The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 13, 2014

Readers' Forum 1-13 | Commissioners deserve our thanks

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — I want to thank Cambria County Commissioners Mark Wissinger and Doug Lengenfelder for passing the third budget that does not raise property taxes.

The county was in very bad fiscal condition when they came into office, but by implementing innovative cost-cutting and savings measures, they have turned Cambria County toward a better financial future.

It would have been easy for them to raise our taxes. Instead, they made tough decisions and prioritized budget items.

They instituted zero-based budgeting, meaning that county offices start with a zero budget and must justify their requests. The federal government uses baseline budgeting, where agencies get an automatic, annual percentage increase in their budgets and if they don’t spend it all, they risk not getting as much the next year.

If Uncle Sam used zero-based budgeting, taxpayers would save billions annually.

Special thanks to Lengenfelder for his tireless efforts to bring jobs to Cambria County. On his own time and at his own expense, he has made many trips to “sell” Cambria County to business and industry leaders and government and military officials. He has many contacts from his career as an Air Force colonel, combat pilot and military diplomat in South America and Europe. The pending Foreign Trade Zone and the Aspen Water Treatment Plant in Johnstown are just two examples of his work that, hopefully, will bring hundreds of jobs to Cambria County.

Please re-elect Wissinger and Lengenfelder.

Martin Yahner

Yahner Bros. Farm, Patton

Can’t understand disrespect of Obama

According to Bob Bonini’s letter of Jan. 7, “Media’s bias toward Obama,” concerning the attack on our embassy in Benghazi, he thinks the people responsible should have been captured and executed by now. It doesn’t work that way.

Before 9/11, President George  W. Bush was told that the CIA had information of a pending attack on the United States. Bush did absolutely nothing to prevent it. What he did do was invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

Over 4,000 U.S. servicemen and women have been killed and thousands seriously injured. Over 100,000 innocent Iraq civilians were killed. My advice is to calm down and stop watching Republican-controlled Fox News. President Obama will get those responsible for Benghazi, just like he got Osama bin Laden.

Also, I have to disagree with Rev. Tony Joseph’s letter of Jan. 7, “Obama’s legacy is unflattering.” He says, “If our health system isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” When you have 46 million people without health insurance, it’s broken.

When I was born, Herbert Hoover was president. I don’t remember a time when a president was treated with such disrespect. Obama has been portrayed by the tea party as Hitler, a liar, a Marxist, even a clown wearing an Obama mask in a rodeo. A Confederate flag was burned in front of the White House.

This hatred for Obama because he is African-American might appeal to the extreme right of the Republican party. But as the good Lord said, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Ralph A. Swank


Government spending is for common good

A recent ABC-News survey showed that 80 percent of those polled believed that the greatest threat to America comes from big government.

I assume their fears, which they hold more greatly than terrorism, war, any health pandemic, poverty or any other serious issues faced in America, are partially based on  government spending and the accompanying taxation.

Perhaps this fear of big government would not exist if those 80 percent believed that the vast majority of those monies spent by the government were for the greater good of our nation.

A brief look at the federal budget reveals that over 90 percent of our budget is spent on three things: defense, interest on the national debt, and monies to our citizens in the form of wages, pensions or subsistence payments and medical care for the elderly, the poor and the disabled, including our veterans.

If our needs for national security grow in an ever more dangerous world, and if our aging population requires more in subsistence and pension payments, this expansion of big government should be seen as a positive thing.

Human needs, including that of feeling secure within our borders, are being met.

If taxation over these past 75 years had been at a level that would meet government spending, no national debt would exist. Instead of balancing the budget, our government has placed a greater priority on providing more money to individuals and corporations to use as they please.

The possibility or advisability of any drastic spending cuts cannot be justified or implemented.

Richard J. Holsinger


Rodman smitten with Kim Jung Un

Watching Dennis Rodman singing “Happy Birthday” to Kim Jung Un was eerily reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe serenading President Kennedy.

Barbara Bruce