Letters to the editor, May 19, 2011 edition


Note: Let­ters must be ac­com­pan­ied by day­time and even­ing phone num­bers for veri­fic­a­tion. An­onym­ous let­ters will not be pub­lished. Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com

Give your raises to the people

Some of Phil­adelphia’s elec­ted of­fi­cials will re­ceive 2 per­cent raises as of Ju­ly 1, 2011, which hap­pens auto­mat­ic­ally un­der city le­gis­la­tion.

The middle-class mem­bers of Amer­ic­an Fed­er­a­tion of State, County, and Mu­ni­cip­al Em­ploy­ees Dis­trict Coun­cil 33 and 47 have not re­ceived a per­cent­age pay in­crease since 2007. The Phil­adelphia fire­fight­ers’ con­tract that gave them 3 per­cent raises in each year for fisc­al 2011-13 and ex­emp­ted them from fur­loughs has been ap­pealed.

I won­der how many elec­ted of­fi­cials will put that pay in­crease back in­to the city cof­fers to show some solid­ar­ity with the people they rep­res­ent?

Jeff George


Park­ing crack­down will yield rev­en­ue

I have a great idea for more rev­en­ue in North­east Phil­adelphia: Po­lice of­ficers ac­tu­ally tick­et cars at the Tor­res­dale train sta­tion. It’s a free-for-all every day and no one gets tick­eted.

I be­lieve the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict is asleep at the wheel (again) and gives passes to their bud­dies and friends drink­ing at a nearby bar. If you put up signs for no park­ing, why not en­force them?

Mi­chael Nut­ter needs money for the cof­fers, so why not start at Tor­res­dale sta­tion? 8th Dis­trict, please en­force this!

Kev­in P. Kenna


That’s no way to treat the flag

As a Vi­et­nam vet­er­an (US­MC), I have a great deal of re­spect for our flag. A lot of young men and wo­men gave their lives to pro­tect what we stand for.

I have been see­ing our flag ab­used for quite awhile now at a gas sta­tion on the 7600 block of Frank­ford Ave. If you’re go­ing to fly the flag, have some re­spect, don’t be a phony. It’s a total dis­grace the shape these flags are in. If you don’t want to re­place them at least take them down. Show some re­spect for the coun­try you’re in.

Wil­li­am T. Mul­doon


Bustleton Bengals helps loc­al youth

I just wanted to ex­press my de­light with the base­ball open­ing day events held at Hayes Play­ground on May 7. It was great to see such a huge turnout. My son and I were only able to stay for part of the day, but we were thrilled to hear the buzz about a po­ten­tial gym for the com­plex.

The sup­port of our elec­ted of­fi­cials and City Coun­cil can­did­ate Bill Ru­bin was out­stand­ing. I was sorry that cur­rent Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill was un­able to at­tend.

As a res­id­ent of the Bustleton neigh­bor­hood, par­ent in the or­gan­iz­a­tion, and wife of one of the coaches there, I’m ex­cited about the fu­ture of Bustleton Bengals Ath­let­ics, as it con­tin­ues to sup­port the growth of our neigh­bor­hood chil­dren.

Gina Meissler

You’ve got an over­priced tick­et

In re­gard to your fluff piece on loc­al tick­et agen­cies (That’s the tick­et, April 28 edi­tion), you state in your art­icle that Wana­maker’s provides ex­cel­lent ser­vice at fair prices. What they really provide is a chance for the gen­er­al pub­lic to buy tick­ets at in­flated prices.

I have been go­ing to con­certs since the late ’70s. Nev­er have I been able to ob­tain the best seats that were avail­able. The last con­cert that I saw was Ro­ger Wa­ters. I paid $65 over face value, and the seats were av­er­age at best.

Thanks for such an en­light­en­ing art­icle on how tick­et agen­cies are leg­ally al­lowed to rip people off!

Thomas Wiser


Listen to the power of truly good mu­sic

I want to thank the North­east Times and re­port­er Bill Kenny for the en­joy­able art­icle on ra­dio sta­tion WRTI-FM (WRTI … and all that jazz, April 28 edi­tion).

I have al­ways told people that the greatest gift you can ever give your chil­dren (or grand­chil­dren) is the love of read­ing, and you will likely guar­an­tee their suc­cess in school and give them a life­time of pleas­ure.

The next greatest gift must surely be a love of good mu­sic. I lec­ture on this sub­ject, and sadly, so few people take the time to really learn what mu­sic can do for your life.

When I hear the angry, vul­gar mu­sic blas­ted from cars by our young people, I can un­der­stand why so many of them seem aim­less, joy­less and rude. Shame on adults for push­ing such a cul­ture. But then again, their angry par­ents seem to have grown up on a steady diet of im­pov­er­ished mu­sic, too.

Noth­ing dec­or­ates a house so grace­fully as clas­sic­al mu­sic float­ing throughout. To learn “the clas­sics” (as with read­ing), provides peace, re­flec­tion and a life­time of men­tal ex­plor­a­tion. It can keep you feel­ing young.

I wish WRTI’s jazz in­cluded a wee bit more his­tor­ic­al fo­cus, for the lives of Louis Arm­strong, Bix Beider­be­cke, Benny Good­man and Bil­lie Hol­i­day are stor­ies every child could be­ne­fit from. Amaz­ing that 75-year-old jazz re­cords can speak more dir­ectly to us of our hu­man­ity, than al­most any­thing of today! All we need to do, is learn to listen.

WRTI provides an entry to this ma­gic­al world, all for the price of turn­ing your ra­dio to 90.1. Not a bad deal at all!

Richard Iac­on­elli


Fire chief should fo­cus on mor­ale

I was per­son­ally furi­ous over the dis­cip­line re­cently handed down on fire­fight­er Jack Sliv­in­ski by Fire Com­mis­sion­er Lloyd Ay­ers after the mem­ber at­temp­ted to raise funds for a totally over­looked seg­ment of our so­ci­ety. He had posed bare-ches­ted in a cal­en­dar.

Many of the wid­ows of de­ceased fire­fight­ers and po­lice of­ficers are hav­ing a hard time cop­ing in today’s eco­nomy, with try­ing to keep up with bills and put­ting food on their tables,  be­cause the city doesn’t care enough about them to of­fer them an oc­ca­sion­al in­crease to keep them above the poverty level.

Some of these wid­ows are re­ceiv­ing a min­im­um pen­sion of $250 a month. Fire­fight­ers run an­nu­al cheesesteak and cheese­cake sales, a golf tour­na­ment and a soft­ball tour­na­ment to raise money for these de­serving wo­men. The mem­bers also donate pro­ceeds from a com­pany cook­book and $20 per mem­ber col­lec­ted at the sta­tions to as­sist the fund. Whatever cash would have come in from the sales from this cal­en­dar, min­im­ally, would help to ease the fin­an­cial bur­den on some of these wid­ows.

Where­as the  com­mis­sion­er labeled the act of bar­ing his chest by fire­fight­er Sliv­in­ski as “selling sex,” if this mem­ber dove shirt­less in­to the river to save some­body’s life as a mem­ber of the elite Res­cue 1 unit and his nipples were pho­to­graphed com­ing out of the river, would the com­mis­sion­er have dis­cip­lined the mem­ber the same way? I would ser­i­ously doubt it!

In an era of polit­ic­al cor­rect­ness, I also doubt that he would have made an is­sue if a gay fire­fight­er was in the same cir­cum­stances or if a fe­male fire­fight­er (with a T-shirt on) had her nipples erect after com­ing out of the wa­ter. It’s totally un­fair that he can “judge” some mem­bers of his de­part­ment and not oth­ers along ra­cial, gender and cul­tur­al lines.

Mr. Ay­ers also seems to be con­cerned about chil­dren see­ing nipples and be­ing up­set with that. Have chil­dren not seen males while swim­ming in city pools or at the shore? In fact, May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter was party to a photo op a while back diving in­to a city pool without a shirt on. Was HE “selling sex” that day? Would Lloyd Ay­ers have a prob­lem with HIM on a mor­al­ity is­sue, rather than a “lowly” fire­fight­er?

Friends of mine from around the coun­try are call­ing to ask how the 11 oth­er city fire de­part­ments that will be of­fer­ing a mod­el for this cal­en­dar have no prob­lem (ap­par­ently) with THEIR mem­bers pos­ing for a char­ity pub­lic­a­tion but Phil­adelphia does.

In fact, the city and its Fire De­part­ment are now the butt of na­tion­al jokes about the lack of candor util­ized in this mat­ter and the over­re­ac­tion by the com­mis­sion­er.

As far as “mis­rep­res­ent­ing” the de­part­ment, why wasn’t there an “in­vest­ig­a­tion” when Mr. Ay­ers plugged a minor­ity owned and op­er­ated book­store while he was in uni­form? Was he “fol­low­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions” when he stepped over that line? Where was the may­or’s pre­cious Board of Eth­ics when that situ­ation arose? Is there a dif­fer­ent stand­ard for up­per-level man­age­ment?

Lloyd Ay­ers already has a repu­ta­tion of hand­ing out “un­even” pun­ish­ment dur­ing his time in power.

In a de­part­ment that has a mem­ber hang a (KKK) hood on some­body’s lock­er and the “in­vest­ig­a­tion” by fire headquar­ters rail­roads an un­sus­pect­ing rook­ie for the deed (to pro­tect a per­son­al friend of the com­mis­sion­er’s in the pro­cess) and has an­oth­er mem­ber con­coct a scheme to by­pass a re­gis­tra­tion dead­line for a de­part­ment en­trance test, some over­sight needs to be put in place to en­sure that prop­er dis­cip­line is handed down equal to the ser­i­ous­ness of the in­frac­tion.

The two in­cid­ents men­tioned here should have res­ul­ted in ter­min­a­tions. Both mem­bers in­volved were PRO­MOTED shortly after their in­dis­cre­tions. Something’s not right about that!

In an­oth­er tra­gic in­cid­ent, two ap­par­at­us hit each oth­er at an in­ter­sec­tion re­spond­ing to a re­por­ted fire. The of­ficers in com­mand were “in­vest­ig­ated” and the en­gine of­ficer, whose com­pany had the green light, was even­tu­ally sus­pen­ded and de­moted. The lad­der com­pany’s of­ficer (whose com­pany ran the red light) was not dis­cip­lined to the same ex­tent. Every­one heard the ru­mor that the ad­min­is­tra­tion wanted to “get” the en­gine of­ficer.

In many oth­er doc­u­mented cases of ap­par­at­us crashes,  work­ing of­ficers that are minor­it­ies are “in­vest­ig­ated” but no charges are filed. Where is the may­or when these things are hap­pen­ing in our city? 

I think the de­part­ment has lar­ger is­sues to deal with rather than “Nip­pleg­ate” (as it’s now be­ing called).

Fire­fight­er Sliv­in­ski has trained for count­less hours to be a val­ued mem­ber of Res­cue 1 and he de­serves to serve the pub­lic where he’s as­signed. To vin­dict­ively de­tail him, in­def­in­itely, as far from home as pos­sible and launch an “in­vest­ig­a­tion” in­to this photo shoot only demon­strates how petty Com­mis­sion­er Ay­ers really is.

Maybe Cars 1, 2 and 3 should be deal­ing with restor­ing some mor­ale in­to a de­part­ment that this ad­min­is­tra­tion has des­troyed.

It would be a nice change if the mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment would think that THEIR may­or and THEIR com­mis­sion­er had their backs for a change. Sadly though, I doubt that!

Larry Shel­len­ber­ger

Lieu­ten­ant (Re­tired) 

Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment

Po­lice uni­on boss: I’m not for sale

Free­dom of speech is one of our cher­ished rights. But like any free­dom, it can be ab­used. Free­dom of speech does not pro­tect the tac­tics of li­bel and slander.

An ex­ample of this type of ab­use ap­peared in your pa­per last week, in a let­ter au­thored by Steve Schmidt (Coun­cil hope­ful is a Dougherty clone)

In this let­ter, Mr. Schmidt ac­cuses me of selling my badge to sup­port an elec­ted of­fi­cial. Mr. Schmidt ap­par­ently is one of those who be­lieve that cops have no rights in the polit­ic­al arena. Cops are ex­pec­ted to show up for work, risk their lives, and some­times lose their lives, but re­main si­lent oth­er­wise. In the mean­time, people like Mr. Schmidt can make a few bucks selling me­mori­al T-shirts if an of­ficer goes down.

The po­lice of­ficers of Phil­adelphia have long been the can­non fod­der of a sleazy polit­ic­al sys­tem in this city.

The reas­on for this is that people like Mr. Schmidt vi­ciously at­tack us whenev­er we stand up and speak out.

Well, here’s a news bul­let­in for you, Stevie — we have every right to stand up and speak out. We have every right to sup­port can­did­ates who sup­port us and op­pose can­did­ates who op­pose us. We have every right to act­ively par­ti­cip­ate in a polit­ic­al sys­tem for which we are will­ing to risk our lives.

As for my badge, Stevie, neither you nor any elec­ted of­fi­cial nor any­one else cur­rently walk­ing on this Earth has enough money to buy it. You can either pub­licly apo­lo­gize for your slur, or you can face the con­sequences.

John J. McNesby

Pres­id­ent, Phil­adelphia Lodge #5  

Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice

Cur­rent Cath­ol­ic is of­fen­ded by ex-Cath­ol­ic’s com­ments

The let­ter to the ed­it­or on May 5 from John J. Smith Jr. (Former Cath­ol­ic is now an athe­ist) needs to be put in per­spect­ive.

Sexu­al ab­use of any minor by an adult is rep­re­hens­ible, es­pe­cially so if by a re­li­gious lead­er since he is right­fully held to a high­er stand­ard.

If even only one priest in the past 2,000 years com­mit­ted this crime it would be rep­re­hens­ible, and that priest should be pun­ished ac­cord­ing to the laws of his na­tion. Je­sus said it is in­ev­it­able that scan­dals will come, and woe to those per­pet­rat­ors. I pray that all who of­fend God turn to­ward Him and re­ceive His in­fin­ite mercy in or­der to be happy in etern­ity.

It is pre­dict­able that the me­dia fo­cus all at­ten­tion on the few bad apples in the Cath­ol­ic Church. After all, was not Je­sus Christ, who was totally in­no­cent, ac­cused, con­victed and ex­ecuted as a crim­in­al by the “lead­ing au­thor­it­ies” of the day?  Is it not so much easi­er for today’s opin­ion-makers to dig up ac­cus­a­tions, true or false, and in­cess­antly paste their al­leged crimes in the news day after day, year after year?

Wiki­pe­dia un­der me­dia cov­er­age of Cath­ol­ic sex ab­use cases shows the state­ments made by John J. Smith are blatantly false.

For ex­ample, to see the un­fair and un­bal­anced re­port­ing of this top­ic we have: “Dur­ing the first half of 2002, the 61 largest news­pa­pers in Cali­for­nia ran nearly 2,000 stor­ies about sexu­al ab­use in Cath­ol­ic in­sti­tu­tions, mostly con­cern­ing past al­leg­a­tions. Dur­ing the same peri­od, those news­pa­pers ran four stor­ies about the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s dis­cov­ery of the much lar­ger — and on­go­ing — ab­use scan­dal in pub­lic schools.”

Last time I checked the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, the law of the land, it said that all are in­no­cent un­til proved guilty. I was look­ing for an ex­cep­tion for priests but did not find one. 

Let’s not over­look the fin­an­cial wind­fall of ac­cus­ing a priest, most of which goes to law­yers rep­res­ent­ing the ac­cusers. L.A. at­tor­ney Don­ald H. Steier states that up to half of all claims are either false or overly ex­ag­ger­ated. With pay­outs of up to $1 mil­lion per case it ap­pears that gambling is not lim­ited to Las Ve­gas.

Now let’s look at the lar­ger, bet­ter side of the church.  Iron­ic­ally, it is the Cath­ol­ic Church that is most re­spons­ible for de­fend­ing in­no­cent chil­dren from be­ing murdered and sexu­ally ab­used. The church is one of the only in­ter­na­tion­al in­sti­tu­tions that con­sist­ently de­fends hu­man life from con­cep­tion to nat­ur­al death. World­wide, abor­tions are ap­prox­im­ately a mind-numb­ing 46 mil­lion hu­man lives every year. How does that com­pare to a few hun­dred sexu­al ab­use cases in the past 50 years?

Also, the Vat­ic­an con­tinu­ally calls out in­ter­na­tion­al sex-kid­nap­ping rings. These crim­in­al activ­it­ies are rarely re­por­ted and only in very lim­ited cir­cum­stances as in the case of Dyn­Corp, a U.S. gov­ern­ment de­fense con­tract­or.

It is not my in­tent to point fin­gers at the me­dia, John J. Smith or any­one else. My goal is to shine some light in the dark­ness.

Jonath­an Gar­sey

Fox Chase

• • •

I dare say, judging by Mr. Smith’s com­ments, he is not a former Cath­ol­ic ex­cept by ac­ci­dent of birth, and in fact shows no in­dic­a­tion that he has ever un­der­stood even the ba­sic truth about Chris­tian­ity: Je­sus died so to ask God to have mercy on us sin­ners.

Mr. Smith does not claim to have suffered any per­son­al harm, so one can only ima­gine the source of his hatred for the Cath­ol­ic Church, or un­der­stand why he takes such pleas­ure in ri­dicul­ing people of faith. His gen­er­al­ized claims of wide­spread hy­po­crisy could be said about many groups. His de­sire to blame every­one for the sins of a few should ring a bell with many who have been tar­geted by hate groups.

Per­haps if he ac­tu­ally vis­ited a few churches and talked to some priests, sis­ters, laypeople and be­liev­ers, he would be less in­clined to con­demn us all for the sins of a few.

Steve Par­ris

Mod­ena Park


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