Letters to the editor: Nov. 7, 2012 edition

A stun­ning byproduct of Hur­ricane Sandy
When 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 Kauff­man

Please help get winter coats for our vet­er­ans
Ef­fect­ive 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. Murt
152nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict

Drop the DROP: It’s hurt­ing the tax­pay­ers
To 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 Kall

City’s trash fine is a real stinker
Well 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 Zink

Stop school bul­ly­ing
Bul­ly­ing 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 Lee

More brouhaha from let­ter about city work­ers
Re­gard­ing 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 Li­na­han
Mod­ena Park

• • •

Re­gard­ing the ori­gin­al let­ters by Mike Li­na­han and Ron Kall:
Dear Mike and Ron: Our city is not go­ing bank­rupt be­cause of the work­ers, it is go­ing bank­rupt be­cause of the non-work­ers who are be­ing giv­en great in­cent­ives not to work.
Mr. Li­na­han will be giv­en his five years of med­ic­al that was awar­ded to city work­ers through city con­tracts, but once Mr. Li­na­han’s five years are fin­ished, he had bet­ter hope that he is 65 years old and able to go on Medi­care, oth­er­wise he will be fa­cing what my hus­band and I are fa­cing, which, ac­cord­ing to In­de­pend­ence Blue Cross, is go­ing to be more than $25,000 per year for med­ic­al for both of us.
The FOP’s af­ford­able med­ic­al plan that was be­ing offered for re­tir­ees when my hus­band re­tired has been phased out, and the Fair Care Med­ic­al plan, which re­quires in­di­vidu­als to pay reas­on­able premi­ums and de­duct­ibles, that Pres­id­ent Obama fun­ded for the states, in­clud­ing Pennsylvania, for in­di­vidu­als with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, is be­ing re­stric­ted to such in­di­vidu­als un­til they can prove that they have been without med­ic­al in­sur­ance for six months.
Mean­while, if you are a part-time work­er or non-work­er, or hide your money in your house, you can qual­i­fy for Medi­caid, Spe­cial Care, Char­ity Care and count­less oth­er health care pro­grams with­in six weeks, all at the cost of every re­tir­ee and per­son who works, wheth­er it be in a gov­ern­ment job or private sec­tor job of our city.
Theresa McMul­lin

• • •

Ron Kall, Mike Li­na­han and my­self all agree that City Coun­cil and the staff and aides in city gov­ern­ment are over­paid for the work they do in their jobs they were elec­ted and ap­poin­ted to per­form. Their bo­nuses, perks, com­pens­a­tion, etc., do not equate to their shoddy job per­form­ance, their track re­cords or the hours that they work.
However, Mr. Kall, we seem to dis­agree on many oth­er things. Don’t blame Mr. Li­na­han for en­rolling in the DROP pro­gram. City gov­ern­ment, in its ever-in­fin­ite wis­dom, is what im­ple­men­ted the pro­gram in the first place.
I my­self have been a city em­ploy­ee for 26 years. I know Mr. Li­na­han per­son­ally. I too have worked nu­mer­ous hours of over­time, week­ends, hol­i­day, and snowstorms to earn a de­cent paycheck to provide for my fam­ily.
Our paid time off, our be­ne­fit pack­ages, pen­sion plans and five years of med­ic­al after re­tire­ment are very nice in­deed, but they were all ne­go­ti­ated through bar­gain­ing ses­sions between the city ad­min­is­tra­tion and the mu­ni­cip­al uni­ons. You are mis­taken for blam­ing Mr. Li­na­han for util­iz­ing the tools at his dis­pos­al.
You failed to men­tion what you did for a liv­ing, sir, or if you were ever em­ployed at all. What type of raise did you re­ceive dur­ing your ten­ure of em­ploy­ment? Did you work four years without an in­crease in your salary?
You state that a $430 in­crease in your paycheck over a 13-year peri­od sounds good to you. Pro-rated over a 40-year work­ing ca­reer, that is roughly equi­val­ent to about a $1,300 in­crease in your paycheck. Does that still sound good to you? Again, I ask, what was your line of work?
The city isn’t in fin­an­cial woes be­cause of our be­ne­fit pack­ages, pen­sion plans and med­ic­al pack­ages. It is in the cur­rent fin­an­cial mess be­cause of over­paid city gov­ern­ment staff, laws and bylaws that pre­vent the city from col­lect­ing back taxes from de­lin­quent dead­beat cit­izens who owe city gov­ern­ment mil­lions and mil­lions of dol­lars and be­cause of a pub­lic school sys­tem that can’t get its fin­an­cial house in or­der no mat­ter who is in charge.
When you dir­ect your an­ger at who is re­spons­ible for drain­ing city fin­ances, please chan­nel it to­ward the right en­tit­ies. You are far off base by lay­ing it at the feet of city em­ploy­ees.
Bruce Dona­telli

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