The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 13, 2013

Readers' Forum 2-13 | Politicians only interested in filling pockets

Submitted by Readers

— I’m glad that we have the Readers’ Forum, and all the good people who are speaking their minds on different issues.

 Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that by voting we were hiring people to do their jobs for their country and people.

When we are employers and they work for us, we should have a say in giving raises and making laws.

Before passing laws, why can’t they be put on the ballots and let the people have a say?

I like William H. Flook’s letter (“Full-time pay for part-time work,” Feb. 1). He told us what those politicians can get away with by working only 57-63 days a year, and that means they make $4,000 a day.

How many of us make $4,000 a day? 

Why didn’t the media mention this? 

Those politicians make taxpayers pay for their cars and gas. Isn’t it a shame there isn’t one person in our government who cares for the veterans and the ones in need?

I believe politicians are only in there to fill their pockets. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes on judgment day. Don’t they know it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God?

Dorothy Ford

Mineral Point

Financial bleeding continues unabated

The real problem in the state of Pennsylvania has been caused by eight years of unabashed spending by the Rendell administration.

The reason Gov. Tom Corbett was elected was with the hope that this unaccountable spending would stop.

The reality is this: Cut spending or drastically raise taxes. Keep in mind that 2016 will spell doomsday for the state when it has to come up with $26 billion to fund the public unions’ pensions.

Is this Corbett’s doing?

A most definite no!

I favor making cuts in state spending, not raising taxes. I do not begrudge

anyone from making a living wage, but is it fair that many public servants, de-fined as those being paid with taxpayers’ dollars, have pensions between $50,000 and $100,000 while the rest of the retired population struggles to get by?

Note that widows of retired Bethlehem Steel Corp. workers receive $100-a-month pensions.

If Tom Corbett is not re-elected in 2014, expect state taxes of every kind to double or triple.

Unfortunately, the same attitude exists on the national level. President Obama leaves office in 2016. America will be $20 trillion in debt, more than 50 million people will be on welfare and 50 percent of the population will be paying no taxes – and no one seems to care.

A glaring example of this is the U.S. Postal Service. According to The Tribune-Democrat’s figures, it is losing millions of dollars every day.

When is the bleeding going to stop?

John R. Skubak


Just say no to PennDOT plan

PennDOT’s latest on the so-called Goucher Street Improvement Project sounds more like a high-pressure salesperson trying to sell a product he knows is overpriced, does not work and never will be wanted by the public.

Up until this time, PennDOT has always relied on statistics to justify this project. When I recently asked two PennDOT officials if they have gathered the latest stats for this area, they replied, “We are beyond that point!” Could this mean that the up-to-date stats no longer justify this project?

Why are they spending thousands of dollars on pamphlets and YouTube videos? Why the hard-sell approach now?

What makes the West Hills attractive to live in is its uniqueness. PennDOT, if allowed to go through with this project, will rob us of this. Trees will be cut down, businesses will close, jobs will be lost, real estate values will decrease, and our back streets will resemble minidemolition derbies during this destruction period.

It is now up to the businesses and residential community to get this so-called tweaked project stopped completely. Do what PennDOT wants us to do and set up a personal meeting with them. Allow them to waste valuable tax dollars by having hundreds of these individual meetings, rather than one big public meeting that would again show PennDOT the overwhelming public outcry of this project.

Let them know this project is not needed or wanted.

Mike Gnagey


Concerned business owner and taxpayer

Reform public sector pension systems                                                                           During the past five-plus years, Pennsylvanians have heard and read numerous news reports regarding the $40 billion- plus unfunded pension liability of the State Employee Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employee Retirement System (PSERS) and its impact on taxpayers.

Some of Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposals are ludicrous. However, I agree with his proposals to put new employees in 401(k)-style plans and change the funding formulas for the SERS and PSERS while leaving benefits for existing retirees unchanged.

John Finnerty from the CNHI’s Harrisburg Bureau outlined Corbett’s key proposed changes in a Feb. 7 Tribune-Democrat article headlined, “Pension plan would save district millions.”

I believe changes are long overdue, and while these don’t go far enough, they are a start. Millions of us have seen our company-funded pension plans liquidated and converted to 401(k) plans over the past decades. This was because the volatility of the stock market made it impossible for employers to ascertain how much money was needed to fund a pension 40 years down the road.

I find it incredulous that in a state where the 2012 average annual wage approximated $46,000, and the average annual household retirement income (individual unavailable), based upon 2010 data, is less than $18,000, a 30-year employee from either system can retire on $66,000 or 75 percent of his or her $88,000 salary. (That’s $5,500 per month.)

Most people I’ve worked and associated with from all walks of life over the past 40 years retired on 20 percent to 30 percent of their salaries.

Andrew Rygel


Rising together to end violence

Feb. 14 is traditionally a day for love and romance. This year, it is also the day of One Billion Rising – when women and girls in nearly 200 countries around the world, and the men and boys who respect them, will rise together to say no to violence – rape, female circumcision, denial of education, beatings, bullying, sexual harassment and murder – against women and girls.

How many times have you heard about women and girls around the world who have suffered such treatment from armies, gangs of students, inept men, misogynist regimes, their own families? Would you tolerate such behavior from the men in your life? It is time to stand together. It is time to dance.

Dance? Yes, dance. Noted choreographer Debbie Allen has created a dance that people all over the world will perform on Feb. 14. Dance is powerful. Dance is joyous. Dance is a coordinated protest.

One Billion Rising is the brainchild of Eve Ensler, playwright of the much- respected and powerful “The Vagina Monologues.”

According to, there are 7 billion people on the planet. Half are women. One third of them are raped or beaten.

One Billion Rising events include dance, self-defense classes, poetry readings, performing “The Vagina Monologues.” Go to

search_simple to find an event near you.

Deb Meritt


Vice president, Johnstown Chapter, NOW

Community kitchen appreciative of all

This year’s Red Rose Ball, which is the major fundraiser for Windber Area Community Kitchen, was another whopping success.

Because of the generous support of so many businesses, groups and individuals, we exceeded our expectations. This allows us the opportunity to grow. Thank you.

We also would like to thank the Red Rose Ball’s committee for its tireless efforts and countless hours of preparation.

WACK provides a place where the community comes together to enjoy a good meal and fellowship. It’s not a “soup kitchen,” there are no guidelines and no questions are asked. It’s open to anyone.

We all have needs, whether physical, social, financial or spiritual. It’s a place for the community to come together. We like to think of our kitchen as the family kitchen and invite you to join us.

Visit our website at or become our friend on facebook by entering Windber Kitchen.

Dee Fisher


Secretary, Windber Area Community Kitchen

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