Dump patronage jobs to keep taxes low
While waiting nervously for my new estimated tax under the city’s proposed AVI (after three straight years of property tax increases), I got a whole different surprise in the mail.
The Water Department is raising rates because it say it needs “adequate revenues” for infrastructure. Well, who knows. Given how this city runs, maybe they plan to drill for water, offshore.
The average water bill is now $700 a year. It seems to me that used to be what our property taxes averaged. Between them, the typical Northeast homeowner must be paying close to $3,000 a year. That’s just too much money. You see, I need “adequate revenues” too.
The Inquirer recently reported that an assistant managing director got a newly created job at the airport with the help of Mayor Nutter. The City is so broke it paid him $87,100 for a job that didn’t exist before.
This employee did have a unique resume. He was forced to resign from the Street administration for City Charter violations. He was also suspected of stealing $13,000 from a nonprofit. He was also recently disciplined for messing with a city councilwoman’s campaign fund. For this, the mayor thinks he deserves $87,000 a year? (Editor’s note: The appointee has since been fired from the job.)
My question is, how many more similar patronage employees are on the city payroll? When you write that check to the city, think about the $87,000 salary you helped pay for … and please demand the mayor clean out the patronage rolls before asking Philadelphians to pay one more penny in fees and taxes.
City has no right to mandate sick time
I am not sure where City Council has the authority to dictate a benefit package to a private enterprise and force them to provide paid sick time to its employees.
The call for sick time is really for more vacation time, because it is always abused, and the idea that a county government can impose these benefits to any private organization, I believe, is beyond the role of any government body. The next thing will be to require companies to pay for the 15 to 20 holidays that are paid to many government employees, or maybe a two- to three-month vacation like our elected officials enjoy.
It is time for all employers to notify Council to stay out of their business, and if they persist, move the companies out of the city and make Philadelphia just another ghost town because of too much government.
A C&B kid misses the good ol’ days
I read the article Blast from the Past (Feb. 13 issue) and when I saw Castor & Benner, I couldn’t believe it.
I grew up three houses from the corner of C&B at 6014 Castor Ave., and as a member of the C&B gang in the late 1970s and ’80s, I was immediately transported back in time. I totally remember my mom sending me down to New Father & Sons Shoe Service with my dad’s work boots to get new soles put on. Back when you fixed what you had and going out to buy a new pair was unheard of!
Our neighborhood was so tight- knit everyone knew each other. You knew your neighbors.
It was a time when you didn’t have to listen to just your parents, you had to listen to your friends’ parents as well. Because, if your mom got a call that you didn’t behave, well, need I say more?
Wow, thank you for the walk down memory lane. I really miss that corner and my old house. It was some of the best times of my life.
Help her get rid of illegal squatters
I am an 83-year-old widow. Twenty-five years ago, I purchased a duplex hoping to add to my Social Security and pay my own way. Recently, a disreputable six-month tenant illegally sublet his apartment to two known con artists whom I cannot get to vacate.
Who will help me? Not our 8th district. Not the Municipal Court.
Answer: A lawyer demanding $1,200 to start, and maybe six months time before the sheriff puts them out.
These illegal squatters have more rights than I do.
Is our Mayor Nutter going to increase my taxes this year?
Is there no help against professional con artists? Someone should revise our laws to protect the innocent. I know I am not the only one caught in this scam.
I do feel like my blood pressure will cause a stroke or worse.
Mary B. Strautins
The Actual Value Initiative is wrong
I think the city’s Actual Value Initiative is a very wrong method. Actual value is for an insurance company to raise premiums.
Perhaps a better method would be to calculate taxes based on the size of the lot’s square footage. Never on value, because it’s nobody’s business how much the property is worth.
A well-kept neighborhood should be rewarded by paying less taxes, not more. If the city has eminent domain, then it should take over those properties that don’t pay taxes, or have zero tolerance. Every year, the city raises taxes, and senior citizens suffer more. Can the Times find out how much money the city receives and follow the money if it is wasted?
The education debate: public vs. charter
The relationship between public and charter schools has been the topic of much discussion in Philadelphia and across the nation. A matter that does not need much discussion is the fact that our education system is in crisis. Our national standings are dipping every year. Educators, communities and political figures are all scrambling for a sustainable solution. While some may agree charter schools provide the answer to how to fix America’s schools, others remain strong proponents of public schools. This raises a serious question: Who is right?
There’s no denying that charter schools provide an essential choice. In light of the fact that many of our public schools are not performing up to par, parents have the ability to provide their children with alternative educational opportunities.
Charter schools tend to offer unique learning environments with innovative learning methodologies. Some charters may focus on literacy, while others may focus on technology, science, math or the arts. Such schools have more authority and flexibility to make decisions that can strengthen the community at large.
Furthermore, research indicates that students learn better in small group settings.
Charter schools tend to provide smaller class sizes. From a structural standpoint, charter schools enjoy greater autonomy in return for higher student achievement.
Nonetheless, a common pushback against charters is the fact that they receive public funding, which many rightfully argue take much-needed resources away from public schools. This has caused a rift in some educational and academic circles.
How can we as a society expect to have thriving public schools, while they are being defunded? This discussion would not be a balanced one if it were not mentioned that public schools welcome and try to educate ALL students. They offer social services and special education programming that many charters simply do not have the capacity to provide. As a nation of immigrants, public schools play a significant role in bringing diverse groups together, which many would agree prepares them for a better life in our country.
The debate about which educational framework is most effective, charter or public, presents a philosophical exercise that we must permit to take its course. However, it’s important as stakeholders that we keep in mind what’s best for the children because they are the ones who truly matter.Numa F. St. Louis
Too many students becoming indebted
Going to a four-year college has become synonymous with the American Dream. For many of us, to be able to afford the tuition at a university, we have no other choice but to take out college loans, which on average add up to graduating with a principal balance of $25,000 strapped onto our backs.Time magazine reports only 58 percent of undergraduates finish their four-year degree on time, which means the majority of middle-class college students are dishing out even more money on top of their already skyrocketing tuition rates to pay for extra semesters of college. This recent development is a contributing factor to why student debt has increased almost 50 percent just from four years ago.
Once you sign on the dotted line to borrow the tens of thousands of dollars to fund your higher education, keep in mind until you pay back every dime, plus interest, that Uncle Sam will be looking over your shoulder. There is no escaping him, no matter how clever you think you are.
Wall Street banks got a bailout but you are still on the hook. Bankruptcy cannot save you. The only option you have is to temporarily delay payments, but the interest will keep on accruing and your mountain of debt rises even higher.
Uncle Sam doesn’t want to hear your sob story that the country is recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression. If you took out college loans, the government believes it is not their problem that you cannot land a job that pays a living wage salary so you can afford to send them a monthly payment, which is typically a few hundred dollars.
I consider myself to be fortunate to have never missed a college loan payment and I was able to pay off all my loans, eight years after I had graduated from college. Sacrifices were certainly made. I always bought used cars and I ended up living at home for a few years before finally being able to afford to move out on my own.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent report states that out of the 10 fastest-growing jobs, only one of them, biomedical engineers, pays an average annual base salary more than $55,000. The two fastest-growing jobs are personal care aides, whose average salary is $19,640, and home health aides, whose typical salary is $20,560.
If you are a college student who has taken out loans, you might want to start getting cozy to the idea of living with mom and dad much longer than you had anticipated because when the college loan bubble implodes, you are going to want to be living at home.
Outstanding student loan debt has reached $1 trillion and has now even surpassed our country’s consumer credit card debt.
We finally have an attorney general in Pa.
Up until now, this bully in our governor’s mansion was prepared to have his way with us.
Now, he must answer to the new chief law enforcement officer in the state, who, apparently, refuses to be pushed around.
We welcome you with all our heart, Kathleen Kane, and we wish you “Godspeed.” I never thought that my hero would be a “heroine.”
He was ready to scuttle the state lottery system, which is producing a billion-dollar profit for the commonwealth, essentially funding all the programs for the seniors, and likewise the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which employs over 5,000 people here in Pennsylvania and brings in over a half-billion dollars.
He refuses to tax the oil and gas drillers proportionately for the sake of education and aid programs for the ill and distressed people of our state. He prefers to abandon and shortchange them, so the drillers will think of him as their savior, as they apparently do.
According to statistics collected by state Sen. Mike Stack, three states equivalent in size to ours out west — Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico — collect an average of $700 million each from the natural gas drillers annually.
So, we know that they can well afford to pay, but this governor of ours is more concerned with his pledge to some idiot named Grover Norquist not to raise taxes. My only question here is, who are the 20 percent who approve of the governor’s performance thus far?
We have a quandary involving our schools here in Philadelphia, thanks to a bevy of fools who are totally engrossed in chasing their tails, trying to balance an insurmountable budget that never should exist, and wouldn’t, if we had leadership from Harrisburg.
The School Reform Commission is a gift from Harrisburg. Thomas Knudsen, who is trying to convince us to close about 40 of our schools to save $30 million, is a gift from Harrisburg. And the underlying fact that we don’t have the necessary funding for the system is also a gift from Harrisburg.
Once more, who are these 20 percent who approve of the governor’s performance thus far?
Incidentally, that $30 million that this expert from Harrisburg (Knudsen) claims that we can save by scuttling all these schools could have been supplied by the governor, if he chose to redirect the $30 million that he gave to Delta Air Lines to help them purchase the Trainer oil refinery, so they can produce their own jet fuel and save money. Unfortunately, there is no benefit to the taxpayers, from whom this allocation came, because Delta doesn’t even have a hub in Pennsylvania. Who the hell are these 20 percent?
Go get ’em, Kathleen Kane.