Northeast Times

Letters to the editor, June 30, 2011

Start­Frag­ment

Free lunches for kids are food for thought

I heard on the news that May­or Nut­ter has es­tab­lished a pro­gram to provide free lunch for the city’s chil­dren this sum­mer. He said that no child in Phil­adelphia should go hungry.

At first I thought he was talk­ing about a Third World coun­try, and then real­ized he meant Phil­adelphia. I didn’t know that the so­cioeco­nom­ic status of our city was so dire that our chil­dren are starving.

The plan en­com­passes 1,000 loc­a­tions where kids can go to re­ceive a free lunch. I can’t help but won­der how much money this is cost­ing our bank­rupt city and its already over­taxed res­id­ents. Think about it — the cost of food aside, what must it be cost­ing and what kind of man­power and trans­port­a­tion are ne­ces­sary to get these lunches to 1,000 loc­a­tions on a daily basis?

And I thought the may­or’s sup­port­ing the Phil­adelphia parks com­mis­sion­er call­ing for 300,000 new trees in the city last year was ri­dicu­lous, in a city that was built around 9,200 acres of park! I give up.

Ob­vi­ously between the may­or plead­ing his case to City Coun­cil and the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia to raise prop­erty taxes, park­ing meter fees and tax soda, he man­aged to come up with yet an­oth­er way to spend even more money that we don’t have.

I don’t know about you, but when I grew up in this city, there were no mu­ni­cip­al pools, day camps, after school pro­grams or free sum­mer lunches. The closest we came to hav­ing a free lunch was drink­ing wa­ter from a neigh­bor’s hose. I rest my case.

Theresa A. Guglielmi

Pennypack

Coun­cil hope­ful calls for in­de­pend­ence

As I pre­pare to cel­eb­rate In­de­pend­ence Day on Monday, I can’t help but see the sim­il­ar­it­ies between how the col­on­ists felt then, and how we North­east res­id­ents feel now. Like our fore­fath­ers, after many years of stale and in­ef­fect­ive gov­ern­ment, we have a chance to de­clare our free­dom from the in­ad­equate rep­res­ent­a­tion that has been hold­ing us down for so long.

Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil has chosen in the last two weeks to raise our prop­erty taxes by al­most 4 per­cent (10 per­cent last year), de­plete our budget sur­plus by $10 mil­lion (which could cause lay­offs and fisc­al in­stabil­ity) and most im­port­antly, this pres­ti­gi­ous body pre­served DROP for elec­ted of­fi­cials (them­selves).

Our cur­rent Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill is eli­gible for a half-mil­lion-dol­lar DROP pay­ment, if and only if he is re-elec­ted. It’s time to send a clear mes­sage to the rest of the city: We in the North­east want to join the move­ment and help put a new face on City Coun­cil.

Let’s find solu­tions to prob­lems like the fund­ing of the schools and the pen­sion sys­tem, in­stead of kick­ing the can down the road to someone else and tak­ing the easy way out by rais­ing taxes. Some of our so-called lead­ers will say they voted no on taxes. While that makes a great slo­gan in an anti-drug cam­paign, simply say­ing no to taxes isn’t enough. We need real, sus­tain­able an­swers.

Bill Ru­bin

Bustleton res­id­ent and Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate in 10th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict

Yo, Mr. May­or — stop frisk­ing Grandma!

I am really get­ting tired of this city gov­ern­ment con­stantly plot­ting be­hind closed doors to frisk cit­izens of their hard-earned money.

The latest prop­erty tax in­crease is ri­dicu­lous, a phony crisis man­u­fac­tured right AFTER an elec­tion, when we could have had a say in this.

I wrote im­me­di­ately to two Coun­cil mem­bers on their vote. Of course, I got no re­sponse. I think it’s the “we rule you” ar­rog­ance of our lead­ers that both­ers me even more than the taxes.

Let me tell you a little story.

My mom is nearly 88 years old. She has poor eye­sight and some­times puts her trash out early when she can see well enough to walk down her front steps. One day re­cently, she put out her trash dur­ing a cloudy day. When she went in­side, she heard her mail­box clat­ter.

Someone from the city had been watch­ing a feeble, bent-over old lady put out her tiny bag of trash. And this per­son, in­stead of feel­ing sym­pathy, said “gotcha,” and im­me­di­ately wrote her a $50 tick­et.

The ar­rog­ance of our lead­ers even per­col­ates down in­to some em­ploy­ees: it’s “them vs. us.” This city seems to be at war with its cit­izens to see how they can mug us with taxes —wheth­er on our (de­clin­ing-in-value) homes, at park­ing meters, or in trumped-up vi­ol­a­tions.

May­or Nut­ter re­cently signed a re­vised stop-and-frisk bill to give crim­in­als a break. Isn’t he sweet?

I ask you, May­or Nut­ter — when are you go­ing to stop frisk­ing the grand­mas and tax­pay­ers who sup­port this city? After all, we hired you. You work for us.

Richard Iac­on­elli

Rhawn­hurst

A tax­ing di­lemma for the city

May­or Nut­ter has in­creased the sales tax rate to 8 per­cent, and the real es­tate taxes, now two years in a row, for a total of about 14 per­cent. If that would have happened years ago, Phil­adelphi­ans would have been more vo­cal against those in­creases.

So what has changed? Could it be that Phil­adelphi­ans can just af­ford those hefty in­creases? Or are they avoid­ing the Phil­adelphia sales tax by shop­ping out­side of the city and have no in­ten­tion of pay­ing their real es­tate taxes either?

May­er Krain

Mod­ena Park

Take back your city in Novem­ber

Enough is enough! For the third time in as many years City Coun­cil is rais­ing our taxes. Re­mem­ber the 1 per­cent sales tax, or the al­most 10 per­cent real es­tate in­crease last year? Well, on Thursday City Coun­cil voted to raise our taxes by al­most 4 per­cent.

Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man has come beg­ging for money say­ing it is needed for buses, sum­mer school, prom­ise schools, and a few oth­er pet pro­jects. Coun­cil is bow­ing to her de­mands.

The prob­lem is we do not know how the money will ac­tu­ally be spent.

While the rhet­or­ic has been turned way up, the truth is, there are no re­stric­tions on how the money will be ap­pro­pri­ated. Will the pro­grams that we care about like early edu­ca­tion, art, mu­sic, and ath­let­ics be saved? Will coun­selors and nurses and teach­ers be re­tained? The an­swer is we will have to wait and see.

This prob­lem did not creep up in a week or a month. The school dis­trict presen­ted its pro­pos­al in a meet­ing I at­ten­ded back on May 16 at Fitzpatrick School; there were also sev­er­al meet­ings at oth­er schools throughout the city be­fore that one.

I do not be­lieve this an­swer is good enough. Where is our lead­er­ship? Where is our voice? Again this year for the third year in a row the 10th dis­trict rep­res­ent­at­ive on City Coun­cil sat idly by when the bill was in­tro­duced. After beg­ging Chan­nel 6 ABC news for time last Wed­nes­day night, Bri­an O’Neill offered noth­ing in the way of a solu­tion. In times of chal­lenge and con­tro­versy, lead­ers need to lead, not sit on the back bench. Un­for­tu­nately, I have come to ex­pect noth­ing more from Mr. O’Neill.

It’s time for new lead­er­ship. With at least six and hope­fully sev­en new mem­bers of City Coun­cil next year, we can start to turn away from the shoulder shrugs and failed prac­tices of the past and bring new, fresh, out­side-the-box ideas to the table.

Tax­a­tion without rep­res­ent­a­tion needs to end this Novem­ber!

Mike Kelly

Park­wood

Something’s gotta give with these politi­cians!

What is go­ing on with our may­or and City Coun­cil? The reas­on the city is in the fin­an­cial mess it’s in is be­cause of the cor­rupt politi­cians from the pre­vi­ous and present ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Hell, if I man­aged my per­son­al fin­ances the way they’ve handled the city’s, I’d be liv­ing in a card­board box beg­ging for change on the high­way — that is, once I got out of pris­on for ex­tor­tion and rob­bery!

As a tem­por­ary fix, to get the city out of the red, our may­or put in a tem­por­ary real es­tate tax in­crease, raised the sales tax to 8 per­cent, stopped pay­ing in­to the city em­ploy­ees pen­sion fund and also sup­posedly re-struc­tured the city’s up­per-ech­el­on per­son­nel by do­ing away with some po­s­i­tions.

Ci­vil­ian em­ploy­ees of the city have also been work­ing without a con­tract for more than three years. After do­ing all that, the city is sup­posedly still broke. But City Coun­cil will still get a 2 per­cent pay raise in Ju­ly?

Now, just to pour salt in­to an open wound, be­cause the school dis­trict has squandered most of its yearly budget due to Ack­er­man’s ex­tra­vag­ant salary and ad­min­is­trat­ive mis­man­age­ment, the may­or is rais­ing the real es­tate taxes an­oth­er 3.8 per­cent, since his soda tax was shot down, to save the schools, too!

A ma­jor­ity of the cit­izens who pay real es­tate taxes in Phil­adelphia don’t even have chil­dren en­rolled in the city’s pub­lic schools either by choice or be­cause they do not have school-age chil­dren.

How much more does the may­or and the “min­ions” in City Coun­cil ex­pect to milk out of the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia, who are and have been pay­ing real es­tate taxes for years?

Any­one in City Hall ever think about im­pos­ing a tax on renters? The city would be­ne­fit greatly from some form of tax im­posed on cit­izens who rent in Phil­adelphia, since the ma­jor­ity of people liv­ing in our city either rent apart­ments, con­dos or houses

I have lived in Phil­adelphia all 54 years of my life and I’m hop­ing, when it comes time for me to re­tire, if I’m able to, I’ll have good health and enough money to leave this city for good! Why stay in a city that pun­ishes you for try­ing to be a good cit­izen? Something’s gotta give!

Di­ane Schnauffer

Bustleton

There’s no ac­count­ab­il­ity in City Hall

The tax in­crease vote in City Coun­cil was very anti-homeown­er. The one thing that stood out was the fact that the sug­ar products in­dustry had a very good rep­res­ent­a­tion at the coun­cil meet­ing.

I didn’t see or hear any­one speak against the 3.85 per­cent real es­tate tax in­crease im­posed on homeown­ers.

Pri­or to the Coun­cil meet­ing I heard Coun­cil­man Bill Green state that he would not vote for a tax in­crease un­less the school dis­trict was ac­count­able for the money that brought them to this short­fall. [Ed­it­or’s note: Green voted for the tax in­crease.]

The agree­ment is to be that after the tax in­crease was passed, the Coun­cil would have ac­cess to the school dis­trict’s fin­an­cial re­cords. That’s like shut­ting the gate after the horse has fled.

There’s no ac­count­ab­il­ity in City Hall. They bring in these car­pet­bag­gers (Ack­er­man, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey) and give them salar­ies that are way above the av­er­age of oth­er cit­ies. I’m sure that there are com­pet­ent people in both the edu­ca­tion and law en­force­ment fields who live in the city that could have been hired for less money. I for one am ap­palled that we are fa­cing an­oth­er real es­tate tax in­crease.

An­oth­er prob­lem I’m hav­ing is the fact that all the pun­dits and ex­perts are hav­ing a hard time fig­ur­ing out why there are no jobs.

I’m a high school grad, no col­lege edu­ca­tion and bad in math. But all you have to do is look at the trade agree­ments over the years. They sucked the com­pan­ies and jobs right out of this coun­try.

Those agree­ments were a tool for cor­por­a­tions to break the uni­ons, and boy did they suc­ceed. They not only broke the uni­ons but by do­ing so they also broke the middle class. Now Wash­ing­ton is try­ing to fig­ure out a way to break the seni­or cit­izens and send them off in­to poverty.

What a coun­try — for the cor­por­a­tions, by the lob­by­ists. Un­til those greedy com­pan­ies are forced to re­turn back to this coun­try, there will nev­er be any siz­able job growth and our na­tion­al debt will con­tin­ue to grow.

Frank Dillon

Nor­mandy

Free park­ing at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense

There are 940 park­ing spaces free to favored city work­ers and politicos, party chair­men, City Coun­cil, elec­ted of­fi­cials and their aides, etc.

Con­sid­er­ing or­din­ary work days, take just 50 weeks by five days per week by eight hours per day. That’s 2,000 hours per year.  At the new $2.50/hour rate just an­nounced by Coun­cil, each spot, if it were metered, could gen­er­ate $5,000 per year or $4.7 mil­lion per year from all 940 spots.

But take a wider view. If metered and open to the pub­lic, the spots would at­tract work­ers, shop­pers and theat­er-go­ers, six days per week, some in use as much as 10 hours per day. 50 x 6 x 10 is 3,000 hours per year. At the new $2.50 rate, as much as $6.5 mil­lion per year from all of the spots. Want to in­clude Sundays and hol­i­days? You do the math. In any event, say it’s some­where in the middle at $5.5 mil­lion per year. But no, these Coun­cil mem­bers and priv­ileged em­ploy­ees and polit­ic­al lead­ers would rather in­crease our real es­tate taxes two years in a row and keep their free park­ing spots than look for oth­er sources of rev­en­ue.

Bern­ard Goldenty­er

Bustleton

Join in the for­um — write to us

Let­ters 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

End­Frag­ment
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