Letters to the editor: June 20, 2012

Smart meters: Danger! Warn­ing! Cau­tion!
Thanks, Myles Gor­don, for last week’s let­ter to the ed­it­or that had in­form­a­tion on smart meters and the num­bers to call (Smart meters are a dumb idea).
PECO had threatened to shut me off if I didn’t take the meter. I called on the phone and asked for time un­til Septem­ber to look in­to them a little bit more and was told if I didn’t make ar­range­ments and an ap­point­ment to let the in­staller have ac­cess, my elec­tric would be shut off 6/17.
That’s a real dis­grace, be­cause I have paid my bill on time for over 20 years and have a meter that works per­fectly well. I made the ap­point­ment but told them to note that it was un­der duress.
Since then I have looked up what is hap­pen­ing around the coun­try with these meters and everything you said is true and more. People are get­ting very sick from the elec­tro­mag­net­ic ra­di­ation.
In­form­a­tion can be found at www.smart­metersmurder.com and you can find a list of the many health prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with them there.
PECO will cor­rectly tell you that in 2008 something was signed say­ing there is no opt-out for Pennsylvania, but what they won’t tell you is that state Rep. Mike Reese has au­thored a bill to get that op­tion for the cit­izens of Pennsylvania. It is HB 2188 and is presently wait­ing to be re­leased for a vote on it.
State Rep. Robert God­shall chairs the com­mit­tee that is re­view­ing it and his of­fice has been very help­ful to me. I sent my PECO shutoff no­tice to them as well as to state Sen. Mike Stack and am wait­ing to see how things play out.
These meters are ex­tremely dan­ger­ous phys­ic­ally and prac­tic­ally, and we do have people in Har­ris­burg con­sid­er­ing an opt-out for us. Let them know you don’t want these meters forced on you.
Frank Yost

It was sup­posed to be The People’s pan­el
I ap­plied for the next Parks & Re­cre­ation Com­mis­sion term against 60 ap­plic­a­tions (last time, it was 180) to fill nine un­paid seats. The 60 will con­test against the past nine ap­proved in­cum­bents for a chance to be se­lec­ted by the may­or. If any suc­ceed to of­fice, they will meet quarterly with the six paid city bur­eau­crats sup­posed to ex­am­ine policies in ad­vance and re­com­mend.
Fat chance. Look for the evid­ence.
What was sup­posed to be a cit­izens com­mis­sion is now con­trolled by the Cen­ter City Dis­trict and past Re­cre­ation De­part­ment su­per­visors. The only man­dat­ory agenda was to pass a park sales or­din­ance writ­ten to over­ride the Burholme Park Fox Chase Can­cer Cen­ter case. Now City Coun­cil, in secret, will ad­vise the may­or. One coun­cil­man and four at-large mem­bers will have no vote on com­mis­sion­ers.
That was the plan that the Parks Al­li­ance cre­ated to sup­port May­or Nut­ter’s elec­tion. Now they whine how the may­or tricked them when he re­voked his $8 mil­lion pledge. Whatever did they ex­pect to hap­pen when they played the in­siders’ game?
I served 14 an­nu­al ap­point­ments to the Fair­mount Park Cit­izens Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil, with 21 oth­ers at reg­u­lar meet­ings as pub­lic ad­voc­ates to work with the com­mis­sion dir­ectly. It was ef­fect­ive, and the Al­li­ance was a spe­cial mem­ber, but it be­came hos­tile, and too greedy to co­oper­ate with us. They fool­ishly des­troyed the bet­ter in­sti­tu­tion, and gave all powers to the politi­cians after 167 years of in­de­pend­ence.
Fred Maurer

Edu­cat­ing edu­cat­ors  is the first les­son
For edu­cat­ors to state if you are not a vet­er­an teach­er your opin­ion is not worth listen­ing to, is like telling con­stitu­ents they should not vote in the up­com­ing pres­id­en­tial elec­tion be­cause none of us have pri­or pres­id­en­tial ex­per­i­ence on our re­sumes.
As tax­pay­ers, we have a right to judge if our gov­ern­ment is work­ing as well as it should or needs to im­ple­ment bet­ter qual­ity con­trol meas­ures.
Dur­ing an in­ter­view last month with Marty Moss-Coane, the host of WHYY’s Ra­dio Times, Gov. Corbett shed some light on the stat­ist­ics that teach­ers uni­ons have been no­tori­ously hid­ing from tax­pay­ers. Cur­rent teach­er eval­u­ations prac­tic­ally guar­an­tee sat­is­fact­ory rat­ings! Un­der the cur­rent eval­u­ation sys­tem, 99.1 per­cent of all teach­ers that get eval­u­ated re­ceive a sat­is­fact­ory rat­ing and 99.4 per­cent of all school ad­min­is­trat­ors re­ceive a sat­is­fact­ory rat­ing. Get your ten­ure and the only way you will ever get fired and be held ac­count­able in the pub­lic school sys­tem is by get­ting caught in some high-pro­file scan­dal.
When there are man­dat­ory budget cuts, lay­offs are ex­clus­ively based upon seni­or­ity and have noth­ing to do with job per­form­ance. The gov­ernor ad­dressed this is­sue dur­ing his in­ter­view and cited an ex­ample in In­di­ana that could hap­pen in any pub­lic school dis­trict in Pennsylvania: The Teach­er of the Year got fired be­cause they were so far down the seni­or­ity lad­der.
How do these ar­cha­ic policies be­ne­fit chil­dren?
Jason Kaye

A very happy re­turn
Last week, I left my pock­et­book in a cart in the park­ing lot of the Tar­get store near Bustleton and Cottman av­en­ues. Of course, I thought it was gone forever, with the con­tents also nev­er to be seen again. Two days later, I found out it had been turned in to Tar­get with noth­ing miss­ing.
Since no one could identi­fy the per­son who turned it in, I just want to say THANK YOU to the hon­or­able per­son who did the right thing, which isn’t al­ways the easy thing. Too many bad people are out there, so it’s nice to know there are still some de­cent people among us.  God bless you and may good karma come to you!
Denice Bright

Rom­ney sees  the real prob­lem in Phil­adelphia
How much money did the city spend to bring the Barnes Mu­seum to Phil­adelphia to sup­posedly give our town a shot of class and new prestige?
 Then Mitt Rom­ney comes to a West Phil­adelphia charter school, and May­or Nut­ter and Dis­trict At­tor­ney Wil­li­ams are out­side the build­ing whoop­ing and razz­ing up a crowd like they were street thugs.
I guess it’s im­port­ant to de­fend a pub­lic school sys­tem that has more that 5,000 as­saults a year, and was left broke when Schools Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man skipped town with a $900,000 pay­off and tax­pay­ers and the school dis­trict got stuck with a $94 mil­lion de­fi­cit.
Rom­ney in­ter­ac­ted with Kenny Gamble, and seemed to en­joy him­self with the minor­ity stu­dents. That’s a good thing. If Rom­ney be­comes pres­id­ent, it would be nice to see urb­an edu­ca­tion as a pri­or­ity.
The im­age of the de­fi­ant may­or made the news, and was a na­tion­al em­bar­rass­ment. (Erase that Barnes gloss.) All that was miss­ing was Nut­ter’s hood­ie.
Richard Iac­on­elli

Dis­pro­por­tion­ate taxes are Goode for noth­ing
Sup­port­ers of the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive, primar­ily City Coun­cil­man W. Wilson Goode Jr., have been point­ing out that about half the city’s homeown­ers, mainly lower in­come res­id­ents who are pay­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, would get a tax break.
Let me see, I live in a row house in the ZIP code 19154 area and pay over $2,100 a year. The two homes I grew up in — on the 2100 block of S. 60th St., which has a prop­erty tax of $374.26 a year, and on the 6000 block of All­man St., which has a prop­erty tax of $316.92 a year — my guess is that those two ad­dresses would be an ex­ample of Coun­cil­man Wilson Goode’s “mainly lower in­come res­id­ents who are pay­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share un­der the cur­rent sys­tem.” Let’s com­pare: For $2152.01, $374.26 and $316.92, you get po­lice, fire/res­cue (slightly downs­ized fire), trash pickup, snow plow­ing, school’s, re­cre­ation/com­munity cen­ters, lib­rar­ies, day care, smoke alarms, home re­pair ser­vices, etc., etc.
Would someone oth­er than Wilson Goode Jr. ex­plain to me how two of the three row homes above get clas­si­fied in “Wilson Goode Jr. speak” as “dis­pro­por­tion­ately” taxed? Give me a break! That’s an av­er­age of $28.75 a month for all the above ser­vices. Those same ser­vices av­er­age $179.33 a month for my row house. Go fig­ure!!
I sug­gest stay­ing busy on those phone calls and e-mails to your elec­ted “rep­res­ent­at­ives” to voice your dis­pleas­ure about your “dis­pro­por­tion­ate share” of the bur­den!! You can search any ad­dress in the city on the Of­fice of Prop­erty Man­age­ment (formerly BRT) site if you want to do your own com­par­is­ons. I am a dis­pro­por­tion­ately taxed homeown­er.
Tom Mc­Graw
Mod­ena Park

Hen­on’s an­swer is no solu­tion at all
Re­gard­ing City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on’s an­swer to L&I’s prob­lems: Great idea, Bobby, let’s hire more do-noth­ing city em­ploy­ees.
A news re­port­er finds that a wo­man has com­plained for two years about a wall that is about to fall from the aban­doned home next door onto her house and noth­ing is done. The news re­port­er con­tacts L&I and the next day the prob­lem is fixed. We don’t need new em­ploy­ees, un­less we are re­pla­cing the old ones who are fail­ing to do any work in their cushy, over­paid, over-hol­i­dayed and DROP-pro­gram-en­rolled jobs! Next Bobby is go­ing to pro­pose we hire more prop­erty-tax de­lin­quent agents to NOT col­lect even more back taxes!
Ron Kall

Look for the strong uni­on la­bel
Thank you to Jim McLaugh­lin for his well-writ­ten, suc­cinct let­ter about the his­tory and be­ne­fits of uni­ons (Uni­ons de­serve cred­it, June 13 edi­tion).
I of­ten hear com­plaints about uni­ons and hear people ask, “what have uni­ons done for me?”
Well, read that list or ask a uni­on mem­ber. Be grate­ful that uni­ons ex­ist to fight for your work­ing rights.
Among oth­er things, uni­ons pro­tect the great­er good of the work­ers as a whole, not just the in­di­vidu­al. It’s about work­ing fam­il­ies — it’s not just about you. If your com­pany does not have a uni­on, or if you are not eli­gible for reg­u­lar uni­on mem­ber­ship, vis­it Work­ing Amer­ica at ht­tp://www.workingamer­ica.org and you can join that uni­on.
Work­ing Amer­ica is af­fil­i­ated with the AFL-CIO, and is great for people who are not eli­gible for uni­on mem­ber­ship through their em­ploy­ers, or simply can’t join reg­u­lar uni­ons (for whatever reas­on). You can also call their Phil­adelphia re­gion­al of­fice (if you don’t have In­ter­net ac­cess) at 1-610-940-5848.
Kim Wilson

Read­ers are vouch­ing for and against vouch­ers
Op­pos­i­tion is un­war­ran­ted
The bi­as against vouch­ers dis­played in your June 6 ed­it­or­i­al (Say no to vouch­ers) is echoed by your mis­lead­ing front page ban­ner — With their school’s fu­ture as­sured, St. Hubert stu­dents push for tu­ition aid from tax­pay­ers
Do you mean to say that pub­lic school stu­dents do not re­ceive tu­ition aid from tax­pay­ers? Of course they do, and in amounts sev­er­al times great­er than what tax­pay­ers would have to pay for the vouch­ers that would ef­fect­ively keep private school stu­dents off the pub­lic school rolls.
Your dis­tor­tion of this com­mon sense ob­ser­va­tion is sup­posedly jus­ti­fied by your spuri­ous claim that school choice vi­ol­ates the Con­sti­tu­tion­al sep­ar­a­tion of church and state. The vouch­ers are in­ten­ded for the edu­ca­tion of the stu­dent. If the child or par­ents choose to ob­tain that edu­ca­tion at a re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion of their choice, then the state has im­posed no ob­lig­a­tion on any­one to sup­port a par­tic­u­lar re­li­gion. As long as the choice re­mains with the fam­ily, and not the state, then the Con­sti­tu­tion­al sep­ar­a­tion re­mains in­tact.
And that’s why we have had no prob­lem with the GI Bill of Rights, or Pell Grants, be­ing used to ob­tain an edu­ca­tion at re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions. There is no val­id reas­on why primary school edu­ca­tion should be treated dif­fer­ently from adult edu­ca­tion. Your ed­it­or­i­al of­fers no co­her­ent ra­tionale for per­petu­at­ing this dif­fer­ence.
Her­shel Barg

• • •

Years ago, as a former vic­tim of the Phil­adelphia Pub­lic Fool sys­tem, I would have agreed with all the words in this ed­it­or­i­al. Now, after learn­ing the truth on my own, I can say this art­icle makes less sense than someone stum­bling out of a bar at clos­ing time.
Yes, I also ap­plaud the St. Hubert’s girls. Their par­ents were forced to pay for the in­ept pub­lic schools that they could have at­ten­ded for “free.” Now the girls are try­ing to get their money back so they can more freely choose the best school. This pro­cess has been labeled the “vouch­er” sys­tem.
Con­trary to the com­mon urb­an le­gend pub­li­cized by the likes of the North­east Times, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion says noth­ing about “sep­ar­a­tion of Church and State.” After three clicks on the com­puter, I have dis­covered that the 1st Amend­ment ac­tu­ally says “Con­gress shall make no law re­spect­ing an es­tab­lish­ment of re­li­gion, or pro­hib­it­ing the free ex­er­cise there­of.”
Es­tab­lish­ment of re­li­gion means that Con­gress could not wake up one day and, for ex­ample, de­clare the Church of Eng­land as the of­fi­cial church of Amer­ica. Also, come to think of it, it seems that the pub­lic school sys­tem is vi­ol­at­ing the 1st Amend­ment by im­ped­ing the girls’ fin­an­cial abil­ity to freely ex­er­cise their re­li­gion by at­tend­ing St. Hubert’s.
Wait, there’s more. After a few more clicks on the com­puter, I have now dis­covered that the pub­lic school sys­tem or “free edu­ca­tion” is one of the 10 planks of Karl Marx’s Com­mun­ist Mani­festo! OK, so not only are pub­lic schools po­ten­tially vi­ol­at­ing the 1st Amend­ment, they are wholly en­dorsed by the found­ing fath­ers of athe­ist­ic Com­mun­ism.
Fi­nally, why would the ed­it­or say that the girls’ par­ents, as tax­pay­ers, de­mand that the Phil­adelphia pub­lic schools provide bet­ter ser­vice? They already have a school that provides bet­ter ser­vice: St. Hubert’s. What the par­ents really should be de­mand­ing is that the pub­lic schools keep their grubby hands off of their paychecks!
Jonath­an Gar­sey
Fox Chase

Let the mar­ket de­cide
We cheered along with the Bam­bies for their suc­cess — the pure spir­it of youth­ful tenacity — keep­ing St. Hubert’s out of the clutches of church fath­ers in­tent on selling out the faith­ful to provide a cadre of “We didn’t do it and we’ll nev­er do it again” per­vert priests leg­al de­fense. Now the Bam­bies ex­pect state vouch­ers.
We were taught if we leave cap­it­al­ism alone, com­pet­i­tion in the free mar­ket will sort out everything, and that only the best will rise. But every­one has a fa­vor­ite piece of pub­lic art so eye-wa­ter­ing un­lovely the artist couldn’t sell it to private col­lect­ors.
Tax­pay­ers fun­ded a bottle of ur­ine with a cru­ci­fix in­side and an ele­phant-dung Madonna, and aren’t we still smart­ing over that “We’re too big to fail” caper pulled by banks, in­sur­ance com­pan­ies, broker­age houses and auto­mobile cor­por­a­tions?
Mar­ket forces should also ap­ply to private schools. A fath­er who en­rolled his son at Devon Prep be­cause he thinks the boy is too smart for Spring­field High is let­ting his wal­let de­term­ine a bet­ter edu­ca­tion, un­til that man ap­plies for a $600 tax­pay­er vouch­er to­ward the bus that’ll haul his son there.
The Uni­versity of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League uni­versity with a mil­lion-dol­lar-plus pres­id­ent, is some­how “non-profit.” Temple got wise to a loop­hole broad enough to drive a crosstown bus through. And the NFL pock­eted $26 mil­lion last year and is also — yep, non-profit. You got the leg­al team to file the pa­per­work, you got the ex­emp­tion.
If I can get a note from my spir­itu­al lead­er (any­one wear­ing an out­land­ish hat as a pro­clam­a­tion of piety) stat­ing I can no longer eat M&Ms and must have Go­diva Chocol­ates brought to my door, will I qual­i­fy?
In Emer­son’s es­say Gifts, the poet-preach­er con­cluded: “It is not in the of­fice of man to re­ceive, we wish to be self-sus­tained. Ac­cept­ing char­ity in­vades our in­de­pend­ence.”
State vouch­ers may be a tac­tic­al win for re­li­gious schools, but the crit­ic­al loss of free­dom to in­still ten­ets of your faith is stra­tegic and, quite likely, ir­re­vers­ible.
Jerry Briggs

Yo, Al, how do you feel?
“I have al­ways sup­por­ted school vouch­ers, and when elec­ted to the le­gis­lature this fall, I will join the fight to ex­pand school choice in Phil­adelphia. Frankly, there is no oth­er choice and the facts bear this out.”
Is that the same Al Tauben­ber­ger that came to the PFT mem­ber­ship when he ran for may­or in 2007 and praised the pub­lic school sys­tem? Is that the same Tauben­ber­ger whose wife was a teach­er in the school dis­trict?
Yo, Al, when did you say that to the PFT mem­ber­ship — when you sought out our en­dorse­ment?
Al, you will not be elec­ted to the le­gis­lature be­cause you do noth­ing but waste our time and lose elec­tion after elec­tion.
My sug­ges­tion is for you to con­tact the Guin­ness Book of World Re­cords and see how many more elec­tions you must lose to set a new re­cord.
May­er Krain
Mod­ena Park

Speak your mind  …
Let­ters should be 300 words or less. Short let­ters have a bet­ter chance of get­ting pub­lished. All let­ters are sub­ject to edit­ing and MUST in­clude the writer’s full name along with day­time and even­ing phone num­bers for veri­fic­a­tion pur­poses. An­onym­ous let­ters will NOT be pub­lished. Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­it­or, North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053. Fax: 215-355-4857. E-mail: pronews@bsmphilly.com

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