Letters to the Editor: May 4, 2016

Soda tax will help schools

There has been a lot of buzz regarding Mayor Kenney’s proposed soda tax over the past couple of months. The $432 million over five years generated by the tax will be welcome funding for a city that seems to be growing again after years of decline in population. Mayor Kenney intends to use the money to fund Universal Pre-K, community schools, parks and recreation centers throughout the city.

It’s been rather difficult for me to understand the opposition to this tax. I get people think the tax will disproportionately affect low-income citizens of this city. However, if you do a cost benefit analysis, aren’t the ideas the mayor is proposing going to help low-income people in the long run? Universal Pre-K has reaped numerous benefits in the places where it has been implemented.

According to an article from US News and World Report, on March 27, 2014 decades of research has shown, “…impressive and long-lasting benefits for low-income students, including increased high-school graduation and employment and decreased incarceration. Preschool programs produce large academic gains, averaging one-fifth to one-third of a year of additional learning. Investing in preschool for disadvantaged students is also cost-effective, yielding long-term benefits of as much as $10 for every $1 spent.”

These programs benefit children from middle-class backgrounds as well. This strikes me as important in light of the fact that young, middle-class families are moving back into the city. Mayor Kenney also wishes to use some of the revenue from this tax to also fund community schools, an idea that educators in Philadelphia have long championed.

Community schools have been very successful at improving learning environments in other cities, and are a much better alternative than simply turning schools over to charter companies. Some of the money from this tax is supposed to find its way to fund more parks and recreation projects, a vital quality of life component for any city.

Since 2011, Philadelphia has been ignored or attacked by many of the elected politicians in Harrisburg. For this reason, it’s up to us — the people who live and work in this city — to begin enacting policies that will improve the long-term quality of the public institutions we rely on.

Daniel Meier

PhD Social Studies Department Chair, Northeast High School

Kenney wrong on illegals

Apparently, Mayor Jim Kenney and the Democratic Party cronies plan to secede from the United States and the state of Pennsylvania to become our own country since U.S. and state laws don’t seem to apply once you cross the border into our city.

Not only does our esteemed mayor basically give U.S. immigration laws the bird by turning the city into an illegal immigrant sanctuary, he plans to give illegals a “municipal ID card” since state law requires having a Social Security number to get a state one. He is even trying to find a way around the state law requiring a Social Security number to get a driver’s license, so they can get those, too. Now he plans to tax soda pop, which is tax exempt according to state law, being as food is not taxable in Pennsylvania. Grocery items are tax exempt, and in Pennsylvania, this includes candy and gum.

What’s next, a 20-cent tax on a gallon of milk? Maybe a 10-cent tax on a loaf of bread. Maybe start taxing medications, too.

Stop being apathetic, Philly. These people in City Hall work for us, not us for them. Write or call them and just say no to their trying to say how it is going to be whether you like it or not. If they ignore us, impeach the whole lot of them.

This is our city, too. It’s time to take it back.

Hezakiah Levinson

Rhawnhurst

Keep bathrooms separate

I just want to see how some of these so-called “progressive” politicians, administrators and all others who support this idiocy of gender-neutral bathrooms will respond when some 35-year-old man, who on this particular day, says he feels more of a preference for the women’s restroom, walks into the same girls bathroom that their 9-,10-,11- or 12-year-old daughter, niece or granddaughter has already gone into 15 seconds earlier.

Peter DiGiuseppe

Rhawnhurst