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Featured In The Oct. 5th Issue Of The Susquehanna County Transcript

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Letters to the Editor Policy

Catechism for Catastrophe

What to do about New Orleans? That city amounts to what is in reality a hole in the Atlantic. Walls have been built keeping the ocean at bay. Billions have been spent and billions more will go into these walls, but in time the ocean will win once again. I say give the ocean her due. Abandon those parts of the city that are below sea level. Tear down the dikes and you destroy any chance of a similar tragedy. Rebuild the dikes and the stage is set for an encore performance of another Katrina.

The New Orleans dikes were built to withstand a cat 3 hurricane. The law of diminishing returns make it exponentially more expensive to go from a cat 3 to a cat 4 dike. And a cat 5 dike is off the charts. In short, the cost to fortify them to withstand another Katrina would be astronomical and take a decade to complete.

Compounding the problem is global warming. Oceanologists predict that by the year 2100 sea level will rise 4 inches to as much as a foot or more. Taking the medium figure of 8 inches means that for low-lying coastal cities the shoreline could creep closer to New Orleans by 2.25 miles in a little more than one lifetime. At the same time the city per se is slowly sinking. Facing off against Mother Nature is not a good idea. Another Katrina is inevitable, only time is the unknown.

Little would be lost by reflooding those areas pumped dry. The 150,000 houses now once again making an above-water appearance are ruined by a month's soaking in salt water. The buildings are thoroughly contaminated with sewage and petrochemicals. Their wooden frames are rotted. Their foundations no longer sound. These structures are being saved from the flood waters only to be razed at a later date. They are permanently uninhabitable.

Private insurers have the good sense not to insure property that is almost guaranteed to be flooded. Unfortunately the government lacks this sense and provides flood insurance, thus insuring that people will continue to build and rebuild where they ought not to build. If a person chooses to build where insurance is not available or is exorbitantly expensive, he has that right. But keep the government out of it and let private insurers and home builders decide where to locate.

What to do about New Orleans? Far be it from the government to have learned anything. It has demonstrated world-class incompetence and will have the chutzpah to demand yet more power, will spend a mother lode of dollars, and will make the situation worse.

Yes, the dikes will be repaired and fortified. And the government will continue to provide flood insurance. Homes constructed below sea level will be razed and rebuild onsite, courtesy of low-interest federal loans. New Orleans will recover – sort of. Then one summer's day a scion of Katrina will come roaring up the Gulf and the catechism of catastrophe will be played out once again.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

I Will Be Curious

I am the reporter (not from the Independent) who reported on the September 1 New Milford Borough meeting at which borough council member Rick Ainey informed council of talk he had heard about county Rail Authority plans to bring a rail yard to the Route 11 corridor. Councilman Ainey was not the only borough official present to have heard such talk. In the days following the council meeting, other area residents told me they heard similar reports.

At that New Milford meeting, and in my report, councilman Ainey did not say, as the Independent reported in an article in its September 14 issue, that the rumored rail yard "would" store chlorine-based or other toxic materials. In fact, he said "where who-knows-what" would be stored in the cars, including bad stuff.

The Independent article also did not report that councilman Ainey suggested at the borough's September 1 meeting that council send a letter to the Authority asking it to "calm our concerns or confirm the rumors," in the absence of public information forthcoming from the Authority.

Municipal officials, as you know, bring up matters of concern to their municipalities, whether it’s rumors of sewage problems, abandoned vehicles on property, economic development, or other concerns. That is what Ainey and other elected, municipal officials do. Making a concern public, and asking for confirmation or denial seems to have at least gotten the Rail Authority to make the public aware of its plans (to date) at its September 9 meeting.

The Independent also reported that Authority minutes show that Ainey did not attend any meeting in 2004. Had the Independent attended New Milford borough meetings in 2004, it would have heard councilman and then-Authority member Ainey report that he was no longer self-employed and had taken a new job with a company. Because of this, he could no longer continue to attend the morning, workday meetings of the Authority, and requested several times that the Authority reschedule its meetings for the evening when he  –  and most members of the public  –  could attend them.

Apparently, the Authority continues to hold its meetings at 10 on a weekday morning. And apparently, current members of the Authority can't make these meetings, either. At the September 9 meeting on which the Independent reported, I understand that only three current Rail Authority members showed up, meaning there were not enough members to make a quorum.

Unfortunately, I was not at the Authority's September 9 meeting. Like many county residents, the meetings my work schedule lets me attend are those scheduled for the evenings, when most public meetings, like those of our municipalities and school boards, are held, to allow for greatest transparency of their goings-on and for the convenience of not just much of the public, but also our municipal and school board officials.

However, I will be curious to find out if the minutes of the Authority's September 9 meeting include the Independent's report about councilman Ainey's absence at 2004 Authority meetings, which it reported, and Ainey's reasons for that absence, which it did not report. Also, if the minutes report that only three members were present, which the Independent also did not report.

By the way, it is common practice in the industry for a newspaper to give credit for news it reports and which was reported first by another newspaper.


Sandra Kazinetz

Hallstead, PA

Can’t Stand By

I’m not one to write Letters to Editors, but I can’t stand by any longer without saying something about the witch-hunt going on at East Lake. Most recently, your paper printed a letter from a woman, Barbara Shaw. Where she got her info is a mystery; talking bout E. coli virus from feces and toilet paper running onto the road. This just doesn’t happen. This mockery of justice has gone quite too far.

I have been a camper at the camp and East Lake and never saw, smelt or felt anything foul, at all. Quite the contrary. The Youngs run a tight ship in regard to cleanliness and I have witnessed Mr. Young instructing children on the values of cleanliness and safety. Their business is both a blessing and an asset to our community.

None of the allegations in Ms. Shaw’s letter are true, or even remotely represent what goes on at this site. There has been no spill, no contamination and no threat to our children. This entire campaign against the Youngs must somehow be politically motivated, and must be looked into.

Please, to all concerned residents, ask your government for the facts. What have they done wrong? Where is the contamination? Why have they been closed and reopened three times?

Put this to rest, now before we lose a worthwhile and environmentally friendly compound to lunacy.


Warren Handy

Montrose, PA

A Letter To My Patriot

The following essay, written by Mrs. Myrtle Carlson of Montrose and submitted to us by Mrs. Nan Baker, was the national winner of a contest sponsored by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is patriotic in theme and heartwarming to read. We are hoping you enjoy it as much as we did.

“Dear Sergeant Elijah Whiting,

It may surprise you to receive a letter from your great, great, great-granddaughter, the present Regent of the Montrose Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR for short.

You made it possible for me to join this wonderful organization, thanks to your heroic role in our nation’s War for Independence.

Imagine my surprise and delight when our National Archives provided me with a printout of your service record, W 18412 and I discovered that my hero, Sergeant Elijah Whiting, had been entrusted with the sacred task of pulling down the Union Jack and hoisting Old Glory after the decisive Battle of Yorktown.

I shiver when I read the orders you received when British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered there on October 19, 1781. “Elijah Whiting,” those orders read, “you must be ready when the order is given by General [Anthony] Wayne from the ramparts to march into the enemies’ camp and strike their colors and hoist the American flag in its place.”

“I most strictly obeyed,” you later wrote, “and when the signal was given, I, with the men whom I selected, marched into the enemies’ camp and with my own hands tore down the enemies’ colors and hoisted the American Flag in its place.”

Your response was rewarded with two badges of honor and set the standard for American valor for those wars our beloved country would encounter for years to come.

My own pride and patriotism knew no bounds as I submitted my application for DAR membership on the basis of your heroism. I received my DAR certificate on my 71st birthday, April 18, 1998, and began “to perpetuate your memory as a man who achieved American Independence.”

A year later, a surge of patriotism swept over me as I climbed up the grassy slope above the Visitors’ Center at Yorktown and viewed our flag unfurled in a light breeze. It wasn’t difficult to envision your hands pulling down the Union Jack and hoisting Old Glory!

In that moment, I also experienced a deeper appreciation for those brave US Marines who raised Old Glory at Iwo Jima during World War II. Of their sacrifices, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz declared, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

I thought of your valor again when members of the New York Fire Department raised our colors on 9/11, amid the smoke, ashes and rubble of the World Trade Center, making it clear to tyrants that Americans will forever defend “those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.”

Now in my second term as Regent of the Montrose Chapter, I proudly wear my patriot and Yorktown pins. During my pilgrimage at Yorktown, I purchased slides of the historic battle there and have shown them at our annual Flag Day luncheon.

As I studied your record, I found it particularly significant that you were discharged in June 1783, at West Point, where generations of cadets would take their motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.” Your generation set the standards for these leaders of the future.

At the same time, there is another side to your story, largely unsung, that further moves me to appreciate our blessed land. After your discharge, you forsook the implements of war for those of a man of peace.

You and your bride, Anna Faurot, were blessed with five girls and three boys. And you enjoyed a long life, until, at 90 years of age, you died and were buried at Alloway, NY. You may rest in that sure and certain knowledge that you helped to make our beloved country “the land of the free and the home of the brave.””

Greed, Greed, Greed!

The State Legislature recently pulled a middle-of-the-night “PAY GRAB” liken to “thieves in the night.” The Legislature circumvented the state constitution which prohibits lawmakers from voting themselves pay raises during their current terms by voting themselves “No Receipt,” unvouchered expenses ranging from 16% to 34% above their present salaries, exclusive of the extravagant 5.2% COLA received in January.

According to the Pennsylvania Economy League, Pennsylvania's Legislature is the most expensive in the country, an honor we could do without.

An added rub is the unbelievable “perks” such as free cars, gas, generous defined-benefit pensions, fully paid prescription coverage, free dental insurance, free vision insurance, free parking, walking-around money, fully paid life insurance, long-term care insurance, offices and staff, and a $128.00 daily reimbursement for every day the legislature is in session, whether they spend it or not.

That’s not all. Also, provisions built into this year’s “pay grab” is an automatic and inflated COLA increase and the lawmakers’ paychecks will go up each time the House or Senate in Washington, DC give themselves a raise.

I called Representative Sandra Major, whom I admire as a person, asking how she voted on this “pay grab” and she responded with, “yes.”

She went on to elaborate this was a difficult decision, but politics being what it is, she was thinking of her district and gaining bargaining power. She also gave several figures of cash benefits to various communities in her district but adding them all up, it doesn’t match her increase in salary; not even close.

In a telephone conversation with the State Attorney General’s Office, inquiring as to the legality of this “grab,” I learned the whole thing is presently in or will be litigated.

Somebody, please wake up! Government itself is too expensive.


Arthur Wermann

Montrose, PA

Many Thanks

We would like to thank everyone that donated and patronized our yard and bake sale that benefited the American Red Cross. We are proud to announce the final total of $400. Which Frito-Lay, Inc. is kind enough to match for a total donation of $800 to Red Cross. Thank you all very much.


Amanda and Mark Hendrickson


Stacie and Jess Hilton

What Are Constitutional Rights?

Now that the government’s in the process of selecting two new Supreme Court Justices, it’s fitting to take a look at the dimensions of our rights.

For many years, angry reactionaries have stoutly denied that the Constitution gives us any Right to Privacy. They do this because they zealously oppose abortion, and abortion was legalized on the basis of a Constitutional Right to Privacy.

Okay, then, since you don’t have a Right to Privacy, how about I peep through your bedroom window while you’re undressing? You have no basis for complaining, since you have no Right to Privacy.

How about letting anybody and everybody snoop through your personal documents if they feel like it? Like your tax forms. Or your medical records. (I’m sure your insurance company would like that.) Nothing you can say about it. You have no rights here.

I’m glad I’m not forced into that position. I agree with Justice Brandeis, that the whole thrust of limited, Constitutional government is so that we can be let alone! Privacy is inherent in the entire document.

You know, there are a lot of rights that we take for granted that aren’t specifically listed in the Bill of Rights. It would be impractical to do that. Like, where does it say you have a Right to Travel?

If you feel that only the rights specifically granted are valid, then as far as you’re concerned, your government could pass a law prohibiting you from leaving your state, your county, your town, even your house, and you have no standing to contest it. It’s not like the Constitution says you have a Right to Travel!

I take a more expansive view of our rights: We don’t merely have the freedoms specifically granted, we have ALL freedoms, except those specifically withheld. And that’s what the Founding Fathers intended. They resolved that issue with the Ninth Amendment. Read it sometime.

Oppose abortion if you will. Just don’t do it on the basis of us not having any Right to Privacy, since this could come back to haunt you. And if you want to ban abortion, you need to come up with a Constitutional justification for the state to commandeer a woman’s body, and to deprive her of her choice. Don’t claim she had no legitimate choice to begin with, that the Court “Made it up out of whole cloth.” (I’m so sick of dullards parroting that line.)

Nor should you complain that by legalizing abortion they were “making law.” They didn’t. They UNmade it. That’s their job. And I think that’s what rightists are really upset about.

Like when the Court ruled in 1962 and ’63 that state governments and local schools did not have the right to select and conduct prayer rituals for students. This protected the rights of individuals AND the right of parents to raise their children in their own traditions when they differ from the state’s illegally preferred variety. Few know that the Court made a point then of stating that individuals were still free to pray anytime – privately. As it should be.

Whose rights were violated by these much hated and misunderstood verdicts? No one’s. But the state’s usurpation of our individual rights was ended.

The care of our rights is the highest duty of the Supreme Court, but it ultimately rests with us. If enough of us resent that the Court keeps allegedly “creating” all these rights for us, don’t worry. They’ll go away, after we elect leaders who share this misguided resentment, who in turn appoint judges with the most antiliberty philosophy they can find. These rights will go, and more! In fact, it’s happening now.

We generally get the government we deserve, and if we want our freedoms curtailed, you can bet the government, slow in many regards, will be especially swift in complying in this case.


Stephen VanEck

Rushville, PA

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