HomeNewsLetters to the Editor: September 4, 2013

Letters to the Editor: September 4, 2013

Hey Corbett, stop slashing school funding

Dear Gov. Corbett,

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I was reading some articles about education and something made me Google your name. In particular, I found two things of interest I want to share with you.

The first is the official Gov. Tom Corbett Facebook page, which shows the slogan rather prominently displayed in the cover photo stating, “Tom Corbett, Governor Rebuilding Pennsylvania #rebuildpa.”

When I read this, I laughed for a very, very long time, and not just because of the fact that our commonwealth’s governor used hash tags.

In fact, I was almost in tears.

How in the world could a governor use the slogan “Rebuilding Pennsylvania” when you are savagely and completely eviscerating the entire Philadelphia public education system?

See, governor, I’m going to school for engineering.

When you are trying to build something, you need a solid foundation, for example, a solid base of teachers.

Without that, your structure crumbles, your education system crumbles, and your future crumbles.

Asking the teachers to give up not only pay but also such simple human rights as self-defense and drinking fountains at the door while making them work longer is not the way to build a solid foundation for the education of 149,543 Philadelphia students.

The second thing I find extremely interesting is that, as of May, you are the highest-paid governor in the entire United States, earning a whopping annual salary of $187,256.

And yet, you have failed to prove to the eighth-largest school district in the United States that you are earning any amount of that money.

How about we stop wasting taxpayer money, governor, and you start doing what you say you are doing by #rebuildingpa and #fundingphillyeducation.

Mary Conrad

Drexel University

Thank you for a successful day in the community

Take Back Your Neighborhood wants to thank everyone who contributed their service and/or donated to our event on Aug. 24 at Max Myers Playground. We must also show our gratitude to the people in our community who came together to enjoy the multitude of food, games, vendors, entertainment and educational presentations. It is only with you that we can continue to make a neighborhood unified and extraordinary. All of you make up the missing pieces of the puzzle. We would also like to thank the staff at Max Myers for their assistance.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Additionally,we would like to thank the following individuals and companies for their donations, which helped make this event possible: Target, The Dining Car Restaurant, Macy’s;,Collins Family Shop Rite, Mayfair Shop ‘n Bag, Herr’s, Utz, Coca-Cola, Doritos, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nuts to You, CVS, Staples, American Paradigm School, Members of the TBYN Leadership Team, Father & Son Shoe Repair, Councilman Bobby Henon, Aria Health, Murano Deli, Magellan’s Pizza, New England Pizza, Conrad the Florist;,Huber & Palser LLC, Teresa Phelps, Heather DeHart, Grace Parker, Rhonda Grabov, Deborah McLeod, Patricia O’Donnell, Maryanne Ferraro, Lawrence D. Levin, Walgreens, Atlantic Diagnostic Laboratories, State Farm Insurance, Paul’s Run, Councilwoman Sanchez, State Rep. Mark Cohen.

Take Back Your Neighborhood

More trash (ticket) talk

In reference to Joan Cleminski’s letter: As a resident of Mayfair I know too well about the so-called trash ticket.

Have you ever noticed a booted vehicle or even a ticket meter person in certain “hoods?”

The reason the city picks on people like you and other tax-paying property owners in Northeast Philly is simply because the city government knows we will pay. So unfortunately, pull out your check book, and pay to keep your “hood” clean.

Bill Heiser

Mayfair

Philly public schools need to downsize

This is in response to Renate Pittman’s letter, “Support Staff Does Great Work in Schools,” which was a response to my letter.

As I’ve previously stated, I am sorry to see anyone lose their job. And I am well aware that there are many teachers and support staff who do great work and really care about the kids. And I would like to think they are the majority.

I am also aware that there are some who couldn’t care less. Teachers have told me incidences of some support staff who, when asked to make copies or take something to the office, disappear for an hour or two.

The point of my letter was that if we don’t need as many brick-and-mortar schools or the people who work in them, it is unfair to ask taxpayers to foot the bill to keep people employed.

And where was all this concern for the kids when Constance Clayton, Arlene Ackerman and others were wasting millions of dollars like rich sheiks and nearly bankrupting the district.

People knew what was going on but failed to speak up because they were concerned for their jobs, not the kids. And people had better get used to the idea of more schools closing in the coming years as more learning will be done utilizing ever-evolving telecommunications technology.

Within 50 years, the classrooms of today will have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

I’m not saying this would be the best thing, but it’s where it’s headed.

When movie theaters did away with ushers, employees asked, “What will they do without us?” I have yet to have heard of anyone not being able to find their way to a seat.

Once again, I am sorry for the loss of your job. But if the economy is rebounding as well as the president says it is, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble securing another position soon.

Peter DiGiuseppe

Rhawnhurst

Signs could prevent drowning in creek

I am a resident living near Pennypack Park. My heart goes out to all those families that lost a loved one from drowning in the creek.

I think there should be more signs up all around the entrances of the park. They should read how dangerous it is to go into the water after heavy rain. Maybe the Park Commission can sponsor a contest for all the schools in the area. The signs should have a catchy slogan to it. I say this because it is mostly children and teens who are drowning in this creek. It will help all the kids be more aware of going into the creek after a storm.

I also think there should be more park rangers and police officers out, riding by the creek at each entrance, especially after a rain storm. Maybe a golf course can raise money for golf carts for the 2nd, 7th, 8th and 15th police districts. They could patrol along the paths of the creek after the storm.

Diane Poehler

Lexington Park

Why did Snowden choose Russia?

Is Edward Snowden a whistleblower or a traitor? I actually haven’t been following the story too closely, but any sympathy for him as a whistleblower I might have eventually developed left town as soon as he applied for asylum in Russia, a country that has a program of surveillance and denial of privacy and personal freedoms much more extensive than we have ever had.

Howard J. Wilk

Pine Valley

As district attorney, I will fight corruption

As a father, taxpayer, former Philadelphia prosecutor and as a nominee for district attorney, I am appalled at yet another instance of the corruption that is destroying our city. The FBI raid on the Sheriff’s Office is the latest in a litany of examples.

Unfortunately, for every act of corruption that is exposed, there are countless still uncovered. Corruption is a public safety issue, stealing tax dollars that would otherwise be used for safer streets, not to mention fund our schools. We’re tired of paying higher taxes just to have our incomes raided by officials who are living off us rather than working for us.

District Attorney Williams has failed to fight corruption. His anti-corruption unit has issued no indictments, and he failed as inspector general as well. That means as IG and then as DA, he has had almost seven years to attack corruption. He failed. It took an audit from the city controller to expose this waste and abuse. Where was Williams while corruption flourished right under his nose?

As district attorney, I will make combating public corruption of highest priority, utilizing the grand jury and other tools to root out corruption. Why wait for the feds? As district attorney, I will aggressively attack corruption, which will strongly deter public officials against stealing from Philadelphia families. Our city needs checks and balances and more public officials who are willing to shake things up, instead of giving free passes to the politically connected. I will do that.

Daniel A. Alvarez

Somerton, Republican nominee for district attorney

We should stand up for traditional marriage

As soon as I read the headline over the op-ed piece by state Sen. Daylin Leach (Aug. 28 issue), I knew what to expect: another public official has joined the cavalcade in support of the left’s latest political fad, so-called same-sex marriage. Needless to say, upon reading that lengthy screed, my initial supposition proved correct; Leach had eagerly joined the forces of organized irresponsibility.

In his screed, Leach defends the decision by a public official from Montgomery County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the grounds that laws that supposedly “discriminate against married gay couples have no legitimate purpose,” that is, those laws are, to use one of the more popular buzzwords hurled around, unconstitutional. Leach also argues that Montco officials acted correctly because the U.S. Constitution trumps what the good senator called “the clearly unconstitutional Pennsylvania marriage statute.”

This is pure ideological folderol wrapped up in a veneer of pseudo-legalese to make the issuance of those licenses seem a respectable and proper act.

The hue and cry during the decades of American public life since 1787 has been that all things must be in accordance with the Constitution; that even fundamental institutions (of which the traditional family is but one) must be subordinate to it, and that courts can, and should, transform these institutions to fit whatever elite opinion regards as constitutional. That hue and cry resounds today. And should elite opinion coincide with popular fads and favors, so much the better. But this is the voice of the utopian ideologue, and it must be noted that these institutions belong to the common heritage of all mankind and as such, their preservation trumps the American Constitution.

I venture to go further.

I state the preservation of fundamental human institutions overrides the constitutions and jurisprudence of any combination of nations. Understanding this is the primal qualification for citizenship.

Moreover, in an age of widespread family breakdown, in an age when many children lack stable male and female parents to form a healthy view of sexuality, we need strong, stable, traditional families more than ever. To tout and to give legal recognition to alternatives is the very hallmark of irresponsibility.

I think it’s well past high time for responsible adults to stand up foursquare for traditional marriage and, more importantly, separate public officials like Sen. Leach via the ballot box from their offices and all the perks and privileges that go with those offices, just like responsible parents take toys away from children who misuse them.

George Tomezsko

Fox Chase

Maybe it’s time to teach Philly how to fish

Once again it’s budget time, and Philadelphia is asking the state legislature for a fish. It’s about time that the legislature teaches the city how to fish.

This year, the problem is the schools. The problem is real. The current school district budget would be catastrophic for the city and, most important, the children.

The problems, however real, are not new or unpredictable. As an aside, I recently was helping to move the Republican City Committee offices and found an article from a series that the Philadelphia Inquirer did entitled “The Shame of our Schools.” It was dated 1981.

Remember how we got into this mess. Philadelphia’s problems with its schools are due to it being one of the poorest cities in America. That didn’t happen by accident. Choices were made that drove businesses, jobs and taxpayers out of the city. Our poverty is directly related to high tax rates, irrational tax structure, corruption, mismanagement and misplaced spending priorities. There was no natural catastrophe. There was no plague. Politicians made decisions, sometimes out of a failure to understand the consequences of their actions, but more often to pander to special-interest groups as a reward for past or anticipated electoral support. It’s really just that simple.

Getting out of this also is simple. Reverse the bad choices. Lower tax rates, reform the tax structure, eliminate corruption and mismanagement and spend only on core municipal functions: public safety, public education, sanitation and maintenance of the infrastructure. Simple does not mean easy. It will be painful, but it couldn’t be as bad as the misery that poverty has brought us.

It is reported that some of the ideas to “help” Philadelphia are things like allowing the city to place a $2-per-pack tax on cigarette sales and extending Philadelphia’s “temporary” 1 percent sales tax, which is supposed to expire at the end 2014.

These are not solutions to the problem.

Let’s look at the cigarette tax. They are thinking about giving Philadelphia’s City Council additional taxing authority. Think about that. Giving Philadelphia’s City Council additional taxing authority? How’s that worked out in the past? Both the cigarette tax and the sales tax will drive sales out of Philadelphia, and not all of it goes to Pennsylvania suburbs. Every dollar that goes to Jersey, Delaware or the Internet means that Pennsylvania loses more tax revenue than Philadelphia loses. Who exactly does this help? How about this. If the legislature thinks that the policy is such a good idea, such as the cigarette tax, why not let every municipality in the state do the same thing? I didn’t think so. But if it is bad policy to allow the tax statewide, how is it good for Pennsylvania to allow Philadelphia an exception.

If the legislature wants to help Philadelphia, allowing it to shoot itself in the foot by raising taxes is not the way. Any funding for the schools should be contingent on positive change.

The school district should be required to hire, fire, promote and assign teachers based on what is in the best interests of the children, not seniority.

The school district closed 23 schools and deserves credit for that. It was traumatic. The problem is, the district probably should have closed another 25 to 30 schools, but did not want to expend the political capital. There are still too many under-capacity schools. The school district should be required to close schools and redraw catchment areas so each school operates at approximately 85 percent of capacity.

The school district has been trying to restrict charter schools from expanding. This is despite the fact that the amount of money it turns over to the charter schools for each child enrolled is less than what it costs to educate children in the school district-operated schools. The school district should only be able to restrict the creation and expansion of charter schools based only on how well it is teaching our children, not funding. If more parents choose charter schools, the school district can close even more schools and concentrate the money on educating fewer children.

Philadelphia needs and wants help. That being said, allowing it to increase taxes on itself to drive more business and taxpayers out do much more harm than good.

J. Matthew Wolfe is a former deputy attorney general and the chairman of the University City Republican Committee in West Philadelphia.

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