Just go after the tax dodgers, Mr. MayorMayor Nutter continues to cry that he does not have money for the schools and that our city is broken. He continues to gouge the homeowners for taxes for three years. It’s the same old story: Tax the homeowner.Mr. Nutter should stop the tax abatements and go after the tax dodgers who owe the city millions. Last year, I read our state made a billion dollars from the casinos. Go after that money, Mr. Mayor. Quit gouging the homeowners.I could suggest where it’s possible to get a few bucks. City Council does not need three months vacation. Cut it down to a month. Case closed.Jerry FogliaRhawnhurstEducation for the millionairesDuring the past 15 years, Harrisburg has decided to change the patterns of education in the state by allowing charter schools, creating corporate education tax credits, etc., which takes money away from the traditional public schools.If someone is looking to get an advanced degree in education, I thought that this might be a good topic for them: “Have the state’s education policies made more proficient students or more millionaires?”Mayer KrainModena ParkA firefighter’s dream blown up in smokeIt is a very sad day for more than 100 senior firefighters and especially for my wonderful husband, Mike. Monday was the last night he would spend at his station, Ladder 22, Engine 55, at Front and Luzerne.In 1976 at the young age of 22, he joined the Philadelphia Fire Department. After fire school he was sent to this station as a rookie. He gave his heart and soul and learned everything there was to learn about firefighting. He loved this station so much, he never took an officer’s test because he didn’t want to leave this firehouse of brotherhood.As the years went by, he took every rookie who came through those doors under his wing and showed them the honor of firefighting. Thirty-seven years fighting fires, knowing every street in the neighborhood, where every fire hydrant was located, and knowing the best routes to get to a fire faster. These were the things my husband gave up his life for, to protect and help the people of the neighborhood.Now the city of Philadelphia, Commissioner Ayers, Mayor Nutter and his cronies decide to have a mass transfer of senior firefighters!! Why? No one knows. Just something to get back at our firefighters because they want a contract that they haven’t received in the past four years. This is the only city that has ever done this act of transferring. They are destroying the act of brotherhood our firefighters have. More than 100 senior firefighters have been transferred.Thank you, commissioner and mayor, for breaking my husband’s dream and the dreams of many other senior firefighters who thought they would retire from the station they loved!Donna GallagherPine ValleyCrying foul over letter from basketball coachIn a letter to the editor in the Jan. 9 edition, I was disappointed the Northeast Times chose to run the headline of a letter from a parent across the entire page and in large print, thereby appearing to give legitimacy to the content of the letter. So in the spirit of equal time I am requesting this correspondence be given just as prominent a headline across the top of the page. The header should proclaim Little Flower coach runs a great program.The tone of the Jan. 9 letter (Little Flower coach should get with program) seems to be that of a parent with an ax to grind. The writer attacks Mr. Buchter by stating, “[he] is almost blaming the girls for his dismal 5-16 record and lack of coaching skills.”The critic also portrays a notion Mr. Buchter was making comments for the entire sports program as the athletic director. The fact of the matter is he was being interviewed about the upcoming basketball season, as the coach of the basketball team, NOT as athletic director, NOT about softball and NOT about swimming. The statements he made were not reflective of any other program at Little Flower, they were about basketball.I truly believe when any student athlete who has ever experienced the special feeling that exists at Little Flower reflects back on their high school years, they will come to realize that Adam Buchter was a man of extraordinary character whose only concern was they had a place to play ball and obtain a great education. Some of those athletes may not have played at another school.Mr. Buchter has devoted way too many hours for thousands of kids at Little Flower to be depicted in such a negative light. I for one believe he does things the right way and runs a great basketball program.John BatesBustletonIntrigued by the case of the torn papersOne of the highlights of my week is reading the letters to the editor section of the Northeast Times. As a resident of the Great Northeast I see a lot of my own thoughts echoed in those rants and raves: The recycle police only ticket taxpayers? Yeah, probably. Residents get too many delivery menus in their doors? Totally. Some people don’t mow their lawns and it looks ugly? Absolutely. But let’s face it, most of these issues are just first-world complaints that pepper an otherwise mundane and cushy existence. So when I read John Murphy’s letter last week about the bags of shredded copies of Northeast Times, I couldn’t help but laugh.As a resident of Bustleton, this complaint hit close to home. I have cleaned up this particular mess on numerous occasions and believe me, it is a job in itself. I often wondered how it keeps happening. I just imagine some lazy guy shredding paper for whatever reason and spilling a lot of it on his commute to wherever he is going. The result: a tedious cleanup, especially if it’s wet out.However, the notion of a guy intentionally shredding copies of the Times and maliciously leaving them to blow away in the wind is way more interesting than my boring theory.It’s the kind of situation that makes you want to organize a Town Watch and scan the crime scenes for evidence. I imagine neighbors speculating about a blue-collar villain whose sole existence is making life slightly more inconvenient for the working class of the 19115 ZIP code.I’m intrigued by the concept of a guy so scorned by the Times that he is compelled to destroy hundreds of copies and discard them throughout Bustleton in some psychologically twisted way of “giving back to the community.” By comparison, this Bustleton Bag Shredder would make the Mayfair Tire Slasher look like a hack.So, this is either a case of boring neglect and cleanup or this could be the beginning of an epic story of a neighborhood vs. vandalism, or at the very least some interesting fodder for the letters section of the Times. I only hope that the conspiracy theory is true. It’ll be worth the cleanup.Michael KennyAmericans are armed to the teethThe traditional reasons that Americans own firearms are sport, hunting, target shooting and self-defense, either carried on our persons or in the home. Collectors also are a large segment of the gun-owning public.I learned to shoot from my father, and hunted for about 30 years, off and on. In recent new stories, gun shops are shown well-stocked with tactical rifles like the Bushmaster and boxy automatics like the Glock. No sign of bolt-action hunting rifles or old-style six shooters.Autoloaders are not allowed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. I suppose the NRA could argue that one needs a Bushmaster AR15 with a 30-round clip in case one stumbles upon a whole herd of deer and wants to fill up their walk-in freezer.I find the current perceived need to be armed to the teeth somewhat disturbing. Only the military and police SWAT teams need these tactical weapons. As the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. has shown, having these things around is often a bad idea. I still can’t get my head around the fact that 20 first-graders were murdered by a kid who got one of these things from his mom’s stash. Go figure.Chris MarkFrankfordNutter “talks the talk” on gunsMayor Nutter said the NRA’s message “was an insult to the lives of those children” killed in Newtown, Conn. Michael sure can talk the talk. Does he have the courage to walk the walk that our defenseless school children walk every day? Does he have the courage to get rid of the armed security detail assigned to protect him? NO. He is not at all concerned with the “ prospects of shootouts” in City Hall, nor is he concerned about using “precious and declining resources” when it comes to his personal safety.Buddy SchmidtBustletonMan has become his own worst enemyAfter reading last week’s letter Gun rights are God’s will, I did a bit of research into the Holy Scriptures. I found the following weapons: Swords, daggers, slings for hurling stones, bows for propelling arrows and the jawbone of a donkey. Where in the Holy Scriptures does it mention assault rifles, etc?What man has done over the ages is create more ways of killing his fellow man. What next — downsizing nukes so each and every person has his own personal nuclear device?D.J. CampbellSomertonHillary needs to visit the no-spin zoneOn the Benghazi hearing, with Mrs. Clinton testifying: Yes, it does matter, Mrs. Clinton, and it does make a difference. It’s called accountability and taking responsibility for your actions. Stop covering up and making excuses. Who are you protecting? Just try telling the truth for once and stop spinning your answers. I’m getting dizzy already.Remember, there are families that lost their sons (and what have you) that deserve answers, as you pointed out. These people deserve the truth, not some runaround and a pool of crocodile tears.By the way, whatever happened to that infamous video that the president on down was blaming for why four of our men lost their lives? This went on for over two weeks, so I figured I would ask, since no one in that bogus hearing bothered to. I personally believe if they want to get to the bottom of this whole thing and get to the “why,” they need to start asking the right questions and stop the sugar coating. The American people deserve answers, as do the loved ones of those four men.Diane McDowellParkwoodIt’s not too late to winterize your carThe last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. It’s not too late to have your vehicle checked, saving you from the cost and hassle of unexpected emergency repairs when severe weather strikes. • Battery: Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely, so it’s wise to replace batteries that are more than 3 years old.• Antifreeze: Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze, as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when it’s mixed with water.• Brakes: Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item and is key while driving on icy or snow-covered roads.• Tires: Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires will lose pressure when temperatures drop.• Oil: Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold.• Wiper blades: Cold weather can affect the life of windshield wipers. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield, should be changed. Check the windshield washer reservoir in case it needs fluid.Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full, as that decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. If you’re due for a tuneup, consider having it done, as winter weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.To help you drive smart and save money, visit www.carcare.org and check out the free digital Car Care Guide.Rich WhiteExecutive director, Car Care Council, Bethesda, Md.
It was soaring rhetoric, but can it fly in the real world — you know, the world where congressional Republicans say no to everything?
Get rid of the morons on City CouncilAre you kidding me? To Councilman Dennis O’Brien, who is quoted in last week’s cover story on property taxes as saying, “There are no free rides. I believe every property owner has to pay in” in regard to the blatant robbery of its citizens in the form of a major property tax hike:You, sir, are an idiot. We are paying way too much taxes as it is, due to the incompetent and wasteful fools in City Hall. With the recent federal tax hike causing people to struggle even more, you believe we need to pay more. How in the hell is our economy supposed to improve if the citizens have less to spend? Looks like another 1776 is in order, but the government and greedy corporations are working us so hard for little pay, who has the time and energy to do anything? This country and especially this city are going to hell fast.All of City Council must go! They are overpaid, clueless morons that do not really care for the people they are supposed to serve. If they stopped playing politics and stopped being so wasteful, there would be no need to raise our already too high taxes.Tim RogersTaconyTax reform is the great equalizerYou made some very cogent points in your editorial last week about the city needing to be more efficient in collecting taxes and running its departments (A message for City Hall). However, the negative tone gave the impression you were against the property tax reform the city is initiating.I think this is one of the most refreshing things this city has ever done. For the first time, property taxes will be based on the actual value of real estate. Yes, some who have been under-assessed will have to pay much more, but that is only fair, and the city is making efforts (even in the state legislature) to make that transition easier. If your interest is mainly Northeast Philadelphia, I understand that taxes may actually be lower for some sections.It is time to applaud the mayor and those forward-thinking Council people for coming up with the first fair method of assessing property.Edward S. MarksWinchester ParkEngine 38’s reopening was long overdueIn what should have been a red-letter day for the residents of Tacony, the Mayor Nutter/Fire Commissioner Ayers regime proved once again their cold and callous downgrading of fire/EMS protection to the public.At a neighborhood meeting with the community in early 2006 attended by the captain of Engine 38, myself and many off-duty members of the company, the newly appointed deputy commissioner of staff services told the residents of Tacony that they would not lose a day of protection from the closing of Engine 38’s firehouse.Surprise! In all the many months (and years) that PennDOT made it clear to the city that the I-95 improvement project required the ground that the station sat on, the city leaders should have started construction of the new firehouse to assure a seamless line of fire/EMS coverage to that neighborhood. But, no! Not these two omnipotent personalities.So in February 2009, the station on Longshore Avenue was shut down and the company relocated to Bridesburg, rendering them totally useless to protecting their local district.About 18 months later and realizing that their existence at a remote site was senseless, the company was deactivated until just recently.On Jan. 8 this year, Michael Nutter and Lloyd Ayers put on their bright faces and pretty clothes and took full advantage of the photo opportunity to “bring this brand new firehouse to the people of Tacony.”This city “leadership” (if you care to call them that) knew all along that they were shutting this company down and now act as if we “owe” them something. In my opinion, what they fully deserve is nothing but contempt from the community that they stabbed in the back with their broken promise.Many members of my family live in Tacony and Mayfair and I’m furious that this administration went almost four years without proper coverage in this area.I’m sure that they are immune to criticism, as they’ve already proved, but the taxpaying public should exercise their right to blast this city administration for failing us once again.To the newly assigned personnel of Engine 38: Welcome back. You’ve been gone too long!Larry ShellenbergerLieutenant (Retired)Philadelphia Fire DepartmentDisturbing cartoon excluded IsraelI am appalled at the disgusting political cartoon on your opinion page in the Jan. 9 edition. Why do you identify the West Bank, and ignore the country of Israel? Don’t give me the excuse that Israel is a very small country and that there wasn’t any room to identify it.Don’t stoop to the level of the Middle Eastern countries that refuse to recognize Israel as a legitimate country, the Jewish homeland, and a great, reliable ally to the USA!Gail SchwartzBustletonEditor’s note: Tom Stiglich’s cartoon included the Israeli cities of Haifa and Jerusalem.The unkindest cuts of allThis letter is addressed to the individual who has been littering some streets in the 19115 ZIP code area.This person goes to a lot of trouble to cut pages of the Northeast Times into small pieces. They then place these into an open plastic bag onto the street and allow the wind and the traffic to distribute thousands of the pieces in every direction, making it almost impossible to clean up.I’m assuming this person reads the Times before shredding it and will realize that what they are doing is a little weird.I hope you get the treatment and therapy you need and funnel your energy into something more constructive. Good luck.John MurphyBustletonA sizzling, simmering gun control debate:A pundit’s predictions1) The Congress will not pass the president’s bill to mitigate gun violence.2) The president likely will use the executive order to implement all or some of the bill’s provisions.3) The NRA and the radical right will call for the president’s impeachment, revolution and other nut-job tactics.4) Most or all Republican House members and a few gutless Democrats will continue to pimp for the NRA and the gun industry in the name of everything but saving lives.4) Consequently, in reaction to the public outrage it precipitates, specifically in an attempt to avoid a Democratic landslide in 2014 and its control of both the House and Senate, Republican-controlled state legislatures will pass election laws further strengthening the current effects of gerrymandering as a way to guarantee Republican wins EVEN WHEN THEY LOSE THE POPULAR VOTES.5) A public firestorm will ensue, making Occupy Wall Street look like a candlelight dinner for two.6) The Republican Party as presently configured will cease to exist.7) Republicans who castigate Chris Christie for his “speaking truth to (their abuse of) power” will result in his bolting from the party and becoming an independent, thus enabling a bipartisan ticket of Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie to win the White House in 2016.Arthur GurmankinBustletonKeep an eye on our rightsTo comment on the recent atrocities and the outrage against certain firearms, I must remind the readers that the U.S. is one of the leading arms dealers in the world and therefore responsible for the deaths and maiming of more children than you want to see.A close view of a homicide is repulsive. The politicians will blow smoke for expediency over this issue. They can legislate, but you have to face the fact we live in a dangerous world.Remember the Machiavellians whose lies led to the deaths of thousands of Americans and these traitors were not held accountable? Where is the outrage?The National Defense Authorization Act allows the U.S. military to arrest anyone without due process and remain indefinitely incarcerated.What happened to the Constitution? If we ignore our rights, one by one they may go away.John McHughModena ParkGun rights are God’s willIt seems to me that most of the writers of letters to the editors forgot what gun rights means.Rights come from God and can’t be taken away except by force. The Pennsylvania Constitution is more favorable of gun rights, as Section 21 states: “The rights of citizens to use guns in defense of themselves or the commonwealth shall not be questioned.”It seems most citizens of the commonwealth forgot this. As Thomas Jefferson stated, “The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”George Washington never tried to ban guns after the Whiskey Rebellion. He actually pardoned the rebels.Please remember all federal gun laws violate the 2nd amendment and all state gun laws violate Section 21.Jason HencoreBridesburgHis national nightmareAfter this year’s election and all the gun violence going on I am more certain than ever that we have way too much government.All I hear about are gun laws (we have about 20,000 now). Have we stopped illegal drugs and illegal aliens? Was prohibition successful? This is a snow job to make it seem like they’re doing something.While government officials are protected by heavily armed security, will we be left helpless. This is the first step toward socialism. All the while, our politicians get pay raise after pay raise and all of them point the finger at the other guy.My God, they cannot balance a checkbook, but we must. All that time to fix the fiscal cliff fiasco. Four years of service in politics, a pension, free medical and they stuff Obamacare down our nose. Those is harm’s way in the service of our country after 20 years get 50 percent pension.I hope this is a bad dream and I will wake soon.John McCallRhawnhurstThe madness just goes onWe continue our angst about guns, and politicians run to the cameras with new proposals to ban rifles, clips or ammunition. But we don’t talk about the other “ammunition.” I noticed last week that ultra-violent movies such as Django Unchained and Texas Chainsaw in 3-D, continue to pack in the audiences. Pop music continues its assault on the ears with violent music blasted from our boom boxes on wheels. Our pro football playoff stars are still preening and posturing after hard hits — and rubbing the opponents’ noses in the dirt after touchdowns. Our weekly TV shows continue to mock and ridicule people who are fat or just can’t sing in tune. The media laugh at religious people, push gay-marriage, and mock male-led families, as even manliness is seen as a problem.We continually push female achievement, at the expense of boys, and we feed boys violent video games to satisfy them in their cocoons of resentment. All this is ammunition, too. And our babbling politicians think there is no consequence?The culture we have made is our problem. Yet, we continue to light the fuse — and wonder why we have explosions.Richard IaconelliRhawnhurstSpeak your mind …Letters should be 300 words or less. Short letters have a better chance of getting published. All letters are subject to editing and MUST include the writer’s full name along with daytime and evening phone numbers for verification purposes. Anonymous or illegible letters will NOT be published. Mail to: Letters to the Editor, Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053. E-mail: email@example.com
It was soaring rhetoric, but can it fly in the real world — you know, the world where congressional Republicans say no to everything?Supporters and even some of his numerous enemies agree that the United States’ first biracial president gave a great speech at his second inauguration on Monday, but did Barack Obama make the very best of it? Not for people who want real gun control.While Mr. Obama said many of the right things, he declined to seize the moment by exploiting the most powerful bully pulpit in the free world to put gun control at the top of the to-do list.If he’s waiting until the State of the Union address on Feb. 12 — the birthday of his hero Abraham Lincoln — to formally renew his call for gun control, Mr. Obama is making a big mistake.Pundits agree that he has only about a year in which to get major legislation passed, so the guy needs to kick some butt. He should call out lawmakers in Congress — Republicans AND Democrats who are petrified of the National Rifle Association — and gun nuts who want no restrictions on weapons.Mr. Obama needs to spend his political capital, left over from a big re-election victory, and expend the intestinal fortitude necessary to get military-style assault weapons out of the hands of the general public, end the insane and insidious loopholes that allow visitors at gun shows to purchase weapons on the spot and with no background checks, and institute a federal registry of all weapons.These common-sense measures and others, which would have been enacted long ago were it not for a plethora of cowards in Congress, will help to prevent another Newtown, Conn.-type of slaughter of innocent life.Send letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org
So many reasons to be proud to be a MayfairianGuest OpinionBy Joe DeFeliceMayfair isn’t as bad as Mayfair residents say it isOur neighborhood should reach back to that infamous Philadelphia billboard of the 1970s and adopt it as our own slogan. For the last three or so years, many neighborhood volunteers have spent time away from their families to make our community a better place to live.Usually when I pick up a copy of the Northeast Times or go on social media, the person badmouthing our neighborhood is usually one of our own residents, and this is disheartening, to say the least. How do we expect other people to respect our neighborhood if our own people dishonor it?Let’s be honest, Mayfair isn’t what it was in 1980, it isn’t what is was in 1990 and it isn’t even what it was in 2000; but then again, what neighborhood is? Some neighborhoods change for the good, some change for the bad and some just change, but that is OK. Different doesn’t have to mean bad.Have we seen a decline in mom-and-pop shops on the avenue? Sure we have. Have we seen an increase in pajama pants in the afternoon? You bet. But that is OK, because 2020 isn’t going to be like 2010, and 2030 isn’t going to be like 2020.I’m sure 2013 Fishtown and Bella Vista wouldn’t recognize their 1990 ancestor, but that is what life in the big city is all about. Now, you can sit back and watch others enact change on your neighborhood, or you can get into the fabric of the community and change it yourself, from within.Since we restarted the Mayfair Civic Association just over three years ago, we have seen some changes in our neighborhood, but rather than focus on the negatives, let’s look at the positives:• In 2009 there was a dirt and gravel patch on the east side of Lincoln High School. It is now a state-of-the-art, handicapped-accessible $80,000 playground built with the sweat equity of the neighborhood residents.• We took a little-used block of half-vacant storefronts on the 3500 block of Ryan Ave. and turned it into a one-of-a-kind farmers market that will be held biweekly starting this spring and will continue to include fresh vegetables, craft beer, local wine and neighborhood residents and merchants selling the wares, all the while, doing so with acoustic music floating in the background.• We took tragedies that struck our city in the form of police and fire deaths and turned them into positives with the Mayfair Fallen Heroes Run and have raised more than $20,000 for the families of police officers and firefighters and an additional $10,000 for scholarships, plaques, etc.• We took a parade that derailed off the avenue due to a “budget crunch” in the city and infused it with citizen activists and neighborhood talent and put it back on the avenue, bigger and better than ever.• We took neighborhood negatives like a proposed methadone clinic and turned it into a positive by engaging more than 800 residents at community meetings to stand up and fight to stop it, and we won the first round.• We took a dilapidated, boarded-up, vacant property that stood as an eyesore at Frankford and Sheffield and forced the owner to gut the place, fix the interior and install new windows and make it safe and habitable for a future family to call their first home.• Lastly, we’ve given the neighborhood events that, in the past, residents would have gone elsewhere for, such as an Easter Egg Hunt, our Spring Mayfair May Fair, Fall Festival, Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas Village and heck, we’ve even made it a lot easier for the over-30 (maybe over-40) crowd to tolerate the Shamrock Shuttle by working with the Mayfair Town Watch and the 15th Police District and, yes, the tavern owners, to make sure that there was adequate police presence, portable toilets and residents on hand to assist our out-of-town visitors and make Mayfair, whether we like it or not, a regional destination.So, with that, let me be the first to say that I am proud of our neighborhood and you should be, too. Let’s start 2013 off on a positive foot and work to better our community so that the next time someone asks you if you still live in Mayfair (and hangs on the word still), you can say “yes,” — proudly.Joe DeFeliceChairman, Mayfair Community Development CorporationPresident, Mayfair Civic Association
Beware, dear long-suffering property owners in Philadelphia, the city taxman is coming to get you. Well, some of you, anyway.As you may have noticed from this week’s Page 1 story, the days of reckoning for city officials and residents alike are fast approaching. A massive, citywide reassessment of property values is nearly complete.Mayor Michael “The Reformer” Nutter and City Council are going to have to work with state lawmakers in Harrisburg to cushion what is likely to be a huge blow to residents in up-and-coming neighborhoods whose property values have soared since the city last undertook an accurate survey of the worth of homes and businesses in the City of Brotherly Love. The last such survey was conducted seemingly when Ben Franklin was in diapers.Gentle readers, anybody who tries to tell you the city can’t afford to give a break to property owners who face a doubling or tripling of their tax bill is lying. The city treasury is not exactly swimming in cash, but the city’s financial straits are not as dire as Mr. Nutter would have you believe.When the city cuts all of its fat, waste and inefficiency and tackles the underproductivity of many of the folks who “work” in City Hall, the Municipal Services Building and other city offices — when Mr. Nutter finally gets around to collecting the hundreds of millions of dollars in delinquent taxes from local and out-of-state deadbeats, and when the mayor and Council finally get around to slicing the city bureaucracy, including a few at-large Council seats — then, and only then, should the city be audacious enough to ask denizens of Philadelphia to pay more. Until then, City Hall, put up or shut up.Send letters to the editor to: email@example.com
A new year brings more fond memoriesWith every new year, we hope for improvement, fulfilled promises from our politicians, kinder weather and less violence. For me, the main thing is keeping my health stable and adjusting to life in Pottsville, Pa. I am living near family in an assisted living facility trying hard not to miss Philadelphia, the city I love.On New Year’s Day, we don’t see the Mummers Day Parade, and I’ve met people who have never made the long trek going 90 miles to Philly! It seems incredible to me. There probably are Philadelphians who have never seen the Liberty Bell.Last night I spoke with an elderly resident who lived most of her life in Philadelphia in the Fox Chase neighborhood. Her four children graduated from Northeast High School. As we reminisced about the Country Club Diner cheesecake, the regional rail and Knowlton Mansion, the conversation brought vivid images. We laughed about Horn & Hardart’s, the light show at Wanamaker’s and the Gimbels department store at Cottman and Bustleton.I certainly didn’t think I’d ever meet anyone here that knew my neighborhood. She agreed with me that Philadelphia and especially the Northeast had so much to offer. Everything was at our fingertips.Even though I can’t go home again, the love of the Northeast will always remain. Have a happy new year and enjoy a cheesesteak!Janice Jakubowitcz
Question: When is a contract not a contract?Answer: When Mayor Michael Nutter doesn’t like it.Members of the city firefighters union, Local 22, were supposed to get a new contract following binding arbitration in 2010, but Philadelphia’s mayor has thus far refused to honor the new deal. His reason, that the city can’t afford the new contract, is a poor excuse and just doesn’t hold water. The city can find ways — i.e., by trimming its fiscal fat — to pay the firefighters what they deserve. In fact, the city can’t afford not to pay them more.While firefighter demonstrators were a bit rude when they heckled the mayor at Tuesday morning’s grand opening of a state-of-the-art firehouse in Tacony, their anger is understandable. They’re taking Mr. Nutter’s nasty attitude personally, as well they should. After all, these brave men and women put their lives on the line every day.Considering that so many of them call Northeast Philly home, every single person who lives or works in the Northeast should bombard Mayor Nutter’s office with phone calls, letters and e-mails instructing the city’s top leader to stop appealing the contact in court and make it happen for Local 22. Without our firefighters, the City of Brotherly Love would become the City of Smothered Love.Even Mr. Nutter’s fellow Democratic politicians are urging the mayor to stop sticking it to the firefighters.“It’s wrong and the mayor’s continuous efforts to fight the contract award must end,” said state Sen. Mike Stack.“The more time that goes by,” said state Sen. Tina Tartaglione, “the harder it will be to restore the trust between these dedicated professionals and the city administration.”Send letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org
City’s treatment of firefighters is bafflingAt the end of December I had a chance to view some of the public meetings of City Council on the government access channel and listen to the questions of some elected councilmen and the responses of our current city administration’s designees as it danced around the refusal to honor the arbitrator’s decision in regard to our firefighter/paramedics contract.As a Philadelphia School District teacher and wife and mother of firefighters, I found it disingenuous and disrespectful that the city is dismissing the agreed upon arbitration in regard to a fair contract for our firefighters.There are many dedicated public servants that honorably and professionally serve our city in various capacities each day. For this administration to proceed to settle contracts with some of our public servants and then dismiss fair bargaining with other city employees is baffling. Such treatment is causing many to wonder if these actions are retaliatory for the freedom of unions to endorse or recommend candidates for election.We all realize that during this period of fiscal troubles all city departments must look for responsible spending and cost- cutting measures, but the burden of this should not be put on the backs of those city employees who each day put their lives on the line fighting fires, responding to the infirmed, providing and protecting public safety or as we have just witnessed yet again, educating our nation’s youth.Maureen M. RebstockFox ChaseHoliday toy drive was a successMy dear friends: Since 2011 my office has coordinated with various churches and other charitable organizations in Northeast Philadelphia to collect and distribute toys to Northeast families in need.I extend my sincerest thanks to our community residents for the overwhelming positive response and generous donations my office received during our annual toy drive.My offices collected hundreds of toys for boys and girls of all ages, making Christmas a reality for hundreds of families in and around the 170th Legislative District. Because of your generosity, our mission to better the lives of children and keep alive the holiday spirit has been a success.For those who have fallen on hard times, a small leg up from others can be the difference between having a few items under a tree or none at all. With as many people in difficult circumstances as there are in the Northeast, this need has never been more urgent.The character of our community was once again on display this holiday season. I wish you and your family a safe and happy new year! State Rep. Brendan F. BoyleActual value = real estate tax rip-offActual Value Initiative (AVI) is a new city program that will assess our properties at 100 percent of fair market value.Dave Glancey, former chairman of the Board of Revision of Taxes, said the change would be made because citizens were confused about their bills. It was supposed to be revenue neutral.Anyone in City Council who supports this bill can stop by my tomato garden and drop a load of you-know-what, starting immediately, for next season’s fertilizer. This program was created to overtax homeowners, rip us off and finance the School District of Philadelphia, which thinks it has eminent domain rights on our wallets and pocketbooks.Every budget season they march down to City Council, bring along some parents and cry and whine that “the poor kids” won’t have funding. They tell tales about a lack of books and computers, etc. Yet, the school district recently raised the pay of many officials. How could they afford that?Northeast Philadelphia citizens should call, fax and e-mail every councilperson RIGHT NOW if they oppose Actual Value Initiative (100 percent assessments). The spring budget hearings will be here soon. Last year I contacted all 17 Council members stating I opposed all real estate and other tax increases. Let’s start earlier this year.Myles GordonBustletonIt’s time to give Lloyd Ayers the airEvery fireman in Philadelphia knows how Commissioner Lloyd Ayers keeps his job; I would like to know how he got the job. He’s not a commander; he doesn’t even have a command of the language.Would anyone bet money on him passing a qualifying test for this job if the situation should arise this year, let alone scoring higher than other Fire Department candidates?He keeps the job because Mayor Nutter loves him for being the good little “yes man.” He complies with whatever whim Nutter wants, such as fighting the entire force on the court approved and well deserved increase in pay and benefits, and these forced transfers, which amount to no less than the mayor’s punishment for them not buckling to his heavy-handed and oppressive dictates.Councilman Jim Kenney summarized the situation very eloquently at a hearing by stating, “How disgraceful it is to be treating people who are willing to die for you, like this.” We have here the same person who bent over backward for “Queen Arlene” Ackerman — who was a complete disaster for the school district — now dumping on the firefighters of the city, who put their lives on the line for all of us. They are the actual heroes; not the politicians.Nutter made it abundantly clear to the president and to all of us that he was pandering for a job with the administration in Washington recently, and we are not adverse to that, sir; we pray that it comes through for you so we may be free of you and hopefully Ayers as well.Jim O’KeefeBurholmeA few ways to avoid another slaughter In order to prevent another tragedy resulting from either mentally unbalanced gunmen or terrorists, I suggest the following: Set up a commission to organize and implement having volunteer armed guards in all schools and public buildings/places. The guards should be thoroughly screened retired policemen, military veterans and others who desire to give back to society. A small compensation should be offered to entice them to volunteer, such as a tax break or annual parade to honor them, etc. Much publicity should be made to make society view them as heroes. In every school and public area entrance or gathering place, there should be a bulletproof shield (and when deemed necessary, a mobile shield on a golf cart type vehicle) with a gun port from which the guard can safely defend the public. Also, I believe that this commission must help enact restrictions on violence as displayed in the many media and games to which the public is exposed. This step will serve to prevent the public’s desensitization to violence and restore perceived value to human life. The implementation of this plan could save many lives and prevent many of the tragedies we have been witnessing with increasing frequency. It will also make people feel more secure and increase pride in our country. Ken Patkin Rhawnhurst
But everything’s quite legal, you sayIt’s so sad that so many children and others lost their lives in Newtown, Conn., by such a senseless violent act via guns. They won’t be celebrating Christmas this year or any other year. But guns are legal, you say. What is also sad and rips a hole in my heart every day is all the little cherubs who are murdered by way of abortion on a daily basis. They will never, ever get to experience a Christmas or a holiday. Ever. But abortion is legal, you say. Sad are the families and friends at the holidays whose loved ones were killed by someone who thought they were better than you and got behind a wheel of a car drunk as a skunk. But alcohol is legal, you say. Now let us add to all the future Christmases without loved ones who will be killed by some pothead who was high as a kite and did something unspeakable (yet to be determined, but soon will be coming to a neighborhood near you). But yet again, marijuana is legal or will be legal in your state. I guess it all comes down to the irresponsible person who has no regard for his/her or anyone else’s life and how he/she chooses to commit murder.Murder is murder. Case closed.Diane McDowellParkwood