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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and SteveLove and marriage know no boundaries
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Unless Pennsylvania’s so-called Voter ID law is struck down by the courts before The Big Day — the general election on Nov. 6 — every eligible voter in the Keystone State will be required to show poll workers valid photo ID before they’re permitted to enter the voting booth, thanks to the Republicans in Harrisburg.People who buy the argument that Voter ID is NOT an attempt by the ruling Republicans to suppress the votes of urban Democrats and help presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania also believe that the moon is made of cheese. Mike Turzai, the Republican majority leader in the state House of Representatives, admitted the GOP’s motives just last month.Aside from the Republicans’ obvious ulterior motives, however, Voter ID is a good idea. As proponents point out, citizens must show photo ID in order to purchase alcohol or gun, drive a car or get into the screening line at the airport. Showing valid ID will protect the integrity of the vote by virtually eliminating fraud at the polls.There’s still ample time for unregistered voters to find the necessary documents required to obtain a state-issued Voter ID card. The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, and PennDOT can do their part to get folks registered — thereby helping to increase voter participation and aiding the cause of democracy — by sending staffers with mobile electronic machines that verify required documents to senior centers, nursing homes, etc., to sign up voters on the spot.Election Day is more than three months away. May the best-organized political party win.
In the lead-up to the March 2010 passage of what is sure to become President Obama’s legacy, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most normal Americans — i.e., Americans who are not members of Congress and who do not have deep hatred for Barack Obama — knew something was terribly wrong with the nation’s health care system.Mr. Obama did a rotten job selling health care reform to a skeptical nation. He should have used his bully pulpit — the presidency is supposed to be the most powerful, most influential position in the nation and much of the free world — to highlight the great parts of the bill. He should have crouched into the political gutter to verbally bash the contrarians, the naysayers, the folks who said Obamacare is socialism, including right-wing wacko Glenn Beck, who now is selling T-shirts that have a picture of Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion upholding health care reform, with the word “Coward” beneath it.Mr. Obama should have taken to the television airwaves far more frequently to look Americans squarely in the eye and tell them what was in the bill. He should have insisted that all of the provisions in the bill go into effect two years ago, not two years from now, and that illegal aliens be ineligible for free health care.He didn’t do any of that, but still the law passed, no thanks to Republicans, and now, tens of millions more Americans will participate in, and pay their fair share for, universal health care. That includes the many elderly folks in Northeast Philadelphia who comprise one of the largest percentages of senior citizens in the nation, and whose lifeline known as Medicare will only be strengthened.It’s about time. Send e-mails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
As Monsignor William Lynn awaits a Common Pleas Court judge’s decision on whether he will get out of jail and spend some time as a free man at home until he is sentenced in August for his role in the clergy sexual-abuse fiasco, he should thank his lucky stars, and The Man Upstairs, that he was allowed to get away with his sins as long as he did. They were the sins of omission and ignorance.Upon his conviction Friday of one count of endangering children, Lynn officially became an enabler in the clergy abuse scandal. Although he has not been accused of engaging in sexual activity with children, he earned a tremendous amount of blame, for he allowed perverted priests to remain in the presence of children. He is the first official of the nation’s Roman Catholic Church to be convicted in a sex-abuse case, and there should be hell to pay for that.Lynn faces a maximum of seven years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 13, but he likely will get much, much less, and that, itself, is a sin. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina hopefully will throw the book at him, and if there is justice, District Attorney Seth Williams will retry Lynn’s co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was the beneficiary of a jury that was deadlocked on charges of attempted rape and child endangerment.The conspiracy of silence from high-ranking officials in the church is as debilitating as the disgusting, sick acts that Penn State’s former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of the same day. Let all Catholics and non-Catholics be on notice: The days of see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil are over. If you have a heart and/or a soul and you see or know of a child getting sexually abused, you MUST report the evil act to the police. ••Send letters to the editor to: email@example.com
The School District of Philadelphia is not exactly held in the highest regard these days, but parents and students have at least one thing to brag about: they have not been crippled by teacher strikes in a long while.To ensure that Philadelphia public school students, and those throughout the Keystone State, don’t get shortchanged by a greedy, selfish teachers union — as their counterparts in the Neshaminy School District were on several occasions during the school year that just ended — movers and shakers in Harrisburg should once and for all step up to the plate and win one for the masses.If Pennsylvania’s Republican governor and the GOP-controlled legislature want to do something constructive while they try to hammer out a budget before the June 30 deadline, they will enact a law that bans school strikes in the state. Only 13 states allow teachers to strike, and Pennsylvania should not be one of them.When you look at the big picture, teachers are every bit as important as police officers and firefighters, who are not permitted to strike. When teachers go out on strike, they shortchange taxpayers and create bedlam for working parents, but far more important, they disrupt students’ schedules and stymie their progress. Teacher strikes hurt society’s junior citizens. They are reprehensible and should be illegal.Pennsylvania lawmakers should enact a package of common-sense measures that ban teacher strikes, allow for binding arbitration involving teachers and school boards, and allow voters to use the power of the ballot box — via referendum — to decide on teachers’ salaries and benefits.Pennsylvania can earn itself a big, fat A+ if it does the right thing for the children.Send letters tol: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that the end of a painfully long process of modifying the district boundaries of your friendly neighborhood state representative and state senator is on the horizon, all is well in state government, right?Guess again.The next battle for Pennsylvania voters should be a campaign to force members of the state legislature to pass a law that would compel House and Senate members to resign before running for other offices.That requirement applies to most elected officials in Philadelphia government — where there is speculation that Mayor Michael Nutter might step down to take a post in the Obama administration if President Barack Obama defies the odds and gets re-elected in November — and it’s a good rule. It forces politicians to focus on the jobs to which they were elected. They get distracted when they flirt with other offices, and that is counter to the best interests of their constituents.Recall that in the April 24 election, voters in the Far Northeast’s 169th Legislative District had double duty. They had to vote twice for the same office: Once for a special election to fill the remainder of popular Rep. Dennis O’Brien’s two-year term, and in the regular primary to pick candidates for the two-year term that begins in January.There would’ve been no need for a special election had Rep. O’Brien, knowing that he would run for City Council in 2011 — a job to which he had long aspired — not run for re-election in 2010. Had he known he would have had to resign from his House seat to run for another office (Council), he might well have done the right thing and not sought another House term only to abandon it halfway throughSend letters to: email@example.com
Give the girls at St. Hubert High School lots of credit. They love their school, and they show it.When push came to shove earlier this year and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia threatened to close the school to help ease the archdiocese’s money crunch, St. Hubert students, families and alumnae joined forces to raise the funds necessary to keep their fine institution open.Now, the girls at St. Hubert are making a push for a law that would allow their parents to use taxpayer-financed tuition aid for parochial (in other words, non-public) schools, but there’s one teeny-tiny obstacle to so-called school choice. It’s called the Constitution of the United States.This is America, where separation of church and state means public funds cannot be used to send kids to parochial schools.Parents who want the public to help pay for their children’s religious education are no doubt good and decent folks who want the best for their kids. They want education choice, but they already have a choice. It’s called public schools.As taxpayers, the parents of parochial school students have as much right and indeed an obligation to demand the School District of Philadelphia and the School Reform Commission provide efficient, effective and excellent education as do parents of public school students.Parents also have another American right — the right to free speech. Parents of kids in Catholic schools, for instance, have the right to ask church leaders why they have shelled out more than $11 million in legal fees related to the clergy-abuse scandal. That money could have helped an awful lot of parochial school families pay their tuition.E-mail letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org