Northeast Times
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Editorial: A message for City Hall

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: pronews@bsmphilly.com


Letters to the editor Jan. 16, 2013

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


Editorial: Give it up, Mr. Mayor

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: pronews@bsmphilly.com


Letters to the editor: Jan. 9, 2013 edition

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


Letters to the editor: Jan. 2, 2013 edition

 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


Editorial: Their pledges for 2013

It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year. Yes, gentle readers, it’s time to reveal what we think are (or should be)  the new year’s resolutions of our local and national celebrities. Here are a few:Mayor Michael Nutter: I will abandon all efforts to raise property taxes until the city collects every dollar owed by tax deadbeats.Councilwoman Marian Tasco: I resolve to return to the city treasury the $478,000 in the fake-retirement DROP money I collected a year ago.Teva pharmaceutical company: We resolve to change our minds yet again and build our huge plant at the old Budd company in Somerton.Gov. Tom Corbett: I promise not to lose any sleep worrying that Allyson Schwartz will beat me in 2014.New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie: I will lose a few hundred pounds in my quest to become physically fit so I can fill the White House in four years.Soon-to-be ex-Eagles head coach Andy Reid: I will lose a hundred pounds before I take the helm of another team.Eagles owner Jeff Lurie: I will apologize to everyone who loves Man’s Best Friend for bringing Michael Vick to Philadelphia.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: I will resign in disgrace after blocking much of President Obama’s agenda but failing to block his re-election.Willard Mitt Romney: I resolve to shock the tea party by admitting that I am a moderate at heart. Newton Leroy Gingrich: I resolve to remain faithful to Callista.William Jefferson Clinton: I resolve to remain faithful to whatshername.Lindsay Lohan: I will stay out of trouble and stay out of the limelight.


Letters to the editor: Dec. 26, 2012 edition

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


Editorial: Do or die

If the cold-blooded slaughter on Friday of 20 innocent, darling, precious little schoolchildren in Connecticut has not made you a little less cheerful or caused you to shed some tears this holiday season, you cannot possibly have a heart.As folks throughout the nation continue to grieve with the families of the murdered little boys and girls and seven adults who were cut down by a madman with weapons, a glimmer of hope seems to be rising from America’s crushed heart.It’s the stark realization that this atrocity can, must and will be different from all of the others before it and will be the catalyst for authentic action in Washington, D.C. and state capitals throughout America.“We must come together to move our nation towards common sense, responsible gun laws — laws that recognize the responsibility of gun ownership, and ensure safety and security in our homes, schools, communities, and public spaces,” congresswoman Allyson Schwartz told her colleagues on the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday. Amen!In a statement on Tuesday, the National Rifle Association of America claimed to be “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the massacre and said it was prepared to offer “meaningful contributions” to prevent similar attacks.Now it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for the NRA and the plethora of politicians in Congress and state legislatures who are in the NRA’s back pocket.Are they going to support the status quo, or are they going to enact real gun control — beginning with banning the sale of assault rifles to the general public?In other words, will the gun nuts and the politicians try to do business as usual, or will they be Americans?Send letters to the editor to: pronews@bsmphilly.com


Letters to the editor: Dec. 19, 2012 edition

Questions about officer’s real estate dealsA female police officer was linked to several properties that allegedly were transferred to her without her paying city and state transfer taxes.The reasons for exemption given were that those previous owners   were either her mother, father or sister.Police Commissioner Ramsey is correct to order a hearing for her, because the taxes that she failed to pay were due her employer (the city). I would hope there were not other “oaths” (written or verbal) she took and decided not to adhere to.Mayer KrainModena ParkTax the exiles, ease up on the localsAll our politicians are trying to figure out who should be taxed. We should look at what started this terrible unemployment problem. It started years ago when American companies left to go to other countries where they got people to work for slave wages. Then they send their products back here to sell at our prices.I suggest that our politicians tax these companies and any investments in them, and any companies that stayed here should get tax breaks.John F. RauchutMayfairFor Christ’s sake, it’s still our holidayChristmas has never been taken away from Christians, John O’Neill (Give Christmas back to us Christians, Dec. 12 letter).Let’s ignore the fact that “Christmas” is a holiday taken from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, and that the evergreen wreaths and trees are yet another Christian adoption of ancient pagan ritual. So perhaps they should be called Christmas trees. Christians stole the idea fair and square. Let us even forgo mentioning the biblical verse Jeremiah 10:2 admonishing Christians against the decoration of evergreen trees (i.e. these holiday trees you speak of).Even most biblical historians will tell you that the birth of this Jesus character would not have been in December. No. This perceived Christmas war that is proclaimed by Christians is more about the government not endorsing ANY religion. It is Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state.It is government property decorating with a nativity scene, cross, Star of David, menorah, star and crescent, etc. that is at issue, but it is only the Christians that seem to be insistent that the government do endorse their religion. I can’t walk down the street without bumping into an inflatable Santa, robotic reindeer, plastic snowmen or blinding lights. I have yet to see a nativity scene or cross in the Irish-Catholic neighborhood in which I reside. But THEY are free to do so if they wish. Even companies are free to do so (perhaps at risk of offending non-Christian customers). But if it is a public piece of property, maintained with citizens’ tax dollars, then no, religious icons should not be displayed.Christmas shopping this year has even extended to Thanksgiving Day! As Mr. Jon Stewart has said, “Christmas is so big, it’s starting to eat other holidays. Watch out Halloween!”Now, to the problem with your idea. Come this time of the year, all one would have to do is lay claim to this religion in order to stay home from work. The majority of people would not come to work then, since the majority of the population is some denomination of Christian. I can hear some saying to themselves, “Since the majority of the population of the country are Christians, why do we have to kneel to the minority?” Majority does not equate to right is the answer.Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. — Mark Twain.   Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it. — Leo TolstoyIn matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. — Mahatma GhandiIt does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds. — Samuel AdamsSo to you, I say Merry Christmas. To others, Happy Hanukkah. Still to others, Happy Kwanzaa. To everyone, Happy New Year. You know what? Happy Holidays to all. Mike Alexander HolmesburgTurned off by the trash that’s on TVAm I starting to get old or is everything on TV lame? We have this crazy cool HD, 3D, LED, giant flat screen that everyone says “Wow!” when they see it. You know what? It’s just the same crap. Reality TV? C’mon, man. TMZ’s version of magazine news on steroids. American Idol and the rest of that karaoke junk where most of the time they stand around talking about absolutely nothing. Network comedies? I’m lucky if I even chuckle at that dumbed-down lameness.News is constantly baiting me to wait until after the commercial to view some video of a car crash or something else. I am actually embarrassed for the anchors because their profession was reduced to this. However, I love The Walking Dead.The simple answer is I don’t have to watch it. Maybe I’ll take the lead from Steve Schmidt of Olney, who sponsored a gift program with his sister Marylou for underprivileged kids last week, and get out of the house and volunteer for something in 2013. Way to go, Steve, good for you! Merry Christmas! It’s not like I’m going to miss something good on TV.Steve MaddenLoganVigil for the angels on Sat.As the nation mourns the victims of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, let us all come together from the West Coast to the East Coast.As part of a national effort called Candles Across America, this Saturday at 8 p.m., stand outside wherever you are, or organize a gathering at your local park, a street corner, etc., with candles, and let’s connect everyone together and show our support and love for one another.Show the families and friends that have been tormented by this incident that the nation is mourning with them and that we will all come together on this day to show our love. I am organizing a vigil at the Franklin Mills mall parking lot on Saturday. We hope for a big turnout in our neighborhood for the angels that we have lost and the ones that need our help. Please bring a candle and join us.Rosemary SantangeloBensalemTragedy in America, againSince 1964 there have been mass murders and multiple injuries at 11 schools, killing scores of innocent children and injuring countless others. Most of the carnage has occurred in the United States. The worst massacre of all time took place at the Beslan School in Europe, where 386 were killed and 700 children injured. Before 1964 there is no documentation of killings of the magnitude listed here.Before speaking to the latest massacre in Connecticut, allow me to provide you with a compilation of these events in numerical order.1) Beslan School in Russia: 386 dead, 700 injured, 9/15/20042) Bath School disaster in Michigan: 45 dead, 58 injured, 5/18/19273) Virginia Tech: 32 dead, many injured, 4/16/20074) Ma’alot massacre in Israel: 26 dead, 60 injured, 5/15/19745) Erfurt massacre in Germany: 17 dead, seven injured, 4/26/20026) Dunblane School massacre in Scotland: 18 dead, 3/13/19967) University of Texas Tower: 18 dead, 31 injured, 4/01/19668) Columbine: 15 dead, 24 injured, 4/20/19999) Ecole Polytech in Montreal: 15 dead, 14 injured, 12/6/198910) Cologne School in Germany: 11 dead, 22 injured, 6/11/196411) Red Lake High School in Minnesota, 10 dead, 12 injured, 3/31/2005Several hours before the Connecticut massacre, a 36-year-old man attacked 22 children in China. No one was killed. The assailant used a knife. We live in a world where children are exposed to violence via TV news, Xbox and prime- time TV shows, such as The Family Guy, which is off the charts. Yet, grade school kids watch.Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Meet the Press Sunday, “We have heard from gun supporters after Columbine who said, ‘It’s too soon to discuss it!’ After Virginia Tech, ditto. President Obama spoke to the issue when running for his first term in 2008. He decried AF-48s and other semiautomatic weapons as problematic. I will have them banned, said the president. Mayor Bloomberg continued, “For every day we wait, 34 more people will be killed by guns.”If we continue with the status quo, by the end of President Obama’s term, 48,000 more people will be dead, in part, because of the NRA and politicians they have in their back pocket. This insidious number is higher than all of our military killed in Vietnam.John T. FritzParkwoodBlame the NRA and cowards in CongressThe NRA pushed hard to prevent the reinstatement of the ban on the sale of assault weapons when the bill was before Congress in 2004. Many cowardly congressmen, fearing the wrath of the NRA, bowed to their demands and voted against reinstating the ban. Because of that, the ban was not reinstated. Had that ban been enacted, there would not have been an assault rifle available for the murderer to massacre those children at Sandy Hook School.So it is fair to conclude that the blood of those innocent children is on the hands of the NRA and those cowards in Congress who lacked the courage to stand up to the NRA.When will we have representatives in Congress who will show the courage to stand up to special interest groups like the NRA and vote in a way that protects American citizens instead of protecting their own seats in Congress?William CooneyFox ChaseFocus on education of stricter gun lawsOnce again, our nation mourns for victims of a mass shooting. This time, 20 children and six adults were shot to death. President Obama should enact laws to curtail easy access to guns. But the fact remains, we have the freedom to possess guns.On another note, many times the shooters have mental health problems. Families of such people need to be aware of various signs — signs that could lead to such violent behavior.Perhaps education as well as enforcement of stricter gun laws will help to curtail these horrible acts of violence and curtail another mass shooting.Marie PattonFox ChaseDoing a lot of nothing about somethingWe the people have allowed power to leave our hands and go into the hands of lobbyists, corporations and longstanding politicians. The focus won’t be on what really caused it, the focus will be on Adam Lanza, the person that caused it. That’s what will allow the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., to be buried and things will move on in the similar fashion.Referring it to grief counselors won’t change what has been allowed. Guns didn’t kill the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Dollars going into politicians’ election campaign funds from the NRA and politics did.We the people love to look at those in power attempting to get away with doing nothing about something that is absolutely wrong, knowing that they can do something.The rest of us look on, merely hoping that someday we will be in the same position of power to change things, until such a tragedy happens to us. Then we wonder what happened.Larry IlariaLawndaleThe Field Trip Please don’t be sad, we’re OKWe went on a field trip todayA secret place where there’s fun to be hadAnd the principal’s with us, so we won’t be badIt’s full of toys and rainbow slidesCotton candy and high cloud ridesA funny zoo full of different thingsI even saw a girl with wingsWe’re not alone so don’t be scaredWe’re chaperoned by angels hereIt’s really nice so I think I’ll stayAnd hold your spot till your field trip dayI know Christmas is here and there are toys to be givenSo please tell Santa that he needs to send them to heavenSophia DeSantisAge 10Into The Darkness You stand there judge and juryDeciding what other lives you’ll endBecause you see no way throughYou want others to come with youInto the darkness away from the lightRemoved from touch cause you hurt so muchYou want others to feel the way you doThat’s why you strike, ’cause you feel it’s rightTo take the innocent on your flight to hellThe life you see before your eyesHas become a bed of endless liesPain is your best friend ’til the endAlthough you know you’re not aloneGoodbye letters you may decide to leaveOr a message on somebody’s telephoneYou choose to take others in your worldWhen you take the life of a boy or a girlThe walls of sanity seem to crumble awayYou believe there’s nothing anyone can sayYou don’t want to be the only one to feel painSo you make sure some of the innocents remainInto the darkness away from the lightRemoved from touch cause you hurt so muchYou want others to feel the way you doThat’s why you strike cause you feel it’s rightTo take the innocent on your flight to hellJohn J. RuppertMayfair


Letters to the editor: Dec. 12, 2012 edition

More civility, please?The last few weeks have seen a lot of letters to the editor from apparently angry Democrats personally attacking those who disagree with them. Hey, you won the election, and you are still this miserable?Arthur Gurmankin is always after the “haters,” whom I guess are any people who disagree with his views.The hysterical Hezakiah Levinson attacked me as a “Republican” because I no longer chose to volunteer in a city filled with corruption, and he even suggests I leave the country. (Talk about haters.) Mr. Levinson, I will give you $100 if you can prove I have not lived in the 56th Ward for the last 32 years — as a registered DEMOCRAT.You see, some of us are not obsessed about the “D” or “R” before our name. I don’t hate Mayor Nutter, just his failed policies. Look at our Traffic Court, schools, the Housing Authority.How many insider scandals do we need as we get punished with more taxes to pay for them? This city desperately needs a reform Republican mayor in order for the city to come out of its malaise. And more Democrats should say it.I don’t hate President Obama, but I hate the Obama-Bernanke policy of zero interest rates and the devaluation of our dollar. It is one of the worst federal policies I have ever seen. It steals from savers to give to debtors and raises the price of food and energy, which is causing massive hardship. It is a foolish policy and it is making rich speculators richer. Romney’s monetary policy was better.I am interested in policies that make my life easier, not harder. And I want the government’s greedy hand out of my pockets, that’s all.I have learned to separate foolish ideas from personal motives. So I wish both Mr. Levinson and Mr. Gurmankin a happy holiday, and for you, Mr. Levinson, I hope someone gives you a very nice gift book — on civility.Richard IaconelliRhawnhurstGive Christmas back to us ChristiansIt seems that every year more and more stories surface about people protesting the Nativity scenes and Christmas trees in public spaces. Some have even gone as far as to rename it a “holiday tree.”Well, I have an idea. How about if we were to abolish Christmas as a federal, state and local holiday and give it back to the Christians who respect and honor the spirit and meaning behind it?Everyone can go back to work and school and not be offended while we Christians take a personal day off or call in sick.That way we can celebrate the majesty and beauty of the birth of our Lord without offending anyone. Just a thought.John O’NeillOxford CircleBlame BushI want to make explicit some things indirectly addressed by Hezakiah Levinson in his letter in last week’s Northeast Times: (Republicans are still whining about their election loss).The economy crashed on George W. Bush’s watch, period. Also, George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Bill Clinton; he left Barack Obama with a deficit.Howard J. WilkBustletonThe price of supportI was intrigued by your reader’s comment about black preachers supporting Barack Obama (Those black prophets should lose their non-profit status, Nov. 21 letter).I agree that politicizing churches should nullify their tax-free status. The problem is that by that standard, most Catholic churches and many white Protestant churches would also lose their tax-free status for supporting Romney.Roger HollandFox ChaseHonoring Hurricane Sandy’s heroes in uniformI want to send a big thank-you to the Philadelphia police and fire departments for coming to the aid of the neighbors on Patrician Drive on the night of Hurricane Sandy.Even with Brown Outs, they arrived promptly and acted bravely, efficiently and professionally when a fire erupted on the middle of our street on the night of the storm. The wind was blowing and howling and trees were falling down all around us, yet they risked their lives with a hurricane and no light.Unfortunately, I am unsure of their names or the cause of the fire. I know they worked a miracle of unbelievable proportions that night. They all deserve commendations and awards!As an aside, I made it to church that evening, along with six other people. I believe we got a miracle.As for Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices Seamus McCaffery and Ron Castille “fixing” Traffic Court, they were not out risking their lives during Hurricane Sandy, nor will any of them be worried about how to work out their schedules and spend time with their family during the holiday season.They, unlike the Philadelphia Fire Department and Police Department, automatically get their annual raise (for what?) and are off (paid) during the holidays.God bless, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to the fire department and the police department.Susan GuestModena ParkPrayers, worries and a returned walletOn Thursday, Nov. 28, I experienced a wonderful act of kindness from someone I never met. My daughter and I left Marshall’s on the Boulevard and headed to another store. When I went to check out, I realized that I had lost my wallet. In a state of panic, I drove back to Marshall’s, spoke to the clerks there, and made an exhausting and unsuccessful search of the parking lot with my daughter.After praying and worrying all the way home, we opened the storm door to find my wallet on the floor between the front door and the storm door. Filled with relief and overwhelming gratitude, I was only sorry that I couldn’t thank my benefactor in person for taking the time out of their day to do something so good for someone else.I hope the person will read this to learn how truly thankful I am.Eileen ZaleskiBustletonKudos to the men and women who protect us How cool it is to be a cop in Philly! As I child, I grew up admiring the police. It was awesome how they strolled around looking tough, and at every corner, criminals shivered in their presence. Speeding cars slowed down, and people drove angelic when they drove by.It definitely is a respected occupation, and what a good feeling to know that you are the heroes of the city keeping your neighborhood safe!But it doesn’t end there. As a cop in Philadelphia you get to drive down the wide streets with motorcycles cracking down on street racers, get some exercise on bikes while making sure there are no kids staying out past the curfew times, and best of all, ride through Pennypack Park on gallant horses!I salute the neighboring police districts and give kudos to every officer keeping our city safe. Not enough recognition and appreciation goes to you gentlemen and gentlewomen, so keep it up!Nayem QuadirOxford CircleThe spirit of giving is alive and wellAs a kid from Olney growing up in the1970s, I always felt that being from the “lower Northeast” meant I was less. As a man in his mid-40s. I realized that we are all equal. For the past 20 years, I have always volunteered in one way or another in helping others. This year took the cake.Along with my sister, Marylou Schmidt, we reached out to friends old and new to help purchase a single gift in the $20 range for a child.To my liking, we were able to collect more than 250 toys to be delivered to local children for Christmas. People from Olney, Lawndale, Crescentville, Fox Chase, Mayfair, Dougherty and North guys, Ryan and Judge guys, Hubert’s and Little Flower folks, even a guy from The Prep that writes for this paper, who I met along my journey stepped up and pitched in.On Saturday, we were at Curley’s Pub to collect the gifts. It was with amazement, we watched people walk in, hand us a gift and have a beer, just like it was supposed to be. No fanfare, No “look at me, I am helping the poor.” Just ordinary people doing what we were taught to do.I want to thank all of those folks for doing what is right in this world. I would also like to thank Joe Brooks, a Lawncrest- Dougherty guy, for opening his “corner bar” to us so that many could share this event.Steve SchmidtOlney guy who now calls Fox Chase homeFirefighters get the shaft from the cityAlthough we appreciated the news media’s coverage of City Council’s hearing on the city’s plan to transfer 300 of the department’s most veteran firefighters, we were dismayed that they chose to emphasize the anger our members directed at Fire Commissioner Ayers rather than the Council members’ outright repudiation of this illogical and dangerous mass-transfer plan.If enacted in January, the transfers will rob companies of valuable institutional knowledge, destroy veteran teams, lead to confusion and longer fire response times, and endanger the safety of civilians and firefighters alike. It has never been attempted elsewhere. The fire commissioner and deputy mayor for public safety could not offer a shred of data to support it. City Council was right to decry the nonsensical plan, and we thank them for their leadership.As far as our anger toward Mayor Nutter, it’s more than justified. Three times now — twice by a neutral arbitrator and once by a Common Pleas Court judge — our arbitration award was upheld and deemed to be fair and affordable. Yet, we remain without a contract.The city has screwed with our hours, disrupting our family life. They’ve browned-out or closed fire stations, demanding that we do more with less, while withholding our nominal raises for four years. They’ve punished us for getting injured in the line of duty. Yet, despite all of these indignities, we just keep doing our job — saving people’s lives.This administration treats firefighters with contempt. It’s a disgrace and it has to stop.Bill GaultPresident, IAFF Local 22 Philadelphia Firefighters/Medics UnionPGW saves a bundle thanks to fine printI recently called PGW because of a problem I was having with my heater. After giving the service rep my information, I was surprised when she said I would have to call a contractor. I have been paying for their “Parts & Labor Plan” for years and she told me it expired. But when I told her I paid it last Dec. 19, she said that is right but it expired on Oct. 31 and I have not paid it so I was not covered.On the bill that gets sent with the payment, it has printed, “Sign up on our website www.pgworks.com before December 31, 2012.” Inside one of the brochures in larger bold print it says, “The deadline for enrollment into the 2012-2013 Plan is December 31, 2012.” Four lines down in smaller and lighter colored print it says all plans expire Oct. 31. In the other brochure that comes, it says in bold large print, “The DEADLINE to purchase the Parts & Labor Plan is December 31st.” That brochure does not give the expiration date.When I first started getting the plan, probably 10 years ago or more, I probably read all the information that came with it, but not anymore. I take a quick look at it to see if the plan still covers what I want, and everywhere I look it tells me to pay by Dec 31, so I have been paying it near the end of December for years.I believe this is purposely done so they can deny service to people like me, who mistakenly pay the bill late. I have gone nine to 10 weeks every winter without coverage from the plan for years even though I have been buying the plan. I’m sure PGW saves a bundle by doing this.Charles NuyianesMorrell ParkThere’s a better way to do secessionIf I were in a state considering secession, I would not agree to Mr. Gurmankin’s terms (You want out? Here’s the path to secession, Nov. 28 letters). A better deal could be negotiated for the state. Terms would require the U.S. government to relinquish all property within the borders of the new sovereign, either through sale, lease or treaty agreements. At its own discretion, the new state could unilaterally require the U.S. to remove its military bases within a reasonable amount of time and the U.S. would agree not to hinder or interrupt the new state’s efforts to acquire its own military hardware of any type it deems appropriate and necessary to defend itself.Catalonia is considering secession from Spain. Scotland may secede from the U.K. What’s happening in Palestine? These are actual stories that have been in the news in 2012.Consider the possibility, acting in its own best interest, that a state may someday have a legitimate case for secession. Look at Alaska on the map. It is not really connected to the United States. It’s above the Arctic Circle. It’s like a foreign land to the lower 48. It was formed before oil pipelines, Chinese tankers and North Pacific ports became popular, so today it could be an economically viable independent state.Here’s a hypothetical: If California were to tumble into the abyss, either physically or fiscally, Alaskans might want to decide whether being part of the union is a burden or a benefit. Holding only three votes in Congress and the Electoral College, they may already feel underrepresented in the U.S. government.I hope no state would choose to secede simply because they don’t like the president or political party in power. But would you deny the right of a free people to govern the land in which they live?Mark TanguayFox ChaseClearing the air about your lungsThe recent train derailment accident in Paulsboro, N.J., released vinyl chloride gas into the air. More than 17 people had to go to the hospital with respiratory problems.The American Lung Association in New Jersey stresses the importance of being aware of your air. Inhaling harmful chemicals, like the vinyl chloride spilled from the accident, can cause chemical pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs. If you are in the Paulsboro area and are experiencing the following symptoms please seek medical attention immediately:• The feeling that you cannot get enough air• Difficulty breathing• Abnormal lung sounds• A burning feeling in your lungsFor more information on lung health and keeping the air clean please visit www.lunginfo.orgDeb BrownPresident and CEO American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic