Letters to the editor for May 12, 2011 edition
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Pfc. John Kihm was a hero to all of us
I pass strangers on the street and I feel that there is a difference. I see the faces of “could-be heroes” all around me. They are different from the ones who become heroes when they don their uniforms.
The police officer and the firefighter guarantee our safety from crime and fire. Their future has an uncertainty about someday embracing danger and doing battle against that unknown result that might lead to their demise. But they know that, and that is why they place themselves between danger and the innocent. That is why they run into a building on fire and emerge with a child in their arms. That is why they stand up against a person with a gun and make a potential crisis a safety zone, making it a peace-filled neighborhood once again.
There is also the hero who is the schoolteacher, the crossing guard, the understanding parent, the strict but supportive coach. These heroes go about their everyday lives with others as their primary concern, putting their own needs in the background.
Their acts of heroism aren’t as flagrant or as noticed as the others, but they are acts of heroism on a different scale. The impact of their actions might not be felt until the second-grader graduates from medical school or the teenage girl has a gold medal placed around her neck at the Olympics. Their acts of heroism are subtle but sincere and lasting.
Enter Johnny Kihm. John was a 19-year-old soldier who on April 19 gave his life fighting in Afghanistan so that we could continue to experience freedom. It was his hands that enable our hands to grasp the brass ring of peace, and his unselfish heart that makes us realize that there is a new meaning when we cast our eyes on the American flag.
The flag is not just a symbol of the U.S. but a cherished part of America’s landscape. It no longer passively waves in the breeze but actively fights for every motion it takes. The wind is no longer its only enemy.
Are we ready for this challenge? Can we accept what lies ahead? Are we all willing to respond to the call of heroism? Life is an endless matter of choices, some of which we choose ourselves, others are chosen for us. We have been chosen to respond to a new way of living. Now more than ever, we will feel the challenge that others in this great country embrace on a daily basis.
We have been affected by the actions of Pfc. Johnny Kihm, so young, and yet he possessed a wisdom and heroic strength whose maturity was golden. He has raised the bar as he holds his outstretched hand in front of our memories of him and asks us to always remember all soldiers deployed, willing to hand over their lives for us.
The bottom line is that we all need to be aware that some day we might be called to step up to the plate as Pfc. John Kihm has done. He will always have a special place of honor, strength and courage in the hearts and minds of everyone who considers themselves a Philadelphian.
His battlefield was a place of true heroism, a place of selfless presentation of exchange. He gave his life for the safety of us all. We cannot forget these acts, because they have been emblazoned on our hearts. It will only be the will of God the Father who will wipe away our tears with the comfort of knowing that Johnny is with God, the ultimate protector, and Johnny is at peace.
Stephen T. Ferry
What to do . . . and not do . . . next Tuesday
Vote for your city, not its politicians
As a lifelong Philadelphian, I have seen more than my share of disappointing votes and leadership.
Whether it has been supporting DROP or pushing through midnight votes for huge pay increases, many of the politicians we have elected in the past have let us down.
We have a lot of things that need to be fixed in Philadelphia.
As voters, we can take the first step by making sure we support candidates who are thinking of what is best for us — not themselves — when they govern.
There are a lot of candidates out there this year. Let’s make sure we support the ones who are thinking about Philadelphia’s future, not their own paychecks.
Get rid of those Council incumbents
OK, voters, now is your chance to get rid of the rest of the ones in city government that are stealing our tax dollars.
Time to go, Rizzo, Tasco, Tartaglione, Donatucci. At least the ones retiring from City Council won’t be stealing from us anymore. I am really disappointed that people like Brian O’Neill and some of the other Council members haven’t been more vocal in their opposition to the DROP program. It’s hard to figure out their true feelings. Hopefully the Council members that have already stolen our tax dollars won’t get to enjoy what they stole.
Maybe we should take a long, hard look at all the incumbents on City Council. I also was called by Bobby Henon’s office to see if I would vote for Henon and put a sign on my lawn. I asked what his position on the DROP program was and she would not give me an answer but said I would get a phone call from him explaining his position.
Needless to say, I never got the call. And needless to say, I won’t have his sign on my lawn. He certainly won’t get my vote if he is for the DROP program. See you at the polls.
• • ull;
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. For too long, Republicans and Democrats alike have put the same career politicians back in the same jobs, while expecting better results.
It’s time we put some new faces into City Council, not lifelong politicians. Everyone knows the problems our great city has right now, and many of these candidates are actually bragging about the job they’ve done as elected officials.
Well, if you want credit for helping animal shelters or starting caucuses, you better own up and take credit for our insane budget problems, failing schools which are getting worse under your watch, and voting yourself pay raises in the middle of the night.
Career politicians can’t pick and choose which parts of their “legacy” they want to own. Fortunately for voters, we can pick and choose who should lead us moving forward.
Thumbs down on Rizzo and O’Brien
Here’s my opinion about the City Council elections:
There’s an old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” That about sums up some of the Republican candidates for City Council this year. Frank Rizzo voted for — and still defends! — the DROP program that lets him retire for a day, collect a huge payout, then come back on the public payroll.
Denny O’Brien voted himself a huge pay raise in the middle of the night at your expense, and until the public and news media outcry, he saw nothing wrong with it. Now these two want us to put them in City Council so they can fix Philadelphia’s budget and finances? Thanks, but no thanks. Time for some fresh faces this year.
Democrat’s just wild about Denny
Dear Republican Friends,
I guess I was 16 when I first said, “I’m a lifelong Democrat!”
It didn’t mean a whole lot at that age, but 45 years later, I can still say that, but this year I’m calling myself a “Dennycrat” for our NE Philly Republican Council candidate, Denny O’Brien.
You can ask yourself questions as to why you vote for one particular person over another in any campaign, but every answer you want to hear fits Denny O’Brien.
Do you like a hard worker? Nobody outworks Denny. Want someone who doesn’t look at party labels when deciding any issue? Rep. O’Brien has been doing just that for all his political life. Children’s issues, supporting cops and firefighters, family concerns, anti-crime . . . well, almost any good law passed in Pennsylvania in recent years has Denny’s imprint on it.
So, now, I’m a Dennycrat, and I urge my very many Republican friends and neighbors to cast ONE vote…JUST one, for Republican for City Council at-large. Please PUSH Button 26 and bring Dennis home to work for all of Philadelphia.
Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday May 17!
It’s time for Brian O’Neill to go
Last week there were two letters on the upcoming election. I agree with most of what Mr. Swales and Mr. Tomezsko had to say. Al Taubenberger is a candidate who truly represents the Northeast way of life and is committed to our future.
Where I must disagree with Mr. Swales is on Brian O’Neill.
The premise of Mr. Swales’ comments was all DROP candidates should not be considered worthy of your vote on May 17.
Mr. O’Neill and his cohorts have had four opportunities to end DROP for elected officials over the last eight years and have not done so. Most recently, in the Philadelphia Daily News on Sept. 29, 2010, Mr. O’Neill was the only councilperson to say he would not abolish the DROP program.
I believe Bill Rubin is a much better choice in the race to represent the 10th District. Over the summer of 2009 Bill Rubin wrote parts of HB 1828, and then he worked with leaders in the state House to get it passed in September of that year.
HB 1828 eliminated DROP for all future elected officials. We are now protected from any future raids on our pension fund, but they were not allowed to make it retroactive.
DROP is meant for police, fire, and municipal employees only — not for greedy politicians!!!!
One other issue is Mr. O’Neill and the rest of City Council will get a 2 percent raise on July 1, while our property taxes went up almost 10 percent this year (projected to be 20 percent next year in the mayor’s five-year plan.)
It’s time to send a message to City Hall: “Let’s change the Face of City Council.” I hope everyone joins me and votes “Yes” on Rubin, “Yes” on Taubenberger, and NO on O’Neill!!!!!
Council hopeful is a Dougherty clone
In a recent edition of the Northeast Times, FOP Lodge 5 president John McNesby asked us to support Bobby Henon for City Council. I have known John for over 25 years and I respect him as a person and a police officer. However, I have to say he is wrong on this matter.
Bobby Henon is a Johnny Dougherty clone and will not serve all constituents in the Northeast. On March 16, the FOP sent out invitations for a benefit to support Bobby Henon. For $1,000 you get 15 tickets for the event and 15 courtesy cards signed by John McNesby. If you only want to spend $750 you get 10 of each.
On their Web site it states: “Bob Henon supports retirement plans for Police, Fire and Municipal workers in Philadelphia. Bob Henon does not support the loopholes in these retirement plans, especially those used by elected officials. He will work to close these loopholes so that those entitled to the plan, because of their years of service, can do so.”
On March 30, the FOP stated that they support Marion Tasco. Is she not one of the two elected officials on the DROP plan trying to retire and get re-elected?
John, I cannot understand this? Why would you sell your badge to support an elected official? That’s exactly what you are doing in this case.
I ask all voters to vote for the person YOU feel is best qualified and not to vote just because a group or organization endorses them. If we follow most of the unions, Milton Street will be our mayor. Is that what you really want? I doubt it!
Taubenberger should give up
Well, an election must be coming up, because I see perennial candidate Al Taubenberger is running for office yet again. I thought he might have finally gotten the message after that embarrassing run for mayor a few years ago, when he set a record for the worst performance by a Republican mayoral candidate in Philadelphia history, losing 83 percent to 17 percent. Even worse than his pitiful vote total was the way he conducted himself during the race, slobbering all over Michael Nutter, acting like a teenage girl with a crush.
Taubenberger has spent the last decade running one losing campaign after another. So will this time actually be different? Of course not!
Taubenberger has little chance of actually winning. Most analysts see a three-way race between Frank Rizzo, David Oh and Denny O’Brien for the two Republican at-large Council seats.
If the GOP wants to finally get real and start winning again, it needs to find real candidates, not party hacks.
The Democrats have been unimpressive in governing City Hall, so the GOP has an opportunity over the next few years. But to seize that opportunity, it needs to run candidates of substance, not retreads who make a career out of running for office.
Here’s some advice, Al: Go find another hobby, as clearly politics is not for you. The voters have spoken. Repeatedly.
Candidate: Work more or earn less
In his letter, Legislators should cut their own pay, in the April 21 edition, John T. Fritz writes, “Wouldn’t it be an inspiration to all of us if a state rep stepped up to the plate and introduced pay-cut legislation?” and suggests such a move “might even help the candidates who are running for another elective office” get elected. Well, John, prepare to be inspired!
That rarest of would-be public servants does indeed exist. Democrat Andy Toy, back for another run at an at-large City Council seat, having racked up significant endorsements and done well last time, says he wants to “reduce our pay by a third or legislate the whole year” in his own April 26 letter to the Philadelphia Daily News.
Elsewhere he has urged all who want to hold the office to join him and pledge to do the same. Any takers?
Toy also would like to see Council “give up taxpayer cars and cell phones” and hold public hearings on their own budget and effectiveness just as it does for other city departments. He wants to eliminate moonlighting for Council members, ensure term limits and have both members and meetings more accessible to the public.
But remember, if Andy Toy sounds like someone you’d like to see on City Council for a change, you’ve got to get to the polls on May 17.
Turnout last time around four years ago was very low, less than one-third of all eligible voters in both the primary and the general elections. You get to vote for at-large candidates like Toy in addition to the district candidate of your choice. Still, ask the other candidates, if you get the chance, if they too have stepped up to the plate and agreed to eliminate part of their recess (three months in the summer and one month in the winter) or part of their pay (currently approximately $120,000 per year). And find out if Andy Toy has managed to be “an inspiration” to any of them.
Commissioner hopeful: Speak up!
Every election is important, but this coming primary is critically important to our local Republican Party. It’s been 20 years since we’ve had a contested municipal primary in Philadelphia, so many registered Republicans sit out these elections. But this is an exciting time for our local party, and this election will help decide its future, so it’s vital that everyone’s voice is heard.
Republican candidate for city commissioner