Northeast Times

Letters to the editor: Oct. 10, 2012 edition

Trade agree­ments put the middle class in jeop­ardy
Re­mem­ber the slo­gan Buy Amer­ic­an? This re­ferred to products pro­duced in the USA. Un­der this premise, we prospered un­til the second term of Bill Clin­ton. Dur­ing his ten­ure, Con­gress im­ple­men­ted trade agree­ments like NAF­TA. They were det­ri­ment­al to the U.S. work­er. This opened the floodgates to out­sourcing of U.S.-made products. These agree­ments con­tin­ued un­der both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In the pres­id­en­tial de­bates, both can­did­ates prom­ise more than they can ful­fill. When vot­ing for Con­gress, vote for in­di­vidu­als who will re­verse these trade agree­ments. Un­less these agree­ments are over­turned, the middle class as we know it will con­tin­ue to dis­ap­pear!
Wal­ter Blow­it­ski
Somer­ton

How dare the par­ents want the  best for their kid!
Re­gard­ing last week’s cov­er story Tough Les­son: OMG!! The Gar­cias should be put in jail and the key thrown away for try­ing to get their daugh­ter in­to a school when they were — gasp! — two blocks out of bounds. How much did it cost to hire a private in­vest­ig­at­or to place the Gar­cias un­der sur­veil­lance for four days? What a waste of time and money.
Maybe I will con­sider mov­ing to Lower Mo­re­land since they seem to have all their ma­jor prob­lems un­der con­trol.
Emma M. Lee
Fox Chase

Re­mov­ing me­di­an strips puts us at risk
Re­cently, the me­di­an con­crete strip on Castor Av­en­ue north of Rhawn Street was re­moved and the road was flattened. It cer­tainly looks nicer, but I think this policy of re­mov­ing me­di­ans is a BIG mis­take.
Those con­crete strips may be ugly, but they are an is­land of safety for ped­es­tri­ans. My neigh­bor was re­cently hit by a van while stand­ing in the flat me­di­an space on Cottman Av­en­ue. A driver raced right down the me­di­an, and tossed him all the way to the side­walk. (For­tu­nately, he sur­vived.)
North­east Philly has turned in­to the “wild, wild west” when it comes to drivers — who turn on red lights right in­to ped­es­tri­ans, who drift out of lanes while on cell phones, and who make il­leg­al U-turns and run stop signs at will. Re­cently, a po­lice of­fi­cial told me that cops can’t do much about this bad be­ha­vi­or, be­cause it’s now an epi­dem­ic. I think turn­ing the me­di­an strips in­to a road­way just gives drivers an­oth­er way to go “ped­es­tri­an hunt­ing.”
So please save those ugly me­di­ans. In fact, please make the curbs high­er, and re­design me­di­ans for ped­es­tri­an safety. You could save some­body’s life.
Richard Iac­on­elli
Rhawn­hurst

The trash po­lice strike again
I re­cently re­ceived a tick­et for put­ting my trash out too early. I put it out early simply be­cause I do not feel safe to ven­ture in­to the dimly lighted al­ley­way to set the trash out after dark.
In the fall and winter, dark falls be­fore 7 p.m., and my trash is ac­cord­ingly set out be­fore then. I have lived in Ox­ford Circle, on the same block, for the ma­jor­ity of my 31 years. I live in the house that my grand­par­ents bought back in 1951, when Ox­ford Circle was “the place to be.” I have watched this neigh­bor­hood change from a pleas­ant place to raise a fam­ily, in­to a run-down, crime-rid­den area where I triple check my locks and don’t go out­side after dark, not even to put the trash out.
I main­tain the prop­erty well, my side­walk and yard are free of over­growth and debris, and I al­ways shovel my snow. However, since my one trash can and three re­cyc­ling bins were moved ap­prox­im­ately 5 feet from my gar­age to the edge of my prop­erty in the al­ley­way at 4 p.m. rather than 7 p.m., I now owe the city $50. As a single mom, the amount of this fine is enough to cause a dent in my wal­let, but not enough to war­rant miss­ing a day of work to ap­peal it.
This neigh­bor­hood has changed a great deal over the last dec­ade or so, and the city has not changed to keep up with it. The city that I call home needs to be con­cerned with the safety of its cit­izens be­fore the loc­a­tion of its trash cans.
Anne Mar­ie Cough­lin

Sec­tion 8 is com­ing to an area near you
I was get­ting a hair­cut at the neigh­bor­hood barber shop on Cottman Av­en­ue. The barber owns a house in May­fair and also has a son in real es­tate. The barber told me that she would sell her house if she could to get out of her dilap­id­ated neigh­bor­hood, but at the mo­ment she could not af­ford to do so. She adam­antly felt that Sec­tion 8 hous­ing has put her once cher­ished neigh­bor­hood in a per­man­ent state of de­cline.
The neigh­bor­hoods of May­fair, Ta­cony and Ox­ford Circle are on the front­lines of this heated de­bate.
For a fam­ily of four to qual­i­fy for Sec­tion 8 hous­ing, they can­not ex­ceed an an­nu­al in­come of $23,500. There is such a back­log in Phil­adelphia that the wait­ing list for new Sec­tion 8 ap­plic­ants is closed, ac­cord­ing to pha.phila.gov. Be­cause of the sheer num­bers of people in need of vouch­er hous­ing, Sec­tion 8 ten­ants will be com­ing to a neigh­bor­hood close to you.
It’s a con­ten­tious de­bate that com­munity ad­voc­ates should se­cure the re­sources to fur­ther ex­plore the im­pact Sec­tion 8 ten­ants have in hopes of put­ting stig­mas and ste­reo­types to rest in or­der to bring the com­munity to­geth­er.
And once and for all, the “There goes the neigh­bor­hood” com­ments can be sub­stan­ti­ated or put to rest.
Jason Kaye
Burholme

Don’t fall for the scare tac­tics from the Obama cam­paign
With the elec­tion a few weeks away, I have to say, Obama is good, but not in a good way. Us­ing scare tac­tics as part of his cam­paign strategy is just plain cruel and de­ceit­ful. What is even more pi­ti­ful is how ac­tu­ally scared people are.
This last week, I made a point talk­ing to seni­or cit­izens. I was in awe listen­ing to how scared they really were about this up­com­ing elec­tion. Obama should be ashamed of him­self. He has them be­liev­ing they will lose their Medi­care if Rom­ney is elec­ted pres­id­ent or the big bad Re­pub­lic­ans will push them off the cliff. Ser­i­ously? This couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. In real­ity, it is Obama who took mil­lions of dol­lars from Medi­care to fund his Obama­care, which in turn, will not be go­ing to­ward any seni­or’s needs.
I would say just about every­one I talked to said they didn’t like Obama (I’m be­ing nice here). However, all agreed they were scared to vote for Rom­ney be­cause of Obama scar­ing the “you know what” out of them. Thank God my hus­band set them all straight. Mean­while, seni­ors really need to do their home­work. I’m sure there are more out there like these clue­less seni­ors.
An­oth­er is­sue is this war on wo­men. Hello! Last time I checked, I am a wo­man, and if I thought there was a war or wo­men’s rights be­ing jeop­ard­ized, I would be the first one out there protest­ing with one of those ri­dicu­lous signs. Sandra Fluke. Oh please!
Please, please, please, people, keep in mind Rom­ney is not against the middle class, just be­cause he worked hard and ful­filled his Amer­ic­an dream and is now a man of means. This is NOT a crime, like Obama would have you be­lieve. In fact, if you do your home­work, he is try­ing to help the middle class and all people who want to work hard and not sit back be­ing en­titled, or look­ing their whole life for handouts from the gov­ern­ment.
Rom­ney is also for ded­ic­ated teach­ers. They don’t seem to get it, be­cause again, Obama is us­ing scare tac­tics. Obama only cares for the uni­ons be­cause, let’s face it, he prom­ised them the moon for their votes.
Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is spend­ing us out of our coun­try, put­ting us fur­ther and fur­ther in debt. Our eco­nomy is in the toi­let. We may be on the eve of World War III and Obama thinks it is more im­port­ant to cam­paign, go on The View and Let­ter­man, etc. His at­ti­tude is “It’s just an­oth­er bump in the road.” He may be a smooth talk­er, but does any­one ac­tu­ally listen to him? Well, the rest of the world is listen­ing, and the United States now looks very weak be­cause of a weak ad­min­is­tra­tion.
Folks, this is some ser­i­ous stuff hap­pen­ing out there.  Stop wor­ry­ing about vot­ing for a par­tic­u­lar party, race or creed, but do your home­work on the ac­tu­al per­son.
Rom­ney may not be the en­tire pack­age, however, he at least is mak­ing an at­tempt to get us back on the right track. I be­lieve he de­serves a chance. I don’t think we, as a coun­try, can af­ford four more years of the same old, same old. This is a scare tac­tic of its own.
Amer­ica! This up­com­ing elec­tion is NOT “just an­oth­er bump in the road.” Sigh!
Di­ane Mc­Dow­ell
Park­wood

Don’t blame the work­ers, says re­cent re­tir­ee
Re­cently I was clean­ing out my desk and found my pay stubs from 1999. My reg­u­lar pay from the city of Phil­adelphia for a two-week peri­od in 1999 was $1,367.85 be­fore taxes. After 38 years, I re­tired in Au­gust 2012. From 1999 to 2012, my reg­u­lar pay from the city of Phil­adelphia for a two-week peri­od had jumped to $1,797.05 be­fore taxes. That’s an in­crease of $429.20 over a 13-year peri­od. That amounts to an in­crease of $35.83 per year or $1.37 more every two weeks in my check! Fig­ure it out — that’s an in­crease of 68 cents a week in my check from 1999 to 2012.
When I re­tired, I did not re­ceive a sev­er­ance pack­age as gen­er­ous as the $1 mil­lion pack­age our former school su­per­in­tend­ent, Ar­lene Ack­er­man, re­ceived. Also, my co-work­ers and my­self had to be em­ployed by the city for 10 years be­fore we were con­sidered ves­ted and able to col­lect a pen­sion — un­like one of our former city man­aging dir­ect­ors, Ca­m­ille Barnett, who was able to buy in­to our pen­sion fund after two years of ser­vice.
Col­lect­ing her pen­sion for two years, she will have re­couped the money she paid in­to the pen­sion fund in a lump sum, and she gets her pen­sion for life! Pay­ing in­to my pen­sion fund for 34 years, I don’t get the monthly pen­sion she does, and she only paid in­to it for two years!
My co-work­ers and I had to work over­time, week­ends, hol­i­days and snowstorms, time away from our fam­il­ies, to make a de­cent salary.
NONE of us in Fleet Man­age­ment EVER earned $80,000 in a year, in­clud­ing over­time, work­ing hol­i­days and week­ends and snowstorms, as Coun­cil­man W. Wilson Goode Jr.’s “sec­ret­ary” did without work­ing week­ends, hol­i­days or snowstorms.
NONE of us re­ceived a $68,000 raise, as did Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Ram­sey. No city em­ploy­ee re­ceives a cost-of-liv­ing al­low­ance every Ju­ly as City Coun­cil does, and it’s auto­mat­ic­ally in­cluded in the Coun­cil mem­bers’ pay.
By the way, City Coun­cil has the “sum­mer re­cess” and Christ­mas break. How many days per year do Coun­cil mem­bers ac­tu­ally work? How many week­ends, hol­i­days or snowstorms are they work­ing? I could go on about May­or Nut­ter and his staff of thou­sands, their salar­ies, be­ne­fits, pen­sions and sev­er­ance pack­ages, but I won’t. How much do these cronies si­phon from the city’s tax­pay­ers?
The news me­dia and news­pa­pers in this city would have you be­lieve that it’s the em­ploy­ees of DC 33 and DC 47, along with the po­lice and fire uni­ons, who are the cause of the fin­an­cial crisis in Phil­adelphia be­cause of their wages, be­ne­fit pack­ages and pen­sion plans. Yes, city em­ploy­ees have good be­ne­fits. What people don’t real­ize, nor is it ever stated or re­por­ted, is the fact that the city’s uni­ons gave up salary in­creases over the years in or­der to re­ceive those be­ne­fits. Now May­or Nut­ter is try­ing to take these ne­go­ti­ated be­ne­fits away with no in­crease in wages!
May­or Nut­ter is even tak­ing a bind­ing ar­bit­ra­tion agree­ment with the fire­men’s uni­on, which can­not ne­go­ti­ate its con­tract, back to court again to try to take away some of those leg­ally bind­ing awar­ded be­ne­fits.
What is the cost of this ac­tion to the tax­pay­ers? May­or Nut­ter won’t even ne­go­ti­ate a fair con­tract with DC 33 or DC 47! What are the may­or and Coun­cil mem­bers’ be­ne­fits, salar­ies and pen­sions and how much is be­ing taken away from them? What are they giv­ing back?
If you still be­lieve it’s the wages of the em­ploy­ees of DC 33, DC47, and the po­lice and fire uni­ons that are the cause of the city’s fin­an­cial woes, read Para­graph 1 again. If you want to see where and to whom all the tax­pay­ers’ money goes, read Para­graph 2 again. If you still be­lieve it’s our be­ne­fits, read the above para­graph again. I be­lieve it’s the top people who are mak­ing the money and re­ceiv­ing the be­ne­fits and col­lect­ing un­just and un­fair pen­sions, not the em­ploy­ees of DC 33, DC 47, and the po­lice and fire uni­ons.
Re­mem­ber, city em­ploy­ees must live in the city. City em­ploy­ees pay the same taxes as every­one else; we get no dis­counts be­cause we work for the city.
The cost of liv­ing goes up for city em­ploy­ees as well as every­one else. Try and keep up with the cost of liv­ing hav­ing an ad­di­tion­al 68 cents a week ex­tra in your pay over a 13-year peri­od!
Mike Li­na­han
Mod­ena Park

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