Letters to the editor: August 22, 2012

Those cam­er­as are noth­ing to smile about
I was very sur­prised to see an ed­it­or­i­al last week prais­ing these red light cam­er­as (Let there be light).
Sug­gest­ing that cam­er­as be put on every corner is ab­surd. Next, someone will sug­gest put­ting one out­side of every house, to pre­vent crime, of course. And after that, someone will sug­gest put­ting them in every house, be­cause many crimes do hap­pen in­side the homes, and we want to be safe, don’t we? I don’t think so.
Our found­ing fath­ers said things like, “Those who de­sire to give up free­dom in or­der to gain se­cur­ity will not have, nor do they de­serve, either one.” That was Ben Frank­lin.
Patrick Henry got more to the point: “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
A more con­tem­por­ary quote that would fit here is from Dwight Eis­en­hower: “If you want total se­cur­ity, go to pris­on. There you’re fed, clothed, giv­en med­ic­al care and so on. The only thing lack­ing … is free­dom.”
May I add you won’t have to worry about look­ing be­fore you cross the street, and you won’t have to worry about watch­ing your chil­dren either. Is that really what any­one wants?
Turn­ing Amer­ica in­to more of a sur­veil­lance so­ci­ety than it already is, is not the an­swer. Pla­cing law en­force­ment in­to the hands of private com­pan­ies that make money off it is a bad idea. Tweak­ing the yel­low lights just a little bit could bring in mil­lions more for the city and the com­pany op­er­at­ing the pro­gram to split. Once they fig­ure that out, the traffic lights on the Boulevard will be op­er­at­ing like strobe lights and the ac­ci­dents will be up again. Do you really think they are con­cerned about your safety?
You got to be kid­ding; it is all about money and con­trol. These red-light cam­er­as are a hor­rendous idea for the people of Phil­adelphia or any­where in Amer­ica. Time will tell.
Frank Yost

Voter ID is stir­ring our read­ers’ hor­net’s nest
 And so it ap­pears that Re­pub­lic­ans are about to steal an­oth­er pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, at least the second one in the last 12 years, and if that hap­pens it will have been made pos­sible, to one de­gree or an­oth­er, by Re­pub­lic­ans in high of­fices and in the Amer­ic­an ju­di­cial sys­tem!
Think not? In the year 2000, Jeb Bush, the then-Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor of Flor­ida, was re­spons­ible for pur­ging 173,000 voters from the Flor­ida rolls; vote re­counts pre­cip­it­ated by the so-called “but­ter­fly” bal­lots — the ones with the hanging chads — were stopped by Flor­ida’s then-sec­ret­ary of state, Kath­er­ine Har­ris. As Flor­ida’s sec­ret­ary of state AND co-chair of George Bush’s Flor­ida elec­tion ef­forts, Re­pub­lic­an Har­ris was ul­ti­mately cent­ral to Bush’s elec­tion to the pres­id­ency, cer­ti­fy­ing that he had de­feated Demo­crat Al Gore in the pop­u­lar vote.
Har­ris’ or­der to halt the re­counts was up­held in the state cir­cuit court, and though sub­sequently over­turned on ap­peal by the Flor­ida Su­preme Court, that de­cision was re­versed by the United States Su­preme Court. One Re­pub­lic­an justice, Clar­ence Thomas, cast what could ar­gu­ably be con­strued as the de­cid­ing vote giv­ing George W. Bush the elec­tion. And Mrs. Clar­ence Thomas, it should be noted, was a mem­ber of the Bush trans­ition team.
Slam dunk!
With the as­sist­ance of George W. Bush’s broth­er, a Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor, and that of a Re­pub­lic­an Flor­ida sec­ret­ary of state, and Re­pub­lic­an justices, Bush beat Al Gore in Flor­ida by a mere 537 votes — and that made Bush our king.
As of Aug. 15, by vir­tue of Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Tom Corbett’s Voter ID law, up­held by yet an­oth­er Re­pub­lic­an judge, the state of Pennsylvania is poised to steal the up­com­ing pres­id­en­tial elec­tion by dis­en­fran­chising pos­sibly a mil­lion Pennsylvania voters “co­in­cid­ent­ally” com­prised of a sim­il­ar dis­en­fran­chised demo­graph­ic as in Flor­ida in the year 2000. George Santay­ana told us about this kind of stuff: “Those who can­not re­mem­ber the past are con­demned to re­peat it.”
Ar­thur Gur­mankin

• • •

In her let­ter last week, The Re­pub­lic­ans want to com­mit voter fraud, Ms. Stephanie Flowers re­ferred to the Re­pub­lic­an Party as of­fer­ing noth­ing to the poor un­em­ployed and un­der-edu­cated people.
Don’t you real­ize this city has been Demo­crat­ic for many years and the poor and the un­der-edu­cated in the city have all the ad­vant­ages that every­one else has? Ap­par­ently they don’t want help and are happy with the way things are, or don’t care. All they have to do is call our Coun­cil lead­ers and something can be done. Demo­crat or Re­pub­lic­an, they’re here to help their con­stitu­ents. All they have to do is ask.
In the mean­time, com­plaints I hear from people like you only hap­pen every four years. Do you mean to tell me since the last elec­tion, the “poor people” have not got­ten any kind of iden­ti­fic­a­tion. Give me a break!
Stephanie Burke, proud con­ser­vat­ive

• • •

I dis­agree with your ed­it­or­i­al that the Voter ID law re­cently passed for Pennsylvania is fair (Aug. 1 edi­tion).
It is an ob­vi­ous, bald-faced at­tempt by the Re­pub­lic­an le­gis­lature to dis­en­fran­chise Demo­crat­ic voters. The eld­erly, low-in­come people will have dif­fi­culty get­ting to a photo i.d. of­fice to ob­tain an i.d.
Voter fraud is so neg­li­gible as to be al­most non-ex­ist­ent. Re­pub­lic­ans are al­ways stat­ing that we need less reg­u­la­tion, yet they go out of their way to pass an un­ne­ces­sary reg­u­lat­ory bill
They must be des­per­ate to win the next elec­tion if they pass such a ne­far­i­ous bill. There are more im­port­ant is­sues such as pre­vent­ing people from pur­chas­ing am­muni­tion for rifles on the In­ter­net.
Wal­ter Desh­er

No great grades for charter schools
Of course, the scores at Amer­ic­an Paradigm are high (The ‘little school’ that could … grow, Aug. 8 edi­tion)
A charter school gets to se­lect what stu­dents they want (and heav­en for­bid if a child has spe­cial needs). Paradigm states that they are “flooded” with teach­er re­sumes.
Most of these re­sumes are from re­cent grads with no ex­per­i­ence who can­not find a job be­cause the state Re­pub­lic­ans are un­der­fund­ing pub­lic edu­ca­tion.
The teach­er turnover at charter schools is ex­tremely high as they gain ex­per­i­ence and real­ize they are paid only half the salary earned in the pub­lic school sys­tems.
If I were Paradigm, I would not brag that the founder was the former ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of fin­an­cial ser­vices for the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia (where they could not bal­ance the books dur­ing his ten­ure).
Larry Chase

Boyle bill aims for land­lord ac­count­ab­il­ity
Guest Opin­ion
By Kev­in Boyle

Since tak­ing of­fice, I have been com­mit­ted to find­ing solu­tions for ab­sent­ee land­lords, nuis­ance prop­er­ties and blight in our com­munit­ies.
 In North­east Phil­adelphia, es­pe­cially in May­fair, Ta­cony and Holmes­burg, our qual­ity of life has taken a real hit due to neg­li­gent prop­erty own­ers.
 Some of the steps I have taken to ad­dress these is­sues in­clude tour­ing neigh­bor­hoods af­fected by neg­li­gent land­lords, where I saw boarded-up build­ings and over­grown lawns, and speak­ing to con­cerned res­id­ents.
 Ad­di­tion­ally, I have worked with the Phil­adelphia De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions to com­pile a data­base of neg­li­gent, out-of-town prop­erty own­ers with­in my dis­trict and throughout the city.
 I have made it my mis­sion to equip law en­force­ment with the abil­ity to crack down on people who al­low their ten­ants to de­grade our neigh­bor­hoods.
 As part of that goal, I re­cently in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion (H.B. 2555) that would en­sure ac­count­ab­il­ity on the part of land­lords in Pennsylvania.
Des­pite ef­forts to re­duce blight, some non-res­id­ent land­lords of­ten dis­reg­ard fines or fail to re­spond to cor­res­pond­ence from mu­ni­cip­al of­fi­cials re­quest­ing a rem­edy. In ad­di­tion, mu­ni­cip­al of­fi­cials have is­sues es­tab­lish­ing con­tact with non-res­id­ent or ab­sent­ee land­lords in or­der to ad­dress both code vi­ol­a­tions and fines.
Al­low­ing these neg­lect­ful prop­erty own­ers to un­der­mine the sys­tem is un­fair to reput­able land­lords and to the neigh­bors who have to live with prob­lems cre­ated by nuis­ance prop­er­ties.
 My bill would call on mu­ni­cip­al­it­ies to en­act land­lord re­gis­tra­tion re­quire­ments and es­tab­lish a re­gis­tra­tion fee.
My pro­pos­al would cap the fee at $125 per prop­erty and ob­lige the mu­ni­cip­al­ity to re­tain 80 per­cent of the fees col­lec­ted for code en­force­ment and to re­mit 20 per­cent of the fees to the state to be de­pos­ited in the Land­lord En­force­ment and Ac­count­ab­il­ity Data­base Fund with­in the Pennsylvania Treas­ury De­part­ment for de­vel­op­ment and main­ten­ance.
Fi­nally, my le­gis­la­tion would cre­ate a code en­force­ment grant pro­gram un­der the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Com­munity and Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment, spe­cify eli­gib­il­ity re­quire­ments for the pro­gram and al­low an an­nu­al ap­pro­pri­ation of funds as deemed ne­ces­sary in the first three years of the grant pro­gram.
House Bill 2555, which has bi­par­tis­an sup­port, cur­rently awaits con­sid­er­a­tion by the House Urb­an Af­fairs Com­mit­tee.
Kev­in Boyle rep­res­ents the 172nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict, which in­cludes por­tions of May­fair, Fox Chase, and Holmes­burg. He holds a mas­ter’s de­gree in edu­ca­tion policy from Har­vard Uni­versity.

Meth­adone clin­ic is a bone­headed idea
Guest Opin­ion
By Al Tauben­ber­ger

You would think by now, the folks push­ing for the open­ing of a meth­adone clin­ic in Holmes­burg would have got­ten the mes­sage.
It is crys­tal clear that area res­id­ents, busi­nessper­sons, civic and re­li­gious lead­ers, and elec­ted of­fi­cials do not want The Heal­ing Way to open in the nearly 5,000-square-foot prop­erty at Frank­ford Av­en­ue and Dec­atur Street.
On Ju­ly 19, I joined hun­dreds of pro­test­ers at a rally against the pro­posed clin­ic. As a can­did­ate for state rep­res­ent­at­ive in the dis­trict, my cam­paign has pledged $500 for the leg­al de­fense fund to con­tin­ue the battle in court.
The fight against the clin­ic has been waged for more than a year now. Last Ju­ly, about 800 people voiced their op­pos­i­tion at a rally in­side Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School. In March, the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment re­voked the per­mits.
Still, The Heal­ing Way per­sisted by ap­peal­ing to Com­mon Pleas Court. The zon­ing board has presen­ted its find­ings of fact to the city Of­fice of the Pro­tho­not­ary, es­sen­tially the clerk who keeps the re­cords. The clin­ic has un­til Sept. 4 to file its brief, and the at­tor­neys rep­res­ent­ing the neigh­bors have un­til Oct. 1 to file theirs.
If The Heal­ing Way opts to con­tin­ue the battle in court, or­al ar­gu­ments are sched­uled for Nov. 5. Ob­vi­ously, this is costly, and since the Mat­tioni law firm has been work­ing pro bono, com­munity lead­ers are ask­ing for fin­an­cial sup­port. This is the right thing to do, and I was more than will­ing to help.
As pres­id­ent of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce —which is largely made up of small busi­nesses — I know firsthand how chal­len­ging it is to open and op­er­ate a store­front busi­ness. The volume and mar­gins are of­ten small, and busi­ness own­ers seek any ad­vant­age they can find to in­crease traffic.
A meth­adone clin­ic loc­ated right smack in the middle of a re­tail shop­ping cor­ridor simply does not help any­one.
It is a bone­headed idea, and the people in­sist­ing on open­ing the clin­ic in the face of fierce op­pos­i­tion from people who live, work and in­ves­ted here, should wake up and smell the cof­fee.
It isn’t go­ing to hap­pen, and I will stand with my neigh­bors to make sure it doesn’t.
Al Tauben­ber­ger, the Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for the 172nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict seat, will face Rep. Boyle in the Nov. 6 gen­er­al elec­tion.
Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com

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