Letters to the Editor (March 6, 2013)

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

Up­per Holmes­burg

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.

Maria Galla­gh­er

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.

Mel Flit­ter


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.

Elmer Money

Mor­rell Park

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