Northeast Times

Story Archive November 07 2012

Editorial: Do actual collecting

   If you voted yesterday, you get a gold star for citizenship. If you didn’t vote, shame on you. Blame the guy in the mirror if you get the government you didn’t vote for.    Now it’s time for Philadelphians to focus on an issue of equal, and maybe even greater, importance: The city’s very broken property-tax system. After years of delay and cowardice by elected officials, the city is finally trying to institute reform by taxing properties at a percentage of what they are actually worth.The plan is called the Actual Value Initiative, and while it’s long overdue, it should not go into effect until Philadelphia gets its fiscal house in order by eliminating waste, maximizing municipal employees’ productivity, and finding cheaper ways to deliver city services, including privatizing trash collection by giving the job to the qualified lowest bidder and requiring the winner to retain the current workforce.   Under no circumstances should Philadelphia residents or merchants allow the city government to collect another dime in property taxes until it gets its act together and collects back taxes. That means Mayor Michael “I’ll Reform City Government” Nutter must instruct the commissioners of the Departments of Revenue and Licenses & Inspections to get together with the city solicitor, who runs the Law Department, to crack down, IMMEDIATELY, on tax deadbeats.   “Philadelphia has over $500 million in delinquent property taxes but no new plan and very little discussion about how to collect what is alreadly owed. We’re also still waiting for the revenue numbers from the reassessment to come in,” says Northeast Philly state Sen. Michael Stack. “These are the issues we need to tackle before we talk about AVI and city property taxes.” Amen.Send letters to the editor to: pronews@bsmphilly.com


Letters to the editor: Nov. 7, 2012 edition

A stunning byproduct of Hurricane SandyWhen the 99 percent marched in protest for decent paying employment and rebuilding of the infrastructure in our city, none of the officials would take our concerns seriously.Since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy has hampered the functions of the East Coast, we will hang up our Willing to Work signs, as it is time to roll up our sleeves and repair all damage caused by the storm.Hurricane Sandy has wiped our shores clean of all the greed and corruption that the 1 percent has inflicted on the middle class.To think that an act of nature could affect everything that is rotten in our country and bring the mighty down from their ivory towers has me stunned.My main objective for participating as an activist was to ask the mayor and city officials to let us have a fair share of earning a living in Philadelphia. Was it too much to ask for?Anna KauffmanLawndalePlease help get winter coats for our veteransEffective immediately, I am collecting new and slightly used winter coats for homeless veterans who are served by the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center in Philadelphia.Our veterans badly need these winter coats to protect them from the upcoming winter weather. Both casual and dress coats are appreciated, as many of our veterans need dress coats to wear on job interviews as they transition back into the workforce. Winter coats are needed for both men and women. The coats can be dropped off in my district office at 19 S. York Road in Hatboro. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our veterans.  Rep. Thomas P. Murt152nd Legislative DistrictDrop the DROP: It’s hurting the taxpayersTo letter writers Harry Parfitt Jr. and Robert F. Burns (It’s not nice to pick on our city workers, Oct. 31 edition), you should remember that my earlier letter was in response to a city worker crying the blues.The DROP program, which was never meant for any city worker but rather, high-ranking police and firemen, is a crime against all taxpayers and is found in only a few cities in the country.I like how Harry comments about getting some interest on his DROP money. I think it is over 3 percent. The rest of us get .05 interest on our money.Since my last letter, I was informed that other high-ranking agencies routinely ask their retirees who collected DROP money to come to work!As a property owner, I pay every city tax there is, and that gets me my trash collected. Period. I pay for water and sewer service.Those city workers who may be doing nasty jobs are doing jobs they applied for, and they are well compensated in every way. A trash truck driver makes more money than the average college graduate, without college loans to pay back!Being in the private sector, I get no paid holidays and have had all my vacation, sick and personal days taken away from me. I have had my salary reduced by one-third. While I can live with that, I don’t want to hear city workers complaining!Oh, and no writer has yet to include in their letter how much they got in their DROP goodie basket.Ron KallBustletonCity’s trash fine is a real stinkerWell finally the issue of the $50 trash fine is being stirred up. Let me just say that last year while I brought my husband in the house from the hospital, and nurses and therapists were scurrying around making him comfortable from a massive stroke, these do-gooders with the camera and fines were outside photographing my trash.Needless to say, I realize the city of Philadelphia has to find ways to make money, however, it shouldn’t be at the expense of senior citizens who have more important things to do.I always put our trash out late, except for that one day when a good neighbor helped me out. Yes, I paid the fine and wrote a letter to be forwarded to Mayor Nutter. I wonder if he ever got it?I don’t agree with anyone putting their trash out in the dark, especially in the icy winter anywhere in Philadelphia.Elizabeth ZinkMillbrookStop school bullyingBullying is a real problem in our society. It happens in our schools and it has to be stopped. Research has shown that the long-term effects of bullying can be harmful to a child’s well-being. We can’t accept this behavior. It is important to educate our children on how wrong bullying is.The children don’t deserve this, and it needs to be handled and addressed by parents and school officials. Law enforcement officials need to get involved if necessary. It is a problem that needs to be solved to help our kids. To help, I created a Facebook page called Stop Bullying. The goal of this page is to inform people of bullying and help prevent it. If you’re a Facebook member, search Stop Bullying and hit the “like” button. It is an important issue and we can stop it.David LeeMillbrookMore brouhaha from letter about city workersRegarding Ron Kall’s letter in the Oct. 17 edition (Our city workers don’t have it so bad): In my Oct. 10 letter (Don’t blame the workers, says recent retiree), I didn’t accuse anyone of stealing from the city, nor was I complaining. I simply stated facts as to where and to whom and how much of our tax money was being given and spent and how unfair it is. Let me address some of the statements in your letter, with facts, about our benefits.I did participate in the DROP program. The misperception is that the city GAVE me the DROP money. The fact is, the city took the pension money I PAID into my pension fund for 34 years and invested it. After four years of that investment, I received a return on MY OWN money and not our tax money.Did you know the city’s work force has declined? In 1999 there were about 2,400 sanitation workers. At present there are 1,200 sanitation workers. That’s half the number who were working in 1999.In order to help ease the fiscal problems the city was having, District Council 33 agreed to have larger trash trucks, which hold more trash, in its fleet — thus requiring fewer employees. The amount of trash hasn’t lessened, just the number of laborers doing the job. Try throwing a load of trash or cleaning out sewers for a day, Ron.The workforce of fleet management in 1999 was around 550 employees. Today there are around 345 employees repairing more vehicles than before, with fewer employees. As you pointed out in your letter, the lion’s share of our tax dollars goes to these and other blue-collar workers. What you neglected to point out in your letter is the fact that these same blue-collar employees perform the lion’s share of the work. Yes, city workers do get more days off than the private sector. We also make a lot LESS money than the employees in the private sector doing the same jobs. During the 38 years of my employment, DC33 and DC47, along with the city, negotiated contracts where it was cheaper for the city to give us these benefits than it was to give us a raise.DC33 and DC47 agreed, through negotiations with the city, to change the pension plan to a less expensive plan and employees now also earn less sick time and must work longer to collect a pension. Neither the police nor fire unions negotiate their contract; they are subject to binding arbitration.Funny thing about those binding arbitration awards — neither the police nor fire unions took the city to court because they didn’t like those awards; those union leaders and members had the integrity to accept the contracts they were awarded. Can’t say the same about our mayor. Why is it that when a politician needs to balance a budget or make budget cuts, the fiscal burden of those actions fall on the workers’ backs?Twenty-eight people, Ron. That’s how many people took the mechanics test for city employment the last time it was given. Why do you think there was such a poor showing for such a desirable position? Is it that the city does not pay as much as the private sector? Are the benefit packages not as lucrative as you seem to believe? Ron, feel free to fill out an application for a city position. Take the test, pass the test, be interviewed, pass a physical and a drug test, and then pass a background check.Don’t know if you are pro-union or anti-union, Ron. Know this: Without unions, working people would be working under the same conditions as the coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania had to endure. Remember, unions built this country. Unfortunately, there are some politicians and CEOs of big companies trying to tear the unions down and destroy them. SCREW THEM!Mike LinahanModena Park


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As a college basketball referee, Joe DeMayo has one of the hardest and most thankless jobs. At any given game, he’s bound to make countless new enemies, who will call into question everything from his eyesight to his sanity to his family’s lineage.





Still in the game

It’s difficult to imagine what might’ve become of former Father Judge student-athlete Gregory Hennigar mainly because he could’ve done just about anything, according to those who knew him best.