Northeast Times
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Letters to the editor: Dec. 5, 2012 edition

Firefighters get shameful treatment from cityMy husband has been a Philadelphia firefighter for 16 years. My father was a Philadelphia firefighter for 33 years. Since I was a young child I have lived with the mixture of pride and fear that every loved one of a firefighter faces, but it hasn’t been until the last few years that the fear has taken over.A mixture of dangerous public safety cuts by Mayor Michael Nutter and his staff and the incompetence of Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and certain members of his staff have created a dangerous and hostile work environment for every firefighter in this city.When my husband leaves for work, I say a prayer that he will return to me and our four children alive and unharmed at the end of his shift.After the Kensington fire that took the lives of two firefighters in April, I sat down and wrote a eulogy for my husband just in case that nightmare shows up on my doorstep. I wasn’t always this fearful. It has only been in the past few years that these fears have become more and more a part of my life and the lives of countless PFD families across the city.The men and women that serve this city as firefighters and paramedics would die to protect any one of you. That is their job and they do it with pride and vigor every day of the year. Is it asking the city too much to treat them with respect? Is it asking the city too much to invest in creating the safest working environment possible for them? Instead, the city has decided to retaliate against them for speaking up about the dangerous working conditions forced upon them and the dangerous public safety cuts that put every citizen in this city in danger.Shame on Mayor Michael Nutter and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers!Lisa HoganSandyford ParkThis customer is all steamed up about PGWDo you have a PGW parts and labor plan? If you have a problem with a circulator pump, they’ll tell you it’s not covered. If you have a problem with an overflow valve, they’ll tell you that’s not part of the heating system, which is a flat-out lie. A hot water heating system is a closed system and it’s under pressure, so there must be a high-pressure overflow valve, which is part of the heating system.The fool who came to my house from the service department on a recent Saturday just looked and said the overflow is not covered in the contract because it’s not part of the heating system, which is undoubtedly what he was told to say. He also said that the entire system would have to be drained by a team of men, refilled and all the radiators bled, and that’s about a four-hour job.He never noticed that there are cutoff valves that isolate the boiler in case of a problem like this, so the system need not be drained and it takes five minutes to bleed the radiators. I had to call my own plumber, who single-handedly changed the overflow valve and restarted my heater in less than one hour.We had to endure three unnecessary days without heat because of this fraudulent practice of the gas company.  They’re lying and they all know they’re lying; anything under pressure must have a pressure relief valve. They know this!Jim O’KeefeBurholmeHe’ll be minding his own businessTD Bank said it was just following its normal course of business when it foreclosed on the Northeast Community Center at 2840 Holme Ave. It said it was just following its normal course of business when it would not submit a property appraisal report that the community center’s new lender requested, therefore causing the community center to miss its Nov. 1 deadline for submitting a reorganization plan under Chapter 11 bankruptcy law.The bank said it was just following its normal course of business when it bought the property at a sheriff’s sale auction on Nov. 13 for $600,000, which was $200,000 less than the $800,000 that the center and its new lender offered TD Bank to keep the property open for the community.TD Bank said it was just following its normal course of business when it rushed to foreclose on the property shortly after Nov. 1, displacing the many children, families, seniors and special populations that depended on the center for services.So I’m sure TD Bank will understand when I follow the normal course of business by moving my accounts to another financial institution because it showed such little regard for the people in this Northeast Philadelphia community.Peter DiGiuseppeRhawnhurstWhat about Scouts’ honor to collect?Where were the Boy Scouts on Nov. 17? Two weeks prior, we received plastic bags to be used for a food collection for the needy and were instructed to place them in front of our buildings for collection on that date.Nov. 17 came and went and they just sat there with not a Boy Scout in sight. Calling the headquarters on the Parkway was an exercise in futility — recorded messages, no answer, etc.I was told by my postman that people on neighboring streets, not knowing what to do when the bags weren’t picked up, piled them around a corner mailbox. The post office did not know what to do with them. Many of the contributors are senior citizens who had to dip into their limited budgets to purchase these groceries. How sad! Shame on the Boy Scouts of America.Raymond D. Knapp Jr.Bell’s CornerWho caused Philly’s problems? Look in the mirrorPhiladelphia, what have you allowed to happen to your once proud city?You have allowed yourself to be violated by mayor after mayor on empty promises and misguided vision. You have allowed a city council to use you as their own private valet. You have allowed department heads to sow their own seeds of political agenda and nepotism. You have allowed your children to become uneducated, goalless and stunted.Philadelphia you have allowed this, and stood by just watching, expecting your citizens to rally behind you and end the nonsense taking place in this city — a city of decay, crime and non community-conscious developers who have trampled over you without regard or constraint. A city that has allowed its politicians to be directed by various religious groups.Philadelphia was once a hard-working town, with hard- working assertive people. Where have they gone? The only way for Philadelphia to even begin to return to a city of education, prosperity, safety and a sense of well-being is for the sons and daughters of this once proud city to do it.We need to remove the politicians that have made this THEIR city for amusement and monetary gain. We need to become involved in restoring peace to our neighborhoods, while the mayor and the police and fire commissioners continue to put all of us at risk, and our court systems overrun with corruption and arrogance.We sit by while utilities continually use the citizens as their own private banks as they go unchecked and are not held accountable for their ridiculous charges.This city’s issues are everyone’s concern, so while we point finger after finger at everyone in city government, different races, different genders and different ethnic groups, our city spirals more and more out of control. Look at yourselves — we have allowed this to happen. We have voted the politicians in year after year. Why?  We have allowed our streets to become the battlegrounds they now are.We have allowed our children to become lost and uneducated, and given them a very uncertain future. We have done this to ourselves. Laying blame on everyone else is cowardly and shows a flaw in our character. We have allowed our senior citizens to become sheep for the wolves, and in doing all these things we have become a city of ostriches with our heads in the sand.We need to make a stand, look around your own neighborhood, your own place of employment — if you are fortunate enough to have a job — and see what’s going on and understand it will not change unless we do it ourselves.The problems that plague this city are not as difficult as the mayor, City Council or the news media portray them; however, for them to keep control and their jobs, they seem to complicate the issues, and should any city official wish to dispute this, I invite you to my house for dinner and discussion, should you dare come out from behind the desks and aides you hide behind year after year, and answer for and be held accountable for our current state of affairs.Politicians work for us, not the other way around, but they seem to think that we are their employees. Who keeps them responsible for their poor performance? Shouldn’t that be the citizens? Philadelphia will never be what it could be, or should be, unless Philadelphia’s citizens do it.This was a city built by different neighborhoods, ethnicities and cultures. It could be a good place to live again if only people would step up and do the right thing — and that is to be assertive and hold the people in charge accountable, which means remove them from their positions in the next election and replace them with real people who are assertive, goal-orientated, responsible and hard-working, because what we have done for years has only brought on our current situation.Luigi RosminiEast TorresdaleRepublicans are still whining about their election lossThe election is over, the people have spoken and the Electoral College has placed their votes; yet the incessant whining of the GOP supporters just keeps going.Moaning over the “good old days” of a mostly Republican Northeast (Party of a few, Nov. 14 editorial). America 101: We can live where we want and vote how we want. Not everyone living here is a doctor, lawyer, politician, cop or firefighter; lots of us work as cashiers, waiters, laborers, construction workers, among dozens of other non-professional jobs.Regarding letters to the editor in the Nov. 14 edition: Your spirits are dashed because your candidate lost, Mr. Iaconelli? Take it out by “no more” support for charities, community groups and public services? Good choices. Take it out on the elderly, children from low-income homes and the hungry that depend on non-profit help like food banks. Being Republican, you can look up what non-profit means online. Let’s hope you never need help from any of those.You’ve lost all hope, Mr. Breen? The failure was what was handed over to President Obama after an eight-year heyday on Wall Street that handed out credit cards and APR mortgages where the only prerequisite was the person be breathing, then jacking up the rates.The ensuing maelstrom of foreclosures put us in a major recession that, even with a Republican Congress that fought his every move, Obama managed to get us out of inside of his first four years. It’s not a total fix, but it is moving ahead.Even the stock of the auto industry has gone up after being ready to collapse four years ago, and foreclosures continued their descent, falling 31 percent from a year ago, according to data from, which said the following: “Increasingly improving market conditions and industry and government policy are allowing distressed homeowners to pursue refinancing, loan modifications or short sales rather than foreclosures.”The point is that patriotism is to the country, not a man running it. Suck it up, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it. If you absolutely just can’t handle four more years, you can find a border — north, south, east or west. America needs people willing to work together to build her, not take their ball and go home like a 5-year-old whose game isn’t going their way.Hezakiah LevinsonRhawnhurstWhat’s in a number? The big banks have a vested interestAlthough I understand the frustration expressed by Myles Gordon in his letter last week (Interest rates stink! Fire the Fed head), I think he is going after the wrong target. The interest rates stink? Not for the 1 percent of the population who like it this way.Myles Gordon is looking at the system from the wrong view if he really wants to understand what is going on. Ben Bernanke does not control the system, he works for it.The goal of the 1 percent (the investors) is to make money at the expense of the other 99 percent. The banking system is part of the larger “financial system.” There are at least two sets of interest rates. Ben Bernanke only sets rates to help the banking system. Congress has control over the second set.The depositors are just giving the banks a loan of their money, which the bank uses to make a profit for its investors, its stockholders. Banks pay the depositors as little as possible for the loan of their money (rates controlled in part by Ben Bernanke ). The financial institutions in turn charge as much as possible for personal loans and credit card loans to people who borrow the money until they cry bankruptcy!These usury rates can be controlled by Congress, but Congress eliminated these laws years ago, so these financial institutions can charge you anything they want. The law only says they must tell us what they are doing. If we do not complain about the credit card rates to our congressmen, we suffer.So if a financial institution charges you 26 percent on your credit cards and the bank gives you 1 percent or less on your deposit, they make a tremendous profit, don’t they? Don’t you wish you were in their position to make 25 percent return on your money instead of 1 percent?Mervyn KlineBustleton resident and retired Frankford High School teacher

Letters to the editor: Nov. 28, 2012 edition

’Tis the season to remember our heroesIt seems big business is not satisfied with ruining Christmas, they need to get to Florida via sled by Thanksgiving. You will not be able to buy those overpriced items (which already have been marked up to allow for the big sales!) any time in the coming three weeks or even after Christmas, when they will be giving them away.Let’s spend holiday time with our families and enjoy the time that has been spent preparing a meal for us. If you do not have family or are far away from them, send gifts of food to our military and our poor. They will appreciate it more over the holidays.Let’s remember all the soldiers, police officers and firefighters who gave their lives so we could enjoy our Thanksgiving meals. Give thanks not only to our military but our police and fire and medical emergency personnel.Don’t fall into the shopping frenzy, or we will be wiping Thanksgiving Day off of our calendars. The stores will be there until the 25th of December. (The prices are better on Christmas Eve day).Arlene DeSantisTorresdale

Editorial: Fix this court

Pity the poor soul who is not politically connected or doesn’t have a cousin who works at Phildelphia’s Traffic Court. If he’s stopped by a cop for a moving violation, he has two choices. He can take a half-day off of work and fight the ticket or he can send in his fine. But if he’s “connected,” he has a very good chance of getting his ticket thrown out, or his violation reduced. In some cases, he might be found not guilty without even having to show up in court. This “two-track system” of justice is described in scathing detail in the interim Chadwick report released publicly on Nov. 19. It’s based on interviews with court employees and Traffic Court judges. One employee even argued that the system was fair because every violator had access to preferential treatment if only he was “savvy enough to ask his elected ward leaders for help.”Thankfully, an FBI raid in September 2011 and this report have blown the whistle on this nefarious  activity.What has gone on at Traffic Court is patently unfair to people who try to do the right thing by owning up to their misconduct on the road. It is wrong because it demeans the work of patrol officers who issue tickets because they are trying to keep the streets safe. And, it is wrong because it denies the city and state thousands — if not millions — of dollars.Judges who are sworn into office in Traffic Court swear they will uphold the law and discharge their duties “with fidelity.” What part of faithfulness did they think applied only some of the time?Judge Gary S. Glazer, who has been appointed to clean up this mess, has a good bead on where we need to end up. “We are trying to make a system of justice that’s fair for everybody,” he said.That seems to be Job 1 for every court in the land. It’s time for significant structural change to Traffic Court or the system of secret requests will return as soon as the spotlight is turned off.Send letters to:

Editorial: Thank you

Thanksgiving is the time for togetherness, peace and good will. It’s the perfect time for us to count our blessings.What might our local and national movers and shakers share with their families and friends as they prepare to dig in to their turkeys on Thursday? Here are our best guesses:Big Bird: I’m thankful that Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama.Barack Obama: I’m thankful that Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney.Mitt Romney: I’m thankful that Ann and I and our boys have tens of millions of dollars as a consolation prize.Karl Rove: I’m not thankful for anything.Hillary Clinton: I’m thankful that I’m getting the heck out of Dodge.Bill Clinton: I’m thankful that Hillary’s going to keep an eye on me while we plot our return to the White House in four years.Chris Christie: I’m thankful for all this food.Andy Reid: I’m thankful that the Eagles’ birdbrains have kept me as coach merely because they love to lose.Hostess Brands corporate executives: We’re thankful that we got our humongous bonuses before we decided to shut our business.Michael Nutter: I’m thankful that I made it through another year running a city whose voters love to keep the same party in power, decade after decade after decade.Any Republican who’s thinking of running for mayor of Philadelphia: I’m thankful to have a day job to fall back on because I know I have no prayer of getting elected mayor.Al Taubenberger: I’m thankful that after losing races for Congress, mayor, City Council and state representative, I finally realize it’s time to stop running for public office.Send letters to:

Letters to the editor: Nov. 21, 2012 edition

Filthadelphia offers trash and cash pickupIf the city of Philadelphia were really interested in cleaning up, they would have alerted the citizens of their intent to write fines for putting trash out before 7 p.m. on the previous day.The city has angered the residents and muddied the waters by dragging down our opinion of this city. I have received two fines — the second came before the first one arrived. Seriously!Obviously, the city of Philadelphia is in need of money and will use any means, fair or not, to get it. I would be happy to give the city a loan but cannot, since I am a low-income resident who pays her taxes and VOTES!I hope the city will take my suggestion and warn the citizens of the law before issuing fines, just as it did with the red-light cameras installed at intersections.Marcia VeshnefskyRhawnhurstFor the love of liberalsLiberals love millionaires who kick, throw or bounce a ball.Liberals love millionaires who pretend to be someone else in movies.Liberals love millionaires who play guitar, sing or dance.Liberals love millionaires who talk on late-night TV.Liberals love millionaires who control our lives in government. This includes Mr. Obama.Liberals hate millionaires who create jobs.Pat DoughertyMayfairLead paint law will hurt middle-class landlordsThe new lead-based paint law (Bill 10011-A) goes into effect Dec. 21.The law states that all leases signed after Dec. 21 with the intent of children age 6 or younger who are going to reside in a unit built before 1978 must have a lead dust wipe test conducted by a certified technician prior to moving in. This ordinance was crafted by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, passed by City Council and signed into law by Mayor Nutter on Dec. 21, 2011.Young children must be protected from the hazards of lead paint, but 99 percent of the landlords in this city were not responsible for putting lead into the paint nor using lead paint in their units. This plan is going to punish and bury many middle-class landlords who invested in good faith in real estate with a drastically different set of rules. Now they are stuck. We need more balance in the law between all parties involved.One of the major objections I have in this law is why at the 11th hour Councilwoman Reynolds Brown put in an amendment excluding all dwelling units owned or subsidized by the Philadelphia Housing Authority or privately owned but currently leased under the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). Don’t all children deserve the same protection from lead paint? The Constitution mandates equal protection.If I were advising PHA, as a risk management strategy I would follow the rules of the private sector. Federal law states if there is a difference between federal, state or local regulations, the more stringent requirements must be observed in any jurisdiction.Can you imagine PHA going before a judge in a lawsuit over a tenant’s lead paint issue and testifying that PHA is exempt under the law according to City Council and the mayor? A dust wipe test done by a state certified technician with the results analyzed by an EPA approved lab wouldn’t be a more stringent test than a visual inspection done by PHA employees?Tom Kline, a catastrophic-injury attorney, would salivate at the thought. I implore City Council to institute changes to level the playing field as to not create panic and disinvestment in Philadelphia in this critical economic climate.Christopher ArturRealtorThose black prophets should lose their non-profit statusThe Black Clergy of our city endorsed President Obama for re-election. This is against the Constitution. No one from any church, nor ministers, priests, etc., are permitted to endorse any candidate for office, or they can lose their non-profit status.The Black Clergy are well known for endorsing black candidates. They are biased and must not continue to do this.It’s OK to tell your congregation it’s their duty to vote, and not tell them who to vote for. I think they should lose their non-profit status anyway.Jerry Foglia Sr.RhawnhurstWhy I voted for ObamaI hope I don’t run out of paper! For starters, the latest employment figures are the best in years. Employment is up, unemployment is down. And contrary to nasty rumors, Obama did NOT cook the books.News reports tell us that public confidence in the marketplace has increased significantly. Ordinary citizens are optimistic enough to start buying again.The stock market is going through the financial roof. Apparently investors are reaping the benefits, and perhaps you are one of them.After the terrible damage from Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Obama made a huge impression on the nation because he immediately cut through a lot of red tape to get desperately needed aid to those who were suffering. Even the Republican governor of New Jersey publicly praised the president for his actions.Obama’s humanity and concern for individual citizens was shown as he hugged and comforted those who were breaking down. This was NOT a photo op. It was for real, from a real human being.The president is ending those long wars we have been trapped in. Many of our military men and women are returning to their loved ones, some of them surprising their children in touching reunions.He has promised to hunt down those who wish only to harm our nation, and he will keep his promise, as he has done previously. The auto industry, which was going down the toilet along with thousands of jobs, is now robust, and people are buying new cars like, well, hotcakes.And oh yeah, he has a great singing voice and is a cool dancer!Oops, I’m running out of paper.Edward HuberBurholmePaying the piper in political utopiaGeorge Tomezsko complains (America needs three separate nations, Nov. 14 letters) about socialism in America and suggests the Southern and Midwestern states split off and become their own country. (Presumably he means to include the solidly GOP western states that form an inverted U from Arizona to Texas.) Excellent idea! Those people are the worst socialists of all. The red states have been sponging off the blue states for years. Why do you think they’re called the red states?Of the 24 states that went to Romney, 23 get back more from the federal government than they put in. Of the 26 states that went for Obama, 16 get back less than they put in (nine more, Rhode Island even). We’re being ripped off by farm subsidies to largely Republican voters.Conservative Republican U.S. Rep. and sometime-Swiss-citizenship applicant Michele Bachmann and her family alone got $260,000 between 1995 and 2008. Even the tobacco farmers get subsidized, last year to the tune of $191 million!To irrigate the arid West, the mostly red conservative Republicans there have, since 1902, directly paid for only 15 percent of their water; American taxpayers as a whole have subsidized the other 85 percent.However will Mr. Tomezsko’s utopia pay its own way? Maybe it can return to the good old days, circa 1953, when Eisenhower, a Republican, was president, and the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress — and the top marginal income tax rate was 92 percent! Howard J. WilkBustletonLet them eat sweet cake at the tea partyNow that the presidential election is over, may the phrase “tea party” be thrown out of the political atmosphere? When teas are served, there is pleasant chat and cakes to be enjoyed. Obviously, the campaign ads did not remotely touch on this idealism.This “tea party” was filled with poison. Even the ads cost millions of dollars, which certainly could have been put to better use.Hopefully, the House and the Senate and the president will start doing what is right for the people. Let them begin by serving tea with honey and sweet cakes.Marie PattonFox ChaseCandidate says he was honored to runDear Northeast Philadelphia neighbors:From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for your generous support over the past 10 months as I campaigned to be your next state representative. Words cannot express how much your encouragement and dedication has meant to me. While we were unsuccessful in the election, together we discussed the issues that matter most to Northeast Philadelphia.As I campaigned door to door, you opened your lives to me at your doorsteps. You told me about the issues that you face in your neighborhoods. We ran with the endorsement of the Philadelphia firefighters, who tasked me with challenging Mayor Nutter to honor their contract.We ran with the support of numerous civic and athletic association leaders who wanted me to continue the support they have come to know from their legislators. I’m proud to have advanced those issues and many more.This election confirmed my belief that the people of Philadelphia are worth fighting for. I am not going anywhere, because this is our city and someone needs to stand up to the good old boys network that has destroyed its spirit. I promise to never lose this dedication, and together we will do great things for the future of our city.It was the honor of a lifetime to serve as one of your candidates for state representative — one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Again, thank you and God bless.Dave KralleFormer Republican candidate, 169th Legislative District

Letters to the editor: Nov. 14, 2012 edition

His spirits are dashed by PhiladelphiaI watched with disgust at what went on in this city during the recent election season.The abuse of a young girl who simply wore a Romney T-shirt to school, Black Panthers (again) lining up outside the polls, city officials like elections commissioner Stephanie Singer abusing her office by politicizing what is supposed to be public service.The national news was filled with stories about Philadelphia buffoonery on Election Day, like those poll watchers thrown out of voting places.I volunteer in my community, clean up after my neighbors, and have given hundreds of hours to public service, even while I have been ill. For what end, to serve the corrupt political process and lazy people of Philadelphia?No more for me. No more charity, no more help for community groups, no more public service.I hope for the day I can move out of this city, and I know I am not alone.One thing Philadelphia is good at is destroying the spirit of the best and brightest people, the very people so needed to make communities work.Richard IaconelliRhawnhurstWith the election over, it’s time for hopeThe election is over, with Obama getting 50 percent of the vote and Romney 49 percent. Clearly the nation is very divided. But there is hope. Hurricane Sandy provided an opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans to cooperate, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama came together, praising rather than insulting each other, both working to benefit those who were suffering. That is how our elected representatives should act.Rush Limbaugh said of Obama on Jan. 16, 2009, before he even took office, “I hope he fails.”Congress squabbled and did its best for the past four years to make that happen. For both parties, it seemed that personal power and party loyalty trumped the vital interests of the American people, and the middle class paid the price, many of whom slid into the poorer class.No wonder Congress has only a 17 percent approval rating. Now, post-election, promises of cooperation are being made. Let’s make sure they’re kept.Mel FlitterFox ChaseHe’s lost all hopeWhen a nation rewards failure at the highest level, how can there be any hope?Joseph A. BreenFox ChaseA path to victory for TaubenbergerRepublican Al Taubenberger just lost another election. This time he ran for a state representative position previously held by John Perzel. He has run for almost every elective position there is.I have done an extremely detailed analysis of the elections he participated in and came up with a solution for him. He may win when he is unopposed.Mayer KrainModena ParkAmerica needs three separate nationsSome random thoughts on the presidential campaign: The post-election map actually shows the embryos of three separate nations: a near-solid GOP south and Midwest (which remain true to the conservative values and beliefs upon which America was founded), and two emerging Soviet socialist republics, one on the West Coast (term this the Nation of the West Coast, which, led by California upon independence, I think would soon join the ranks of the other Third World banana republics) and what might be called the Northern Liberal Bastion.May these embryos come to term!While it may appear strange that a conservative like myself would actually applaud the creation of two new socialist states, the intent is to teach, via hard, real-world experience, the folly of socialism to the naïve leftist ideologues amongst us. Incapable of persuasion by normal means, given over as they are to an intellectual arrogance that springs from adherence to false values and falser political myths, this strong medicine is indicated. I have every confidence that these two nations-to-be, controlled by leftist elites supported by an electorate no longer skilled in the duties and responsibilities of citizenship and self-government, would go the way of the old Soviet Union in a generation or two.Composed of leftists comfortable in their beliefs in a worldly and secular paradise in which the almighty state will ensure no one need work anymore, and all bow before the twin gods Equality and unrestrained Eros, it will take a hard dose of reality to rouse them from the ideological slumber they fell into since the 1960s.My fellow conservatives, let’s get to work on this project, just possibly the grandest experiment in government ever contemplated for the North American continent!George TomezskoFox ChaseThe Republicans will learn a few lessonsThe ultimate lesson of the election of 2012: A party cannot win by lying, buying, hating or stealing, and in case Republicans don’t learn that lesson, in the 2014 mid-terms, they may well become the minority party in the House AND the Senate, and nowhere to be found near the White House.I’m not suggesting that the Republican Party will cease to exist should it fail to adapt; I am suggesting that it will render itself virtually ineffective, minimally powerful and incapable of winning elections with the possible exception of local elections where the electorate is comprised of older, white, poorly educated individuals.The bigoted and somewhat veiled red meat “ideas” such as “We’re taking back America” in this election were largely understood for what it says between the lines, as many Americans took it for its underlying meaning, that being, “We, the party of the (primarily) white male, by electing Mitt Romney and our radical tea party candidates, will take the country back to when white people had all the power.”Throughout history, in spite of the evolution-deniers, both biologically and socially speaking, there have been paradigm changes; the universe is not geocentric (as Galileo demonstrated), the world is not flat, people of different races can marry one another as can people of the same gender — and life goes on.It’s Darwinian, like it or not, accept it or not. Ultimately, reality calls the tune and the Cosmos writes the rules, by the process of natural selection, an environment will boot those who either resist or who are incapable of yielding to truth. One will either adapt, or perish.Arthur GurmankinBustletonCity’s going after the wrong litterbugsI can sympathize with Hezakiah Levinson’s gripe with Philadelphia fining him for putting his trash out early (A fifty-buck love letter from the city, Oct. 31). The same thing happened to me.I tore down my old yard shed recently. I called 311 to ask if the Sanitation Convenience Center at State Road and Ashburner Street would take shingles. I was told yes. I drove there on a Saturday with shingles and plywood. The attendant stated, “No shingles.””But I called 311 and they told me you’d take them,” I said.“311’s got nothin’ to do with us,” was his reply.I dropped off the wood and went home. I bundled up the shingles and left them at the curb. In the mail came my $50 summons. All right, I did it. I’m guilty. I paid the fine.My problem is the fact that this law has been on the books for more than 25 years, I’m told, but it has never been enforced.When the city put cameras up at Grant and the Boulevard and other locations, they gave you 90 days notice before they started writing tickets. Couldn’t a warning have been placed in my mailbox?I’m close to retirement and will soon be on a fixed income. How about going after the city residents who throw their trash in the streets instead of putting them at the curb? They don’t wait until 6 p.m., either.Tom HollandBustletonSuggestions for a cleaner PhiladelphiaTo help Philadelphia become a cleaner city, one place to start would be with public schools. School principals could disseminate notices to all teachers to bring up the subject (teach consciousness awareness of littering) and encourage students at after-school dismissals to hold onto trash, i.e. drink cups and wrapper bags after leaving, for example a Wawa, 7-Eleven, Burger King, McDonald’s, etc., until there is a nearby trash bin, or simply hold onto refuse until arrival at home (placing it in a school bag, or one’s pocket, etc.).Formerly a resident of Queens, New York, I recall the late mayor of New York City, John Lindsay, who started a “Don’t be a Litter Bug” campaign way back when I was in grade school.My school teacher discussed the mayor’s campaign, and it stuck with me ever since; even to this day at age 70, I actually pick up trash along my street where I live in the Burholme section of Northeast Philadelphia, often when no one else will.Mayor Lindsay posted billboards and little street signs all around the five boroughs of New York City with the slogan: “Don’t be a Litter Bug,” which is where I am from, as I have settled in Philadelphia some 30 years ago. I do believe he utilized the radio media, too.A sensitive approach to this subject can win over our youth on this important subject. Note: Sometimes some folks believe they are doing the right thing when they push trash down a sewer inlet. Many do not have a clear idea where the sewers go — i.e., the Delaware River.A short lesson on the city’s infrastructure when it comes to water and sewer drainage can be creatively done: We have storm drains and sanitation drains.A representative from the Philadelphia Water Department may be interested in making guest appearances at schools to explain how this all works. Visual aids would hold the attention of those in attendance. This can impact our environment for the better if some time was taken in the classroom on this matter. Perhaps this would even spill over to adults/parents who would be exposed to this educational project.The classroom, billboards, street signs, and local papers such as the Northeast Times are all good places to go with this project. Some schools may need a few additional trash receptacles bordering the schools’ corner locations.One of a few real eyesores I have located are at Lehigh and Aramingo avenues just under the train overpass in a fenced-in grassy area on the west side of the street. Another is on Tyson Avenue just east of Castor Avenue, north and south curbsides for three or four blocks or so. Another is on Dungan Road, just south of Rhawn, on the east side of the street along the curbs bordering several garden apartment houses (opposite the Police Department’s internal affairs building).Having neighborhood ‘spotters’ to alert the sanitation department of certain locations that may be passed over by various city departments that I am sure have plenty to do already, can help make their job a little easier. I would gladly do it, and there is no salary involved. It’s volunteers, based on neighborhood pride.I hope this helps trigger a response, soon.Paul Bogosian

Editorial: Party of just a few

Once upon a time, Northeast Philadelphia was home not only to lots of cops and firefighters, but a good number of Republican officeholders, too. Ah, the good old days.In the wake of last week’s huge election, two things are perfectly clear: One is that President Obama proved to be very popular in the Northeast, capturing 68 percent of the Northeast wards en route to winning the entire city with 85 percent of the vote.The other lesson from Election Day is that something is wrong with whatever is left of the Philadelphia Republican Party. Aside from three key positions guaranteed to the Republicans by the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter — two at-large seats on City Council and a lone seat on the city Election Commission — Far Northeast Councilman Brian O’Neill and lower Northeast state Rep. John Taylor are the Republican Party’s only bright spots. Both men are capable public servants, but why on earth are they two of just a handful of Republicans holding high office in the city?Not too long ago, Northeast Philadelphia had a healthy chunk of Republicans joining Rep. Taylor in Harrisburg — state Sen. Hank Salvatore and state Reps. George Kenney, John Perzel, Chris Wogan and Dennis O’Brien (who now sits in one of the guaranteed at-large Council seats). Their electoral success reflected a tendency of Northeast voters to split their tickets every election day. That healthy streak of independence was great for democracy.There are plenty of issues that contrast Republicans and Democrats, but the city’s Republican leaders can’t seem to capitalize on them. Perhaps the keys to the party success will flow with some new blood.Send letters to:

Letters to the editor: Nov. 7, 2012 edition

A stunning byproduct of Hurricane SandyWhen the 99 percent marched in protest for decent paying employment and rebuilding of the infrastructure in our city, none of the officials would take our concerns seriously.Since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy has hampered the functions of the East Coast, we will hang up our Willing to Work signs, as it is time to roll up our sleeves and repair all damage caused by the storm.Hurricane Sandy has wiped our shores clean of all the greed and corruption that the 1 percent has inflicted on the middle class.To think that an act of nature could affect everything that is rotten in our country and bring the mighty down from their ivory towers has me stunned.My main objective for participating as an activist was to ask the mayor and city officials to let us have a fair share of earning a living in Philadelphia. Was it too much to ask for?Anna KauffmanLawndalePlease help get winter coats for our veteransEffective immediately, I am collecting new and slightly used winter coats for homeless veterans who are served by the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center in Philadelphia.Our veterans badly need these winter coats to protect them from the upcoming winter weather. Both casual and dress coats are appreciated, as many of our veterans need dress coats to wear on job interviews as they transition back into the workforce. Winter coats are needed for both men and women. The coats can be dropped off in my district office at 19 S. York Road in Hatboro. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our veterans.  Rep. Thomas P. Murt152nd Legislative DistrictDrop the DROP: It’s hurting the taxpayersTo letter writers Harry Parfitt Jr. and Robert F. Burns (It’s not nice to pick on our city workers, Oct. 31 edition), you should remember that my earlier letter was in response to a city worker crying the blues.The DROP program, which was never meant for any city worker but rather, high-ranking police and firemen, is a crime against all taxpayers and is found in only a few cities in the country.I like how Harry comments about getting some interest on his DROP money. I think it is over 3 percent. The rest of us get .05 interest on our money.Since my last letter, I was informed that other high-ranking agencies routinely ask their retirees who collected DROP money to come to work!As a property owner, I pay every city tax there is, and that gets me my trash collected. Period. I pay for water and sewer service.Those city workers who may be doing nasty jobs are doing jobs they applied for, and they are well compensated in every way. A trash truck driver makes more money than the average college graduate, without college loans to pay back!Being in the private sector, I get no paid holidays and have had all my vacation, sick and personal days taken away from me. I have had my salary reduced by one-third. While I can live with that, I don’t want to hear city workers complaining!Oh, and no writer has yet to include in their letter how much they got in their DROP goodie basket.Ron KallBustletonCity’s trash fine is a real stinkerWell finally the issue of the $50 trash fine is being stirred up. Let me just say that last year while I brought my husband in the house from the hospital, and nurses and therapists were scurrying around making him comfortable from a massive stroke, these do-gooders with the camera and fines were outside photographing my trash.Needless to say, I realize the city of Philadelphia has to find ways to make money, however, it shouldn’t be at the expense of senior citizens who have more important things to do.I always put our trash out late, except for that one day when a good neighbor helped me out. Yes, I paid the fine and wrote a letter to be forwarded to Mayor Nutter. I wonder if he ever got it?I don’t agree with anyone putting their trash out in the dark, especially in the icy winter anywhere in Philadelphia.Elizabeth ZinkMillbrookStop school bullyingBullying is a real problem in our society. It happens in our schools and it has to be stopped. Research has shown that the long-term effects of bullying can be harmful to a child’s well-being. We can’t accept this behavior. It is important to educate our children on how wrong bullying is.The children don’t deserve this, and it needs to be handled and addressed by parents and school officials. Law enforcement officials need to get involved if necessary. It is a problem that needs to be solved to help our kids. To help, I created a Facebook page called Stop Bullying. The goal of this page is to inform people of bullying and help prevent it. If you’re a Facebook member, search Stop Bullying and hit the “like” button. It is an important issue and we can stop it.David LeeMillbrookMore brouhaha from letter about city workersRegarding Ron Kall’s letter in the Oct. 17 edition (Our city workers don’t have it so bad): In my Oct. 10 letter (Don’t blame the workers, says recent retiree), I didn’t accuse anyone of stealing from the city, nor was I complaining. I simply stated facts as to where and to whom and how much of our tax money was being given and spent and how unfair it is. Let me address some of the statements in your letter, with facts, about our benefits.I did participate in the DROP program. The misperception is that the city GAVE me the DROP money. The fact is, the city took the pension money I PAID into my pension fund for 34 years and invested it. After four years of that investment, I received a return on MY OWN money and not our tax money.Did you know the city’s work force has declined? In 1999 there were about 2,400 sanitation workers. At present there are 1,200 sanitation workers. That’s half the number who were working in 1999.In order to help ease the fiscal problems the city was having, District Council 33 agreed to have larger trash trucks, which hold more trash, in its fleet — thus requiring fewer employees. The amount of trash hasn’t lessened, just the number of laborers doing the job. Try throwing a load of trash or cleaning out sewers for a day, Ron.The workforce of fleet management in 1999 was around 550 employees. Today there are around 345 employees repairing more vehicles than before, with fewer employees. As you pointed out in your letter, the lion’s share of our tax dollars goes to these and other blue-collar workers. What you neglected to point out in your letter is the fact that these same blue-collar employees perform the lion’s share of the work. Yes, city workers do get more days off than the private sector. We also make a lot LESS money than the employees in the private sector doing the same jobs. During the 38 years of my employment, DC33 and DC47, along with the city, negotiated contracts where it was cheaper for the city to give us these benefits than it was to give us a raise.DC33 and DC47 agreed, through negotiations with the city, to change the pension plan to a less expensive plan and employees now also earn less sick time and must work longer to collect a pension. Neither the police nor fire unions negotiate their contract; they are subject to binding arbitration.Funny thing about those binding arbitration awards — neither the police nor fire unions took the city to court because they didn’t like those awards; those union leaders and members had the integrity to accept the contracts they were awarded. Can’t say the same about our mayor. Why is it that when a politician needs to balance a budget or make budget cuts, the fiscal burden of those actions fall on the workers’ backs?Twenty-eight people, Ron. That’s how many people took the mechanics test for city employment the last time it was given. Why do you think there was such a poor showing for such a desirable position? Is it that the city does not pay as much as the private sector? Are the benefit packages not as lucrative as you seem to believe? Ron, feel free to fill out an application for a city position. Take the test, pass the test, be interviewed, pass a physical and a drug test, and then pass a background check.Don’t know if you are pro-union or anti-union, Ron. Know this: Without unions, working people would be working under the same conditions as the coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania had to endure. Remember, unions built this country. Unfortunately, there are some politicians and CEOs of big companies trying to tear the unions down and destroy them. SCREW THEM!Mike LinahanModena Park

Editorial: Do actual collecting

   If you voted yesterday, you get a gold star for citizenship. If you didn’t vote, shame on you. Blame the guy in the mirror if you get the government you didn’t vote for.    Now it’s time for Philadelphians to focus on an issue of equal, and maybe even greater, importance: The city’s very broken property-tax system. After years of delay and cowardice by elected officials, the city is finally trying to institute reform by taxing properties at a percentage of what they are actually worth.The plan is called the Actual Value Initiative, and while it’s long overdue, it should not go into effect until Philadelphia gets its fiscal house in order by eliminating waste, maximizing municipal employees’ productivity, and finding cheaper ways to deliver city services, including privatizing trash collection by giving the job to the qualified lowest bidder and requiring the winner to retain the current workforce.   Under no circumstances should Philadelphia residents or merchants allow the city government to collect another dime in property taxes until it gets its act together and collects back taxes. That means Mayor Michael “I’ll Reform City Government” Nutter must instruct the commissioners of the Departments of Revenue and Licenses & Inspections to get together with the city solicitor, who runs the Law Department, to crack down, IMMEDIATELY, on tax deadbeats.   “Philadelphia has over $500 million in delinquent property taxes but no new plan and very little discussion about how to collect what is alreadly owed. We’re also still waiting for the revenue numbers from the reassessment to come in,” says Northeast Philly state Sen. Michael Stack. “These are the issues we need to tackle before we talk about AVI and city property taxes.” Amen.Send letters to the editor to:

Letters to the editor: Oct. 31, 2012 edition

Pick a kitty this weekend This weekend, Forgotten Cats is having its Second Chance For Love, in the adoption center of PetSmart at 901 Old York Road in Jenkintown. There will be 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 DeNofa NormandySupporters don’t know the real ObamaTo those of you who responded in last week’s Northeast Times to my letter to the editor published in the Oct. 10 edition (Don’t fall for the scare tactics from the Obama campaign), thank you.However, it saddens me that not one of you told me WHY you would vote for Obama. Instead, you chose to bash Romney based on a bunch of lies by Obama and his administration.It just showed me and the general public that not one of you really know the real Obama.This, my friends, is what’s scary.Diane McDowellParkwoodA bunch of twenties for one lucky dealerCongratulations to the auxiliary at Aria Hospital Torresdale for another fantastic flea market. Rain or shine, it’s always a pleasure to shop at this well organized event. Saturday, Oct. 13 was particularly exciting. I picked up a 1950s-era tablecloth from a pile on the ground. Just as I was asking the dealer (Peg?) how much it cost, a cascade of $20 bills fell from inside the tablecloth! So now the dealer has about $1,000 she didn’t even know that she had. I have a vintage Christmas tablecloth and a “what would you do” type of story to tell.Vikki JupinWissinoming