Monday December 10, 2018
Commissioners make shameful move looking to sell precious resource.
I am utterly flabbergasted at the Berks County commissioners’ vote on selling Berks Heim. The commissioners created political cover for themselves by asking the Heim unions to pre-emptively negotiate a new contract when they already have one. If this is truly about roughly $1 million in savings as Commissioner Mark C. Scott stated, then why did he and Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach quickly move to sell the Heim after the unions understandably stopped contacting the county’s negotiations team? Based on the comments of all three commissioners, this is obviously a cudgel the county is using to get union members to start disliking their leadership for protecting their contract and jobs.
It is simply shameful what the commissioners are doing in this disingenuous move. We need commissioners committed to keeping Berks Heim a public resource for the elderly in our county.
Decision on Heim shockingly wrong
Monday December 10, 2018
Departing lawmaker misunderstands his opposition.
Of all the things to take issue with in U.S. Rep's Ryan Costello's self-indulgent swan song, the most objectionable might be his dismissal of hundreds if not thousands of his constituents as the “angry left” (“Costello pulls no punches on way out,” Reading Eagle, Dec. 3).
One doesn't have to be on the left to be angered by the impact of Costello's votes, such as his support of the Republican tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the rich, balloons the deficit, and demonstrably does not offer the job-boosting benefits Costello claims. One doesn't have to be on the left to be angered by the spineless complicity of Costello's Republican colleagues in Congress, who have abetted the most corrupt and authoritarian president in living memory.
Costello is unwilling to take any responsibility for his party having become the party of President Donald Trump. Even though he distances himself from the president's most vulgar behavior, that's what any civilized person would do, left, right or center. We're not angry with him for Stormy Daniels; we're angry with him for voting in line with Trump 95.5 percent of the time, and for writing critics off with a label.
Costello wrong to attack critics
Tuesday December 11, 2018
State too slow to act meaningfully on issues affecting climate.
Thank you for your Dec. 6 editorial (“Report adds to urgency on issue of climate change”). As you correctly point out, we cannot afford to wait for the federal government to act. That’s why it is incumbent upon our state government to take aggressive action on climate. Unfortunately, Gov. Tom Wolf’s tepid responses during an interview on Harrisburg’s WITF suggest his next four years will be as backward on climate as his last.
The report you referenced in your editorial was the U.S. Climate Assessment. In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its assessment that concluded that we have 12 years left to address climate change. The third and most recent report, published on Dec. 5, comes from the Global Carbon Project. It tells us that between 2014 and 2016, carbon emissions flatlined, but that they increased 1.6 percent in 2017 and are projected to rise 2.7 percent in 2018.
Wolf told “Smart Talk” that he’d like to see a cap-and-trade program in Pennsylvania and wants solar to be supplying 10 percent of the state’s power 12 years from now. His goals are wholly inadequate, especially given his work for the past four years to expand the market for the greenhouse gases, methane and ethane. Leaks of these gases occur at every step during their production, processing and transmission.
In Pennsylvania, no amount of solar panels will cancel out the damage we are doing to the climate, and by extension our health, safety, and economy by our continued production of fossil fuels and petrochemicals. It’s time for a statewide ban on fracking.
Editor's note: Feridun is the founder of Berks Gas Truth.
Pennsylvania needs ban on fracking
Friday December 7, 2018
Departing lawmaker will not be missed.
In “Costello pulls no punches on way out” (Reading Eagle, Dec. 3), U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello showed his true, bitter partisan colors. Some “moderate.” He was installed in a ridiculously gerrymandered district by the Republican Party as part of a scheme that gave the GOP 13 of the 18 House seats in the state, though Democrats have far more registered voters.
The new, much more logical and competitive districts created by the State Supreme Court have resulted in a much fairer outcome. The state now has nine representatives from each party. We also have the first female members of what had been a pale, male and stale House delegation, including the inspiring Chrissy Houlahan as Reading's new face in Washington.
Houlahan is already nationally known as a key leader of the new class of House Democrats. She should be applauded, not attacked, for trying to win a role in the House leadership. This can only result in more clout and more money for our area.
After two terms in the House, it is rather sad that Costello's greatest achievement was a small technical change in a bill on short-haul railroads. Reading and Berks County deserve better than him and his sour grapes.
Congressman shows his true, bitter colors
Friday December 7, 2018
Wrongheaded view threatens our democracy.
Many conservatives revere our brilliant Founding Fathers but mock intelligent people today as “intellectual elites,” as if intelligence is shameful.
The Founders certainly were brilliant, but back then they carried single-shot muskets, wore wigs, and used quill pens and chamber pots. Many owned slaves. The average life expectancy was around 35. They couldn't foresee everything.
They didn't foresee America's eventual size, or that extreme variance in population density would give some citizens over 50 times more representation in the Senate. They expected Electoral College members, once elected, to be free to choose the most qualified candidates, not to be locked into partisanship.
They feared a standing army as a threat to government and wrote the Second Amendment for a citizen militia instead. They didn't foresee military weapons in the hands of right-wing militias formed specifically to oppose government.
They didn't foresee the end of slavery, women's right to vote, civil rights for all or an income tax. Our Constitution is brilliant, but not perfect, as shown by 17 amendments, so far, since the Bill of Rights.
While principles endure, civilization advances in spite of conservative resistance. They insist on a literal reading of the Second Amendment but support today's version of the Electoral College. They believe civil rights and voting rights are open to interpretation, so some states are compounding unequal representation with voter disenfranchisement tactics.
Our representative democracy is threatened.
Civilization advances despite conservatives
Friday December 7, 2018
There's nothing wrong with speaking Spanish in public.
I'm alarmed by the xenophobia of those who complain about Latinos speaking Spanish in public places. This bigotry goes against the American tradition of linguistic tolerance. Pennsylvania Dutch was considered a second language in this region since the 18th century. Today nobody demands that the Amish speak English only. Why ask Latinos to do so?
Linguist Geoffrey Pullum affirms that the demand for English only is filled with hatred and suspicion of immigrants, and that to make English the official language would be like making hot dogs the official food at baseball games. Linguist Rachele Lawton argues that the real motivation behind the call for English only is discrimination and disenfranchisement. The American Civil Liberties Union argues that it is inconsistent with free speech.
When Latinos speak Spanish, that does not necessarily mean they don't speak English. Studies show that Latinos shift to English within a generation or two. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of Latinos, about 6 in 10 are bilingual. The same center in 2011 found that 90 percent of Latinos said that it is important to learn English but equally important that the next generation keep using the Spanish language.
I believe that as a matter of identity in a stressful environment, Latinos speak Spanish in public places, and rightfully so.
Nation has room for more than 1 language
Thursday December 6, 2018
Voters must hold representatives accountable.
A report released by the White House amid the frenzy of Black Friday should at the very least provoke an honest debate about the future of our planet. The fourth National Climate Assessment Report authored by more than 300 researchers makes it abundantly clear climate change is real.
Let's put aside a president who claims to know more than the scientists and appears not to know the difference between weather and climate. I recall Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., bringing a snowball to the Senate floor and claiming it proved climate change was not real. It is no coincidence that he is from an oil-rich state. For those who claim climate change is not man-made, wouldn't the sensible action be to mitigate the change however and wherever possible rather than sitting around and waiting for disaster after disaster? Voters need to hold their representatives accountable.
Push for action on climate issue
Tuesday December 4, 2018
Democrats have good reason for suspicions.
In “Founders set up lasting structure" (Reading Eagle, Nov. 28), letter writer Keith Worley stated that starting in 2016, Democrats said there has to be some malfeasance if they don't win. When he said there has been a pattern of such complaints, I was incredulous.
Yes, there is a pattern, but it is voter suppression by Republicans. Florida set the ball rolling in 2000.
Here are four tactics Republicans use:
1. Purging voter rolls. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris did this in 2000 by removing thousands from the rolls. In 2018, Brian Kemp also removed thousands from the rolls in Georgia for dubious reasons.
2. Making it harder to vote. This includes moving or eliminating voting places and reducing time for early voting. In recent years Georgia has closed 214 polling places.
3. Making unreasonable voter ID requirements. The most egregious recent example of this was in North Dakota. Its new voter ID requirement included having a valid address. State officials did this knowing full well that Native Americans living in rural communities have no addresses. A voter ID law here in Pennsylvania was struck down. The cry of Republicans of voter fraud is false. Judges have noted that voter ID is a destructive solution for a nonexistent problem.
4. Gerrymandering. Pennsylvanians know this very well. The courts struck down our congressional map, as it unquestionably favored Republicans. This is common in Republican-controlled states.
Yes, there is a pattern of voter suppression, and Republicans have used it for years.
Judith M. Matuszak
Voter suppression is GOP strategy
Monday December 3, 2018
Concerted effort needed to fight global warming.
From 1941 to 1945 our nation mobilized to convert the national economy into a war economy. In less than four years the United States produced more than enough defense materials and trained the personnel to win World War II across two oceans, defeating enemies on the land, on and under the sea and in the air.
It's high time for this nation to lead the world again in fighting for the life of planet Earth from the ever-increasing ravages of climate change. President Donald Trump must get onboard with this planet-wide emergency immediately. There is no more pressing challenge facing this or any other nation. If Trump's not onboard, he should be forced to resign for dereliction of duty to protect this nation and its people.
I urge readers to contact members of Congress and demand action before the new congressional session begins in January.
Let's mobilize to save planet
Thursday November 29, 2018
It's foolish to suggest civilians should carry military firearms.
James Dailey claims the Founding Fathers intended for individual citizens to be armed with the same weapons as the military (“Second Amendment protects Americans,” Reading Eagle, Nov. 21). When the Second Amendment was quilled, the military was armed with the same weapons a 13-year-old boy would use to shoot turkeys, geese and polecats. This didn't withstand the test of time. We're not quite that quaint anymore.
If one believes the individual citizen is constitutionally intended to have the same weapons as the military, then the smart thing for our pseudo-Second Amendment savants to sloganize is, “If you take away machine guns, you have to take away cars with machine guns mounted on their hoods.”
If it's sane to arm society with military weapons, then it's crazy not to protect school kids with them.
William R. Fretz
Second Amendment reflects different time