Leave the Pennypack train trestle alone
The assertion that the Pennypack Bridge train trestle is an eyesore is ludicrous. The trestle has an old-world, rustic-type charm that aesthetically matches the wooded area through which it runs. It looks like an old train trestle, which is exactly what it is!
When approaching the trestle from either direction on Frankford Avenue, it appears as if one is entering a small town. Any new paint job would result in an ugly, bright, glossy, modern, cold look, with paint that will more likely than not begin to peel and darken in splotches within several years. Also, how much of the rail line would be painted? The line is visible for several hundred yards in both directions. A painted trestle will not blend or match with the remaining rail line that is so highly visible.
Any talk of banners demonstrates a true taste for tackiness. And please, no murals. This isn’t Kensington or North Philly!
In my opinion, the trestle should be left with its current charm intact.
If anything, I would support an effort to perhaps restore the trestle to its original appearance when it was first built. That would be both historic and cool looking.
By the way, no amount of paint is going to make the slip-shod city paint job on the guardrails look better. Nor is it going to make the cracked city pavements look better. Nor is it going to make the state-funded sloppy street paving and sloppy line painting look better. Nor is it going to make all the litter look better. Nor is it going to make the poorly placed utility poles and low-hanging wires look better.
And what about the recently placed northbound Pennypack Creek sign that city workers put up askew?
Wow, it seems that there are quite a few other projects that would go a lot further in improving the appearance of the area.
William J. Lawler II
Nameless victims of alleged baby killer
His alleged crimes went undetected for years. He was known as the doc to go to for extremely late, late-term abortions (more than 24 weeks’ gestation). At times, those “late-term abortions” turned into the killing of live infants, according to a grand jury report that reads like the script from a horror movie. When live babies were delivered, he allegedly stuck scissors in the back of the babies’ necks and severed the spinal cords, killing them. The grand jury estimates that Dr. Kermit Gosnell engaged in hundreds of such killings, but charges could be brought in only a handful of cases, because he destroyed files to cover his tracks.
The grand jury described Gosnell as a “butcher of women.” As members of the grand jury declared in their chilling report, “Dr. Gosnell didn’t just kill babies. He was also a deadly threat to mothers.”
During a debate at a college campus, a representative from Planned Parenthood suggested that I would not know the name of the female patient Gosnell was charged with killing — the supposition being that pro-lifers do not really care about women. Without hesitation, I answered, “Karnamaya Mongar.” She was a 41-year-old refugee from Nepal, according to the grand jury report. After a few hours in this house of horrors, she stopped breathing. When the paramedics finally arrived, the hallways were so cluttered that it took them 20 minutes to get the patient out of the building. She died.
How many other women died as a result of Gosnell’s lethal form of medicine, we’ll never know. Gosnell’s case is working its way through the Philadelphia justice system, and Pennsylvania now has a law, Act 122, to ensure that abortion facilities follow the safety standards of outpatient surgery centers. But it’s too late for the women who say they suffered as a result of Gosnell’s brutal practice. And what of those babies who were routinely killed at the Women’s Medical Society? No one knows their names.
Legislative Director, PA Pro-Life Federation
Be accountable for your actions
People write letters to this newspaper pointing out how others create problems that harm all of us.
They note that real estate taxes rise for some while others do not pay at all. Spiteful persons stick ice picks into tires of parked cars or strew shredded newspaper in the streets. Schools fail to educate and are dens of violence. Citizens are taxed to pay for medical procedures and preventatives that they morally oppose, such as abortion and contraception. Our elected government representatives run on a platform that promises lower taxes and more programs and then point fingers as our national debt skyrockets.
It is as illogical as if you lost your job and then maxed out your credit cards purchasing luxuries well beyond necessities, paying only the minimum due, if that, and then when financially strapped ask to be bailed out. We do not respond to the injustice, for example, of emergency room costs for head injuries suffered by an uninsured person who chose not to wear a helmet when they rode a motorcycle, perhaps speeding or doing wheelies and then crashing, forcing the general public to pay the bill.
Decent people should accept the costs of things like road and bridge repairs that benefit all of us as well as paying fair insurance costs for illnesses not caused by poor lifestyle choices. If people choose to smoke, and then get emphysema or lung cancer as a result, they cause insurance premiums to rise for all of us. Would it be immoral to demand that those who indulge in any of the above-mentioned voluntary risky behaviors purchase additional insurance or else have to bear the expenses on their own? What do the above examples have in common? They ignore the need to hold people personally responsible for their actions.
It is said that if you do the crime, you do the time. We must require people to be held accountable for the consequences of their poor choices.
A solution to firefighters’ contract battle
Key arguments related to understanding a firefighter’s unique benefits challenge need to be reviewed in order to properly reward a reasonable contract. Firefighting is a career choice that requires extensive training, so the city as employer requires a long-term commitment; yet the physical demands prove that retiring at age 68 is unrealistic. Therefore, firefighters must retire earlier than normal workers; yet they may not be able to find a second career that matches in salary and benefits. Finally, firefighting is hazardous. It is not just the elevated risk of death or injury from burning, collapsing structures; fires are noxious chemical stews that expose firefighters to carcinogenic poisons. Firefighting is a recipe for a short, unhealthy life as well as a short career.
In trying to gain a better understanding of the ongoing contract disagreement, I have reviewed the Fire Department budget and the arbitration award looking for recommendations that might allow for more flexibility by the city to accept the decision in providing firefighters a salary equal to their unparalleled risk and responsibility.
What I have learned is that a few relevant questions have been overlooked by both parties. Mayor Nutter presented a faulty argument when his team did not compare a Philadelphia firefighter’s salary and benefits to other similar sized cities. The mayor’s argument was based on the ability of the city to pay for raises and benefits, the amount of potential revenue versus the firefighters’ request. Absent an argument of comparable salaries and benefits, the arbitrator could not determine whether Local 22’s request was equivalent to firefighters in other cities. IAFF Local 22 twice won its hearings with the help of the mayor’s faulty arguments.
Regardless of the award decision, this exercise is to show that with effective budgeting and follow-up responsibility, there are enough current dollars for the award to become effective and serve as a beginning point for new negotiations in approving an appropriate deal before the June 30 contract expiration.
Two major expenses within the Fire Department budget need to be examined, the $7,480,283 “Payment to Other Funds” for water use — and the $6,203,000 “Aviation Fund.”
Unfortunately, there are no meters at water mains, hydrants or hoses to accurately measure the actual amount of water used in fighting fires to justify an expense of $7,480,263. Therefore, it is safe to assume that as an expense related to the number of gallons of water used cannot be verified, water fund payments should be stopped. The Fire Department usage of water is part of a city service to its citizens, paid for by tax dollars, therefore, water should not be an expense on the Fire Department budget especially since the city has not included measurable calculations to justify the expense.
Also, the assumption that the federal government covers the $6,203,000 expense for aviation cannot be verified, as there is no corresponding receipt of grant revenue to offset this balance. The choices are either the grant receivable has been misapplied or the city has been negligent in the application process. This conclusion allows for questioning to what extent is the Fire Department staffed to seek grants from other tiers of government, or is it dependent on the reliability of Mayor Nutter’s administration in researching, properly completing the applications and applying the receipt of grant money appropriately.
The elimination of these two expenses totaling $13 million-plus within the Fire Department budget should be used as part of the negotiation leverage strategy by IAFF Local 22 in gaining a fair contract with the city.