Letters to the Editor: September 4, 2013

Hey Corbett, stop slash­ing school fund­ing

Dear Gov. Corbett, 

I was read­ing some art­icles about edu­ca­tion and something made me Google your name. In par­tic­u­lar, I found two things of in­terest I want to share with you.

The first is the of­fi­cial Gov. Tom Corbett Face­book page, which shows the slo­gan rather prom­in­ently dis­played in the cov­er photo stat­ing, “Tom Corbett, Gov­ernor Re­build­ing Pennsylvania #re­buildpa.”

When I read this, I laughed for a very, very long time, and not just be­cause of the fact that our com­mon­wealth’s gov­ernor used hash tags.

In fact, I was al­most in tears.

How in the world could a gov­ernor use the slo­gan “Re­build­ing Pennsylvania” when you are sav­agely and com­pletely evis­cer­at­ing the en­tire Phil­adelphia pub­lic edu­ca­tion sys­tem?

See, gov­ernor, I’m go­ing to school for en­gin­eer­ing.

When you are try­ing to build something, you need a sol­id found­a­tion, for ex­ample, a sol­id base of teach­ers.

Without that, your struc­ture crumbles, your edu­ca­tion sys­tem crumbles, and your fu­ture crumbles.

Ask­ing the teach­ers to give up not only pay but also such simple hu­man rights as self-de­fense and drink­ing foun­tains at the door while mak­ing them work longer is not the way to build a sol­id found­a­tion for the edu­ca­tion of 149,543 Phil­adelphia stu­dents.

The second thing I find ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing is that, as of May, you are the highest-paid gov­ernor in the en­tire United States, earn­ing a whop­ping an­nu­al salary of $187,256.

And yet, you have failed to prove to the eighth-largest school dis­trict in the United States that you are earn­ing any amount of that money.

How about we stop wast­ing tax­pay­er money, gov­ernor, and you start do­ing what you say you are do­ing by #re­build­ingpa and #fund­ing­phillye­du­ca­tion.

Mary Con­rad

Drexel Uni­versity

Thank you for a suc­cess­ful day in the com­munity

Take Back Your Neigh­bor­hood wants to thank every­one who con­trib­uted their ser­vice and/or donated to our event on Aug. 24 at Max My­ers Play­ground. We must also show our grat­it­ude to the people in our com­munity who came to­geth­er to en­joy the mul­ti­tude of food, games, vendors, en­ter­tain­ment and edu­ca­tion­al present­a­tions. It is only with you that we can con­tin­ue to make a neigh­bor­hood uni­fied and ex­traordin­ary. All of you make up the miss­ing pieces of the puzzle. We would also like to thank the staff at Max My­ers for their as­sist­ance.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Ad­di­tion­ally,we would like to thank the fol­low­ing in­di­vidu­als and com­pan­ies for their dona­tions, which helped make this event pos­sible: Tar­get, The Din­ing Car Res­taur­ant, Macy’s;,Collins Fam­ily Shop Rite, May­fair Shop ‘n Bag, Herr’s, Utz, Coca-Cola, Dor­i­tos, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nuts to You, CVS, Staples, Amer­ic­an Paradigm School, Mem­bers of the TBYN Lead­er­ship Team, Fath­er & Son Shoe Re­pair, Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on, Aria Health, Mur­ano Deli, Magel­lan’s Pizza, New Eng­land Pizza, Con­rad the Flor­ist;,Huber & Palser LLC, Teresa Phelps, Heath­er De­Hart, Grace Park­er, Rhonda Grabov, De­borah McLeod, Pa­tri­cia O’Don­nell, Mary­anne Fer­raro, Lawrence D. Lev­in, Wal­greens, At­lantic Dia­gnost­ic Labor­at­or­ies, State Farm In­sur­ance, Paul’s Run, Coun­cil­wo­man Sanc­hez, State Rep. Mark Co­hen.

Take Back Your Neigh­bor­hood

More trash (tick­et) talk

In ref­er­ence to Joan Clem­in­ski’s let­ter: As a res­id­ent of May­fair I know too well about the so-called trash tick­et. 

Have you ever no­ticed a booted vehicle or even a tick­et meter per­son in cer­tain “hoods?” 

The reas­on the city picks on people like you and oth­er tax-pay­ing prop­erty own­ers in North­east Philly is simply be­cause the city gov­ern­ment knows we will pay. So un­for­tu­nately, pull out your check book, and pay to keep your “hood” clean.

Bill Heiser


Philly pub­lic schools need to downs­ize

This is in re­sponse to Ren­ate Pittman’s let­ter, “Sup­port Staff Does Great Work in Schools,” which was a re­sponse to my let­ter.

As I’ve pre­vi­ously stated, I am sorry to see any­one lose their job. And I am well aware that there are many teach­ers and sup­port staff who do great work and really care about the kids. And I would like to think they are the ma­jor­ity.

I am also aware that there are some who couldn’t care less. Teach­ers have told me in­cid­ences of some sup­port staff who, when asked to make cop­ies or take something to the of­fice, dis­ap­pear for an hour or two.  

The point of my let­ter was that if we don’t need as many brick-and-mor­tar schools or the people who work in them, it is un­fair to ask tax­pay­ers to foot the bill to keep people em­ployed.

And where was all this con­cern for the kids when Con­stance Clayton, Ar­lene Ack­er­man and oth­ers were wast­ing mil­lions of dol­lars like rich sheiks and nearly bank­rupt­ing the dis­trict.

People knew what was go­ing on but failed to speak up be­cause they were con­cerned for their jobs, not the kids.  And people had bet­ter get used to the idea of more schools clos­ing in the com­ing years as more learn­ing will be done util­iz­ing ever-evolving tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions tech­no­logy.

With­in 50 years, the classrooms of today will have gone the way of the di­no­saurs.

I’m not say­ing this would be the best thing, but it’s where it’s headed.

When movie theat­ers did away with ush­ers, em­ploy­ees asked, “What will they do without us?” I have yet to have heard of any­one not be­ing able to find their way to a seat.

Once again, I am sorry for the loss of your job. But if the eco­nomy is re­bound­ing as well as the pres­id­ent says it is, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble se­cur­ing an­oth­er po­s­i­tion soon.

Peter Di­Gi­useppe


Signs could pre­vent drown­ing in creek

I am a res­id­ent liv­ing near Pennypack Park. My heart goes out to all those fam­il­ies that lost a loved one from drown­ing in the creek. 

I think there should be more signs up all around the en­trances of the park. They should read how dan­ger­ous it is to go in­to the wa­ter after heavy rain. Maybe the Park Com­mis­sion can spon­sor a con­test for all the schools in the area. The signs should have a catchy slo­gan to it. I say this be­cause it is mostly chil­dren and teens who are drown­ing in this creek. It will help all the kids be more aware of go­ing in­to the creek after a storm.

I also think there should be more park rangers and po­lice of­ficers out, rid­ing by the creek at each en­trance, es­pe­cially after a rain storm. Maybe a golf course can raise money for golf carts for the 2nd, 7th, 8th and 15th po­lice dis­tricts. They could patrol along the paths of the creek after the storm.

Di­ane Poehler

Lex­ing­ton Park

Why did Snowden choose Rus­sia?

Is Ed­ward Snowden a whis­tleblower or a trait­or? I ac­tu­ally haven’t been fol­low­ing the story too closely, but any sym­pathy for him as a whis­tleblower I might have even­tu­ally de­veloped left town as soon as he ap­plied for asylum in Rus­sia, a coun­try that has a pro­gram of sur­veil­lance and deni­al of pri­vacy and per­son­al freedoms much more ex­tens­ive than we have ever had.

Howard J. Wilk

Pine Val­ley

As dis­trict at­tor­ney, I will fight cor­rup­tion 

As a fath­er, tax­pay­er, former Phil­adelphia pro­sec­utor and as a nom­in­ee for dis­trict at­tor­ney, I am ap­palled at yet an­oth­er in­stance of the cor­rup­tion that is des­troy­ing our city. The FBI raid on the Sher­iff’s Of­fice is the latest in a lit­any of ex­amples. 

Un­for­tu­nately, for every act of cor­rup­tion that is ex­posed, there are count­less still un­covered. Cor­rup­tion is a pub­lic safety is­sue, steal­ing tax dol­lars that would oth­er­wise be used for safer streets, not to men­tion fund our schools. We’re tired of pay­ing high­er taxes just to have our in­comes raided by of­fi­cials who are liv­ing off us rather than work­ing for us.

Dis­trict At­tor­ney Wil­li­ams has failed to fight cor­rup­tion. His anti-cor­rup­tion unit has is­sued no in­dict­ments, and he failed as in­spect­or gen­er­al as well. That means as IG and then as DA, he has had al­most sev­en years to at­tack cor­rup­tion. He failed. It took an audit from the city con­trol­ler to ex­pose this waste and ab­use. Where was Wil­li­ams while cor­rup­tion flour­ished right un­der his nose?

As dis­trict at­tor­ney, I will make com­bat­ing pub­lic cor­rup­tion of highest pri­or­ity, util­iz­ing the grand jury and oth­er tools to root out cor­rup­tion. Why wait for the feds? As dis­trict at­tor­ney, I will ag­gress­ively at­tack cor­rup­tion, which will strongly de­ter pub­lic of­fi­cials against steal­ing from Phil­adelphia fam­il­ies. Our city needs checks and bal­ances and more pub­lic of­fi­cials who are will­ing to shake things up, in­stead of giv­ing free passes to the polit­ic­ally con­nec­ted. I will do that. 

Daniel A. Al­varez

Somer­ton, Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee for dis­trict at­tor­ney

We should stand up for tra­di­tion­al mar­riage 

As soon as I read the head­line over the op-ed piece by state Sen. Daylin Leach (Aug. 28 is­sue), I knew what to ex­pect: an­oth­er pub­lic of­fi­cial has joined the caval­cade in sup­port of the left’s latest polit­ic­al fad, so-called same-sex mar­riage. Need­less to say, upon read­ing that lengthy screed, my ini­tial sup­pos­i­tion proved cor­rect; Leach had eagerly joined the forces of or­gan­ized ir­re­spons­ib­il­ity.

In his screed, Leach de­fends the de­cision by a pub­lic of­fi­cial from Mont­gomery County to is­sue mar­riage li­censes to same-sex couples on the grounds that laws that sup­posedly “dis­crim­in­ate against mar­ried gay couples have no le­git­im­ate pur­pose,” that is, those laws are, to use one of the more pop­u­lar buzzwords hurled around, un­con­sti­tu­tion­al. Leach also ar­gues that Montco of­fi­cials ac­ted cor­rectly be­cause the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion trumps what the good sen­at­or called “the clearly un­con­sti­tu­tion­al Pennsylvania mar­riage stat­ute.” 

This is pure ideo­lo­gic­al fol­der­ol wrapped up in a ven­eer of pseudo-le­galese to make the is­su­ance of those li­censes seem a re­spect­able and prop­er act. 

The hue and cry dur­ing the dec­ades of Amer­ic­an pub­lic life since 1787 has been that all things must be in ac­cord­ance with the Con­sti­tu­tion; that even fun­da­ment­al in­sti­tu­tions (of which the tra­di­tion­al fam­ily is but one) must be sub­or­din­ate to it, and that courts can, and should, trans­form these in­sti­tu­tions to fit whatever elite opin­ion re­gards as con­sti­tu­tion­al. That hue and cry re­sounds today. And should elite opin­ion co­in­cide with pop­u­lar fads and fa­vors, so much the bet­ter. But this is the voice of the uto­pi­an ideo­logue, and it must be noted that these in­sti­tu­tions be­long to the com­mon her­it­age of all man­kind and as such, their pre­ser­va­tion trumps the Amer­ic­an Con­sti­tu­tion. 

I ven­ture to go fur­ther.

I state the pre­ser­va­tion of fun­da­ment­al hu­man in­sti­tu­tions over­rides the con­sti­tu­tions and jur­is­pru­dence of any com­bin­a­tion of na­tions. Un­der­stand­ing this is the prim­al qual­i­fic­a­tion for cit­izen­ship. 

Moreover, in an age of wide­spread fam­ily break­down, in an age when many chil­dren lack stable male and fe­male par­ents to form a healthy view of sexu­al­ity, we need strong, stable, tra­di­tion­al fam­il­ies more than ever. To tout and to give leg­al re­cog­ni­tion to al­tern­at­ives is the very hall­mark of ir­re­spons­ib­il­ity.    

I think it’s well past high time for re­spons­ible adults to stand up foursquare for tra­di­tion­al mar­riage and, more im­port­antly, sep­ar­ate pub­lic of­fi­cials like Sen. Leach via the bal­lot box from their of­fices and all the perks and priv­ileges that go with those of­fices, just like re­spons­ible par­ents take toys away from chil­dren who mis­use them.

George Tomez­sko

Fox Chase

Maybe it’s time to teach Philly how to fish

Once again it’s budget time, and Phil­adelphia is ask­ing the state le­gis­lature for a fish. It’s about time that the le­gis­lature teaches the city how to fish.

This year, the prob­lem is the schools. The prob­lem is real. The cur­rent school dis­trict budget would be cata­stroph­ic for the city and, most im­port­ant, the chil­dren.

The prob­lems, however real, are not new or un­pre­dict­able. As an aside, I re­cently was help­ing to move the Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee of­fices and found an art­icle from a series that the Phil­adelphia In­quirer did en­titled “The Shame of our Schools.” It was dated 1981.

Re­mem­ber how we got in­to this mess. Phil­adelphia’s prob­lems with its schools are due to it be­ing one of the poorest cit­ies in Amer­ica. That didn’t hap­pen by ac­ci­dent. Choices were made that drove busi­nesses, jobs and tax­pay­ers out of the city. Our poverty is dir­ectly re­lated to high tax rates, ir­ra­tion­al tax struc­ture, cor­rup­tion, mis­man­age­ment and mis­placed spend­ing pri­or­it­ies. There was no nat­ur­al cata­strophe. There was no plague. Politi­cians made de­cisions, some­times out of a fail­ure to un­der­stand the con­sequences of their ac­tions, but more of­ten to pander to spe­cial-in­terest groups as a re­ward for past or an­ti­cip­ated elect­or­al sup­port. It’s really just that simple.

Get­ting out of this also is simple. Re­verse the bad choices. Lower tax rates, re­form the tax struc­ture, elim­in­ate cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment and spend only on core mu­ni­cip­al func­tions: pub­lic safety, pub­lic edu­ca­tion, san­it­a­tion and main­ten­ance of the in­fra­struc­ture. Simple does not mean easy. It will be pain­ful, but it couldn’t be as bad as the misery that poverty has brought us.

It is re­por­ted that some of the ideas to “help” Phil­adelphia are things like al­low­ing the city to place a $2-per-pack tax on ci­gar­ette sales and ex­tend­ing Phil­adelphia’s “tem­por­ary” 1 per­cent sales tax, which is sup­posed to ex­pire at the end 2014.

These are not solu­tions to the prob­lem.

Let’s look at the ci­gar­ette tax. They are think­ing about giv­ing Phil­adelphia’s City Coun­cil ad­di­tion­al tax­ing au­thor­ity. Think about that. Giv­ing Phil­adelphia’s City Coun­cil ad­di­tion­al tax­ing au­thor­ity? How’s that worked out in the past? Both the ci­gar­ette tax and the sales tax will drive sales out of Phil­adelphia, and not all of it goes to Pennsylvania sub­urbs. Every dol­lar that goes to Jer­sey, Delaware or the In­ter­net means that Pennsylvania loses more tax rev­en­ue than Phil­adelphia loses. Who ex­actly does this help? How about this.  If the le­gis­lature thinks that the policy is such a good idea, such as the ci­gar­ette tax, why not let every mu­ni­cip­al­ity in the state do the same thing? I didn’t think so. But if it is bad policy to al­low the tax statewide, how is it good for Pennsylvania to al­low Phil­adelphia an ex­cep­tion.

If the le­gis­lature wants to help Phil­adelphia, al­low­ing it to shoot it­self in the foot by rais­ing taxes is not the way. Any fund­ing for the schools should be con­tin­gent on pos­it­ive change.

The school dis­trict should be re­quired to hire, fire, pro­mote and as­sign teach­ers based on what is in the best in­terests of the chil­dren, not seni­or­ity.

The school dis­trict closed 23 schools and de­serves cred­it for that. It was trau­mat­ic. The prob­lem is, the dis­trict prob­ably should have closed an­oth­er 25 to 30 schools, but did not want to ex­pend the polit­ic­al cap­it­al. There are still too many un­der-ca­pa­city schools. The school dis­trict should be re­quired to close schools and re­draw catch­ment areas so each school op­er­ates at ap­prox­im­ately 85 per­cent of ca­pa­city.

The school dis­trict has been try­ing to re­strict charter schools from ex­pand­ing. This is des­pite the fact that the amount of money it turns over to the charter schools for each child en­rolled is less than what it costs to edu­cate chil­dren in the school dis­trict-op­er­ated schools. The school dis­trict should only be able to re­strict the cre­ation and ex­pan­sion of charter schools based only on how well it is teach­ing our chil­dren, not fund­ing. If more par­ents choose charter schools, the school dis­trict can close even more schools and con­cen­trate the money on edu­cat­ing few­er chil­dren.

Phil­adelphia needs and wants help. That be­ing said, al­low­ing it to in­crease taxes on it­self to drive more busi­ness and tax­pay­ers out do much more harm than good.  

J. Mat­thew Wolfe is a former deputy at­tor­ney gen­er­al and the chair­man of the Uni­versity City Re­pub­lic­an Com­mit­tee in West Phil­adelphia.

You can reach at .

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