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Letters to the Editor Policy

Constitutional Make-Believe

In a recent letter entitled "What Are Constitutional Rights?" Mr. Stephen VanEck defends abortion citing the right to privacy and decries those who insist that this right is not mentioned in the Constitution. I reply that search as you might the right to privacy is neither stated or implied in the Constitution: It simply isn't there.

Mr. VanEck goes on to say that if this supposed right of privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, then what is to stop someone from peeping through windows, rummaging through private papers, or just coming uninvited into a stranger's home and have a cup of coffee while leisurely observing anyone he cared to watch?

What stops such a busybody is the law. Since privacy is not addressed in the Constitution, it is left to the states. And all the states have statutes outlawing voyeurism and trespass, and laws protecting private property.

Mr. VanEck makes the point that there are innumerable rights not mentioned in the Constitution. He asks, Are we not, therefore, vulnerable because they are not addressed in the Constitution? All right. Here is one such right not covered in the Constitution: I propose that the color green be outlawed. Anyone wearing or displaying such a color is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both. Note that the right to ban colors is not mentioned in the Constitution, so what then protects our right to wear green?

Since, like abortion and the right to privacy, the banning of colors is not mentioned in the Constitution it is left to the states to pass or reject such legislation. Of course no state would ever consider banning a color or legislate senselessness into law, but some states would doubtless consider the issue of abortion. It is there, with the states, and in accord with the Tenth Amendment, where the decision should be made: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.”

And if the decision making power on extra-constitutional matters does not rest with the states and the people, it will reside with the libertine linguistics of despotic judges imagining constitutional rights where none exist.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

Throw Us Out

I remember, eleven years ago, on September 27, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay and the Republican party rode to power in the US House of Representatives on the infamous "Contract with America". I remember them railing against "special interests" and the "cycle of scandal and disgrace" in Washington. Isn't it amazing how much truth there is to the old saying "what goes around comes around"? Today, their contract lies in shreds, a victim of the worst corruption, greed, cronyism, political spin and hypocrisy in years.

Now, we have Tom DeLay under indictment and Bill Frist being investigated for possible "insider trading" (remember Martha Stewart?); let's see if Bill Frist is investigated as vigorously. We have our own Representative in hot water for his affair and indiscretions, but they want to "wait" until after the 2006 election to bring that case to trial. Don't we, as constituents of the 10th Congressional District deserve to know if he was cleared before he asks us for another term? If the trial is "after" 2006, don't we have a moral obligation to vote him out? Or, are our morals "selective" when it comes to the powerful and money?

Meanwhile, the real wages of American workers are lower than in 1972, the widest gap now exists between the richest and the poorest Americans since 1929. Poverty is at an all-time high, and I'm sure it will get worse as the Katrina saga plays out.

The minimum wage is worth the lowest amount since 1949, the middle class is disappearing along with the so called high-tech "knowledge" jobs that were supposed to replace manufacturing employment.

Now, the Republican controlled Congress is using Hurricane Katrina to justify scaling back social contracts such as Medicare and Medicaid, while they are pushing to extend the tax cuts for the oil industry (which is making record profits) and the richest among us. They are pushing to repeal the "estate tax" and make it permanent. The estate tax applies to less than 1% of people who died last year. Hardly anybody pays the estate tax currently. Anyone receiving over $3.5 million as an individual, or $7 million as a couple, would pay estate taxes. Eliminating the estate tax would cost taxpayers $1 trillion over the next decade, just when Social Security will start to dip into its Trust Fund, while the current leadership is trying to sell us privatization of Social Security. Same scam, with another name, all the while helping their friends on wall street. You tell me who this leadership is helping?

In the 1994 press conference announcing the "Contract with America", Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay said, "If we break this contract, throw us out". I think that's what we need to do.


Karen Hoffman

New Milford, PA

I Was Accepted!

I am proud to say that I have recently been nominated and accepted to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law in Washington, D.C. from November 1 – 6, 2005. This will give me the opportunity to view the workings of the nation’s highest court!

I am a junior at Susquehanna Community High School and have maintained Honor Roll status in an all-advanced curriculum. My extracurricular activities include SCHS Girls Volleyball, SCHS Girls Softball, Ski Club, SCHS Envirothon Team and SCHS Senior Chorus. I have also been an active member of North Jackson Ag 4-H for the past five years where I show rabbits, as well as the club News Reporter for the third year. I received an award for Outstanding 4-H News Reporter of Susquehanna County for 2003 and 2004. I have also served as altar server at St. Martin of Tours Church for the past five years, as well as acting as Stage Manager for the recent production of Nunsense performed by the church. I work part-time at the Old Church Emporium on weekends, as well as babysitting during the week before school.

I first became interested in law and politics in my seventh-grade Civics class with Mrs. T. Stone; but I also find forensic investigation very interesting. I aspire toward my uncle, who practices law in the D.A.’s office North Jersey, and also serves his country as Commander in U.S. Naval Reserve. I also aspire toward my late cousin, who was a litigation attorney in Vermont.

I plan to begin visiting colleges this school year with my family. My plan is to attend a four-year PA university with a major in Political Science before attending law school.

I sincerely appreciate the financial sponsorships from local organizations and businesses which will allow me to explore my career interests.


Kaitlin T. Flor

Starrucca, PA

Where To Cut Spending

With the costs of reconstruction for Katrina driving up the federal deficit, it would seem prudent to rescind our huge tax giveaways to the rich. But since, to Republicans there’s no priority higher than looking out for our poor, oppressed rich, this option is off the table. What will happen instead will be us borrowing the additional $200 billion or so, mostly from our “friend” China. And passing on the ultimate costs of the ballooned National Debt to future generations – the “Birth Tax.” This, from a party that likes to stress how “moral” they are.

Since we won’t be raising the additional funds needed, that leaves cutting spending as the only way out of a debt quagmire. That august and esteemed gentleman, Tom DeLay, prior to his recent corruption indictment, offered his observation that there really isn’t much left to cut from spending, either. Let’s prove him wrong. Here are my suggestions for the budget ax:

1. Military Spending – cut every weapons system designed to fight the Soviet Union that are useless against Terrorism.

2. Congressional Pay, Perks, and Staff – states should fund their own federal representatives. If they did, there’d be less largesse, and more accountability.

3. Corporate subsidies – they should be getting by on Free Enterprise, not handouts.

4. The Prescription Drug Plan – repeal it entirely. It was a fraud to begin with; more corporate subsidy than a real help to seniors.

5. The Highway Bill – delete all the pork, especially Don Young’s “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska.

6. Flood Insurance and Reconstruction for developments on barrier islands and sand bars, where they don’t belong.

7. The Faith-Based Initiative – churches need to raise their own money. Making us all pay for their stealth proselytism is unconstitutional, and unfair to non-Christians.

If cuts like these are not implemented, or taxes raised on the wealthy, we eventually face a fiscal Titanic. Will our Representatives wise up? Start building your own lifeboat.


Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

Safest Form Of Transportation

October 16 through October 22 is National School Bus Safety Week. Most people do not realize that school bus transportation continues to be one of the safest forms of ground transportation. In fact, a school bus is 28 times safer than a passenger car. This is no accident. It is through the efforts of hard working and dedicated professionals, particularly the drivers, that makes this so.

Our tremendous safety record is due to tough federal and state regulations, extensive school bus driver training and review and our commitment to safety. School busing is a much more complex and demanding job than most people realize or appreciate. It is supported by an extensive network of personnel including mechanics, dispatchers and driver safety trainers. The vehicles are designed, built and equipped for the safety of the children they are used to transport. They are operated during the busiest travel periods of the day and in all types of road and weather conditions.

The problem is that our best efforts can only deliver a part of the results. An awareness of the law and the behavior of the driving public remain a critical element in the safety of the children we transport to and from school. Too many times school bus drivers report motorists passing stopped school buses when they are picking up or discharging students. School buses are equipped with an 8-way lighting system. The amber (yellow) lights will begin flashing between 300 feet and 150 feet before the school bus stops. During this time, the motorist must prepare to stop. When the school bus stops, the red lights will begin flashing and the side-stop arm will be extended. All motorists meeting or following the bus must be stopped at least ten feet from the bus and are not to proceed until the red lights are no longer activated and students have reached a place of safety. Pennsylvania law is quite simple to remember; a motorist must always stop for a school bus when the red lights are flashing. There are no exceptions. This includes fire engines, ambulances, police cars and funeral processions. If a motorist fails to stop for a school bus, it is an automatic 60-day suspension of their driver’s license, five points on their record and a $100 fine.

School bus safety is also influenced by activity on the bus. The driver has to contend with weather and road conditions and maintain an awareness of all activity around the bus, driveways, intersections, people, pets and wildlife. While a driver has all this to consider outside the bus, he need not be distracted by misbehavior inside the bus. Rules are provided for students to follow while riding the bus and are there to maintain a safe and orderly environment. Parents/guardians should serve as role models and instruct their children in appropriate and socially acceptable behavior on a school bus as well as everywhere else. The driver should be accorded the respect he has earned and deserves.

Observe School Bus Safety Week, every week. It could save a life.


Montrose Area School District

Contractors and Drivers

On Another Planet?

P. Jay Amadio, in your article you state that Commissioner Kelly told you the remaining Restoration Committee members can oversee the (memorial restoration) work and that the other commissioners appear to share her feelings. You state that you think it a good choice. Have you been on another planet? I am sure you were present to hear the motion by Commissioner Loomis to appoint the representatives from the American Legion, V.F.W., and the Marine Corps League, which died for a lack of a second by either Kelly or Warren. They may claim there is no need to involve the veterans on the Monument Restoration Committee, but recent events prove otherwise. It is apparent that Ms. O’Malley doesn’t wish to relinquish control of a committee she is obviously, and so ineffectually, running virtually by herself. If adding members to the committee isn’t necessary, why, then, were there six original members and why isn’t the monument restoration completed? Of course Commissioner Kelly will back her cousin Ms. O’Malley and, of course, Commissioner Warren will follow in lockstep as usual. The problem is that they choose to ignore the fact that Ms. O’Malley has not gotten the job done and their blind naiveté makes them believe that there is no real problem. The monument restoration, under concerned, competent management and supervision would not likely be in the shoddy condition it is in now. Veterans performing that duty would have a vested interest in a proper completion. Commissioner Loomis asked me to form a committee of veterans from the various organizations. The members and the organizations represented have proven records of success in the face of untold adversity. It would appear Commissioners Kelly and Warren would rather fight Commissioner Loomis than see the proper completion of the monument. The fact that Commissioners Kelly and Warren refuse to utilize the combined expertise of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and the Marine Corps League, proves an appalling lack of responsibility and an unequaled attitude of apathy.

As for C & D’s assurances, all that has been received is one sentence to Commissioner Loomis in an email: July 20, 2005 – “Please feel assured that we intend to correct anything that did not turn out properly.” To my knowledge no SIGNED written assurance has yet been received nor has there been a timeline submitted for completion. Since that email, C & D has only taken three of the tablets to their shop for repair. There is no evidence that they plan to correct the cracks in the remaining tablets, refinish the mottling of the base, or refinish the cannons. Would any sensible businessman trust such a flimsy assurance in light of their past record and present tacit appeasement? Why would Commissioners Kelly and Warren?

Ms. O’Malley informed Frank Kwader that he would, as a member of the committee, research a history of all the names of the dead listed on the tablets for a dedication brochure. That was her idea for utilizing the veterans to complete the restoration? That is competent prioritizing? She is quick to point out that the monument isn’t completed due to a wet year in 2004. So why wasn’t it corrected in this a dry year? What has Ms. O’Malley done? The cannons were to have the carriages removed, repaired and reassembled then stripped of old paint and painted matte black. The old paint is underneath a glossy black paint and I doubt any repair was completed. Why haven’t these issues been addressed by the committee? Why isn’t the committee addressing them now? If, as Commissioner Kelly has said, the remaining members of the Restoration Committee will make certain the contractor lives up to their obligations, what are they going to do differently? So far they have a dismal record. When can we expect to see results? What has Ms. O’Malley done besides head the committee of the most disastrous county project since Colonial Hall?


Fred B. Baker, II

Meshoppen, PA

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