Northeast Times
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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:

Editorial: Safe passage

Students returned to classes at Fels and Northeast high schools last week to the good news that their schools had done the hard work and become safer.  The two schools were taken off the state Education Department’s “persistently dangerous schools” list for this year.But two other Northeast Philly high schools  — Frankford and Lincoln — continued to fail the safe schools test. For the seventh year running. Overall, six Philadelphia public schools are on the list this year, down from 12 the year before. What a shame that a third of them are in the Great Northeast.Schools make the list based on the last two years’ worth of data about dangerous incidents that result in arrest. These are  defined as weapons possession or a violent crime, ranging from homicide to assault. Any child who attends one of these “persistently dangerous schools” has the option to enroll elsewhere.This may sound like just a bunch of number crunching, but as the old adage goes, you can only change what you can measure. And, as the state guidelines recognize, “some schools need to take serious steps in order to make their schools safer.”We couldn’t agree more. It’s time for Frankford and Lincoln to end the climate of danger at their schools.The place to start? Talk to their colleagues at Fels and Northeast about what they did to make their schools safer. Then, let everyone in the school community — students, parents, teachers and administrators — know that you expect a lot, and you mean business. Every child deserves to go to a school that is a safe place to learn. Frankford and Lincoln, do the hard work and get off the list. •• Send letters to:

Letters to the editor: Sept. 5, 2012

We must protect our great protectorsWhen an officer or firefighter passes away, the city joins together in supporting these fallen heroes. We clasp hands and collectively grieve for these members.In our prayers and conversations we recognize the tremendous sacrifices they make, and commend them for their heroism. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring our thoughts to center stage.All firefighters in our city need our support now more than ever. Every day these men and women make our homes safer, yet whether it is because of waves of brown-outs or a never-ending contract dispute, they are under attack.It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with our firefighters. We are all quick to recognize their need for support in the face of tragedy, but frankly the current environment they must endure is also a grave tragedy. Our neighborhood protectors should not have to worry about the ability to make ends meet.Our entire neighborhood should be grieving at the loss of respect given to these brave souls. Every day they stand up ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, and as their friends, family, and neighbors, we need to stand up with them.I recently sent a letter to Mayor Nutter asking him to accept the terms of the binding arbitration process.It is my hope that you will join me in fervent support for our firefighters.State Rep. Kevin Boyle172nd Legislative DistrictGutless theft of a flagAfter returning from vacation, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we realized someone had stolen our American flag. It had been on our front lawn since Sept. 11, 2001.Hopefully the person or persons who had the guts to steal it, have the same kind of guts it takes to protect it, like our men and women are doing right now overseas. My guess is they probably don’t.Brian DealMayfairSame-sex marriages are anything but traditionalAh, the left! Always ready to put out rhetorical fiction to advance an agenda. That was my reaction upon reading the lengthy letter by Kimberly Kunda justifying her “marriage” to her same-sex partner (Same-sex wife appeals for mutual respect, Aug. 15 edition). Her piece is pure rhetoric, because it rests on the flimsiest reasoning I have seen in some time.  First, she contradicts herself. She states that “free speech is a sacred, American right” then, later on, she writes that others don’t “have the right to have an opinion” on her marriage. Kim, isn’t that what freedom of speech is, the right to have and publicly state opinions? And that includes expressing opinions we may not like to hear, even ones that do not support certain so-called “lifestyles.” And, Kim, the fact that we debate marriage is not absurd, as you state, but is an exercise in free speech. The debate you decry came from YOUR side because your side made the redefinition of marriage an issue in the first place!  And, in an era when children more than ever need both strong male and female role models as parents, the benefits provided by solid heterosexual marriages need to be aired thoroughly, publicly and completely. This is called responsible citizenship, and both citizens and public officials alike have the duty to protect and preserve fundamental human institutions.These are institutions (of which traditional marriage is but one) that have been devised by humanity via trial and error over the course of millennia because they are most likely to produce happiness for individuals and benefits for the wider scope of whole societies.These institutions are so vital that governments have no right to tamper with them, and they most definitely trump American values like “equal rights.” Preserving these institutions is called responsible stewardship, and it falls to all of us to rise above the narrowness of self-interest and half-baked ideological schemes and defend them. Even you, Kim. Meanwhile, I’ve got a challenge for you: how about applying your writing skills to genuine literary fiction and avoid ideologically driven screeds?  As for the rest of us, to avoid falling for such folderol, we should definitely “eat mor chikin” and pray fervently for heaven to touch these misguided souls.George TomezskoFox Chase

Editorial: Let’s do it again

Yo, Philly, are you feeling left out? If not, you have no civic pride, you haven’t been watching the national political conventions, or both.Anybody who has ever lived in, worked in or visited the City of Brotherly Love has to be rather jealous of Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., the host cities of the Republican National Convention (last week) and Democratic National Convention (this week), where supporters have whooped it up for Willard Mitt Romney and Barack Hussein Obama.With the coveted title of host city comes a humongous dose of national attention — the kind that money just cannot buy. Indeed, the conventions themselves attract tens of thousands of politicians, delegates and their families, and journalists — in search of drama during events that have turned out to be largely free of suspense — who leave behind lots of money.Philly hosted both the Democratic and the Republican conventions in 1948, and it proved that it can be a terrific host city again in 2000, when newly installed Mayor John Street’s ultra-Democratic town did a fantastic job hosting the Republicans at the First Union Center.Philly has it all — tons of historical sites, hotels, restaurants, a great public transit system. It’s everything conventioneers could ever hope for. So, what do Tampa and Charlotte have that Philadelphia does not? Nothing, and a whole lot less.Note to Mayor Nutter, Gov. Corbett and Philadelphia’s hospitality industry: Get off your butts right now and start working to bring the Democratic or Republican National Convention to Philly in 2016. Philadelphia and democracy are a perfect match.Send letters to:

Letters to the editor: August 29, 2012

A plea for PumpkinWith summer ending, everyone goes on their final vacations — the last attempt of luxury before the warm weather is gone for another year. Unfortunately, some people would rather focus only on themselves, rather than the ones under their care. Being in rescue, I see so many pets being abandoned in shelters or the streets by people leaving for vacation. People can come back home, but their dogs or cats never will again.Pumpkin, a sweet orange tabby, is a victim of this cruel neglect, as she and her two kittens were found starving on the streets just a few weeks ago.Pumpkin’s kittens were adopted, but their lonely mother sits in a crate, still waiting and wishing for love again. If anyone can help give (or foster) this sweet and gentle girl a true home, please contact her caretaker, Janice, at or by calling 267-269-4040. So if you need to go away for a while, please have plans for your pets before you leave. There are always family, friends and boarding services to watch over your fur-baby. This way, you can both come back home, together. Please, don’t let your pets wind up like the others — forgotten — like poor Pumpkin.Gina DeNofaNormandy

Letters to the editor: August 22, 2012

Those cameras are nothing to smile aboutI was very surprised to see an editorial last week praising these red light cameras (Let there be light).Suggesting that cameras be put on every corner is absurd. Next, someone will suggest putting one outside of every house, to prevent crime, of course. And after that, someone will suggest putting them in every house, because many crimes do happen inside the homes, and we want to be safe, don’t we? I don’t think so.Our founding fathers said things like, “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” That was Ben Franklin.Patrick Henry got more to the point: “Give me liberty, or give me death.”A more contemporary quote that would fit here is from Dwight Eisenhower: “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking … is freedom.”May I add you won’t have to worry about looking before you cross the street, and you won’t have to worry about watching your children either. Is that really what anyone wants?Turning America into more of a surveillance society than it already is, is not the answer. Placing law enforcement into the hands of private companies that make money off it is a bad idea. Tweaking the yellow lights just a little bit could bring in millions more for the city and the company operating the program to split. Once they figure that out, the traffic lights on the Boulevard will be operating like strobe lights and the accidents will be up again. Do you really think they are concerned about your safety?You got to be kidding; it is all about money and control. These red-light cameras are a horrendous idea for the people of Philadelphia or anywhere in America. Time will tell.Frank YostRhawnhurstVoter ID is stirring our readers’ hornet’s nest And so it appears that Republicans are about to steal another presidential election, at least the second one in the last 12 years, and if that happens it will have been made possible, to one degree or another, by Republicans in high offices and in the American judicial system!Think not? In the year 2000, Jeb Bush, the then-Republican governor of Florida, was responsible for purging 173,000 voters from the Florida rolls; vote recounts precipitated by the so-called “butterfly” ballots — the ones with the hanging chads — were stopped by Florida’s then-secretary of state, Katherine Harris. As Florida’s secretary of state AND co-chair of George Bush’s Florida election efforts, Republican Harris was ultimately central to Bush’s election to the presidency, certifying that he had defeated Democrat Al Gore in the popular vote.Harris’ order to halt the recounts was upheld in the state circuit court, and though subsequently overturned on appeal by the Florida Supreme Court, that decision was reversed by the United States Supreme Court. One Republican justice, Clarence Thomas, cast what could arguably be construed as the deciding vote giving George W. Bush the election. And Mrs. Clarence Thomas, it should be noted, was a member of the Bush transition team.Slam dunk!With the assistance of George W. Bush’s brother, a Republican governor, and that of a Republican Florida secretary of state, and Republican justices, Bush beat Al Gore in Florida by a mere 537 votes — and that made Bush our king.As of Aug. 15, by virtue of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s Voter ID law, upheld by yet another Republican judge, the state of Pennsylvania is poised to steal the upcoming presidential election by disenfranchising possibly a million Pennsylvania voters “coincidentally” comprised of a similar disenfranchised demographic as in Florida in the year 2000. George Santayana told us about this kind of stuff: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”Arthur GurmankinBustleton

Editorial: Do the math

When Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. delivered an opinion earlier this month upholding  Pennsylvania’s new Voter Identification law, he must have forgotten to look at the calendar.Even the most simple math shows that there is not enough time for everyone who needs a photo ID to get one before the Nov. 6 election. PennDOT’s driver’s license centers will begin issuing those photo IDs this Monday. When you factor in the number of days those centers will be closed for holidays, you’ll see that only 57 days remain for a voter with no photo ID to get one. There are 71 driver’s license centers in the state, and most are only open five days a week, though some are open for six days. For argument’s sake, we’ll say they are all open for six days, and they all operate for 7 ¾ hours.And, because we believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, we’ll suppose  that PennDOT will assign one person in each center to handle only these photo IDs, though there has been no such announcement as the agency figures out how to proceed.All of this adds up to a total 31,264 hours these potential voters have to get their IDs before Election Day. The state has estimated that there are 750,000 people who are without photo IDs, and right now ineligible to vote.If you do the math, you’ll see that each person would have to get in and out of a PennDOT center in 2.5 minutes, if all 750,000 people showed up to get their photo IDs. It’s simply not possible.The state Supreme Court should delay implementation of the new law until the next election cycle. Let’s wait and do this right.Send letters to:

Letters to the editor: August 15, 2012

A new way to crack down on the drunksA drunken driver kills someone. He or she gets caught, is fined and jailed. This is not acceptable because no one should have died in the first place. How can this scenario be stopped? Here’s an idea: Since we have plenty of police, detectives, investigators, and others, why not have them go back to the source of the problem? Find the tavern or the private party or wherever the place was that the guilty one became intoxicated. Then search out all the others that were present there, too. Finally, fine everyone at that affair, even those who were not in direct contact with the drunken person.What will this eventually do? This action may make people aware of what is going on around them at future affairs, and the mere threat of a fine (possibly $100 a head) may have folks consider speaking to the bartender or whoever is responsible at a party to take action.Awareness and responsibility seem to be the keys to help end this horrific problem. A considerate society means everyone must be involved.Nicholas ZeccaSomertonTacony needs a reality check To Alex Balloon, corridor manager of the Tacony Community Development Corporation, regarding plans to build all the storefronts on Torresdale Avenue (Grand plans in Tacony, July 18 cover story):Why? And for who? Are you kidding? It’s yet another waste of money. That’s like putting lipstick on a pig! Go with the times!You need a couple of pawnshops, tattoo parlors, a pool room, adult book store, head shop, two more 7-Elevens, and a rest stop for the hookers. And you could put car carriers down the middle of Torresdale Avenue for parking. Also, make the lot at Princeton Avenue and the Delaware River a trailer park!All of these will increase the economy for Tacony! If all of those fail, I suggest an air strike.J. “Boots” RitterAlmost gone Tacony

Editorial: Let there be light

What do you call a program that was established by the government, is run by the government, was created to save lives, and is, in fact, saving lives?A success.That’s right, folks. Those cameras that have been catching red-light runners at some of the worst intersections on Roosevelt Boulevard for seven years and are popping up at several other frustratingly congested intersections in Northeast Philly are doing their job.On the Boulevard alone, the number of pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles since the cameras were installed has dropped dramatically.In addition to adding funds to the city and state from financial penalties imposed upon red-light runners, the cameras are getting many motorists to do what they should have been doing all along — stop driving like maniacs, reduce their speed, and actually stop when the traffic light turns red.It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist — or even a Philadelphia Department of Streets official with a Ph.D in traffic engineering — to know that the city must do its level best to install cameras at as many busy intersections as possible, not just in the Great Northeast but throughout the City of Brotherly Speeders. Police need all the help they can get to crack down on red-light runners. Vigorous enforcement of the traffic code, aided by the marvelous technology mounted atop poles on the busy streets of the city, will do wonders to force all the Leadfoots to ease up on the accelerator and step on the brakes.Foes of red-light cameras need to remember this: We, the people, need government to protect us from ourselves.Send letters to: