Story Archive December 12 2012

Letters to the editor: Dec. 12, 2012 edition

More civility, please?The last few weeks have seen a lot of letters to the editor from apparently angry Democrats personally attacking those who disagree with them. Hey, you won the election, and you are still this miserable?Arthur Gurmankin is always after the “haters,” whom I guess are any people who disagree with his views.The hysterical Hezakiah Levinson attacked me as a “Republican” because I no longer chose to volunteer in a city filled with corruption, and he even suggests I leave the country. (Talk about haters.) Mr. Levinson, I will give you $100 if you can prove I have not lived in the 56th Ward for the last 32 years — as a registered DEMOCRAT.You see, some of us are not obsessed about the “D” or “R” before our name. I don’t hate Mayor Nutter, just his failed policies. Look at our Traffic Court, schools, the Housing Authority.How many insider scandals do we need as we get punished with more taxes to pay for them? This city desperately needs a reform Republican mayor in order for the city to come out of its malaise. And more Democrats should say it.I don’t hate President Obama, but I hate the Obama-Bernanke policy of zero interest rates and the devaluation of our dollar. It is one of the worst federal policies I have ever seen. It steals from savers to give to debtors and raises the price of food and energy, which is causing massive hardship. It is a foolish policy and it is making rich speculators richer. Romney’s monetary policy was better.I am interested in policies that make my life easier, not harder. And I want the government’s greedy hand out of my pockets, that’s all.I have learned to separate foolish ideas from personal motives. So I wish both Mr. Levinson and Mr. Gurmankin a happy holiday, and for you, Mr. Levinson, I hope someone gives you a very nice gift book — on civility.Richard IaconelliRhawnhurstGive Christmas back to us ChristiansIt seems that every year more and more stories surface about people protesting the Nativity scenes and Christmas trees in public spaces. Some have even gone as far as to rename it a “holiday tree.”Well, I have an idea. How about if we were to abolish Christmas as a federal, state and local holiday and give it back to the Christians who respect and honor the spirit and meaning behind it?Everyone can go back to work and school and not be offended while we Christians take a personal day off or call in sick.That way we can celebrate the majesty and beauty of the birth of our Lord without offending anyone. Just a thought.John O’NeillOxford CircleBlame BushI want to make explicit some things indirectly addressed by Hezakiah Levinson in his letter in last week’s Northeast Times: (Republicans are still whining about their election loss).The economy crashed on George W. Bush’s watch, period. Also, George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Bill Clinton; he left Barack Obama with a deficit.Howard J. WilkBustletonThe price of supportI was intrigued by your reader’s comment about black preachers supporting Barack Obama (Those black prophets should lose their non-profit status, Nov. 21 letter).I agree that politicizing churches should nullify their tax-free status. The problem is that by that standard, most Catholic churches and many white Protestant churches would also lose their tax-free status for supporting Romney.Roger HollandFox ChaseHonoring Hurricane Sandy’s heroes in uniformI want to send a big thank-you to the Philadelphia police and fire departments for coming to the aid of the neighbors on Patrician Drive on the night of Hurricane Sandy.Even with Brown Outs, they arrived promptly and acted bravely, efficiently and professionally when a fire erupted on the middle of our street on the night of the storm. The wind was blowing and howling and trees were falling down all around us, yet they risked their lives with a hurricane and no light.Unfortunately, I am unsure of their names or the cause of the fire. I know they worked a miracle of unbelievable proportions that night. They all deserve commendations and awards!As an aside, I made it to church that evening, along with six other people. I believe we got a miracle.As for Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices Seamus McCaffery and Ron Castille “fixing” Traffic Court, they were not out risking their lives during Hurricane Sandy, nor will any of them be worried about how to work out their schedules and spend time with their family during the holiday season.They, unlike the Philadelphia Fire Department and Police Department, automatically get their annual raise (for what?) and are off (paid) during the holidays.God bless, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to the fire department and the police department.Susan GuestModena ParkPrayers, worries and a returned walletOn Thursday, Nov. 28, I experienced a wonderful act of kindness from someone I never met. My daughter and I left Marshall’s on the Boulevard and headed to another store. When I went to check out, I realized that I had lost my wallet. In a state of panic, I drove back to Marshall’s, spoke to the clerks there, and made an exhausting and unsuccessful search of the parking lot with my daughter.After praying and worrying all the way home, we opened the storm door to find my wallet on the floor between the front door and the storm door. Filled with relief and overwhelming gratitude, I was only sorry that I couldn’t thank my benefactor in person for taking the time out of their day to do something so good for someone else.I hope the person will read this to learn how truly thankful I am.Eileen ZaleskiBustletonKudos to the men and women who protect us How cool it is to be a cop in Philly! As I child, I grew up admiring the police. It was awesome how they strolled around looking tough, and at every corner, criminals shivered in their presence. Speeding cars slowed down, and people drove angelic when they drove by.It definitely is a respected occupation, and what a good feeling to know that you are the heroes of the city keeping your neighborhood safe!But it doesn’t end there. As a cop in Philadelphia you get to drive down the wide streets with motorcycles cracking down on street racers, get some exercise on bikes while making sure there are no kids staying out past the curfew times, and best of all, ride through Pennypack Park on gallant horses!I salute the neighboring police districts and give kudos to every officer keeping our city safe. Not enough recognition and appreciation goes to you gentlemen and gentlewomen, so keep it up!Nayem QuadirOxford CircleThe spirit of giving is alive and wellAs a kid from Olney growing up in the1970s, I always felt that being from the “lower Northeast” meant I was less. As a man in his mid-40s. I realized that we are all equal. For the past 20 years, I have always volunteered in one way or another in helping others. This year took the cake.Along with my sister, Marylou Schmidt, we reached out to friends old and new to help purchase a single gift in the $20 range for a child.To my liking, we were able to collect more than 250 toys to be delivered to local children for Christmas. People from Olney, Lawndale, Crescentville, Fox Chase, Mayfair, Dougherty and North guys, Ryan and Judge guys, Hubert’s and Little Flower folks, even a guy from The Prep that writes for this paper, who I met along my journey stepped up and pitched in.On Saturday, we were at Curley’s Pub to collect the gifts. It was with amazement, we watched people walk in, hand us a gift and have a beer, just like it was supposed to be. No fanfare, No “look at me, I am helping the poor.” Just ordinary people doing what we were taught to do.I want to thank all of those folks for doing what is right in this world. I would also like to thank Joe Brooks, a Lawncrest- Dougherty guy, for opening his “corner bar” to us so that many could share this event.Steve SchmidtOlney guy who now calls Fox Chase homeFirefighters get the shaft from the cityAlthough we appreciated the news media’s coverage of City Council’s hearing on the city’s plan to transfer 300 of the department’s most veteran firefighters, we were dismayed that they chose to emphasize the anger our members directed at Fire Commissioner Ayers rather than the Council members’ outright repudiation of this illogical and dangerous mass-transfer plan.If enacted in January, the transfers will rob companies of valuable institutional knowledge, destroy veteran teams, lead to confusion and longer fire response times, and endanger the safety of civilians and firefighters alike. It has never been attempted elsewhere. The fire commissioner and deputy mayor for public safety could not offer a shred of data to support it. City Council was right to decry the nonsensical plan, and we thank them for their leadership.As far as our anger toward Mayor Nutter, it’s more than justified. Three times now — twice by a neutral arbitrator and once by a Common Pleas Court judge — our arbitration award was upheld and deemed to be fair and affordable. Yet, we remain without a contract.The city has screwed with our hours, disrupting our family life. They’ve browned-out or closed fire stations, demanding that we do more with less, while withholding our nominal raises for four years. They’ve punished us for getting injured in the line of duty. Yet, despite all of these indignities, we just keep doing our job — saving people’s lives.This administration treats firefighters with contempt. It’s a disgrace and it has to stop.Bill GaultPresident, IAFF Local 22 Philadelphia Firefighters/Medics UnionPGW saves a bundle thanks to fine printI recently called PGW because of a problem I was having with my heater. After giving the service rep my information, I was surprised when she said I would have to call a contractor. I have been paying for their “Parts & Labor Plan” for years and she told me it expired. But when I told her I paid it last Dec. 19, she said that is right but it expired on Oct. 31 and I have not paid it so I was not covered.On the bill that gets sent with the payment, it has printed, “Sign up on our website before December 31, 2012.” Inside one of the brochures in larger bold print it says, “The deadline for enrollment into the 2012-2013 Plan is December 31, 2012.” Four lines down in smaller and lighter colored print it says all plans expire Oct. 31. In the other brochure that comes, it says in bold large print, “The DEADLINE to purchase the Parts & Labor Plan is December 31st.” That brochure does not give the expiration date.When I first started getting the plan, probably 10 years ago or more, I probably read all the information that came with it, but not anymore. I take a quick look at it to see if the plan still covers what I want, and everywhere I look it tells me to pay by Dec 31, so I have been paying it near the end of December for years.I believe this is purposely done so they can deny service to people like me, who mistakenly pay the bill late. I have gone nine to 10 weeks every winter without coverage from the plan for years even though I have been buying the plan. I’m sure PGW saves a bundle by doing this.Charles NuyianesMorrell ParkThere’s a better way to do secessionIf I were in a state considering secession, I would not agree to Mr. Gurmankin’s terms (You want out? Here’s the path to secession, Nov. 28 letters). A better deal could be negotiated for the state. Terms would require the U.S. government to relinquish all property within the borders of the new sovereign, either through sale, lease or treaty agreements. At its own discretion, the new state could unilaterally require the U.S. to remove its military bases within a reasonable amount of time and the U.S. would agree not to hinder or interrupt the new state’s efforts to acquire its own military hardware of any type it deems appropriate and necessary to defend itself.Catalonia is considering secession from Spain. Scotland may secede from the U.K. What’s happening in Palestine? These are actual stories that have been in the news in 2012.Consider the possibility, acting in its own best interest, that a state may someday have a legitimate case for secession. Look at Alaska on the map. It is not really connected to the United States. It’s above the Arctic Circle. It’s like a foreign land to the lower 48. It was formed before oil pipelines, Chinese tankers and North Pacific ports became popular, so today it could be an economically viable independent state.Here’s a hypothetical: If California were to tumble into the abyss, either physically or fiscally, Alaskans might want to decide whether being part of the union is a burden or a benefit. Holding only three votes in Congress and the Electoral College, they may already feel underrepresented in the U.S. government.I hope no state would choose to secede simply because they don’t like the president or political party in power. But would you deny the right of a free people to govern the land in which they live?Mark TanguayFox ChaseClearing the air about your lungsThe recent train derailment accident in Paulsboro, N.J., released vinyl chloride gas into the air. More than 17 people had to go to the hospital with respiratory problems.The American Lung Association in New Jersey stresses the importance of being aware of your air. Inhaling harmful chemicals, like the vinyl chloride spilled from the accident, can cause chemical pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs. If you are in the Paulsboro area and are experiencing the following symptoms please seek medical attention immediately:• The feeling that you cannot get enough air• Difficulty breathing• Abnormal lung sounds• A burning feeling in your lungsFor more information on lung health and keeping the air clean please visit www.lunginfo.orgDeb BrownPresident and CEO American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic

Redeemer hospice team assembles tins of cheer

They’re making a list and checking it twice. 

Generosity is in season for Northeast businesses

Several Mayfair businesses are involved in charitable activities this holiday season.

Man sentenced in 2011 fatal bar shooting in Frankford

A North Philadelphia man accused of killing a Frankford man in a notorious neighborhood bar in early 2011 pleaded guilty Monday and was immediately sentenced to 18 to 40 years in prison.

More serious charges filed against man accused of selling synthetic pot

Charges that a Northeast businessman sold synthetic marijuana in his Somerton store were withdrawn Dec. 4. However, Kamel Gerges, operator of the 1 Stop Smoke Shop at Verree and Red Lion roads, faces similar, but more serious, charges in Montgomery County, said Pennsylvania Assistant Attorney General Kate Gibson.

Tip prompts arrest in armed robbery

A broadcast of surveillance video of an armed robbery has led to the arrest of a Frankford man, police said.

Local schools get scholarship money, thanks to tax credit

Bill Goetz, a CSX Corp. vice president, recalled a time not too long ago when Catholic and private schools were seen as institutions that would be open forever.

Man who killed sons faces appeal deadline

Attorneys for Daniel Dougherty, convicted of starting a fire that killed his two young sons in their Oxford Circle home in 1985, have until Friday to file their written briefs in an appeal to Superior Court.

Holme Ave. housing plan stirring opposition

Opposition seems to be mounting against a proposal to convert a six-story Holme Avenue convent into 44 apartments for veterans and other low-income individuals.

Crime log (December 12, 2012)

Nov. 5 through 18