Letters to the editor: August 1, 2012

He yearns for mild gun-con­trol re­forms
The mass shoot­ing in Col­or­ado should mo­tiv­ate our le­gis­lat­ors to come to­geth­er and make sens­ible re­forms to our gun laws. Un­for­tu­nately, that is not likely to hap­pen.
I pre­dict gun-con­trol ad­voc­ates will make reas­on­able pro­pos­als like an as­sault weapons ban and a “one hand­gun pur­chase per month” law. But then they’ll over­reach and ad­vance un­wise laws that do noth­ing but in­hib­it law-abid­ing gun own­ers from pro­tect­ing them­selves — for in­stance, des­ig­nat­ing so many so-called “gun-free zones” that leg­ally car­ry­ing a con­cealed weapon be­comes im­prac­tic­able.
On the oth­er side, the gun lobby and the politi­cians be­hold­en to them will re­fuse to budge on any­thing. The mild­est re­forms will be de­cried as an as­sault on fun­da­ment­al liberty — as if the right to buy 30-round magazines for Glocks be­longs on the list of un­ali­en­able rights en­dowed by our cre­at­or.
De­bate will be filled with the same tired bump­er-stick­er lo­gic and noth­ing will change. This pro­cess will re­peat it­self after the next mas­sacre and the next one after that.
Of course, I hope I’m wrong. I want to see someone step up and say, “I can work with you on no as­sault weapons and one hand­gun a month; but now we need to get something done about con­cealed carry re­cipro­city.”
I yearn for com­prom­ise and re­forms that hamper mad­men and strengthen the cit­izens to stand up against them. I yearn for politi­cians who are reas­on­able enough to make it hap­pen.
Mat­thew Mc­Grath

Smile, you’re on Voter ID
I don’t know why Voter ID is such a prob­lem. You need iden­ti­fic­a­tion at banks, med­ic­al of­fices, even for some busi­nesses that make ser­vice calls.
I am a seni­or cit­izen in ad­vanced years and had no prob­lem ob­tain­ing an I.D. at the PennDOT of­fice on the 900 block of Levick St. It didn’t take very long, but of course, someone had to take me there.
Es­tella Wool­ston

A de­press­ing scene on Red Li­on Road
On Red Li­on Road across from Sand­mey­er Lane, no one is tak­ing care of the me­di­ans all along Red Li­on Road. I e-mailed Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill but noth­ing was done. Some of these weeds are over 5 feet tall.
I live off of Red Li­on Road and have to travel this road sev­er­al times a day. It’s de­press­ing. Trav­el­ing from Lower Mo­re­land to Phil­adelphia via Red Li­on Road, you in­stantly know when you have reached the city line be­cause it looks like crap.
Shan­non Lind­say

Base­ball’s a young man’s game
Our “Boys of Sum­mer” are not boys any longer; Ut­ley and Howard, al­though aging and phys­ic­ally ail­ing, are two of the highest paid play­ers in Ma­jor League Base­ball, and the man­ager has been get­ting seni­or cit­izen dis­counts for quite a few years.
The team seems not able to get on base, without which, you can­not get on the board.
Could the prob­lem be lack of good lead­er­ship? Lack of mo­tiv­a­tion? For­get­ting ba­sic fun­da­ment­als of the game? Or all of the above? Charlie seems to be able to ex­plain what the prob­lem was, dur­ing in­ter­views after games lost, but not able to ad­dress short­com­ings dur­ing prac­tices, be­fore the games. Someone needs to step up and fix these prob­lems.
Ruben Am­aro needs to take stock of him­self and the team in gen­er­al be­fore he finds him­self look­ing at a lot of empty seats at Cit­izens Bank Park and fans start clam­or­ing for his head.
A “man­ager” is not a “spec­tat­or,” and when a re­liev­er, with the bases loaded, walks in a run, the man­ager needs to get off his duff and take him out. Old Charlie let Bas­tardo con­tin­ue with ex­actly this situ­ation and watched him give up a grand slam home run to the catch­er, put­ting the game out of reach in the eighth in­ning — an­oth­er in a long line of mo­nu­ment­al blun­ders.
Wil­lie Mays put it in very simple terms when asked how he does it. He said, “When they pitch it, I hit it and when they hit it, I catch it.”
Ele­ment­ary terms could also be ap­plied here. For in­stance, the team should be pri­or­ity and win­ning the goal, not wheth­er or not Ut­ley re­turns or Howard’s leg can bear weight. They are his­tory. Let’s get on with the game.
We need a man­ager like Joe Gir­ardi in New York. He’s young, he’s hip and he knows how to mo­tiv­ate his play­ers and re­mind them of fun­da­ment­als.
Wake up, Ruben. Get rid of the old debris and clean up your house, while you still have a house.
Jim O’Keefe

Sanc­tions not the com­plete an­swer
While the sanc­tions im­posed on Penn State will go a long way to start the heal­ing pro­cess, I be­lieve it would be bet­ter to do something con­struct­ive to Penn State rather than fine the uni­versity $60 mil­lion and “erase” the foot­ball team’s wins.
If the NCAA was to re­quire the uni­versity to open a med­ic­al col­lege whose gradu­ates would then go on to heal thou­sands throughout the world, that might make more sense than pun­ish­ing stu­dents and alumni for the mis­feas­ance and mal­feas­ance of the top ad­min­is­trat­ors, who cer­tainly should have known bet­ter than to sweep the whole mat­ter un­der the rug and al­low these crimes to con­tin­ue for years.
The play­ers, former play­ers whose ath­let­ic re­cords have van­ished, and the stu­dents and alumni who deeply love “Dear Old State” should not be lumped in with the pres­id­ent, ath­let­ic dir­ect­or and head coach who covered up these crimes.
Chris Mark

Obama vs. Osama
So, to Ron Kall of Bustleton, it’s clear that “our present ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to help­ing fur­ther Is­lam­ic ji­had in Amer­ica.” (Still wait­ing for an an­swer, Ju­ly 25 Let­ters to the Ed­it­or). Tell that to Osama bin Laden. Tell it to An­war al-Aw­laki.
Mr. Kall’s mind is made up, and ap­par­ently no pos­sible evid­ence to the con­trary — it doesn’t mat­ter how many ter­ror­ists, pir­ates and kid­nap­pers Pres­id­ent Obama has whacked — can change it.
Howard J. Wilk

Voter ID law is par­tis­an polit­ics at its worst
Guest Opin­ion
By Ed Neilson
Let’s cut through all of the non­sense about dis­cour­aging elec­tion fraud. Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law is a par­tis­an-in­spired at­tempt to sup­press the Demo­crat­ic vote.
 Don’t be­lieve me? Just ask Mike Turzai. At a re­cent Re­pub­lic­an State Com­mit­tee meet­ing, Turzai, Pennsylvania’s Re­pub­lic­an House lead­er, pub­licly ad­mit­ted that the voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion ef­forts are meant to sup­press Demo­crat­ic votes in the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion.
“We are fo­cused on mak­ing sure that we meet our ob­lig­a­tions that we’ve talked about for years,” said Turzai. “Pro-Second Amend­ment? The Castle Doc­trine, it’s done. First pro-life le­gis­la­tion — abor­tion fa­cil­ity reg­u­la­tions — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna al­low Gov­ernor Rom­ney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
I, at least, give my Re­pub­lic­an col­league cred­it for be­ing hon­est — to a fault. For­tu­nately, this laugh­ingly ob­vi­ous, par­tis­an law that was fab­ric­ated to dis­en­fran­chise Demo­crat­ic voters is now be­ing chal­lenged in Com­mon­wealth Court.
Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have shown that voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion ef­forts dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect low-in­come voters and people of col­or, a typ­ic­ally Demo­crat­ic demo­graph­ic. Des­pite in­sist­ence by Re­pub­lic­ans that the ef­forts are needed to pre­vent mis­con­duct on Elec­tion Day, voter fraud is more myth than real­ity.
Re­gard­less, the voter I.D. battle is on, not only in Pennsylvania but in many states across the na­tion. Re­cently, Phil­adelphia’s city com­mis­sion­ers presen­ted find­ings of im­prop­er cast­ing of votes at mul­tiple polling places, due to con­fu­sion over which ma­chine voters entered to cast their vote.
With mul­tiple vot­ing ma­chines in the same room po­si­tioned just a few feet apart, in a room most likely staffed by just three people, it’s en­tirely pos­sible that some voters entered the wrong vot­ing ma­chine. That’s not voter fraud; it’s a case of poor man­age­ment and in­ef­fi­cient train­ing of the poll work­ers.
Un­for­tu­nately, the Phil­adelphia com­mis­sion­ers’ ques­tion­able find­ings triggered a re­sponse from the chair­man of the State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee in the House, Re­pub­lic­an state Rep. Daryl Met­calfe, who es­sen­tially spread word throughout the com­mon­wealth that the Demo­crat­ic strong­hold of Phil­adelphia har­bors noth­ing but elec­tion cheats. That’s par­tic­u­larly amus­ing, com­ing as it did from the man who helped co-au­thor the Voter ID law that seeks to dis­en­fran­chise Demo­crat­ic voters.
It’s a sad real­ity that fraud is com­mit­ted more and more fre­quently by those who were elec­ted to en­act and up­hold the law of the land. There is a “gal­lows hu­mor” joke float­ing around the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives that the state should con­struct a new pris­on for sen­at­ors, state rep­res­ent­at­ives, may­ors, city coun­cil mem­bers and judges. It’s really just a grim re­mind­er that all elec­ted of­fi­cials must set aside party polit­ics and start prac­ti­cing people polit­ics.
This Voter ID law is a farce and the state Re­pub­lic­an Party has ad­mit­ted it. Most of the people who will run afoul of the state’s new voter ID law re­quire­ments — provided it’s not over­turned — in­clude the poor, people of col­or and the eld­erly.
Our seni­or cit­izens are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­able to be­ing turned away on Elec­tion Day. It’s been es­tim­ated that one-quarter of Phil­adelphia’s eli­gible voters age 80 or older don’t have the iden­ti­fic­a­tion re­quired for them to vote un­der the terms of the new Voter ID law. Among those ages 65 to 79, nearly 20 per­cent don’t have the right I.D. to vote. Re­cent di­vor­cees and some re­cently mar­ried in­di­vidu­als also will not qual­i­fy to vote, due to the dif­fi­culties in ob­tain­ing new I.D. by Novem­ber in or­der to be in com­pli­ance with the new state reg­u­la­tions.
Prop­er iden­ti­fic­a­tion is needed in most everything we do in today’s world. Present­ing iden­ti­fic­a­tion is viewed as a reas­on­able pro­ced­ure in most civ­il­ized so­ci­et­ies. However, the Corbett ad­min­is­tra­tion has failed to prop­erly pre­pare the pub­lic for such a sweep­ing change in the elec­tion pro­cess and needs to bet­ter in­form the elect­or­ate of these re­forms pri­or to en­act­ing them. Every day, there are more ques­tions about the fair­ness of the new Voter ID law.
Here’s hop­ing Com­mon­wealth Court gets those an­swers, en­sures fair­ness, and pro­tects all Amer­ic­an cit­izens’ fun­da­ment­al right to vote.
Ed Neilson, a Demo­crat, rep­res­ents the 169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict.

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