Northeast Times
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Editorial: Rebel with a cause

When he was laid to rest Tuesday afternoon in a cemetery in Lower Moreland just across the border with Somerton, Arlen Specter left a legacy that likely will remain unmatched by 99.9 percent of American politicians.While most politicians are quite adept at talking the talk and saying and doing a whole lot of nothing in a whole lot of words and time, Mr. Specter — Pennsylvania’s longest-serving U.S. senator who passed away Sunday morning — actually walked the walk with common sense, decency and true public service.The accolades that poured in following word that Mr. Specter had succumbed to cancer were more than just the obligatory lip service that mourners typically give to the recently departed. The good things that politicians and regular people alike said about the former prosecutor, defense attorney and senator were genuine.Sen. Specter’s fierce independent streak, often misinterpreted by skeptics as political opportunism, benefited folks in Pennsylvania and the entire nation more than they probably realize.If most politicians had emulated Sen. Specter by thinking for themselves instead of thinking for the bosses and extremists in their political parties, America would not be in the political and fiscal sinkhole that it currently finds itself in.In the end, Sen. Specter relied on stand-up comedy to help him through his illness, and that should inspire all of us to take our cue from him, especially in trying times. The moral of the Arlen Specter coping story: A hearty dose of laughter is life’s best medicine. ••Send letters to:

Editorial: The cost of free speech

There are a couple of things that could have prevented the mountain that arose from the molehill at the Port Richmond school where 16-year-old Samantha Pawlucy got in big trouble — trouble with a capital T — when she arrived at school wearing a T-shirt promoting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan:1. Samantha could have kept her political views at home, where they belong.2. Her teacher, Lynette Gaymon, could have kept her political views at home, where they belong.Neither of those things happened, however, and now America’s cradle of liberty is left with yet another “teachable moment” in history.Yes, Samantha was well within her First Amendment right to free speech by letting the world know she thinks Romney and Ryan are cool guys worthy of leading America, but was it really necessary to do it at school?Yes, Ms. Gaymon had the right to call Samantha out on it, but was it really necessary to embarrass the girl, compare her T-shirt to a KKK shirt, and make much ado about nothing at what she called a “Democratic” school?The School District of Philadelphia should learn a lesson from this completely unnecessary incident by immediately ending “dress down days” and getting back to strict enforcement of a school uniform policy for all students in all grades on all school days at all schools. Fridays are every bit as important as Mondays through Thursdays. Students should be free of all distractions every day.Anything less than a standard school uniform brings potential distraction to the classroom, particularly because kids will be kids — even those who yearn to vote.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor: Oct. 10, 2012 edition

Trade agreements put the middle class in jeopardyRemember the slogan Buy American? This referred to products produced in the USA. Under this premise, we prospered until the second term of Bill Clinton. During his tenure, Congress implemented trade agreements like NAFTA. They were detrimental to the U.S. worker. This opened the floodgates to outsourcing of U.S.-made products. These agreements continued under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.In the presidential debates, both candidates promise more than they can fulfill. When voting for Congress, vote for individuals who will reverse these trade agreements. Unless these agreements are overturned, the middle class as we know it will continue to disappear!Walter BlowitskiSomertonHow dare the parents want the  best for their kid!Regarding last week’s cover story Tough Lesson: OMG!! The Garcias should be put in jail and the key thrown away for trying to get their daughter into a school when they were — gasp! — two blocks out of bounds. How much did it cost to hire a private investigator to place the Garcias under surveillance for four days? What a waste of time and money.Maybe I will consider moving to Lower Moreland since they seem to have all their major problems under control.Emma M. LeeFox ChaseRemoving median strips puts us at riskRecently, the median concrete strip on Castor Avenue north of Rhawn Street was removed and the road was flattened. It certainly looks nicer, but I think this policy of removing medians is a BIG mistake.Those concrete strips may be ugly, but they are an island of safety for pedestrians. My neighbor was recently hit by a van while standing in the flat median space on Cottman Avenue. A driver raced right down the median, and tossed him all the way to the sidewalk. (Fortunately, he survived.)Northeast Philly has turned into the “wild, wild west” when it comes to drivers — who turn on red lights right into pedestrians, who drift out of lanes while on cell phones, and who make illegal U-turns and run stop signs at will. Recently, a police official told me that cops can’t do much about this bad behavior, because it’s now an epidemic. I think turning the median strips into a roadway just gives drivers another way to go “pedestrian hunting.”So please save those ugly medians. In fact, please make the curbs higher, and redesign medians for pedestrian safety. You could save somebody’s life.Richard IaconelliRhawnhurstThe trash police strike againI recently received a ticket for putting my trash out too early. I put it out early simply because I do not feel safe to venture into the dimly lighted alleyway to set the trash out after dark.In the fall and winter, dark falls before 7 p.m., and my trash is accordingly set out before then. I have lived in Oxford Circle, on the same block, for the majority of my 31 years. I live in the house that my grandparents bought back in 1951, when Oxford Circle was “the place to be.” I have watched this neighborhood change from a pleasant place to raise a family, into a run-down, crime-ridden area where I triple check my locks and don’t go outside after dark, not even to put the trash out.I maintain the property well, my sidewalk and yard are free of overgrowth and debris, and I always shovel my snow. However, since my one trash can and three recycling bins were moved approximately 5 feet from my garage to the edge of my property in the alleyway at 4 p.m. rather than 7 p.m., I now owe the city $50. As a single mom, the amount of this fine is enough to cause a dent in my wallet, but not enough to warrant missing a day of work to appeal it. This neighborhood has changed a great deal over the last decade or so, and the city has not changed to keep up with it. The city that I call home needs to be concerned with the safety of its citizens before the location of its trash cans.Anne Marie CoughlinSection 8 is coming to an area near youI was getting a haircut at the neighborhood barber shop on Cottman Avenue. The barber owns a house in Mayfair and also has a son in real estate. The barber told me that she would sell her house if she could to get out of her dilapidated neighborhood, but at the moment she could not afford to do so. She adamantly felt that Section 8 housing has put her once cherished neighborhood in a permanent state of decline.The neighborhoods of Mayfair, Tacony and Oxford Circle are on the frontlines of this heated debate.For a family of four to qualify for Section 8 housing, they cannot exceed an annual income of $23,500. There is such a backlog in Philadelphia that the waiting list for new Section 8 applicants is closed, according to Because of the sheer numbers of people in need of voucher housing, Section 8 tenants will be coming to a neighborhood close to you.It’s a contentious debate that community advocates should secure the resources to further explore the impact Section 8 tenants have in hopes of putting stigmas and stereotypes to rest in order to bring the community together.And once and for all, the “There goes the neighborhood” comments can be substantiated or put to rest.Jason KayeBurholmeDon’t fall for the scare tactics from the Obama campaignWith the election a few weeks away, I have to say, Obama is good, but not in a good way. Using scare tactics as part of his campaign strategy is just plain cruel and deceitful. What is even more pitiful is how actually scared people are.This last week, I made a point talking to senior citizens. I was in awe listening to how scared they really were about this upcoming election. Obama should be ashamed of himself. He has them believing they will lose their Medicare if Romney is elected president or the big bad Republicans will push them off the cliff. Seriously? This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, it is Obama who took millions of dollars from Medicare to fund his Obamacare, which in turn, will not be going toward any senior’s needs.I would say just about everyone I talked to said they didn’t like Obama (I’m being nice here). However, all agreed they were scared to vote for Romney because of Obama scaring the “you know what” out of them. Thank God my husband set them all straight. Meanwhile, seniors really need to do their homework. I’m sure there are more out there like these clueless seniors.Another issue is this war on women. Hello! Last time I checked, I am a woman, and if I thought there was a war or women’s rights being jeopardized, I would be the first one out there protesting with one of those ridiculous signs. Sandra Fluke. Oh please!Please, please, please, people, keep in mind Romney is not against the middle class, just because he worked hard and fulfilled his American dream and is now a man of means. This is NOT a crime, like Obama would have you believe. In fact, if you do your homework, he is trying to help the middle class and all people who want to work hard and not sit back being entitled, or looking their whole life for handouts from the government.Romney is also for dedicated teachers. They don’t seem to get it, because again, Obama is using scare tactics. Obama only cares for the unions because, let’s face it, he promised them the moon for their votes.Obama’s administration is spending us out of our country, putting us further and further in debt. Our economy is in the toilet. We may be on the eve of World War III and Obama thinks it is more important to campaign, go on The View and Letterman, etc. His attitude is “It’s just another bump in the road.” He may be a smooth talker, but does anyone actually listen to him? Well, the rest of the world is listening, and the United States now looks very weak because of a weak administration.Folks, this is some serious stuff happening out there.  Stop worrying about voting for a particular party, race or creed, but do your homework on the actual person.Romney may not be the entire package, however, he at least is making an attempt to get us back on the right track. I believe he deserves a chance. I don’t think we, as a country, can afford four more years of the same old, same old. This is a scare tactic of its own.America! This upcoming election is NOT “just another bump in the road.” Sigh!Diane McDowellParkwoodDon’t blame the workers, says recent retireeRecently I was cleaning out my desk and found my pay stubs from 1999. My regular pay from the city of Philadelphia for a two-week period in 1999 was $1,367.85 before taxes. After 38 years, I retired in August 2012. From 1999 to 2012, my regular pay from the city of Philadelphia for a two-week period had jumped to $1,797.05 before taxes. That’s an increase of $429.20 over a 13-year period. That amounts to an increase of $35.83 per year or $1.37 more every two weeks in my check! Figure it out — that’s an increase of 68 cents a week in my check from 1999 to 2012.When I retired, I did not receive a severance package as generous as the $1 million package our former school superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, received. Also, my co-workers and myself had to be employed by the city for 10 years before we were considered vested and able to collect a pension — unlike one of our former city managing directors, Camille Barnett, who was able to buy into our pension fund after two years of service.Collecting her pension for two years, she will have recouped the money she paid into the pension fund in a lump sum, and she gets her pension for life! Paying into my pension fund for 34 years, I don’t get the monthly pension she does, and she only paid into it for two years!My co-workers and I had to work overtime, weekends, holidays and snowstorms, time away from our families, to make a decent salary.NONE of us in Fleet Management EVER earned $80,000 in a year, including overtime, working holidays and weekends and snowstorms, as Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.’s “secretary” did without working weekends, holidays or snowstorms.NONE of us received a $68,000 raise, as did Police Commissioner Ramsey. No city employee receives a cost-of-living allowance every July as City Council does, and it’s automatically included in the Council members’ pay.By the way, City Council has the “summer recess” and Christmas break. How many days per year do Council members actually work? How many weekends, holidays or snowstorms are they working? I could go on about Mayor Nutter and his staff of thousands, their salaries, benefits, pensions and severance packages, but I won’t. How much do these cronies siphon from the city’s taxpayers?The news media and newspapers in this city would have you believe that it’s the employees of DC 33 and DC 47, along with the police and fire unions, who are the cause of the financial crisis in Philadelphia because of their wages, benefit packages and pension plans. Yes, city employees have good benefits. What people don’t realize, nor is it ever stated or reported, is the fact that the city’s unions gave up salary increases over the years in order to receive those benefits. Now Mayor Nutter is trying to take these negotiated benefits away with no increase in wages!Mayor Nutter is even taking a binding arbitration agreement with the firemen’s union, which cannot negotiate its contract, back to court again to try to take away some of those legally binding awarded benefits.What is the cost of this action to the taxpayers? Mayor Nutter won’t even negotiate a fair contract with DC 33 or DC 47! What are the mayor and Council members’ benefits, salaries and pensions and how much is being taken away from them? What are they giving back?If you still believe it’s the wages of the employees of DC 33, DC47, and the police and fire unions that are the cause of the city’s financial woes, read Paragraph 1 again. If you want to see where and to whom all the taxpayers’ money goes, read Paragraph 2 again. If you still believe it’s our benefits, read the above paragraph again. I believe it’s the top people who are making the money and receiving the benefits and collecting unjust and unfair pensions, not the employees of DC 33, DC 47, and the police and fire unions.Remember, city employees must live in the city. City employees pay the same taxes as everyone else; we get no discounts because we work for the city.The cost of living goes up for city employees as well as everyone else. Try and keep up with the cost of living having an additional 68 cents a week extra in your pay over a 13-year period!Mike LinahanModena Park

Editorial: Still time to debate

If you’re reading this on Wednesday afternoon before the Obama-Romney debate and you’re thinking about skipping the debate, think again. Watch it. You’ll learn something about two of the men who want to lead the nation. If you’re reading this after the big debate and you didn’t watch it but could have, shame on you. You missed out, but you can catch the remaining two debates as well as the one set for the vice presidential hopefuls. All four showdowns will make for a great October.What a travesty, however, that Northeast Philadelphia voters apparently won’t get a chance to see a few other debates much closer to home. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Sen. Michael Stack and state Rep. John Taylor — entrenched politicians, all of them — are refusing to meet their challengers in the Nov. 6 general election, and that is bad news for voters.What are they hiding? By depriving voters of an opportunity to see the incumbents and their challengers on an equal footing in a public forum — Obama/Romney style — they are choosing to put political strategy ahead of their duty to the public. It’s the voters who lose.Rep. Schwartz and Sen. Stack, both Democrats, and Rep. Taylor, a Republican, have records to stand on and, presumably, to defend. Voters deserve an opportunity to size them up, in person, standing side by side with their challengers: Joe Rooney, Mike Tomlinson and William Dunbar, respectively.The incumbents should not get out of the debates simply by whining that they have no time. Congress, for instance, is on another long, undeserved recess (for campaign season).Voters, do not let the candidates off the hook.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor: Oct. 3, 2012 edition

Let the people decide on the death penaltyWith all the senseless killings in every major city in the United States, I believe we should have a referendum here in Pennsylvania, like Texas, to regularly use the death sentence.It costs $100,000 a year to pay for the perpetrator to live. Are we not allowed to punish the perpetrators? Must we reward them and let them live, when they extinguish another life?Edmund Burke, English statesman, said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing.”Mildred KochMayfairGet your free smoke detectorsOctober is Fire Prevention Month, and I want to inform the readers about the free smoke detectors available to them through the Fire Department. The firemen come to the house and install the alarms (they’re now screwed into the ceiling. They previously used adhesive strips, which didn’t work). The detectors never need a battery change and are good for 10 years. No one should be without smoke detectors.For information, call 215-686-1176.Rosemary CallaghanCastor Gardens’Tis the season to be helping the poor peopleThe holiday season is a natural time to open your hearts and wallets for others, but you don’t have to wait until November or December to begin giving. There are many young children living in Philadelphia County who desperately need our help now.More than 20 percent of children under the age of 6 are currently living in poverty throughout Pennsylvania. These disadvantaged kids are in need of everything from socks and underwear to basic school supplies.By getting into the giving spirit early this year, you can help ensure that a child shows up to school warm and with the tools she needs to learn every day.My colleagues and I at Shire Pharmaceuticals encourage everyone in Philadelphia County to join us in helping out Cradles to Crayons, an outstanding non-profit that distributes the necessities to children age 12 and younger through local partner agencies.Your donations will directly benefit local kids through organizations such as CHOP, Lutheran Children and Family Services, Maternity Care Coalition, People’s Emergency Center and the School District of Philadelphia.So summon the good will of the holiday season early by cleaning out your closet or starting a drive at your local school, sports league or community organization. Then join others with big hearts at Shire’s Big Give on Oct. 12 and 13 at Wilson Farm Park in the Chesterbrook Corporate Center in Wayne, Pa., or one of the drop-off sites located across the Greater Philadelphia region.Together we’ll harness the region’s generosity and fill a tractor trailer full of hope for thousands of children who will receive an early gift when they need it most.Visit for more information.Mike HayesMayfairSocks & underwear also help the poor The need for clothing remains a very basic human necessity. Many families in our community continue to struggle to support, provide for, and clothe their families in this challenging economic climate.In partnership with the local branch of the Needlework Guild of America (NGA), during the month of October, I am collecting new socks and underwear to be donated to local families and individuals. During this drive, we are only asking for socks and underwear. To make a donation of new socks or underwear, please drop them off at my district office at 19 South York Road in Hatboro.If anyone wants to make another type of new clothing donation, NGA has an active local branch that meets weekly at the Hatboro Baptist Church Annex located on North York Road. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or participate in the NGA, please call them at 267-240-6940 for more information.Rep. Thomas P. Murt152nd Legislative District

Letters to the editor: Sept. 26, 2012 edition

The purrfect soulmate“Hey, lady! Do you want her?!” called out the gruff woman to the Forgotten Cats volunteer while the volunteer was on another rescue mission.The volunteer glanced over at the trembling tabby hiding behind a trash can. She asked the woman, “Is this little cat, yours?”“I threw her out,” the woman said. “That cat already had her second litter and I’m tired of finding them homes and stuff.”The volunteer expressed a hopeful smile. “I can help with having the kitty spayed for you. If so, would you take her back?”The woman stayed silent and shook her head: “Nope, I don’t need her anymore. I kept one of the kittens.” It was then that the volunteer’s hopes and smile dropped immediately.So this terrible cycle repeats itself continuously. For people do not seem to grasp the mandatory concept of pet commitment and spaying and neutering. Altering won’t make your pet lazy or fat; that is pure myth. As long as you feed and care for them properly, your pets will be happier and healthier when altered. Also and very importantly, you will be NOT be adding to the pet overpopulation crisis.The unwanted mother cat, who has now been dubbed Butters, is safe and vetted. She needs to be the only kitty, but friendly dogs and kids are fine. If someone out there can provide this petite girl a furr-ever home, please e-mail me, her foster mom: Gdenofa@aol.comThank you for reading, and little Butters purrs “thank you,” too. Gina DeNofa Normandy

Editorial: Do your civic duty

Summer ended, figuratively speaking, when Labor Day weekend ended, and it ended, officially, last Saturday. By now, Mr. and Mrs. Average Northeast Philadelphian have probably accepted the fact that it’s back to the rat race, full time.But, Gentle Readers, if you think that means it’s OK to go from relaxing on the beach at the Jersey Shore all day to relaxing on your easy chair at home after dinner each and every night, you’re wrong. With a plethora of civic associations and Town Watch groups back in business after the summer hiatus, you should do your civic duty.Northeast Philly’s a big town with a civic group in just about every neighborhood. In this edition of the Times, for instance, there are a handful of articles about recent civic meetings that address a host of topics, from zoning and taxes to community cleanups and charity benefits. In fact, so many civic groups have held meetings that we couldn’t even cover them all in this week’s paper.So, if you attend your friendly, neighborhood civic association’s monthly meetings on a regular basis, bless you — you get a certificate for good citizenship.But if you’re one of those uninformed drones who’s clueless about the latest developments in your area, you haven’t anybody to blame but yourself. If you don’t attend your civic group’s sessions because you’d rather stay home and watch TV, shame on you. Just like voting every election day, if you don’t participate in the democratic process at every available opportunity, you relinquish the moral right to gripe about government and its movers and shakers, and your neighborhood and its movers and shakers.Stand up, speak up, and show some civic pride.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor: Sept. 19, 2012 edition

Honor thy firefighter with proper compensationI agree with state Rep. Kevin Boyle’s letter that appeared in the Northeast Times Sept. 5 (We must protect our great protectors). In fact, everyone that I talk to also agrees. Four long years without an increase in pay is unconscionable. The average Philadelphia firefighter makes $40,000 a year. Compare this to Pittsburgh at $48,000, which in itself is well below the national average of $62,000 per annum. The following information will rev you up: Chicago, $65,000; Columbus, $54,000; Los Angeles, $64,000; Phoenix, $52,000.I love our firefighters. During 9/11 ceremonies last week, I was reminded of the Philadelphia contingent of off-duty firefighters who traveled to Ground Zero. They are not the best paid, but they are the best in the land.We can see light at the end of the tunnel. Sam Katz, chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, passed Mayor Nutter’s five-year plan with one caveat — that the city sits down with Local 22 this year to begin talks in earnest. Mr. Katz said in an interview last year, “Philadelphia is disconnecting from government and has become quite entrepreneurial, much of it happening without permission.”It is time, right now, for the city to reconnect with government. Sit down immediately with union leader Bill Gault and his team of negotiators and agree on a new contract that will pay our firefighters a fair salary.John FritzParkwood

Editorial: It’s paypack time, Mr. Mayor

Back when he was running for mayor in 2007, Michael Nutter was all reform, all the time. The former city councilman touted his image as a maverick, a rare breed of politician who thinks outside the box to serve the public.The Democratic candidate’s efforts to exploit his dogged determination to clean house in City Hall were so effective that he won every ward in the city, including those in the Northeast, where Mr. Nutter’s Republican opponent, Al Taubenberger, was a longtime resident.While Mr. Nutter has done some great reform-minded things as chief executive of the city, he appears to be slipping into the role of Just Another Big City Democratic Politician as he nears the end of the first year of his second and final term. A glaring example is the use of taxpayer money to pay for two aides to accompany him to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. earlier this month.While attending a presidential nominating convention is perfectly fine, the trip was entirely political, and every dollar of the expenses associated with it should come from either the mayor’s campaign or personal funds or the Democratic National Committee’s treasury.In a perfect world, Mr. Nutter’s fellow Democrats — for instance, congressman Bob Brady, head of the Democratic City Committee; veteran state Rep. Mark Cohen, who never met a per diem he didn’t like; or City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who has the power to withhold payments of city funds — should blast the blatant misuse of public funds.Don’t expect them to say anything, however. Why should they? They hold office in a town whose voters have foolishly allowed themselves to be governed by one party for more than 60 years.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor: Sept. 12, 2012 edition

Here, kitty, kittyThis weekend, Forgotten Cats is having their Second Chance For Love, in the adoption center of PetSmart at 901 Old York Road in Abington. There will be many adorable adoptable cats and kittens.The kitties are vetted, neutered and ready for a family of their own to take them home. What better way to express love than to adopt a little one that truly needs you? Please come and visit this weekend. Someone is waiting for you!Gina DeNofaNormandyMayfair has turned into another Kensington This goes out to all of the dirtballs and lowlifes in Mayfair and outsiders: We, the hard-working, respectful homeowners of Mayfair, would like to keep our neighborhood clean. This means if you have an empty McDonald’s bag or Wawa trash, you don’t come to a stop sign and throw it out the window. If you have a child in your car who wears a diaper, you don’t pull over and change your kid and throw the dirty diaper in the curb. Did you ever think of taking a plastic bag in your car and using that for trash until you get home? Probably not, because a lot of people don’t know that great word that was huge for me growing up in Kensington — respect. Respect others and their property. It’s sad to say, many years ago Kensington was the same as Mayfair used to be, clean and well kept by respectful people. Unfortunately, Mayfair is what Kensington is today. For the parents of kids who ride around on the quads and dirt bikes that are illegal in the streets, when your kid is killed by people who don’t believe in stop signs or red lights, don’t say, “Oh, my kid was such a good kid.” They probably are, but the parent needs to say, “No, that’s illegal.” Also disturbing is when you go to the corner convenience store with your hard-earned green and watch the person in front of you buy Pampers on an ACCESS card. Hello, how mad can an honest and respectful person get? Jill Elms MayfairMr. Roofer, what were  you thinking?Are you serious? Has this world gone crazy?What were you thinking when I called your office in distress due to a raccoon trapped in an open skylight in my bathroom, and you reacted immediately?What were you thinking when you gave me your cell phone number so I could call you as soon as Animal Control removed the raccoon?What were you thinking when you were at my door within half an hour after I called?What were you thinking when you evaluated and secured my skylight at no charge? Animal Control had arrived three and a half hours after I had called, and all that time I watched the raccoon slowly lose its fight for life. Animal Control told me I could have released the raccoon to freedom had I pulled the chain on the skylight. My animal rescuing soul was tortured.What were you thinking when you sent an angel to my door to comfort me? You see, Chris, the roofer, spent 45 minutes showing me that I had been ill-informed. Chris took the time to listen to me as to how the raccoon had lodged itself and proved to me that I had no recourse but to call the experts.I have been around for more years than I wish to mention, but I have never seen a company be there from start to finish in such a timely and compassionate way.What were they thinking when they didn’t even charge me for the house call or the counseling session?Thank you to Mike, Chuck, and Chris from P. Cooper Roofing. I will never forget your kindness when it counted.Marcia VeshnefskyRhawnhurstPost 754 has a place for military vetsRhawnhurst-Castor Post 754 is open to any veteran who would like to join the American Legion. Our membership is open to anyone who served in the military.Our post is the largest Legion post in Philadelphia. We have 776 members. Men or women who would like to join can call me anytime at 215-632-7781. Dues are $25 for the year 2013.William ColeCommander, Post 754Our politicians are full of hot airI must agree with Jerry Foglia’s letter in the Aug. 29 edition (It’s time to give Council the heave-ho).We limit the president of the United States to a four-year term with no guarantee of a second term. The same applies to many governors and mayors. Our legislators (i.e. councilpersons, representatives and senators) at the local, state and federal levels are not subject to any type of term limitations. The same people just keep getting elected over and over again.The longer these legislators remain in office the more power they accumulate and the more they feel “entitled” to do as they please, such as voting themselves pay raises, collecting DROP payouts, cost of living increases, etc.You or I cannot vote ourselves any of these, so what gives them the right to? This should remind everyone of the old adage, “power corrupts.”I have never once seen any elected official come to my Lawndale neighborhood and ask for my vote. My mother could not even get a response from state Rep. Mark Cohen’s office in regard to the removal of a tree stump in front of our home. I myself could not get a decent response from U.S. Rep. Robert Brady’s office in regard to the plight of the Clark Veterans Cemetery; all I received was a form letter outlining the congressman’s accomplishments.This goes to show our elected officials do not care about the people. All they want to do is remain in office, talk a lot of hot air and continue to collect on all their freebies.We really need to come together and enact term limitations on all legislators at all levels.Joseph MurrayAppalled by bigotry toward gaysRegarding the letters by George Tomezsko and Michael L. Bane in last week’s edition (Same-sex marriages are anything but traditional):Your bigotry toward homosexuals is astounding and appalling. I’d be willing to bet you would’ve been (or maybe were) the type of person/s to oppose the use of the same water fountain for whites and blacks. Children brought up by homosexual couples are just as strong, independent and productive members of society as any brought up by heterosexuals.So you go ahead and “eat mor chikin” to support the bigotry and divisiveness that you so condone and support. Meanwhile we, “the left,” will continue the humanitarian efforts to fight for equality, justice, and tolerance.Continue to pray to your sky daddy in this imaginary, magical realm. And you can also keep your evil Bible, which you claim to get your morality from. People such as I will do the thinking for you.The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing   — Edmund BurkeMichael AlexanderHolmesburgSame-sex marriages…who cares!In response to the two letters in last week’s edition regarding gay marriage, get over it. Why does your opinion not count? I would say because it does not affect you!I am a happily married man (to a woman). I do not see the relevance of fighting against same sex marriage. It is not your life, so why do you care?Michael Bane states, “the difference outweighs the similarities.” How does it? It is a union of two people that are devoted to each other. That is the same as a heterosexual marriage. It can create offspring. It is the 21st century, after all, and scientists have developed means to give women babies without a “natural” father.It’s amazing there is also this thing called adoption — maybe you’ve heard about it. If a woman and her spouse do not want children, why is that wrong? Many heterosexual couples do the same thing. In my eyes, that is great. If you realize you do not want children, why have them!It is America and you can have your opinion. However, your opinion does not matter and neither does mine. If two people want to get married, why does it matter if they are two men or two women? It should not. It reminds me of interracial marriages not being allowed because people did not want biracial children (check Kentucky and Louisiana as late as 2011).I think everyone needs to get over themselves. Please do not use religious beliefs, because any TRULY religious person would say it is not your place to judge another’s lifestyle, even if the Bible says it is wrong. There are many more important things to worry about than two people of the same sex getting married to each other.Meanwhile, it was funny seeing the nice list of Pat Dougherty in the same edition (Blame it on the Democrats).Yes, Democrats are bad, but Republicans are, too! I found it amusing that all the issues came from pre-1970. As the Democratic Party evolved, the party saw where they went astray (to an extent). But since we are doing fun facts, lets do some on Republicans:Ronald Reagan (“The Great One”) supported the Bob Jones University tax exemption even though it was a segregated school. He also said the Voting Rights Act of 1965 “humiliated” the South! Ha.George W. Bush would not even talk to the NAACP. Strom Thurmond (who changed to Republican as the parties changed) was a huge racist!Listen, people are bad. Both parties are terrible at times. The whole concept of party ideologies shifted in the 1960s. So every statement you made, most of those individuals would be Republican conservatives today. Pat, I do not know if you know that or not. My guess is no. Jerry GlanzmannCastor GardensLet he who is without sinMr. Plieninger wants to dismiss the criticisms of Dr. Sunil Niyogi as rank bigotry with the symptom of a belief in collective guilt. (Clergy-abuse letter missed the facts, Aug. 29 edition). This argument is spectacularly disingenuous considering the fact that his beloved Catholicism wouldn’t exist without the collective guilt of original sin.Wayne BambrickCastor GardensRomney, taxes and voter fraudEx-Gov. Romney, by providing only two years of tax returns, is obeying the law, only to the minimum required. If he is only paying a low percentage tax rate and the IRS doesn’t have any open liens against him (like ex-Superintendent Arlene Ackerman did) then he is paying the minimum taxes required by law.If Harry and Barry (Reid and Obama, respectively) want different outcomes, they should change the laws just like the Republicans recently did in Harrisburg with the voter ID law.Obviously, voter fraud and irregularities didn’t concern them as much in 2000, when an election in Northeast Philadelphia surrounding the handling of absentee ballots caused one of their own to win that election.Mayer KrainModena ParkA note from the Party City ladyTo my customers, I’m sorry that I did not say goodbye in person. For 17 years, I got to know you and your families in happy times and sad. Thank you for coming to the store to say hi. You became part of my daily life and I made wonderful friends. I don’t know your names, but I know your faces.My friends, God bless you and your families a life of good health and happiness. I’ll miss you! I had a good ride.Faith, from the Party City on Cottman AvenueSpeak your mind  … Letters should be brief and must include the writer’s full name along with daytime and evening phone numbers for verification. E-mail letters to: