Letters to the Editor: March 21, 2012

Where, oh where, is the dog­gie park? Nowhere
In re­sponse to the let­ter in last week’s edi­tion con­cern­ing the dog park at Lawn­crest (Our be­loved dog­gie park is not so be­loved any­more):
I am the su­per­visor at Lawn­crest Re­cre­ation Cen­ter. First, let me say there is no dog­gie park on this site. Over the course of sev­er­al years with the de­cline of a base­ball pro­gram, a num­ber of dog own­ers and their dogs “squat­ted” on the fenced little league field and pro­claimed it a dog park.
Noth­ing was ever done of­fi­cially by the city to ded­ic­ate the area to dogs and their own­ers. With the re­sur­gence of the base­ball pro­gram un­der the vi­brant Lawn­crest Lions, it has ne­ces­sit­ated a change. It is a base­ball field once again!
More to the point, sev­er­al months ago I re­ceived a call from a wo­man who iden­ti­fied her­self as Afric­an-Amer­ic­an. She ex­plained to me about a wo­man who said the dog­gie park was hers and no one of col­or could use it. She asked what could be done about the in­tim­id­a­tion and dis­crim­in­a­tion. I sug­ges­ted she could call the po­lice or the may­or’s of­fice on hu­man re­la­tions, and I would see what I could do about the is­sue as well. Since I heard noth­ing more about it, I thought the prob­lem had been re­solved.
Jim Ritval­sky

United we stood as the meth­adone clin­ic failed
The Phil­adelphia Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment has de­cided to over­turn Heal­ing Way’s zon­ing for the prop­erty loc­ated at 7908 Frank­ford Ave. In short, we have stopped the meth­adone clin­ic!
I know that this has been a long and scary pro­cess, but the neigh­bors, com­munity lead­ers and fel­low elec­ted of­fi­cials can raise their hands in vic­tory. There is no doubt that the ZBA was in­flu­enced by our loud, uni­fied voice.
Wheth­er it in­volved at­tend­ing the meet­ings in the sum­mer, sign­ing pe­ti­tions, or lob­by­ing the ZBA to­geth­er, we stood up and de­man­ded to be heard.
So of­ten we hear of people “fight­ing” for their neigh­bor­hood, but we have done just that, and be­cause of our work, the people of Holmes­burg and May­fair can rest a little easi­er.
It is this fight­ing men­tal­ity that not only sep­ar­ates us from oth­er neigh­bor­hoods in the city but also en­sures that we do not lose ours. Two years ago I swore to fight for our com­munity and quickly real­ized that luck­ily I am not alone. It was truly stun­ning to see 500+ people gath­er on a weeknight dur­ing the sum­mer to not only voice their con­cern but to bet­ter learn and un­der­stand the situ­ation.
Also, the pro­pos­al of this clin­ic served as a shock­ing re­mind­er of the need to ex­am­ine the laws sur­round­ing meth­adone clin­ics. We found out firsthand that com­munity and even po­lice in­volve­ment in de­term­in­ing the place­ment of a meth­adone clin­ic was non-ex­ist­ent. I along with col­leagues in the le­gis­lature quickly draf­ted a bill that would in­crease the com­munity’s role in place­ment of these clin­ics.
While we have com­pleted this leg of the race, our work is not done. To­geth­er we ac­com­plished something pro­found, and I know we can con­tin­ue to do so. Our neigh­bor­hood is plagued with a bat­tery of is­sues such as rampant van­dal­ism and neg­li­gent out-of-town prop­erty own­ers.
Our fight is far from over but with the drive that we’ve already dis­played I know we will be vic­tori­ous in that as well. If we stay the course that we have be­gun, we can pre­serve our qual­ity of life and our neigh­bor­hood.
Kev­in J. Boyle
172nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict

She’s grate­ful for O’Neill’s staff
I would like to ex­press our sin­cere ap­pre­ci­ation to Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill’s of­fice for di­li­gently tend­ing to a pro­longed mat­ter of con­cern in a very pro­fes­sion­al, most con­sid­er­ate and help­ful man­ner. Ad­di­tion­ally, staff rep­res­ent­a­tion promptly took care of an­oth­er es­sen­tial re­quest for my fam­ily.
Linda Gottfried

Elec­tion chief praised for re­form
Kudos to City Com­mis­sion­ers Chair­wo­man Stephanie Sing­er! I have been a com­mit­teep­er­son for about 40 years in a very large di­vi­sion.
I have fli­ers put out in my di­vi­sion and my di­vi­sion comes out to vote — on av­er­age, 200 to 300 voters in an elec­tion. The last pres­id­en­tial elec­tion had al­most 600 voters.
My board works. They get paid once. It is totally un­fair for people to be double-dip­ping. When their voters do not come out to vote, they do not work nearly as hard, and then they get paid twice? Hardly fair.
I wish to thank Stephanie Sing­er for her re­form. Thank you very much.
Wanda Ex­line
Com­mit­tee­wo­man and civic act­iv­ist

Photo ID is fine, but   vot­ing must be easi­er
Vot­ing is a right, not a “duty,” as claimed by the North­east Times in its ed­it­or­i­al last week (Smile for the cam­era).
The num­ber of non-voters is “stag­ger­ing and pathet­ic.” How about an hon­est and thor­ough ex­am­in­a­tion to de­term­ine why voter turnout is so poor?
Hon­est and fair elec­tions are fun­da­ment­al, but is that the real is­sue fa­cing our com­munity at this time? Let’s fig­ure out a way to in­crease voter turnout. Easi­er bal­lot ac­cess for third-party and in­de­pend­ent voters? Vot­ing over two days with polls open ex­ten­ded hours? Week­end vot­ing? Per­haps a na­tion­al hol­i­day once every four years for the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion?
A photo ID sys­tem is fine, but with one over­rid­ing con­di­tion. The se­cur­ing of a photo ID for vot­ing must be as easy as pos­sible. People without driver’s li­censes should not auto­mat­ic­ally have to put a great­er ef­fort in­to ex­er­cising their vot­ing rights. Door-to-door voter re­gis­tra­tion with port­able photo ID equip­ment should ser­i­ously be con­sidered.
Photo ID is a great idea es­pe­cially if it in­creases voter turnout.
Ed­ward R. Moses
• • •
I agree with your ed­it­or­i­al. I, too, don’t un­der­stand what all the big stink over pro­du­cing an ID to vote is all about. You need ID for just about everything else, so why not to vote?
If it is the Re­pub­lic­an Party who wants this law es­tab­lished to pre­vent voter fraud, then my hat’s off to the GOP. This is a law, in my opin­ion, that should have been on the books a long time ago.
To the Demo­crats who ac­cuse them of hav­ing an ul­teri­or motive for want­ing this law, I can’t help but won­der if it isn’t you who has the ul­teri­or motive. Maybe it’s to stuff the bal­lot box? I’m just say­ing.
Re­mem­ber, guys, it is a priv­ilege and a right to vote. It also means one vote per cus­tom­er.
P.S. To last week’s let­ter writer Pat Dougherty (Don’t be blinded by Obama’s cha­risma): You are right to in­form people to re­search Obama and not just vote for him be­cause he is black, cha­ris­mat­ic or a Demo­crat. Per­son­ally, I think they are afraid be­cause of what they might find, not like it, and just might have to ad­mit they were wrong to vote for him in the first place. They also have to stop drink­ing the Kool-Aid.
Di­ane Mc­Dow­ell

Here we go again: Gas prices fuel out­rage
Just as the sea­sons change from winter to spring, the oil in­dustry rears its ugly, greedy head and starts a faux gas­ol­ine short­age.
We hear many reas­ons for the short­age, but no one blames the oil in­dustry. Is it just co­in­cid­ence that we’re at the time of year that the price of oil skyrock­ets, or is there some col­lu­sion amongst the oil in­dustry to bilk the gas-us­ing pub­lic out of bil­lions of dol­lars?
One reas­on be­ing thrown up against the wall is the “crisis” that Ir­an may cause if they do this or do that. Well, they haven’t done any­thing yet to cause the price of oil to jump to re­cord- break­ing highs, but the oil in­dustry fig­ures it’s a good ex­cuse to sell to the pub­lic.
An­oth­er reas­on is a short­age of re­finer­ies. Well, we have three re­finer­ies in our area about to close. Is that a co­in­cid­ence or an oil in­dustry plan to fuel (no pun in­ten­ded) the gas short­age? If the lack of re­finer­ies is part of the cause for high­er prices, why are they clos­ing three then? This is an­oth­er ex­ample of the work­ing man get­ting screwed by big busi­ness. Thou­sands of em­ploy­ees will be laid off with the clos­ing of these re­finer­ies.
Big busi­ness has taken over the Con­gress (Dems and GOP alike), so we have no one to turn to for help. The right cri­ti­cizes So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care as be­ing an en­ti­tle­ment, but what about these elec­ted politi­cians who re­ceive dis­pro­por­tion­ate be­ne­fits, i.e., sweet­heart life­time pen­sions, free life­time health care, free post­age, free health club, per diem ex­penses, etc. Who’s go­ing to put an end to these be­ne­fits?
The only people that can end it are the ones re­ceiv­ing it, and I’m sure they aren’t about to give up their pork bar­rel be­ne­fits. They’ll go after teach­ers’ pen­sions, So­cial Se­cur­ity, Medi­care and uni­on be­ne­fits even though these be­ne­fits were ne­go­ti­ated in good faith. Maybe it’s just a smoke screen to take at­ten­tion off of the politi­cians’ en­ti­tle­ments.
As for the oil in­dustry, when the “oil spring” is over, the oil com­pan­ies will have bil­lions of dol­lars in profit. When de­mand is down on a product, the price nat­ur­ally drops, but not gas­ol­ine. Con­sump­tion of gas­ol­ine in this coun­try is down 7 per­cent. The price of gas keeps go­ing up. Why? Who is driv­ing up the price of oil? Is it spec­u­lat­ors? If so, we need some kind of safe­guards pro­hib­it­ing spec­u­la­tion on oil.
Why isn’t any­one in Con­gress in­vest­ig­at­ing the co­in­cid­ence of rising oil prices every year at this time? Maybe the oil in­dustry lob­by­ists won’t let any­one in Con­gress do an in­vest­ig­a­tion. This coun­try has turned in­to a coun­try for the lob­by­ists and by the lob­by­ists, and it doesn’t look like it is go­ing to change any time soon, so get used to it.
Frank Dillon

Here’s what happened to the Lower North­east
John Scan­lon’s column on the Lower North­east (Feb. 29 edi­tion) was in­deed well writ­ten.
Many factors led to the de­mise of the Lower North­east. In­dus­tries that once provided de­cent salar­ies left.
In their place, malls that provide low pay and no be­ne­fits be­came the an­chor. Also, people of vari­ous cul­tures who could not speak or write Eng­lish came in­to the city. Pos­sibly, they were hop­ing for op­por­tun­it­ies that did not ex­ist.
This di­lemma led to Ac­cess cards, wel­fare and crime as a way of life. Cer­tainly, there are no easy an­swers to solv­ing this crisis.
One thing is for sure — the rich got rich­er and the poor got poorer
Mar­ie Pat­ton
Fox Chase

Head games: Abe Lin­coln’s killer is worthy of bob­bling
As I See It
John Scan­lon
OK, true, John Wilkes Booth nev­er would have been re­called fondly as Abe Lin­coln’s re­l­at­ives flipped through photo al­bums dur­ing fam­ily pic­nics, but you have to ac­know­ledge one thing about the pres­id­en­tial as­sas­sin. The guy had a lot of chutzpah.
He also was the sub­ject of some fuss last week. Seems there’s some dis­may that J.W. has his very own bobble­head doll for sale.
My re­col­lec­tion of high-school his­tory is that learn­ing about the Civil War era was by far the most fas­cin­at­ing part. The tra­gic over­tones of that stag­ger­ing, na­tion-des­troy­ing con­flict defy com­pre­hen­sion gen­er­a­tions later, but I’ll ad­mit to still be­ing mes­mer­ized by that scen­ario of South­ern sym­path­izer and re­spec­ted act­or Booth am­bush­ing Abe with a gun­shot to the head as the pres­id­ent sat in a bal­cony box at Wash­ing­ton’s stately Ford Theat­er, en­joy­ing a com­ic farce called Our Amer­ic­an Cous­in, and then leap­ing to the stage be­low and flee­ing as all hell broke loose.
Booth was like the 1865 ver­sion of Tom Cruise in Mis­sion Im­possible. In 2012, I don’t feel any rage to­ward J.W. I don’t think back to what could have been if only Abe had de­cided to skip the tuxedo and theat­er and head in­stead to a D.C. karaoke bar that night. It’s not even worth fret­ting about how J.W.’s fan­at­icism caused us to be stuck with Pres­id­ent An­drew John­son, a South­ern ca­reer law­maker and ra­cist with an­ger is­sues who al­most got his butt re­moved from of­fice after im­peach­ment by the House.
In fact, who does dwell on all this stuff? None of it mat­ters. Abe got whacked 147 years ago. Per­son­ally, when I think of Booth, I just shake my head and think, “Man, that J.W. was one brassy S.O.B.”
They call it his­tory. Which brings us to the John Wilkes Booth bobble­head doll. No, really. Maybe you heard or read of the little brouhaha last week when the Gettys­burg Na­tion­al Park gift shop cleared the shelves of Booth bobble­heads, sud­denly de­cid­ing it wasn’t polit­ic­ally cor­rect after a loc­al re­port­er, ob­vi­ously bored by a slow news day, wrote a story about wheth­er it was prudent to be ped­dling J.W. dolls at the hal­lowed site where Abe somberly stood in the glow of his most shin­ing mo­ment on Nov. 19, 1863, the day of his truly re­mark­able Gettys­burg Ad­dress.
It’s un­for­tu­nate that they sur­rendered this time at Gettys­burg. Come on, these are ceram­ic dolls! Maybe 6 or 7 inches tall. J.W.’s big head is ex­ag­ger­ated on his small body, and yes, he’s hold­ing his little pis­tol, which makes sense be­cause, as far as we know, he didn’t zap Abe with a Taser.
Even a spokes­wo­man for the Gettys­burg Found­a­tion noted there’d been no com­plaints dur­ing the week the Booth bobble­head was for sale, at which point the de­cision was made that Abe’s bobble­head could stay but that J.W.’s prob­ably should go.
Booth got a raw deal here. Like it or not, J.W. — just like Abe — was a key play­er who sym­bol­ized a de­fin­ing mo­ment in our na­tion’s his­tory. And his­tory also tells us that J.W. got his comeup­pance in the end, ul­ti­mately tracked to a Vir­gin­ia farm by Uni­on sol­diers and shot to death in the barn about two weeks after Lin­coln’s slay­ing.
De­pend­ing wheth­er you’re from the North or the South, the Civil War has long been politi­cized and even cen­sored, de­pend­ing how you want to change the course of his­tory. There are ele­ments of that here.
Does put­ting J.W. back in his box and tot­ing him to the stor­age room make things right? Not really. If you want J.W.’s bobble­head as an off­beat col­lect­ible, buy it. And if you want to buy J.W.’s bobble­head simply to smash it to smithereens, per­haps a bit of cath­artic re­tri­bu­tion for an evil deed he com­mit­ted nearly 150 years ago, then do that too.
Let the pub­lic de­cide what’s taste­ful.
It prob­ably says a lot that Bobble­Head LLC, the Kan­sas City firm that pro­duces the nov­el­ties, has sold more than 150 of an ori­gin­al run of 250 Booth dolls, at roughly $20 each, with plans to make more.
Of course, when it comes to bobble­heads, I’ll con­cede there are folks who are off-lim­its and would have zero mar­ket­ing ap­peal. You don’t do ter­ror lead­ers. You es­pe­cially don’t do the Kar­dashi­an sis­ters. Lee Har­vey Os­wald? I think he’s bobble-worthy. When it comes to John F. Kennedy, I’d likely re­frain from pro­du­cing the de­luxe bobble­head edi­tion of him and Mar­ilyn in their bath­robes, but Os­wald, much like John Wilkes Booth a cen­tury be­fore him, shares a his­tor­ic foot­note in the as­sas­sin­a­tion of a stor­ied pres­id­ent whose leg­acy still thrives nearly 50 years later.
Booth’s bobble­head de­serves a shelf in Gettys­burg’s gift shop. He is a vil­lain, no doubt about it, and there was everything cow­ardly in his rise to mar­tyr­dom among com­pat­ri­ots in the war-torn South, but you can’t re­write April 14, 1865. He and Abe shared equal billing on that his­tory-mak­ing night at Ford Theat­er. ••
John Scan­lon is ed­it­or of the North­east Times. He can be reached at js­can­lon@bsmphilly.com

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