Letters to the Editor: June 25, 2014

Stand up for stu­dents

Un­for­tu­nately, the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia is once again tee­ter­ing over the edge of a new abyss. The un­cer­tainty of wheth­er or not the dis­trict can find the $216 mil­lion it needs to simply main­tain its cur­rently ema­ci­ated sys­tem is alarm­ing. Dr. Hite, su­per­in­tend­ent of the dis­trict, has made it clear that if he can­not se­cure ad­di­tion­al fund­ing, we will ex­per­i­ence a new dooms­day scen­ario, in which there will be a stag­ger­ing round of about 1,000 new lay­offs. In this scen­ario, classroom sizes on av­er­age would in­crease to 37:1 in primary schools and 40:1 in high schools — the lim­ited num­bers of coun­selors, lib­rar­i­ans, school po­lice, and sup­port staff left in schools would once again be slashed to dan­ger­ous levels. 

We need lead­er­ship, re­form, and fund­ing. We must free our stu­dents from be­ing en­slaved to our cur­rent state of me­diocrity, and em­power them to lead Phil­adelphia. Though our youth are of­ten char­ac­ter­ized by the vi­ol­ence that’s con­stantly be­ing spot­lighted by loc­al me­dia out­lets, Philly’s youth have been one of few spe­cial in­terest groups to live up to the phrase “City of Broth­erly Love.”

Luck­ily Philly, the city of many de­fi­cits, has a massive sur­plus of one key re­source — tal­en­ted stu­dents. We must put polit­ics aside and the stu­dents first. I urge May­or Nut­ter and City Coun­cil to stop mak­ing us fight this battle at home so we can take this fight for fair and ad­equate fund­ing of our schools ex­clus­ively to Har­ris­burg. The city must act first in send­ing a clear and ir­re­voc­able mes­sage to the mem­bers of the Pennsylvania Le­gis­lature. 

I be­lieve the city should form a writ­ten com­mit­ment to sus­tain this ad­di­tion­al $195 mil­lion of an­nu­al fund­ing for at least the next three years, but the city’s com­mit­ment should be backed by spe­cif­ic and reas­on­ably achiev­able re­forms en­acted by the School Re­form Com­mis­sion (SRC). 

A key stip­u­la­tion would be that should the SRC fail to en­act the re­forms out­lined in the agree­ment (meas­ured on a year-by-year basis), the SRC would vote to dis­band it­self, which new SRC Chair Bill Green said he’s not op­posed to do­ing. Re­cently, we have made com­mit­ments to loc­al labor uni­ons and oth­er spe­cial in­terest groups. It’s time to make a sim­il­ar com­mit­ment to our stu­dents.

Robert Re­id

Chair­man, Phil­adelphia Youth Com­mis­sion

PGW sale be­ne­fits city

The Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce joins a grow­ing chor­us of con­cerned cit­izens, busi­ness groups, so­cial or­gan­iz­a­tions and oth­ers in ur­ging Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil to hold pub­lic hear­ings on the $1.86 bil­lions deal to sell the Phil­adelphia Gas Works. The un­der­signed have taken the time to re­view the agree­ments with the New Haven-based UIL Hold­ings Corp., and from our per­spect­ive, it bol­sters the fin­an­cial fu­ture of the city. 

As we un­der­stand it, upon com­ple­tion of the sale, the city’s be­lea­guered em­ploy­ee pen­sion fund will re­ceive up to $600 mil­lion. This re­leases those dol­lars pre­vi­ously tar­geted for that fund so that City Coun­cil can more ad­equately fund pub­lic schools. Moreover, UIL has prom­ised to re­place an­ti­quated in­fra­struc­ture twice as fast as PGW can, res­ult­ing in more con­struc­tion jobs and a high­er level of pub­lic safety.

We ac­know­ledge Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell Clarke’s po­s­i­tion to wait for a con­sult­ant’s re­port be­fore form­ally dis­cuss­ing the is­sue, but in lieu of the mys­tery sur­round­ing an al­leged Ju­ly 15 dead­line for UIL to walk away from the deal, we be­lieve that the time is now to dis­cuss the is­sue in pub­lic. 

Phil­adelphia is the last ma­jor Amer­ic­an city to own a nat­ur­al gas com­pany. At the very least, tax­pay­ers de­serve a pub­lic air­ing of the is­sue and City Coun­cil has a duty to provide that for­um.

Kent C. Lufkin, Al Tauben­ber­ger 

Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce

Trash fines are un­fair

I re­cently re­ceived a $50 fine for my back­yard not be­ing “trash free.” There were five pieces of trash in the up­per corner. There is room for mul­tiple pic­tures on the tick­et, yet the rest of the yard had no trash so they couldn’t take a second pic­ture. Un­like when CLIP comes around and cuts peoples’ lawns after fin­ing them, they didn’t pick up the trash. 

The fine came on a Monday, but our trash day is Thursday. One of the oth­er things they can fine you for is put­ting out trash be­fore 7 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, so why would they come around on a Monday? 

I doc­u­mented trash be­ing blown over from across the drive­way yet again dur­ing a re­cent rainy, windy day. How are the eld­erly sup­posed to keep after it when some don’t even go down to the base­ment? If there is a windy day I feel com­pelled to stay home. 

I’ve con­tac­ted the may­or and Bobby Hen­on — neither re­spon­ded. There is no way to keep a yard “trash free” 24-7-365, but that is ex­pec­ted.

Mi­chael Res­nick

Castor Gar­dens

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