Letters to the Editor (May 29, 2013)

Where has our na­tion gone?

There are reas­ons why the na­tion I knew as a young man is al­most gone. 

Much of this was cre­ated by politi­cians in the city, state and fed­er­al gov­ern­ments, who have run our na­tion in­to ter­rible debt. But none of their lives or fam­il­ies are in debt. 

Odd isn’t it?

Back in those days, it was odd if you ever heard of a gun be­ing shot and judges who ordered the Ten Com­mand­ments to be taken out of sight.

I can­not see what harm the Ten Com­mand­ments were caus­ing. They in­struct us to live our lives de­cently.

Now the politi­cians are try­ing to change the mean­ing of mar­riage and tell us what we can say and do, what to eat and what to drink.

Now, let’s check on the oil com­pan­ies, who by their greed have cre­ated the largest in­fla­tion this na­tion has ever known, caus­ing the prices of everything that is trans­por­ted to be in­creased.

When you went to the movies, you came out with a smile on your face or laughter, a song in your heart. The worst lan­guage was when Rhett But­ler told Scar­lett that he didn’t give a damn.

Thank God at least we still ad­mire Moth­er’s Day and Fath­er’s Day. By the way, that is how we all came to be on this earth.

John Rauchut


Vir­tu­al charter schools a good op­tion

I have been closely mon­it­or­ing the statewide de­bate on fund­ing pub­lic schools versus vir­tu­al charter schools, and I feel that it is im­port­ant to share my ex­per­i­ences as both an edu­cat­or and as a par­ent of chil­dren in this en­vir­on­ment.  

Vir­tu­al charter schools serve a very im­port­ant pur­pose for chil­dren throughout the Com­mon­wealth of Pennsylvania, and more than 5,000 in the city of Phil­adelphia. As an edu­cat­or, I have seen the great need for these schools among the vul­ner­able and of­ten dis­ad­vant­aged stu­dent pop­u­la­tions that com­prise the stu­dent body at cy­ber charter schools.

I serve spe­cial-needs stu­dents in a vir­tu­al en­vir­on­ment, and I have wit­nessed the change we make in the lives of these stu­dents. I see chil­dren who come in­to my classroom un­able to read, read­ing words and books for the first time.

I have stu­dents who were rid­ing scoot­ers in the hall­ways of their brick and mor­tar school as part of their life skills class, who are count­ing money, work­ing with frac­tions, and mak­ing pre­dic­tions and in­fer­ences, simply be­cause they have a team of pro­fes­sion­als ded­ic­ated to their aca­dem­ic achieve­ment and their emo­tion­al well-be­ing.

As a par­ent, my chil­dren have be­nefited first-hand from the ser­vices provided by ex­cel­lent, highly qual­i­fied, and ded­ic­ated edu­cat­ors work­ing at these schools. My daugh­ter needed an aca­dem­ic en­vir­on­ment that would en­gage and en­cour­age her aca­dem­ic­ally while she felt safe in her sur­round­ings.

My son needed the struc­ture and the con­tinu­ous sup­port and con­tact of teach­ers who were com­mit­ted to his pro­gress and achieve­ment. I am blessed that vir­tu­al charter schools were an op­tion for my chil­dren.

Most people are not aware of the great things that are go­ing on at our vir­tu­al charter schools, and have gross mis­con­cep­tions about the role of vir­tu­al schools, the ser­vices that we provide, and the edu­ca­tion that we of­fer. I would be happy to meet or speak with any­one to dis­cuss the great needs that cy­ber charter schools are filling, as well as the re­duc­tions in pro­grams, ser­vices and jobs that fund­ing cuts would in­ev­it­ably cause.

I in­vite any politi­cian or poli­cy­maker to come to ob­serve any of the classes that I teach on a daily basis.

Voters, through their elec­ted of­fi­cials, have the power to con­tin­ue to sup­port choice and ac­count­ab­il­ity in edu­ca­tion, and I hope that the pub­lic will be think­ing of the thou­sands of spe­cial edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ic­ally dis­ad­vant­aged stu­dents who at­tend cy­ber charter schools dur­ing this le­gis­lat­ive sea­son and bey­ond.

Kim­berly Atias


Reas­on­able gun laws are cer­tainly needed

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre re­minds me of Mar­ie Ant­oinette. She didn’t care if people lived, and he doesn’t care if people die.

I don’t know how he can be against reas­on­able things like re­port­ing lost and stolen guns. Po­lice say about 40 per­cent of crimes are com­mit­ted with the lat­ter, along with straw pur­chases.

It’s a shame that the sen­at­ors who voted against the back­ground checks couldn’t meet face to face with the New­town par­ents group. They had to send their staffs to run in­ter­fer­ence for them. As for the NRA’s score­card, the sen­at­ors should have done the right thing. One sen­at­or, Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), has already tried to weasel out of her “no” vote.

John P. Mc­Greevy

Fox Chase

No bur­qas in the U.S.

There is something both­er­ing me, so I have to write about it. Wo­men have been com­ing to our coun­try from coun­tries that have en­slaved them, beaten and raped them, and also forced them to wear bur­qas. Yet they con­tin­ue to wear bur­qas in Amer­ica. 

Shed your bur­qas, show your beau­ti­ful faces and legs, be a wo­man. You can still wor­ship in your re­li­gion without bur­qas. Show the re­li­gious fan­at­ics you’re on your own now.  I am fi­nally a wo­man. I am in Amer­ica, no more bur­qas.

Jerry Foglia


State should col­lect de­lin­quent taxes

It is with great in­terest that I read state Sen. Mike Stack’s let­ter en­cour­aging Phil­adelphia of­fi­cials to im­ple­ment a tax-col­lec­tion plan on de­lin­quent tax­pay­ers. I fully con­cur. However, the state has its own de­lin­quent col­lec­tions to make.

Last Novem­ber, I wrote to the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue about a house on my block in Lawndale. The re­gistered “own­ers” (the de­ceased par­ents) have been dead for more than five years. The in­her­it­ing chil­dren have nev­er filed to trans­fer the deed of the house, though one daugh­ter lives there. Won­der why? Me too. Maybe it’s be­cause the state doesn’t have an ag­gress­ive plan to col­lect in­her­it­ance taxes.

In re­sponse to an email in­quiry I filed with the De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue, the cus­tom­er ser­vice rep­res­ent­at­ive replied: “If an in­her­it­ance tax re­turn was nev­er filed…the state has a si­lent li­en on the prop­erty. The tax will be col­lec­ted at some point, but it is cur­rently just ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in­terest.”

This is an un­ac­cept­able tax col­lec­tion policy. State law man­dates that in­her­it­ance tax pay­ments are due upon the death of the de­cedent and be­come de­lin­quent nine months after the in­di­vidu­al’s death. Our state sen­at­ors and rep­res­ent­at­ives should be prod­ding the De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue to max­im­ize col­lec­tions on this tax as well as all oth­er de­lin­quent taxes owed to the state. Clearly, with re­spect to tax col­lec­tion policy, Pennsylvania politi­cians need to be a little less “si­lent” in their own house.

Ray Dop­erak


Se­ces­sion can save the coun­try 

The goal of those who pro­pose se­ces­sion is to save the coun­try not to des­troy it. Any­one who real­izes what happened the last time states tried to se­cede would not con­sider se­ces­sion frivol­ously. When Ben Frank­lin was asked what type of gov­ern­ment our Found­ing Fath­ers had es­tab­lished for our na­tion, he replied, “A re­pub­lic if you can keep it.” Two-hun­dred and some years later, we are los­ing it, we are prov­ing we couldn’t keep it.

Sadly today, most Amer­ic­ans ig­nor­antly think we are a demo­cracy. We are not; we are sup­posed to be a con­sti­tu­tion­al re­pub­lic. We were not foun­ded as a demo­cracy al­though we are quickly de­volving in­to one. A good ex­ample of a demo­cracy would be five wolves and three sheep de­cid­ing what to have for din­ner. If the wolves who are the ma­jor­ity de­cide to have lamb chops for din­ner, the sheep would have no say in it. That’s a demo­cracy, a mob rule.    

To every­body who is still di­vided along party lines of Demo­crat or Re­pub­lic­an, please open your eyes and see that Amer­ica does not have a two-party sys­tem when it comes to elect­ing (se­lect­ing) a pres­id­ent. The party lead­ers want you to think you do, but it is a lie. We have a one-party sys­tem, and it could be called the Gold­man-Sachs Party since Gold­man-Sachs was both Obama’s and Rom­ney’s biggest con­trib­ut­or. Please un­der­stand that no mat­ter who won the elec­tion, Gold­man-Sachs got their man in there. Please stop mind­lessly quot­ing the party line and edu­cate your­self. The tech­nique of di­vide and con­quer goes back a long, long time. It is noth­ing new, and it is what is be­ing used on the Amer­ic­an people today.

The only pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate who op­posed the bank­ing elite was Ron Paul (End the Fed), and he was ef­fect­ively shut out by his own party be­cause they were bought and paid for. Don’t be­lieve me? Look it up; the num­bers are avail­able and eas­ily found on the In­ter­net. See who got the money from the big banks and how much they got. It is astound­ing.

Those speak­ing of se­ces­sion know that the only way to re­store the re­pub­lic is to do whatever it takes to stop these bank­sters who own our politi­cians (at least many of them). They are des­troy­ing eco­nom­ies around the world as well as ours. Please real­ize the Fed­er­al Re­serve is not fed­er­al, and it is not a re­serve. If you would look to al­tern­at­ive news sources rather than that owned by the con­trolled me­dia you would see that.

Our eco­nomy here is just as bad as those crash­ing around the world, the only reas­on we don’t know it yet is be­cause we — not really we, but those who con­trol our dol­lar, which is the world’s re­serve cur­rency — just print more money.

Se­ces­sion­ists such as those in Texas, which by the way is like the 15th-biggest eco­nomy in the world and has a much more stable eco­nomy than the U.S. as a whole, are talk­ing sur­viv­al. They don’t want to go down with a ship that has been com­mand­eered by in­ter­na­tion­al­ist pir­ates and that has a con­fused crew cheer­ing the en­emy. People are be­gin­ning to un­der­stand, and that’s why all 50 states have pe­ti­tions for se­ces­sion, and at least sev­en have the re­quired sig­na­tures to be re­viewed. All it means at this point is that some people are be­com­ing aware. This isn’t a move against Demo­crats or Re­pub­lic­ans who are both a part of the prob­lem. In­ter­na­tion­al elite in­terests own both parties.

What’s hap­pen­ing in Amer­ica is an out­cry against the usurpers who have taken Amer­ica from its prom­in­ent po­s­i­tion and turned it in­to a debt­or na­tion, and are at­tempt­ing to turn the great re­pub­lic that our Found­ing Fath­ers sac­ri­ficed their lives, treas­ure and sac­red hon­or for in­to a me­diocre demo­cracy, just one of many re­gions in their glob­al world. It’s been go­ing on for a long time, and it is com­ing to a head now.

Frank Yost


Tough­er pen­al­ties needed for home in­va­sion

I was angered to learn of the home in­va­sion that took place one re­cent Sunday night less than a mile from my dis­trict of­fice loc­ated on Ashton Road. A bedrid­den, 58-year-old Mar­ine vet­er­an was over­whelmed and beaten in his apart­ment on the 9400 block of Ashton Road by five to six in­di­vidu­als. These in­di­vidu­als held a gun to his head while they ran­sacked his apart­ment.

Re­cently, I stood with state Sen. Mike Stack, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams and Phil­adelphia Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey at a news con­fer­ence at the Po­lice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing where we pro­claimed the need for le­gis­la­tion to deal with these in­creas­ingly fre­quent and dan­ger­ous home in­va­sions.

Cur­rently, the Pennsylvania Crimes Code does not spe­cific­ally ad­dress the crime of home in­va­sion.  It is time to rem­edy this over­sight and pro­tect our neigh­bors’ homes and lives from such an egre­gious crime. 

My House Bill 1296 would es­tab­lish the crime of home in­va­sion as a sep­ar­ate of­fense.  Graded as a felony of the first de­gree, the of­fense of home in­va­sion would oc­cur when a per­pet­rat­or for­cibly enters a dwell­ing either know­ing someone is home, or if they have reas­on to be­lieve someone is home, with the in­tent to com­mit a ser­i­ous crime in­side while either pos­sess­ing a deadly weapon or ac­tu­ally com­mit­ting an as­sault.

The crime of home in­va­sion would be pun­ish­able by a man­dat­ory min­im­um sen­tence of five years in­car­cer­a­tion in a state pris­on.

If the vic­tim is 62 years or older, the man­dat­ory min­im­um sen­tence would in­crease to 10 years in­car­cer­a­tion.

There are a num­ber of reas­ons this le­gis­la­tion is ne­ces­sary now.

Sev­er­al years ago when I was a Phil­adelphia as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­ney in the ma­jor crimes unit, home in­va­sions were a new phe­nomen­on. Now, they seem to oc­cur on a reg­u­lar basis.

The very nature of the crime has a dev­ast­at­ing psy­cho­lo­gic­al ef­fect on the vic­tims that last long after ma­ter­i­al items are taken from the home and the phys­ic­al in­jur­ies have healed. A home is an in­di­vidu­al’s castle but one should not have to sur­round it with a moat in or­der to feel safe.

Cur­rently, po­lice can charge only burg­lary and as­so­ci­ated crimes when a home in­va­sion oc­curs.

With the pas­sage of my le­gis­la­tion, there would be a spe­cif­ic crime to ad­dress this spe­cif­ic act.

It is my sin­cere hope that this le­gis­la­tion would even­tu­ally act as a de­terrent to would-be home in­vaders who would have to think twice about wheth­er it is worth fa­cing a min­im­um of 10 years in­car­cer­a­tion if they in­vade a home.

I urge my col­leagues in the House and Sen­ate to join me in this ef­fort to make Phil­adelphi­ans and Pennsylvani­ans safer in their homes

John P. Sabat­ina Jr.

Pennsylvania House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives

                         174th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict

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