Re: "Legislative leaders scoff at report," Wednesday:
I am not surprised that the legislative "leaders" (if that is the correct word for them) are ignoring the grand-jury report urging changes to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. You are the voice of your readers, so we need you to question our local elected state officials and get them on record as to where they stand on the report.
It is very clear that Pennsylvania has the most expensive legislative system in the nation, that per diems must be eliminated, that legislators must follow normal business practices and submit receipts to prove expense reimbursement, that so-called WAMs must be eliminated, and that the size of the General Assembly should be reduced.
All of this is in the report; now we need the media and taxpayers to speak out in support of the report's call for real reform, not the window dressing legislators passed in 2006.
Re: "Fill the blanks," Wednesday:
We are expected to be shocked! - shocked! - that a candidate who poses a challenge to the favored incumbent is invited to a meeting, or coffee, or dinner, and quietly offered a substitute position or appointment.
The candidate understands the message: If he plays along, "next time" it will be his turn to receive party support. This has been a standard card played from the political deck.
Joe Sestak's problem is that he made the mistake of blurting out the truth just at the moment when the opposition was desperately looking for a tempest for its teapot.
Suzanne F. Andrews
Blinded by your zeal to sink Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, you unwittingly stoke the flames of ethnic division and hatred. The latest example is Wednesday's article ("More stories of school violence") about acts of aggression toward Arab American students.
No student should be singled out and harassed or attacked due to his or her race, gender, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation. Moreover, no student should be forced to learn in an unpleasant and unsafe school environment. However, if you and other media continue to chase every single incident of aggression against a student or group of students who appear different, and label it as being motivated by that perceived difference, without clear evidence of such, you are doing a disservice to actual victims.
I'm not suggesting that the media shouldn't draw attention to serious issues of violence and intimidation in our schools. Rather I'm suggesting you exercise better judgment, considering both the immediate and long-term ramifications of your actions. The majority of students perceived as different get along well with others. Tell that story, too.
While I am a member of the Pennsauken Board of Education, I write this letter as a taxpayer.
Out of all the people and groups he could blame for the fiscal problems of New Jersey, Gov. Christie decided on teachers. It truly is a mystery to me, but he has made them the poster child for all that ails the state.
Unfair? Absolutely! But Christie is masterly in deflecting blame from the politicians in Trenton, both Democratic and Republican, and pouring it on the teachers' union.
Christie claimed the historically high number of proposed school budgets defeated in April was an endorsement for his spending cuts and cost-control programs. Wrong!
Voters voted no because the state has shifted its tax burden back on the schools and municipalities. School budgets provide the only chance taxpayers get to voice their opinion about all of the taxes that we pay. Our no votes were not an endorsement of the governor; they were a condemnation of his tax-shifting plan.
Matthew J. McDevitt
Last year's leak of almost 200,000 gallons of tritium-contaminated water from the Oyster Creek plant was an atrocity. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection took the necessary action by requiring Exelon to clean up the leak, but Exelon cannot be trusted to be independent with regard to investigation or remediation.
The Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer provides drinking water for more than a million people in southern New Jersey. A radioactive isotope in this water source is of great concern. The threat to drinking water and irrigation wells is unclear.
By law, DEP can hire an independent laboratory and bill Exelon, at no cost to taxpayers. Only an independent investigation can ensure that the leak is not more widespread. Oyster Creek, at 40 years old, is the oldest nuclear plant in the nation. Each day, it becomes more prone to leaks and other dangers. This tritium leak is an indicator of how unsafe the plant is.
New Jersey Sierra Club
It's bad enough we make mistakes with oil pollution, on air, sea, and land. We need to end our dependence on oil, and find another source of power.