First, fix how
property is assessed
The very idea that a property-tax increase was allowed to become reality without actually implementing a consistent, fair assessment system is mind-blowing. For years, the city has had committees work through how property-tax evaluation ought to be done, yet has never implemented such reforms.
My own home in Overbrook is taxed at $1,352 per year; my adjoining neighbors all pay the same rate. Meanwhile, across the block, a corner store/apartment building pays $200 less than I do, despite being a property that generates rental income for the landlords and having a larger property dimension.
If the city believes it can raise property taxes blindly by 10 percent, it needs to guarantee constituents two things: 1) that incremental wage-tax decreases will resume no later than 2012; 2) the property-tax system will finally be revised to reflect 100 percent valuation of properties, putting an end to constant discussions and committees around this subject.
Is Christie playing
Thousands of New Jersey teachers (as well as police, firefighters, and other government workers) have been waiting to see Gov. Christie's proposal to reduce pension benefits for workers who retire after Aug. 1. It has been discussed for months, but so far there has been nothing but silence from Trenton.
This is all the more interesting because many New Jersey teachers must, by contract, have their retirements approved by their school boards 30 to 60 days before that misleading deadline, making their real retirement deadline June 1.
By the time Christie actually provides a proposal that then must be written into bills and legislated by both the Assembly and the Senate, the real retirement deadline will be long gone. In effect, thousands of highly qualified, experienced teachers may retire on June 1, not because of any legislation, but out of fear, innuendo, and rumor. Perhaps this was Christie's plan all along.
BP may follow
Exxon eventually lost its battle in court that lasted for years after its tanker spillage in Alaska, but has yet to pay for the extensive damage to the environment of the coastline in that state.
Now, the corporate attorneys for British Petroleum, Transocean, and Halliburton, possibly in collusion, have figured out a plan to sue each other for the cause of the problem in the Gulf, and ostensibly follow the legal path that Exxon used two decades ago to delay, defer, and, they hope, to perpetually avoid payout.
James D. Cook
turning to suicide
My brother is a Philadelphia highway cop, and in one week alone he was called to two suicides of young people. One was a 12-year-old and the other was a 9-year-old.
My brother has been on the force for 20 years, and he has never seen anything like the recent rash of young kids committing suicide. Facebook is great to communicate with each other, but it is a demon when the kids use it to harass and bully another kid.
There has to be a way to block these messages. They are slanderous, horrific, and plain cruel.
George J. Walton
City needs memorial
to MOVE victims
Your articles on the 25th aniversary of the MOVE tragedies should prompt you to support MOVE's cry to indict those city officials who bombed the house and let the ensuing fire cause the deaths of innocent people, including children, and destroy an entire neighborhood.
The city initially denied responsibility and backed down only in the face of overwhelming evidence. That was the first tragedy. The second was the MOVE hearings, which turned out to be a whitewash. The third tragedy was that the only person to go to jail was Ramona Africa, the only adult to escape, who was convicted on a trumped-up charge.
When government commits a crime, the people should protest. Philadelphia should erect a monument in memory of these tragedies. Unless something is done, time will wash out the memory and the catastrophe will be forgotten.
Professor of law
the best of Specter
Your postprimary editorial ("And the winner is . . .," Wednesday) tried to explain Joe Sestak's victory over Arlen Specter. In the search for election trends, you mentioned anti-incumbent attitudes and other factors. How about giving some credit to Pennsylvania progressives?
Some of us who fought for health-care reform for eight long months, and stood up against the incomprehensible rage of the right-wing, voted for Joe Sestak. We saw the difference between Sestak and Specter last summer. Joe would patiently and fearlessly face off with angry constituents for hours, while Arlen did not know how to react at the Constitution Center shout-fest.
For the liberals who worked so hard to get health-care legislation passed, getting up to vote for a real Democrat on a drizzly day was easy.