Northeast Times
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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

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: 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:

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. 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

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: