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Letters to the Editor Policy

Shocking And Frightening

In response to a Letter to the Editor with the title, “More Than Lip Service” that appeared in the February 23 edition of this paper, I'd like to lend support to Hilary Caws-Elwitt's concern over the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General and the request that President Bush made to Congress to extend the "Patriot Act".

That Americans would accept a man who thinks torture is an acceptable method of interrogation to serve in any public office is shocking and very frightening, considering that it is such a high position. History has shown, repeatedly that what the people allow their government to do to "others" (i.e., those perceived as being outside typical community life) it will eventually do to everyone. Yes, behaving as badly as those we find uncivilized makes us no better. Whatever has happened to America that our leaders have become cruel and inhumane, only we, the people, can change.

As for the Patriot Act removing the vital system of checks and balances and infringing upon the Rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, the checks and balances on governmental power has been and continues to be compromised. A prime example is allowing attorneys, who are officers of the court (judicial branch), to also serve in both the legislative branch and the administrative branch. Wouldn't such individuals avoid stepping on 'judicial toes' in their legislative or administrative duties if they feared loss of their licenses to practice law?

The Constitution itself is completely disregarded every day by those who swore to uphold it right here in Susquehanna County, so why are we surprised when the President makes light of it? So far, in two cases I was involved with in the Court of Common Pleas, due process of law and trial by jury (the Fifth and Seventh Amendments in the Constitution as well as our Pennsylvania Constitution) were denied me. When we allow our public officials to flagrantly disregard the law which they swore to uphold, we cannot expect to have a just and honorable government!

For concerned people who'd like to discuss the issues and possible remedies, join our bi-weekly gatherings. Call Claudia at 434-4846.


Claudia Montelione

Harford, PA

When Will Our Tax Increases End?

This is a painful time for senior citizens and I will have to commend Marvin Glover on the letter he wrote recently concerning tax increases. He wrote what we were thinking.

I am a senior citizen, living on a limited income. I almost cried when I received my taxes in the mail and observed that they increased $113.73 from last year, which made them more than the tax rebate of $500.00 would cover. It leads me to ask, why does New York State have the STAR program, which I understand absorbs most of the cost of taxes imposed on people with limited incomes?

My husband (now deceased) and I have paid our fair share of taxes all the years our children and grandchildren have been in school and never complained, but, this is getting out of hand. Elected officials have forced senior citizens out of their homes and into subsidized places to live.

What’s fair about that? After working all their lives to have a decent home of their own, why should they have to lose it?

I’m not ready to live in a subsidized place yet and I am trying to hold onto the memories I have left.

I can imagine most of Susquehanna County feels the way I do and I’m sure they dread to see their fall taxes, just like I do.

One home I’m sure I won’t have to lose to taxes is “my heavenly home.”


JoAnn Shofkom

Susquehanna, PA

We’ve Made Real Progress

As Susquehanna County Commissioners, we feel that it’s important to keep you, the taxpayers, informed with correct information on what changes and plans have taken place in county government.

Accountability has improved via our full-time presence in the Courthouse. The Commissioners job requires time actually spent working every day, usually 35 to 40 hours per week at the Courthouse plus various other meetings and functions after hours and on weekends.

With 190 employees, six union contracts, health and insurance issues, and personnel issues, there was an immediate need to hire a qualified personnel director.

Our hiring practices require the most qualified person for each position filled. This requires verification of credentials and personal interviews with input from department heads and our personnel director.

We have implemented regular department head meetings to open up the lines of communication and to address concerns and cost savings measures.

The personnel policy manual has been revised to correlate with the ever changing labor laws and contracts.

Four of six union contracts are negotiated (so far) with cost savings.

Accessible to the public, scheduled meetings with various business organizations and taxpayers.

Completing a long overdue elevator project that will service the four floors of the Courthouse. This project was mandatory to comply with the American Disabilities Act. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 7.

To create needed space for two departments located on the main floor we (commissioners) gave up our established offices and moved down the hall. This decision was in an effort to enhance the efficiency of those departments and create a better working environment.

Eliminated an economic development department that cost $127,000 annually to run and replaced it with an outside source at a savings of $110,000 for 2005. There will be a local contact for development and infrastructure issues in Susquehanna County.

Established an Advisory Board for EMA and 911 to help streamline the efficiency of both departments. There is a  need to track the constant revenue sources made available by the state and federal government. The concerns related to this department can affect the whole county (mapping, readdressing, emergency services, and communication).

Actively pursuing growth potential with interested companies looking to locate in Susquehanna County, to enhance the economic picture for Susquehanna County.

Pursuing security issues related to the buildings, researching new methods used in protecting our employees. Taking the initiative to apply for grants provided for this high priority issue.

Locating new space for two of our District Justice offices. This is required for the safety of those that work in these offices and will go hand in hand with the state grant applied for to implement security cameras, shatterproof glass, and holding areas all in an effort to improve security and general safety.

Following the suggestions of our independent auditors and implementing policies that are created to ensure fiscal responsibility.

The first two years of any term in office are usually spent on issues related to streamlining the efficiency of how that organization runs. We, the Susquehanna County Commissioners, have made real progress and will continue to do so in the next three years, in an effort to keep taxes in balance and still improve the quality and efficiency of our county government.


Roberta Kelly, Chairman

Jeff Loomis, Vice Chairman

MaryAnn Warren, Commissioner

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Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. At that time you may request to withhold your name. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

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