HomeNewsLetters to the Editor: September 11, 2013

Letters to the Editor: September 11, 2013

To bomb or not to bomb?

We have a president who has painted himself into a corner by talking tough about his “Red Line,” concerning the alleged use of poison gas by Assad on the people of Syria. However, this Red Line didn’t apply to the use of heavy artillery or bombs dropped in residential areas from military aircraft, all of which the poorly armed rebels had no defense against. They still don’t have adequate firepower to defend themselves from heavy assaults by the Assad regime, merely because Obama didn’t want to get involved in another Middle Eastern conflict. That is, until now, after two years of this slaughter and the possible use of chemical weapons by Assad, of which the administration was fully aware. Now, our fearless leader wants to get involved.

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Now that Assad has evidently crossed “Rambama’s” Red Line is he ready to take action. Is this response going to be immediate deployment of Tomahawk missiles to the airstrips from which these assaults were made in Damascus? No, because he wants to make sure that he has the support of the allies. England is not on board with military intervention, but he does have the support of France, Turkey, Jordan and the majority of the Arab leaders who are also concerned about poison gas being used against civilians.

So, now is he ready to take action? No, because he would rather wait to get the approval of our totally indecisive Congress. One question: Aside from your golf excursions to Martha’s Vineyard and Florida with Tiger Woods, what have you and our so frequently vacationing congressmen been thinking over the last two years, while Assad was slaughtering his own people, only because they dared to ask for a better government?

Finally, why now? What is different now? The killing continues. Only the rebel opposition has changed complexion. They are now enhanced by the Taliban, Hamas, the Hezbollah and Al Qaida terrorists. So what difference are you going to make now? Are you going to help the terrorists take control of Syria, as they did in Palestine? The time for action was two years ago, and you dropped the ball, so just step back and cry, or pray.

Jim O’Keefe

Castor Gardens

Don’t close schools for religious holidays

Why are public schools closed on Jewish holidays? I have always asked this question since I attended a non-public school. I was once told it was because, back in the early days, most of the teachers were Jewish. I am not sure if that is correct or not, but I do know that most of the teachers today are not Jewish.

My son attends a publicly funded charter school and has off for Rosh Hashanah. Why is this? My son is not Jewish. He is a Christian. He is off on Christmas, which is a Christian holiday and a national holiday. He has off for Labor Day and then goes to school for two days and has off for Rosh Hashanah.

Columbus Day is a national holiday, and my son is mandated to attend school when all city and government agencies, banks, the post office and most public schools are closed. More parents are off of work on Columbus Day than they are for Rosh Hashanah and have to make arrangements for their children. Where is the separation of church and state? Most students have off during the Christmas and Easter seasons. However, they do not call these religious holidays. They are considered winter break and spring break.

In questioning my son’s school, I was told the board of trustees makes this decision. I have no problem allowing a student to have an excused absence for religious holidays. However, I have a problem with a publicly funded school being closed for a religious holiday. If it is a national holiday, then close school. If it is a religious holiday, then allow an excused absence to observe your beliefs but it is your responsibility to make up for the missed work.

Steve Schmidt

Fox Chase

Term limits for all oliticians are vital

As we all try to figure out what’s wrong with America, I think we forget what the founding fathers had in mind when they created this government. They didn’t expect politicians for life with no chance of parole. They didn’t expect politicians to spend more time on being re-elected than they do on the needs of the people.

They didn’t expect politicians constantly giving themselves pay raises and additional perks none of the rest of us get. They didn’t expect politicians to spend more time on vacation than actually working. They didn’t expect politicians who refused to compromise on major issues in order to get legislation passed.

They didn’t expect politicians to behave inappropriately with members of the opposite sex and then try to justify their actions, with no apologies to anyone involved. They didn’t expect politicians to have a total lack of any sense of responsibility to actually run the government.

No, they didn’t expect any of these things. They did expect a group of hard-working, dedicated people to run the country properly so that the people could be properly educated and live their lives safely and in peace.

So I am calling for term limits for all politicians. No more than eight years in any office. One term only. Do your job and go back to private life.

I also call for the end of lobbying on every level. These two evils cause most of the problems in government. Let us all do our best to change things before we go completely down the toilet.

Joe Orenstein


Ryan HS football has a proud tradition

I take exception to sports editor Ed Morrone’s characterizing the former Archbishop Ryan football program as a “messy program.”

Readers should be reminded that this is the same program that won numerous Catholic League championships, produced many All-Catholic players and prepared student-athletes for success in college. Unfortunately, a declining school enrollment deprived the school of many talented student-athletes.

The difference between today’s program and that of the former is scheduling. Formerly, Ryan competed against suburban powers such as Neshaminy and Pennsbury. This is no longer the case.

Ray Pascali


Taxation of properties

I have been communicating with our elected official for many years. The taxation of our properties is without representation.

Fifty percent of Philadelphians are not employed, so where is all this dollar revenue coming from?

The schools need $50 million to continue to service our school children. This is the same amount that is needed to complete Dilworth Plaza. What a coincidence!

Dr. Ackerman received a lump sum that cost almost $1 million.

If the school cannot provide services for our children, I demand a refund of my last three property tax increases.

Anna D. Kauffman


Reader poetry

To my granddaughter Julia Sakson and her husband Greg Cruz on their wedding day:

I congratulate you

From all my heart!

You are so nice

And very smart

Lucky years to both of you,

Be always happy, nice and true!

Carry your love

Over whole your life,

Respect each other

Have always kaif!

Emiliya Sakson

Holme Circle

Corbett must act to fund Philly schools

It appeared as if there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Gov. Corbett, in light of an upcoming reelection campaign, seemed to be reaching out to the people of Philadelphia and living up to the commitment of providing Philadelphia students with a sound education.

It is a travesty then that Gov. Corbett, and the most extreme members of the GOP caucus in the House, either don’t understand their job or have seen fit to neglect their responsibilities and leave school funding in limbo.

The Corbett education cuts have crippled the Philadelphia school district, and what Gov. Corbett has proposed does little to make up for his shameful agenda. His agenda has been reinforced by a small group of extreme ideologues who are more loyal to right-wing lobbyists and big business than the people of this commonwealth.

Their interests lie with a Tea Party philosophy rather than common-sense policies that serve as remedies to the problems our families are dealing with.

The future of our city hinges on the health of our K-12 programs, but Gov. Corbett has kept it on life support and deprived it of needed assistance.

If we allow our system to flounder, we will witness a severe blowback, including a decline in our economy and a potential rise in crime throughout our communities. The GOP legislature has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to a variety of issues, but perhaps no more so than education. Their agenda has caused local taxes to rise while programs are slashed.

Under Tom Corbett and his right-wing allies in the House, the cost of education rises, and our families see less for their money. The sad truth is that if it were not for his historically low poll numbers, the governor would call a special session in order to push through his extreme policies; policies that hurt working families and seniors by eliminating jobs and earned benefits, but we do not see the same haste to assist Philadelphia’s students.

This should have been addressed sooner rather than later. Waiting two weeks to call another session and leaving our families in limbo is not good enough. It is time for our full-time legislature to get back to work.

We must reverse the course the governor and the most extreme members of his party have put us on. They have placed the burden on working and middle-class families, and are making the students of Philadelphia pay the dearest price.

Rep. Brendan Boyle

As district attorney, I will be open to a union

As district attorney, I will be open to a union. When structured appropriately, unions still perform a positive good for the country. Although I am a Republican, I support the right of association, to include workers’ rights to associate into a union.

In 2010, while I was still a prosecutor at the district attorney’s office, I took the lead in organizing a union (Philadelphia District Attorneys Association). I consulted with a local labor attorney and had a small group of ADAs who were assisting. At the time, we wanted to change certain aspects of the way the Williams administration was running the office. For example, we wanted a more competitive and transparent process for the promotion of ADAs, based on merit rather on what we perceived to be the political process it had become.

Unfortunately, around the time I began circulating union cards for signatures, I was transferred to a unit at a separate building away from the main office and away from about 98 percent of the other ADAs. After my quick transfer, many who supported unionization were now afraid to sign union cards.

When unions are used wisely to protect folks and make the terms of employment fair, they are an essential element in the modern American economy. As district attorney, I would peacefully discuss the merits and/or demerits of unionization and allow the process to proceed based on the ideas, rather than transferring those who would have the audacity to organize. The right to organize and associate is not only an American tradition, it is an American right.

Daniel Alvarez, Esquire


Republican candidate for district attorney

Traffic cameras help reduce speeding

Those who speed excessively are a danger to us all.

We’ve seen the catastrophic effects all too often in Philadelphia. Drive up and down Roosevelt Boulevard, which cuts straight through my senatorial district, and roadside memorials mark fatal accidents and serve as stark reminders of what can happen.

The most recent accident occurred in mid-July, when a mother and her three children were killed while trying to cross U.S. Route 1. Last month, a pedestrian was seriously injured after being hit by a car on Roosevelt Boulevard in Oxford Circle.

Over the years, a great deal has been done to enhance safety along this busy stretch of highway, which used to be known as the “kill zone.” Red-light cameras, for example, have helped to prevent dangerous right-angle collisions and reduce the number of red-light running violations.

But there’s still more we can do, as these most recent accidents prove.

Roosevelt Boulevard may not be among America’s most dangerous roadways anymore, but it is still a highway of concern for motorists traveling it and residents living around it.

Let’s face it. There’s no better enforcement tool than a strong police presence. And our police do an extraordinary job patrolling this highway and others all around the city. When speeding motorists see a cop car on the side of the road, what do they do? They slow down. But these cops can’t monitor every mile of every highway.

Speed cameras can help. When drivers know these devices are in use and they could face a fine for speeding, they slow down.

This isn’t some new, untested technology. Speed cameras have been used in the United States since 1987, first in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Today, more than 125 American cities and towns use the technology. In locations with speed cameras, fatal crashes have declined as much as 71 percent.

The results shouldn’t be surprising. Six months after enforcement using speed cameras commenced in Washington, D.C., the city experienced an 82 percent decrease in vehicles speeding and a 14 percent decrease in average speeds at seven sites. In New Orleans, speed cameras reduced speeding by 84 percent. In Montgomery County, Md., speeding 10 m.p.h. or more over the limit declined 70 percent.

Six speed cameras located for about 14 months on a busy urban highway in Scottsdale, Ariz., reduced average speeds by nine m.p.h., reduced the proportion of vehicles traveling 11 m.p.h. or more over the speed limit by 90 percent and lowered the number of injury crashes by 28 to 48 percent, according to the National Academies’ 2011 report.

The evidence is irrefutable. These devices do exactly what they’re designed to do, which is change driver behavior and force motorists to slow down. Unfortunately, our city doesn’t have the option to consider these devices. That needs to change.

I want to be clear: Introducing speed cameras isn’t about cracking down on the daily commuter who may go a few miles per hour faster every so often to make a pass. This is about putting the brakes on reckless drivers who treat our highways as drag strips and put the lives of other motorists and pedestrians in jeopardy. It’s got to stop.

Some residents don’t like the idea of “big brother” watching them. I understand their concern. Again, I much prefer officers on the street, but that’s not truly achievable given current resources and staffing.

We can and should use technology to help us catch and cite the city’s most egregious offenders. I want to end the days when highways like Roosevelt Boulevard are a haven for speeding, reckless drivers. With speed cameras, we can reduce the rate of crashes and the number of casualties, and truly ensure our roadways are safer.

Sen. Mike Stack

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