Readers have a lot on their minds these days. Below is a sampling of letters published in The Mercury over the past two weeks. Some of the letters are responses to columns I've written. Others are about topics I've covered in the past. Still others are letters I agree with.
Legislature wants to prevent voter fraud
The recent column in The Mercury by Tony Phyrillas titled "Voter fraud bill veto may haunt Rendell" accurately lays out why the Rendell administration does not want free and fair elections in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, but fails to address the fundamental reasons why passage of the Voter Protection Act is so important to the commonwealth.
As a sponsor of Senate Bill 5, which incorporates much of the same language as the Voter Protection Act, I believe it is imperative that real, comprehensive election reform legislation be passed sooner than later. Pennsylvanians need to feel secure that the vote they are making is fair and counted and that everyone else is playing by the same rules. When voters are disenfranchised by the counting of improperly cast ballots or outright fraud, their civil rights are violated just as surely as if they were prevented from voting.
I think we can all agree that people who are deceased should not be allowed to vote and that polling places should not be located in private residences, offices of candidates or abandoned buildings.
Half of the states in the nation require voters to prove who they are before they can vote. We require citizens to show identification when we drive, write a check and even check out a book at the library. I think it is appropriate for citizens to show identification before they may vote. As noted in the article, under the Voter Protection Act, acceptable forms of identification include both photo and non-photo IDs, including utility bills or a copy of a paycheck.
The integrity of the ballot box is just as important to the credibility of elections as access to it. It’s time to pass real election reform in Pennsylvania.
SEN. ROB WONDERLING
Dennis Leh’s flip-flop speaks volumes
Dennis Leh’s recent announcement that he has changed his mind and now intends to run for re-election stands as committed proof that the great majority of the politicians in Harrisburg don’t have the integrity that it takes to make a solid decision and stand by it.
Do you really think that the taxpayers from Douglassville want you back in office Mr. Leh? Think again, pal. Looked like a really big crowd that you spoke to at Michael’s restaurant — a real cross-section of voters.
You’ve failed us time and time over and we are tired of supporting your "do nothing" political career. That little smiling face at the voting locations just won’t cut it. You’re finished. Get into the private sector and work for a living. Within less than one week you’ve flip-flopped on a decision that you should have known would affect your future. Can you say "John Kerry?"
But you certainly stood your ground when it came to voting that pay raise past the voters. No questions there. Give it up. You’re done in Harrisburg.
Make all legislators, Rendell pay
It’s time to remind the voters that on Election Day you must not forget the action that our state legislators pulled on their constituents — their greedy raise they gave themselves and the approval of this bill that was signed by the Democratic governor, Ed Rendell.
Now Mr. Rendell is trying to smooth talk how he’s going to raise a lot of taxes that won’t hurt anyone — really! Most of us are not idiots. The man is a "charlatan" — look that word up in your dictionary.
It’s time for a clean sweep and that includes the governor for sure. Let’s give the citizens a break and they should start with our property taxes. It’s more than time and long overdue.
DOROTHY R. MILLER
Time to sweep Harrisburg clean
Well the clowns in Harrisburg are up to their old tricks. When they mention a flat tax to replace the unfair property tax, they point out that it would be unfair to those buying needed medicine. They never mention that they could exempt medicine from being taxed.
Now for the good news. Check out SB 1076, which was introduced in the General Assembly Jan. 19 and has 12 co-sponsors. The bill calls for the exclusion of sales tax, not on medicine but on investment sales of gold, silver and coins.
Time to replace everyone! Pacleansweep.com will help.
Abortion is OK — if you’re alive
This is to the lady who wrote, "I will not have my rights as a woman taken from me."
I quote, "I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."
— Ronald Reagan, September 22, 1980.
SMSGT. ROBERT B. KERR SR.
Hillary Clinton should shut her pie hole
Here we go again, Hilary Clinton has her big mouth open again saying this is the worst administration we have ever had! Since this is a free country she has the right to open her big mouth. At least our current president is not a womanizer. Her husband should have been impeached, instead he had his hands slapped and it was forgotten.
Let’s get things straight. She should keep her big mouth shut!
KEITH M. MILLER
We want tax elimination, not just reduction!
Has it dawned on anyone yet that a partial elimination of school taxes is no good? If the politicians don't completely eliminate the school taxes and all they do is raise the local or state taxes on other items, in a short time they will start raising school taxes again. Then we’ll be in worse shape because we’ll also be stuck with the new local or state taxes.
Tax relief pleas fall on legislators' deaf ears
We all know that property and school taxes are absolutely obscene. Unfortunately, our voices fall upon ears that choose not to listen when this issue is presented. Well, simply put my fellow taxpayers, we built these cities with bricks, boards, sweat and sore backs. Although it will not be easy, we can fell it the same way. So let your voices be heard. Tax reform now!
SCOTT ALLEN SELL
Wake up, Harrisburg: People are losing their homes
I found it very interesting that under legal notices published in The Mercury on Feb. 1, out of 24 sheriff sales listed, eight of them were for a real debt from $884.07 to $5,905.90. It is obvious that these amounts are for unpaid taxes rather than non-payment of mortgages.
It is once again proof that real estate taxes need to be eliminated. People work hard all their life to raise their family and pay off their home and are rewarded by losing their home for the inability to pay taxes.
Legislators, wake up. We desperately need taxes on real estate abolished. I think the federal government should be funding education so that all children have the same educational opportunities. With real estate taxes funding education, you don’t get the same quality programs with the richer communities versus the poorer communities paying the bills.
We need to contact our representatives and let them know how we feel. You have a voice but it only works when you tell the right people. Don’t wait, do it now!
Pennsylvania needs Voter Protection Act
I urge Gov. Ed Rendell to sign HB 1318, the Pennsylvania Voter Protection Act. The legislation, passed recently by the General Assembly, would provide meaningful reforms to the way Pennsylvanians elect officials to all levels of government.
The Voter Protection Act proposes common sense reforms to our electoral process that ought to become law. By cleaning up intimidation and other unethical election activities, and ensuring that military personnel, the elderly, and the disabled are not denied their right to vote, this legislation would strengthen people's faith in the way we elect our public officials.
The Pennsylvania Voter Protection Act (HB 1318) has been passed by both chambers in the General Assembly, but has been threatened with a veto by Gov. Rendell. The legislation seeks to improve the election process in Pennsylvania by ensuring that every voter has access to the polls and has his or her vote fairly counted.
The bill includes provisions to:
* Require that all absentee ballots cast by military personnel serving overseas be counted.
* Ensure that senior citizens and persons with disabilities have access to polls.
* Protect voters and poll workers from harassment and intimidation at the polls.
Increase public confidence in the process by requiring voters to present some form of identification at the polls.
U.S. REP. JOE PITTS
Rendell’s gambling scheme makes no sense
Use common sense! Stop and think! Do you think you will receive money from the gaming establishments? When someone will invest $50 million to $100 million, do you think they will operate at a loss? They are the ones who will reap in the financial gain.
What will the percentage of pay-out be from the slot machines to the state? The other person who will benefit from the profit of the slots will be fast Eddie.
When Ed Rendell campaigned for governor, he had 53 individuals and organizations including lawyers, real estate developers, insurance brokers, labor unions, and contractors who donated $100,000 to $710,000 for a total of $11,048,207 plus $134,000 in free catering and hotel rooms by the owner of the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia.
Ed Rendell received more money than two other individuals running for office in the United States. There is no guarantee how much money will be available for tax reform.
I hope Limerick residents will continue to try to eliminate the gaming establishment from the township.
Don’t minimize the Islamic threat against the West
About the frantic Muslims who are raging because someone drew a cartoon about Muhammad, it seems that Islam has always needed a lot of violence and cruel behavior to defend and propagate it to those not born into it. It certainly doesn’t present a desirable religious view.
By contrast, the Koran carries lies about Jesus but Christians aren’t burning flags or the book, rioting in the streets, threatening religious leaders who promote the lies, making loud demands or, more ridiculous, shooting rifles in the streets. Jesus doesn’t need us to offer fear tactic defenses on His behalf but then, unlike Islam, true Christianity did not get its foothold through the spiritual impotency revealed in anger and militancy. (Historical violence conducted in the misname of Christianity was the result of a religious deception.)
Of course, it is entirely possible that these energized Muslims are not actually defending their "prophet" but merely using the cartoon to justify their rioting. It’s what they do best. Such fun. When this wears off, they will come up with another excuse to riot. Meanwhile, I hope no national leaders yield to their bullying. That would fuel a power that should not be even mildly entertained. Yielding to a bully created World War II.
Berks legislators better heed voter pleas
To my state legislators, Sen. O’Pake and Rep. Santoni:
On March1, I received my tax bill along with everyone else.
I was stunned to see but another increase. I heard a few people calling into the local talk radio station complaining that their tax bill is worse than mine. If this cry from the people is not loud enough for you public servants to hear and heed, I don’t know what would be. This whole property tax issue that you have been sitting on for so long and trying to hatch these little rebates in lieu of complete elimination should not allow you to sleep at night.
I was thinking about sending on of you the deed to my house and let you figure out how to keep up with these obscene taxes.
The Antietam School District takes the prize for having the highest taxes in Berks County. Does that make you feel uncomfortable?
I have gathered my share of signatures for my candidate who is running against you, Rep. Dante Santoni, and will be delivering them to Harrisburg on Monday. It has not been all that difficult gathering the names, either, I might add. The wonderful learning experience for me was that all those people I contacted were all aware of the property tax situation and all of them favor elimination of property taxes.
Having everyone pay their fair share of taxes through the sales tax is the only right way to go. Worrying about hurting the "poor" is mindless thinking. We are all going to end up "poor" if Pennsylvania does not eliminate property taxes. All we need now is get everyone out there to vote. That will hopefully be loud enough to make a change for the people.
A proud member of Pennsylvania Clean Sweep,
VIVIAN J. RHODIER
Vote out all the incumbents to restore pride in Pennsylvania
Lawmakers have to stop playing God and lying to the people. It is time for action. Enough of the empty promises. Now is the perfect time to vote out the incumbents and get new ideas working for us. Remember, only we can do this by voting for the people who will do what is right for the people of Pennsylvania, not themselves.
We need to entice companies to Pennsylvania that will bring new jobs. Pennsylvania’s tax structure should attract companies that will boost our economy and create new jobs.
Gambling as a way to fund schools is, and was from the beginning, a failure. It didn’t help with taxes for the citizens of Pennsylvania and will only bring crime and an unhealthy society.
Isn’t it time we became proud of our state again? So let’s all stick together and turn this state around, one where people will want to come and live, work and raise their children and retire here.
Writer perpetuates prejudice
Talk about "misguided statements." Elsie Mourar’s letter to the editor dated Feb. 22, while well intended, showed an old-fashioned view of homosexuality. We all know that there are passages from the Bible that seem to condemn homosexuality. In the 2000 years since the bible was written, we have come to realize that certain ideas contained within it are outdated in today’s world. Likewise, there was a time when, as Americans, we believed that slavery and segregation were the "right thing to do." A greater understanding of human nature and a desire for human rights and equality has led us to see that these ideas were wrong.
There are those of us who believe that sexual orientation is not a choice — it is something that you are, not something that you choose. While Ms. Mourar is certainly entitled to her opinion, letters like hers help to perpetuate misunderstanding and prejudice in an already intolerant world.