Letters to the editor: July 18, 2012

Penn State isn’t the only cov­er-up
It sick­ens me to see the hy­po­crisy around the me­dia’s non-stop as­sault on Joe Pa­ter­no. He is surely one of the most vil­i­fied Amer­ic­ans of our time, more so than the ac­tu­al child ab­user, Jerry San­dusky.
One needs to re­mem­ber that as the Jerry San­dusky ab­use story broke, a par­al­lel story also broke. Hall of Fame sportswriter Bill Con­lin (sadly, a child­hood hero of mine) was also ac­cused of child ab­use. He im­me­di­ately re­tired, moved to Flor­ida and will not speak. The story was briefly re­por­ted, but the me­dia then quietly dropped it.
Read­ers, use some lo­gic. Bill Con­lin worked at the old In­quirer/Daily News build­ing for 40 years. He was known by re­port­ers all over the coun­try. And none of these people (who are trained to dig out stor­ies) knew something was rot­ten in Philly?
One has to be­lieve, either every re­port­er was com­pletely fooled by Con­lin’s be­ha­vi­or, or that a few of them KNEW something was wrong but re­fused to in­vest­ig­ate or say something. Why? Maybe like “JoePa,” this was out of shame for one of their own.
The me­dia cru­ci­fy Pa­ter­no, but are they like­wise run­ning away from an­oth­er big child-ab­use story? They de­mand the Pa­ter­no statue be torn down, that Penn State foot­ball be sus­pen­ded, yet one of their own, Bill Con­lin, re­mains in the Hall of Fame. I have called and writ­ten to the Phil­adelphia In­quirer/Daily News, ask­ing them about why they at­tack Pa­ter­no but Con­lin gets a pass. No one ever re­sponds and my let­ters go un­pub­lished.
I hope someone has the cour­age to pub­lish this let­ter.
Richard Iac­on­elli

Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo, we sa­lute you
Today our city says good­bye to a hero
A life that touched so many is now gone
We are left to move on without your grace
But we’ll nev­er for­get the smile on your face
Those who had the chance to walk with you
Knew you as a man with a heart of gold
And a smile that would take your breath away
But today Heav­en has taken you from us
We are nev­er giv­en enough time to thank someone
Like you, Bri­an, for the sac­ri­fices that you’ve made
The lives you’ve changed and the joy that you gave
Each time we were all graced by your smil­ing face
Today all of our city will shed its tears to­geth­er
For the loss of someone who made us all bet­ter
Heav­en opens its gates to al­low your soul through
Our Dear Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo, we sa­lute you
John J. Rup­pert

The new bridge’s name should speak volumes
On Aug. 1, 2007, the I-35W Mis­sis­sippi River Bridge (of­fi­cially Bridge 9340) col­lapsed, killing 13 and in­jur­ing 145 people.
The new bridge, the I-35W Saint An­thony Falls Bridge, should be ded­ic­ated to the people that were killed and in­jured in the Bridge 9340 col­lapse.
A plaque should be placed on the I-35W Saint An­thony Falls Bridge in clear view of the pub­lic stat­ing, “The new I-35W Saint An­thony Falls bridge is ded­ic­ated to the people killed and in­jured on Aug. 1, 2007, when Bridge 9340 col­lapsed due to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials’ in­com­pet­ence.”
Greg Sibla

Send the wa­ter rate hike down the drain
Guest Opin­ion
By Al Tauben­ber­ger
Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil has ap­proved a bal­lot is­sue for Novem­ber to cre­ate an in­de­pend­ent body to re­view wa­ter and sew­er rates.
Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell L. Clarke in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion in March after the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment an­nounced plans to seek a nearly 30 per­cent rate hike.
The wa­ter de­part­ment’s re­quest comes on the heels of a 27 per­cent rate hike over the last three years. The new pro­pos­al would in­crease rates an av­er­age of 6.5 per­cent a year for the next four years. Trans­la­tion to the typ­ic­al homeown­er: About a $200 in­crease over today’s rates.
The rate hike pro­pos­al is cur­rently un­der­go­ing pub­lic hear­ings, one of which took place Ju­ly 12 at Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity in the Far North­east. The way it works now is, a hear­ing ex­am­iner will make a re­com­mend­a­tion to the city wa­ter com­mis­sion­er, who makes the fi­nal de­cision.
I test­i­fied at Holy Fam­ily against the rate hike. I sup­port Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Clarke’s call for an in­de­pend­ent wa­ter and sew­er com­mis­sion, and if elec­ted to the Pennsylvania House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives in Novem­ber, I will craft le­gis­la­tion that will stop the city wa­ter de­part­ment from set­ting its own rates.
First, why does the wa­ter de­part­ment need an­oth­er rate hike? They say it is ne­ces­sary to cov­er a pro­jec­ted $316 mil­lion budget short­fall over the next four years. They say most of the short­fall was cre­ated by fed­er­al and state en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing its con­tro­ver­sial storm wa­ter man­age­ment sys­tem.
No one would ar­gue against an ef­fect­ive util­ity that de­liv­ers clean, fresh wa­ter to cus­tom­ers. Their three mod­ern wa­ter treat­ment plants — Bax­ter, Bel­mont and Queen Lane — have a com­bined ca­pa­city to treat 540 mil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter per day.
But, as Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Clarke has poin­ted out, Phil­adelphia may be the only large city that does not give elec­ted of­fi­cials or boards ap­poin­ted by them the au­thor­ity to ap­prove wa­ter and sew­er rates.
Simply al­low­ing the city wa­ter com­mis­sion­er to ul­ti­mately set the rate runs con­trary to the no­tion of “in­de­pend­ence.” A truly in­de­pend­ent body would render a much more ob­ject­ive as­sess­ment of any rate hike pro­pos­al.
For in­stance, say an in­de­pend­ent com­mis­sion re­jects or re­duces the amount of a wa­ter rate hike re­quest. Might this force the util­ity to look for sav­ings, tight­en their belt, and re­duce costs for great­er ef­fi­ciency without sac­ri­fi­cing the high qual­ity of our drink­ing wa­ter?
Re­quest­ing a 28.5 per­cent rate hike on top of a 27 per­cent rate hike only three years ago is ir­re­spons­ible. There has to be a bet­ter way than pil­ing on the backs of the people who live here. City Coun­cil has star­ted the pro­cess by let­ting the voters have their say.
In Har­ris­burg, I will work to en­sure that those ask­ing for high­er rates will not have the au­thor­ity to grant them.
Mr. Tauben­ber­ger is pres­id­ent of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for the 172nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict seat.

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