.

Al Tauben­ber­ger

Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate, City Coun­cil at-large

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