Archive: May, 2013
It's several years too late to moan about the "loss of rights" indicated by the perfectly legal request by the Justice Department for Associated Press phone records. We willingly gave up most of our rights when the Patriot Act was passed in 2001.
In exchange for "safety," we gave up most of what we fought for during the last 200 years. Remember that the next time a president pushes through a rights-robbing law. This is not the president who did that.
Nancy W. Rosman, Schwenksville
Despite its unquestioned success, Central High, like all public schools in Philadelphia, is in a precarious position.
Years of budget cuts have taken a toll on its dedicated staff, physical plant, and operations.
For next year, the School District has presented what has been called a doomsday budget that would result in Central having no money for assistant principals, supplies, books, counselors, nurses, the arts, sports-indeed all that would be left in the school would be a principal and a reduced group of teachers, and 2,400 children.
Although the anniversary of one of the worst disasters in U.S. Navy history passed this month largely unobserved, the near-sinking of the USS Stark off the coast of Saudi Arabia in 1987 killed 37 sailors and wounded 21 others. Two Exocet missiles fired by an Iraqi fighter jet had slammed into the Stark hull. In what was surely a night of hell forever seared into their psyches, crewmembers fought gallantly to extinguish the inferno that consumed their ship and threatened to send her to a watery grave. The Stark listed back to port and somehow survived.
The tragedy occurred during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, said to claim more than 1 million lives. The United States, naturally, had to pick a side - and it went with Iraq, whose brutal dictator our government eventually would go to war with twice, sacrificing billions of dollars and thousands of brave souls to topple him.
Saddam Hussein said he was sorry that his military mistook the Stark for an Iranian tanker. Although a U.S. guided-missile frigate and an Iranian tanker are about as similar in appearance as Christie Brinkley and Chris Christie, Hussein's apology was accepted and all was forgotten. But we Navy veterans will always remember - and so should all Americans.
It's time to reexamine the 1990 federal Immigrant Investor Program that grants special status to foreign investors, whose loans are being sought by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Concerns reach beyond the troubling concept of selling residency or citizenship to wealthy bidders and issues of vetting the sources of such financial windfalls. Concern also focuses on the $20 million in fees that turnpike advisors stand to get from "trade secret and confidential proprietary information," as the commission reported.
Noted financial journalist Jane Bryant Quinn once told me in an interview that if you don't understand a financial instrument, don't buy. So i
Capitalism needn't necessarily mean greed. Is t should be possible for our creative financiers to be more transparent, and for public works projects still to be conceived and implemented in the interest of the public.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane's settlement with the Hershey Trust was a disappointment to many who helped elect a woman who campaigned with the promise of "no more business as usual in Harrisburg" - touting her determination to get rid of the "good old boys" ("Settlement ends Hershey Trust probe," May 9).
Disappointingly, Kane reached a settlement which exonerated the former trust board, then chaired by former Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman. Aside from outlandish pay packages for themselves, the board diverted millions of dollars away from the trust's stated purpose of educating low-income children. Instead, they made questionable real estate deals, funded a golf course and a clubhouse, and made lavish hotel improvements.
Kane has demonstrated a remarkable willingness to forget campaign promises and continue doing deals the same old way in Harrisburg. Rather than kick them out, she settled right in with those good old boys.
After the savings and loan debacle of the 1980s, Congress required states to regulate real estate appraisers. Pennsylvania installed a process that has worked successfully since the certification of appraisers began in 1992. Under the current unambiguous rules, real estate salespeople are allowed to perform “competitive market analysis” when developed in conjunction with securing a listing. All other instances of valuing real estate require a certified appraiser.
Now, pending state Senate legislation would allow real estate salespeople to perform valuations for additional purposes. With no standards, and inadequate educational and experience requirements, this quickly could create a Wild West situation that’s bad for property owners and consumers alike.
Say you’re involved in a divorce or a partnership dissolution: Under this bill, you may be faced with a legal nightmare of having a biased and nonobjective valuation that costs you dearly. If you inherit property, the Internal Revenue Service might have a valuation that requires you to pay substantially more than you should. Inaccurate price opinions done early in the lending process could preclude obtaining a loan, and so on.
As fascinating as was Eileen McCafferty DiFranco's description of Northeast High School circa 1939, it does not require time travel to witness well-equipped high schools offering a rich array of extracurricular programs ("Playing 'chicken' against city's students," May 8).
Early this month, I traveled with Philadelphia public school students to compete in National History Day Pennsylvania at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg - a state-of-the-art facility complete with pool, planetarium, carpeted hallways, SmartBoard technology, two football fields, large library, and more.
Until schools no longer rely primarily on property taxes, city students will struggle to learn in rundown dungeons while suburban counterparts study in palaces.
In the guise of a solution, Gov. Corbett’s pension reform plan would make the problem worse.
It would weaken employee retirement funds, eventually cost taxpayers $179 million more a year, and add $5 billion to unfunded pension liabilities by 2019, and even more afterward.