Letters to the Editor: May 11, 2018

Northeast Philadelphia residents discuss taking care of animals, help for people who stutter and the increased water rate.

Don’t dump animals

Someone heartlessly dumped two young terrified Pekin ducklings at a creek near an apartment complex in the Far Northeast. These were obviously Easter discards, cute yellow fuzzy babies that are now starting to grow into ducks. They were rescued but we do not know if they will survive.

Every year, animal rescue volunteers save abandoned ducks from ponds and unwanted rabbits from parks. Large numbers are turned over to shelters and rescue groups who struggle to find homes for them. Those are the lucky ones who survive at all. It is illegal to dump domestic animals like these. Domestic ducks, chickens and rabbits cannot survive for long in the wild despite what the seller might have told you. They are not wildlife and have no wild instincts. The birds can’t fly, and no domestic animals know how to hide from predators or find food, so they usually fall victim to feral cats, hawks, dogs and raccoons, or they die from starvation or exposure. Baby birds like ducklings will imprint on their owners and keep looking for them to return.

Aside from the cruelty of abandoning a young animal to certain death, think what kind of terrible message it sends to your kids that it is OK to just throw away a living creature when you get tired of it. Ducks, chicks and bunnies are 10- to 20-year commitments, requiring upkeep, vet visits, attention and affection. Do research online about any animal you are thinking about getting, especially Easter animals, and if you are not willing to make a lifetime commitment to that animal, then do not buy it.

Buy a stuffed toy or treats for your kids instead, or take them to a farm sanctuary where they can learn about animals and their care.

Arlene Steinberg

Bustleton

Take the time to listen

National Stuttering Awareness Week began on Monday, May 7. Did you know more than 3 million Americans stutter? One percent of readers of this newspaper stutter, and up to 5 percent of children stutter for a time during their early developmental years. The most important thing you can do for someone who stutters is listen. Listen to what they have to say rather than how they say it.

For information, visit stutteringhelp.org

Jane Fraser

President, The Stuttering Foundation

Philadelphia’s newest water rate increase is wrong

The city is ripping us off. I attended the water rate hearing on April 19, when, among other fascinating things, I learned the Philadelphia Water Department has $200,000,000 (yes, eight zeroes) in the bank.

I did a bit of research when I got home and found a site where, if you scroll down, you can see that as of April 2017, the Water Department is owed a shocking $279,379,662.50 on delinquent accounts. Nonetheless, the Water Department wants another rate increase (10.6 percent over the next four years) on top of increases every year since 2008, except in 2015. My water bill for the same usage has increased 100 percent since 2000.

Then I attended the Philadelphia budget hearing on April 25, very kindly arranged and chaired at a Northeast Philly location by Councilman Bobby Henon. It rapidly became a hearing on the new property assessments and Mayor Kenney’s proposed increase in the property tax rate on top of the tax increase due to higher values.

At home again, I did some more research and found a fascinating site that shows property tax delinquency in 57 city neighborhoods. No grand total is given, so I copied the 57 numbers into a spreadsheet and added it up. The city is owed an even more shocking $381,019,044.48 in unpaid property taxes. Of note is the fact that 20 of the 57 neighborhoods have delinquency rates between 10.23 percent and 31.8 percent. None are in the Northeast, where delinquency rates range from 1.26 percent (Bustleton) to 3 percent (Holmesburg).

So, if the Water Department and Kenney get their unwise and unfair rate and tax increases, those of us who compliantly pay our bills here in the Northeast will be funding a lot of people who don’t (or in some cases, I’m sure, can’t) pay.

Keep this up long enough, and many more Northeast residents will be pushed into the ranks of those who can’t pay.

Bernadette Freedman

Bustleton