The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 6, 2013

Readers' Forum 3-6 | We can just imagine what they say

Submitted by Readers

— Phil, a CEO from a leading oil company, and Sam, from the U.S. Department of Energy, were having a lunch outing at an exclusive country club.

Sam asked Phil: “What excuse are you going to give this year for the large increase in prices for gasoline and other oil products?”

Phil replied: “We are going to use the same old reasons that are always expected by the complacent American public. As long as we keep sending millions of dollars to Washington, D.C., to keep the House and Senate quiet, we do not see a problem with the increases. Plus, it keeps your job secure.”

“Oh, by the way, Sam,” Phil said, “our company is picking up your tab for this three-day outing.”

“Thank you,” Sam replied. “I owe your company. I plan to ask the news media not to publish the huge profits you enjoy at the expense of the uniformed American motoring public.

“Enough business, Phil. Let’s get back to the golf course.”

Joseph Sherwood

Twin Rocks

Expanding Medicaid good gov’t at work

Columnist Cal Thomas says (March 2) that governments at the state and federal levels have no obligation to help the weak and poor, insisting this is a charge to which “charities and religious bodies are obligated.”

Yet Thomas, like so many other constitutional conservatives, implores that our society must return to morality. Can there possibly be a greater moral imperative than granting protection and support to the weakest among us? Thomas must either forget this or he ignores this, just as he must have forgotten that the Constitution was ordained and established, in part, to “promote the general welfare.”

Our prosperity as a nation can be judged only by the least among us. And in Thomas’ mind, we were at a much better place when the charities and religious organizations were unable to keep people from starving during the Great Depression.

The right wing of this country loves to construct an “us against them” alternate reality when talking about their relationship to the government, laying aside the fact that our consent is necessary to be governed.

We are not subjects to a foreign crown; I am just as much a citizen of this country as Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) or President Obama. The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is a government of, for and by the people fulfilling its moral obligation to promote the general welfare and insure millions of uninsured Americans, myself included.

It’s strange but not surprising, that the author, as a member of the so-called “moral majority,” never considered this.

Todd H. Holsopple


Pet stores are good caregivers for dogs

In response to Joni Weaver (March 1, “Animals still suffering and no one answers”), I would like to submit that a reason the writer’s calls to the Pennsylvania Dog Law Enforcement Office go unanswered might be that the office has caller ID and they don’t have time to waste listening to people who repeat themselves with groundless accusations in an attempt to mislead public opinion.

The pet store she refers to is subject to inspection at any and all times, including whenever a legitimate issue is presented to Pennsylvania dog-law officials. These inspections are performed by a professional, knowledgeable officer who is much more informed than she realizes or cares to realize.

The lack of a fenced-in exercise area she mentioned is due to the fact that a  fence is  required only at a facility permanently housing animals for breeding, and not when puppies are being temporarily held for sale.

Sensationalizing by using such terms as “horror stories” only suggests malice of intent. Parvovirus is everywhere and an unfortunate adversary of dog animal husbandry. Before being put up for sale, puppies undergo a complete series of vaccinations that goes beyond state requirements.

A buyer is also offered a paid vet examination at a Cambria County or Blair County animal hospital.

A biased attitude and ignorance of facts are exposed when the writer says that dogs should never be obtained at a pet shop, rather from individuals who breed them. Or else adopt them from shelters.

At pet stores, their handling and care can be and are carefully monitored and regulated.

Robert Lawrence


Columnist’s ‘anti-gun’ argument faulty

Columnist Clarence Page (March 3) accuses the NRA of defending straw purchases. That is a lie. Straw purchases, where a person buys a gun for the purpose of transferring it to a felon or other prohibited person, are illegal, and no one I know, least of all the NRA, proposes legalizing them.

What the NRA and other Second Amendment-rights organizations oppose is forcing all private firearms transfers to go through the background check system. As criminals will not obey any such law, the burden of compliance would fall entirely on the law-abiding.

More importantly, universal background checks would form the basis for a de facto national gun registry. Registration has proved to be the stepping stone to confiscation, in California and New York City, as well as in other countries.

Justice Department documents indicate that universal background checks could not work without registration. Why impose one if there is no intention to impose the other?

Page also is wrong when he says no one is seriously talking about gun confiscation. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York recently said confiscation should be on the table. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in pushing her earlier ban on the sale of certain military-look rifles, said if she could have gotten a law passed to require all owners to turn them in, she would have done so.

Anti-gun propagandists exploit the Newtown tragedy to push an agenda that offers no answers to lower violent crime, while conveniently ignoring a salient fact: It was a “gun-free” zone.

Allan Walstad


Plant procedures, risks misrepresented                                                                                            In his March 1 letter, Craig Cernic, a Dornick Point Wastewater Treatment Plant employee, greatly misrepresented the facility’s operational procedures and the health risks associated with working there.

He states that sludge from the plant is mixed with lime and is applied to farmers’ fields. This is true. However, it is not true that crops harvested from these fields are sold to the public. The biosolids are used to fertilize feed crops for livestock and for environmental reclamation projects. They are forbidden to be used on crops ingested by humans.

Cernic is also correct that we utilize lime kiln dust (LKD) for our sludge-stabilization process. But using LKD is not new. We have used LKD and cement kiln dust for over 10 years. The savings realized in 2012 is factual as to the volume consumed and is not related to the cost difference of lime and LKD. The savings are the result of optimization.

His letter infers that LKD is more dangerous than lime because of the crystalline silica content. Both have the same content. Additionally, we have built in safeguards that reduce employee exposure to airborne dust, and employees are provided with protective equipment to further limit their exposure if conditions warrant.

Finally, as to the usefulness of the redevelopment authority, I have worked with Frank D’Ettorre, acting executive director, for 20 years. Together, we have strived to improve plant and system performance in a cost-effective manner, realizing that we are part of the public trust. We welcome the scrutiny customers of our system deserve. It would be a disservice to the rate payers for the authority to be disbanded, as Cernic suggests.

Jeffrey A. Mulligan

Chief plant operator


Cochran acoustics leave lot to be desired

I attended Greater Johnstown High School’s musical “Legally Blonde” on March 2. Once again, the performance of everyone on stage was fantastic. Once again, however, the acoustics at Cochran Auditorium were not so fantastic. Right from the start, you couldn’t hear, and throughout the show it was the same problem.

I saw only two microphones hanging down near the front of the stage. If you were standing underneath those microphones, it was fine. But any time a performer would step to the back or to his or her right or left, hearing was a problem.

Perhaps the microphone packs that some performers were wearing need to be updated also.

The music accompaniment was also very good, but since the audio sound from the ladies and gentlemen on stage was not up to par, the music drowned their voices, which didn’t help the matter.

I hope every school board member attended at least one of the shows to see and hear (or not hear) what I’m talking about.

If the sound system at Trojan Stadium or at Doc Stofko gymnasium was not sounding right, I’m sure it would be corrected immediately.

The students, teachers and musicians put in a lot of time and effort. They deserve to be heard.

Terry Hubbard

West End

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