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Letters to the Editor Policy

What Is A Demagogue?

Does anyone know what the word demagogue means?

As I read through the last week’s newspapers I am astounded on what I am reading. Santorum is trying to get reelected in PA. Wow if that does not make the people of PA stand up and scream I don’t know what will. (From the PA farmers who sell products for world market prices, to the steel men in Pittsburgh who have closed their doors and have lost their jobs, to the average person working for a minimum wage or soon will be forced to.)

The whole thing is why? I am sure your readers are up to date on these things. I am also sure that the people who read this paper know how bad things are. And how good other things are. I am sure that the ones who care enough to read an editorial page should see by now that the richest of the rich control our future at a cost that they can never pay back, never intended to, and they see that the small numbers of concerned citizens can't change it now.

Young people who should be able to vote don't, or just don't care. Do you know who knows all this, yes you’re right, our elected officials. I know that a few of them know, because I told them years ago, I showed them in black and white and still they pocketed the lobbyists money, or had affairs, or just hung their heads in disbelief. The richest of the rich lead them down America’s path of internal destruction.

It appalls me to think that we as Americans, sit back and enjoy the ra! RA! at the many parties held each election day because their man or woman won. Blinded by the excitement and so wrapped up in their Party that they just don't see what truly is happening. Kids buy foreign shoes, clothes, wear hats backwards and pants made by some third world country that hang around their hips like I am not sure what. When all this time, other countries are reaping the profits that we, as Americans used to spend in America. Other countries are laughing at us and waiting to move in for the kill! Why I ask?

Buy American, support American goods and recreate American jobs, put more farmers to work at a living wage and build shoe factories and dress factories and steel mills and automobile plants and bring back the American pride and then we could sustain our country’s economic wellness. BUY AMERICAN!

Unfortunately, it ain't happening! Why should big business pay high wages to us voters when they can give millions to a Senator, who says he will do what we want, then have goods made somewhere cheaper so they make tenfold the money.

Maybe you can ask yourselves one question, what Is a Demagogue? I just don't know anymore.

I do know one thing though, the American farmers were forced to consolidate their farms to large conglomerates in order to survive at world market prices and I know when the bird flu hits us in America whose fault it will be; it will be the senators and congressmen and the richest of the rich.


Peter A. Seman

Thompson, PA

Are We A “Faction”

Wayne County Commissioner Donald Olsommer has called Lieutenant Robert Weldy (U.S. Navy retired) and myself a "faction." That "faction" includes 39 residents of Starrucca and I'm honored to be in their company.

On January 10, Starrucca council President Kirk Rhone presented a Community Development Block Grant application for Buck Bridge. On behalf of 39 signers of a petition, I presented an alternative application requesting monies for cost overruns associated with the Shadigee Creek wall project. The Commissioners stated they couldn't interfere with local government's decisions. Mr. Olsommer stressed they wouldn't get involved between "two factions." Commissioner Herzog refused to sign the application, but suggested I ask President Rhone to sign it. Mr. Rhone refused.

Perhaps the Wayne County Commissioners should drive to Starrucca and view the two projects presented for CDBG approval. Then maybe the Commissioners could explain to residents why rehabilitation of a "bridge to nowhere" is more important than preserving the health and safety of the residents of Starrucca Borough. Perhaps the Commissioners would like to spend a day next to the collapsed wall when Shadigee Creek swells with heavy rains.

I submit the Shadigee Creek Wall project is being held hostage by Councilmen: Kirk Rhone, Fred Rhone, Robert Buck, Donald Haynes, Jr., Helen Haynes, Anthony Palonis and newly appointed FEMA agent, Darl Haynes. Council is behaving irrationally, with a total disregard to protecting the public safety of residents.

I wish to assure Mr. Olsommer: the only thing I "dislike" is his behavior and the irresponsible actions of the Starrucca Council and the Commissioners with regard to public safety. The reporter restated some of my comments, so I am willing to assume that Mr. Olsommer's comments were also paraphrased.

In closing, I say to Starrucca Council and the Wayne County Commissioners, shame on you for ignoring an emergency situation. I remind you that the Sunshine Act requires time for public comment; so next time you're addressed by any citizen male or female, pull your head out of your papers and listen. Then perhaps you would understand the current condition of the creek wall poses a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of Starrucca citizens.


Loreda S. Everett

Starrucca, PA

Jeopardizing FEMA Project

Starrucca Borough was awarded FEMA funds in 2005 for the repair of the Shadigee Creek wall. The required paperwork for DEP permits (GP-11) was submitted by Paul Everett, FEMA representative for the Borough at that time and the contract was awarded to Ken Rausch of Montrose, PA.

On January 18, 2006, Kirk Rhone (newly-elected President of Starrucca Council) and Darl Haynes (resident) contacted DEP and requested the GP-11 be returned. This request was made without authorization from Council - a direct violation of the Sunshine Act - and has stopped the permit process required to proceed with this project. A.G. Howell, Esq. (newly-appointed Borough Solicitor) has been reviewing the FEMA file, according to Mr. Rhone – a file that was supposedly sent to Mr. Howell before January 18. A copy of the GP-11 was in the file. How do I know? I maintained the file for 2005.

The urgency to continue with the repair of the Shadigee Creek wall is detrimental to Starrucca Borough. Anyone who has seen this creek turn into a raging river under flood conditions knows the danger that exists to life and property. In a separate action this year, DEP instructed Council to clean up the debris in the creek within 14 days. A call to Ken Rausch would have taken care of the DEP request, but Council instead asked for an extension of time from DEP and never contacted Ken Rausch. The funds awarded for this project are under a time-frame imposed by FEMA. Is it Council’s intention to ask (again) for an extension? Or, is it Council’s intention to never repair the wall and turn back the FEMA funds? Why is Starrucca Borough Council continuing to jeopardize this project while placing their priority on the CDBG and Buck Road bridge (a repair needed to maintain the “infrastructure”, per Darl Haynes)? The heart of this borough is “downtown”, not across a bridge that leads to nowhere other than Buck Falls, on a road that is no longer maintained by Thompson Township and Susquehanna County.


Pat Schneyer

Starrucca Borough

A Unique Opportunity

Each year, the President of the United States declares March “Red Cross Month.” This annual event provides a unique opportunity to think about the important role the Red Cross has plays every day right here in Susquehanna County.

When we look back on 2005, we think about the huge disasters we read about in the paper and watch on television. The coverage regarding the tsunami halfway around the world and the devastating hurricane this season galvanized communities into action. But right here in Susquehanna County, the disasters your Red Cross responded to were no less devastating for those affected by them.

During 2005, the chapter taught 144 lifesaving health and safety training courses including first aid, CPR and more; we’ve helped 23 military families with emergency communication; we’ve responded to 15 fires, leaving 13 families with little but the clothes on their backs; we collected 1463 units of blood; we’ve provided over 250 clean up kits during flooding, held 11 blood pressure screenings and more. And that’s just in one year!

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like without the Red Cross. It’s true that I would have more time to spend with my loved ones, which I’m sure they’d appreciate. But how can I weigh that time against the many people who depend on the Red Cross for help? As the executive, my role overseeing the chapter is a pretty big job! But by being so intimately involved with the day to day operations, I’ve come to better appreciate our staff and many volunteers for the sacrifices they make to help their neighbors here in Susquehanna County. During this March, please take the some time to think about our Red Cross and what life would be like here in Susquehanna County without them.

I thank each and every one of you who have in some way helped the Red Cross keep our doors open to those in need. Whether you are a dedicated volunteer, you’ve taken a class or used one of our other services, your support has shown us that you not only appreciate what we do but you need us.


Becky Naylor

Executive Director

The Siren Call Of Democracy

The Siren call of democracy is fulgent with hope, but at times grim with reality; heroic with expectations, yet often confronted with dismal failures. Think for a moment about Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Northern Ireland; three nations with two factors in common: democracy and protracted strife. Democracy is merely another form of government, sometimes and in some places it works, at other times and in other places its promises have proven illusionary.

Nevertheless, it is democracy that our government is determined to install in Iraq. But what would happen if Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria held free elections? Would peace and love reign supreme? Would all the Muslims join hands with the Jews and sing, "Cum Ba Ya?" Or would there almost certainly be a sweep of radical Islamic groups with a score to settle with Israel and the United States?

Consider the recent democratic elections of Hugo Chavey in Venezuela, who hates the United States, Evo Morales in Bolivia, who hates the United States even more, and the Palestinian Islamic terrorist group, Hamas, who hates everyone. Democratic rule can bring to power the political extremists and religious fanatics.

But surely our effort to bring the rule of the people to Iraq is meeting with success. True, Iraq had its first free elections this year. But the result for the United States and for the Middle East is dire. The Muslim Shiite majority (65% of Iraq), long suppressed by Saddam Hussein, was voted into power. And the Shiites are looking to give their former suppressers, the Sunni Muslims (37% of that nation), their come-up-ins. It's called civil war, and the United States is right in the middle. It's analogous to standing on the scrimmage line in an NFL playoff.

Now for the bad news. Iran, like Iraq is also a Muslim nation, 89% Shiite, and 10% Sunni. The paradoxical result of Iraq's free, democratic elections was to unite the Shiite majorities of radical Islam in Iraq and Iran. Want to guess against whom they are united?

It is not widely known that Iran was once a parliamentary democracy. In 1951, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was elected prime minister on the hugely popular platform of extricating his country from British control and obtaining a greater share of its oil revenues. Negotiations with the British failed and Prime Minister Mossadegh nationalized the oil industry. That went over with the British like a revival meeting in a synagogue.

The British got together with the Americans, the CIA planted provocateurs, and engineered a coup. The democratically elected government of Mossadegh was overthrown in 1953 and the Shah, a virtual dictator, was installed. And what was the first act of the Shah? He un-nationalized his country's oil industry, gave the Brits back their prize, and for its efforts the U.S. got 40% of Britain's oil profits. Good business for all – all except the Iranians.

The Shah's CIA puppet government and feared secret police were not surprisingly despised. In 1979 the Shah was overthrown. Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in France to form a new government. A referendum was overwhelmingly passed approving Iran as an Islamic republic. In hindsight, few would argue that the parliamentary republic under Prime Minister Mossadegh was better than a radical Islamic republic controlled by Ayatollah Khomeini. Thank you CIA.

Recently, the terrorist organization, Hamas, was democratically elected to take the helm of the Palestinian territories. In an official communiqué from Iran to the new government, Tehran offered to overlook the allegiance of the Palestinian's to the Sunni branch of Islam in the interest of their common hatred of Israel and the United States. Was this a trail balloon to other predominately Sunni nations such as Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia? (Hint: Is the Pope Catholic?)

The United States has backed dictators in Africa, South America, and the Middle East – including Saddam Hussein – for decades. Yet, without a sense of hypocrisy the administration of President George W. Bush continues to proselytize democracy as the one-size-fits-all government. But is it possible that the best form of rule for a nation is one that by design or default is the one it already has?

President Bush's sanctification of democracy brings to mind a tale told by Aesop. A sacred image was being carried to a temple on the back of an ass. As the ass strode by, the people bowed their heads reverently, some even fell on their knees, still others cheered enthusiastically and applauded the image. Now the ass, being a fool, became puffed up with pride and vanity thinking the cheering was for him. He halted and began braying loudly to acknowledge the plaudits of the crowd. But the ass' owner incensed that his animal had stopped and was braying so annoyingly gave the animal a good thrashing.

Aesop's fable warned against taking credit that is due to others. But perhaps you can discern another message in this cautionary parable: a charactery of our policy in the Middle East. If so, I have three unsettling questions: What is the false idol? Who is the braying ass? And who are the reverent and cheering spectators?


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

This Time It Will Really Hurt!

Despite some people telling dairy farmers that prices won’t be too bad this spring, dairy farmers’ prices will be crashing towards the $12.00 per cwt level, or even a little lower, unfortunately. (This should not be happening!) When you see the Chicago Mercantile Exchange prices on cheese and butter drop to the $1.15 per lb. level, and when you realize these levels of prices forced the Order I statistical price down to the $11.60 per cwt level in the year 2003, then prices paid to dairy farmers in the spring and early summer of 2006 could come close to the 2003 level, unless there is a miracle.

There was much pain felt by dairy farmers in 2002-03 because of low milk prices, but the pain will be far greater in 2006 as a result of severe escalating energy costs. These costs affect the farmers in many different ways. These lower milk prices are not a result of the make allowance hearing that was held the week of January 24, 2006. If the additional make allowance deduction is approved, the price of milk could go even lower.

A dairy farmer called me recently and asked, “How much more can we take?” Yes, the milk income loss payments will help, but these payments don’t cover 66% of the milk, at all. And, whoever said $16.94 per cwt price for Class I milk (milk used for fluid purposes) is high enough?

If the United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives want to preserve the dairy industry in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and surrounding states then our elected officials must come to grips with the inadequate way that milk is priced at the farm level and then onto the rest of the industry.

We call upon our elected officials to stop using the Milk Income Loss Payments as a salvation for the dairy farmers. Let us stop using taxpayers’ money to subsidize an antiquated milk pricing system. Many of our elected officials have been screaming out against the Bush Administration for promoting a three-cent per cwt tax on dairy farmers in the upcoming budget (as they should be). However, I haven’t heard any of them take issue with Agri-mark’s proposal to increase the make allowance in the Federal Orders by up to 45 cents per cwt. This 45 cents will lower all dairy farmers’ pay price. One elected official said to me, “Oh, I thought it was just affecting Agri-mark’s members.” He further said, “That’s what I was told in Washington.” I don’t hear anyone screaming about the 45 cent deduction, nor the possible drop of $3.00 per cwt to all dairy farmers. That’s something to be concerned about!

While our elected officials are at it, why not look into the trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and find out why such a small amount of trading can set the tone for milk prices all across the country. At the same time, members of Congress should look into reports that a key member of the Justice Department has had his funding eliminated from a project he has been working on for nearly two years. The project? Investigating the improprieties within the dairy industry.

Dairy farmers have waited long enough. If there is 5% too much milk in the United States, then drop the price way down on the 5%, but keep the other 95% up at a level where dairy farmers will have a fighting chance to stay in business.

Mr. and Mrs. Member of Congress, dairy farmers are united on what they need. It is time for our elected officials from the key states that I have named to unite behind the efforts of the average dairy farmer.

Remember, dairy cows are neither Republican or Democrat. Actually, the cows can be classified as very Independent!

Act now! Time is of the essence.


Arden Tewkesbury

Meshoppen, PA

Dollars Over Common Sense

I am writing this letter to express my frustration and dissatisfaction, also to make public note of a transportation issue with Mountain View Schools. This all started back in February, 2005 when our 11-year old came back up our road on his hands and knees with a bruised tailbone. Thank God there were no vehicles going down the road at that time. This was nowhere near the first time this happened. With a daughter starting kindergarten in September, we felt it was about time to do something about this. The road is very steep, with no shoulders and no sight of children by anyone once they pass the end of the driveway for one-third of a mile straight downhill in the morning. In the afternoon it’s uphill, after being on a school bus for one hour and twenty minutes.

The school was made aware of this problem in February, 2005. As summer arrived and the new school year got closer, we increased calls to the school to get something done. Just before school started, the business manager came out to look at the route and said she had nothing to compare it to. After several calls, most not returned she claimed that walking distance must be at least 1.5 miles. After research on my part and calls to the state I found that to be partially true, under ideal conditions, such as three-foot sidewalks, crossing guards, etc. We were also told to bear with her for a year, because she was new. Also, statements such as how could it be safe for a bus or school vehicle if it is not safe for a child to walk. Last, I knew you could fix a car or bus dent. We were also told they were over budget on transportation. Who isn’t these days? This is not a good reason to not do anything.

These statements do not make me feel good when it comes to a child’s safety or when I am writing my check to pay my school taxes. I am not pleased at all with the business manager; my wife spoke to the superintendent. He came out and looked at the route. In a school board meeting on 10/10/05 I questioned him on his findings. He stated that he would drive his child to the bottom of the road and at the end of the day dive his child back up. It seems obvious to me that his findings were similar to ours. I spoke to a municipal attorney prior to the meeting and he informed me to have any statements such as the superintendent’s made part of the minutes, which I requested them to be. When I received my copy of the minutes the statement was not included, just a political story on the subject. When I called to question this I was told it is not customary for Mountain View to print direct quotes in the minutes. At this time I was told that probably the audio tape from the meeting would be more help to me, but, unfortunately there was a malfunction and that portion of the meeting was not recorded (kind of funny huh!). I was also told by the superintendent the board would not do anything if it would change the current transportation contract. In the meantime, there was a pedestrian traffic conflict report done for the route. After talking to PENNDOT and getting a list of previous reports done I found this has not been a typical thing done in the past for Mountain View. In this area most roads do not meet the traffic volume to get a hazardous tag. When I contacted PENNDOT to ask about this study I was told that this report, by no means, implies that PENNDOT is saying this route is safe for students. This was made very clear to me, as well as the business manager. The analogy they gave me was the children could be walking through a river of razor blades, up through woods infested with Bengal tigers and if it didn’t have volume of vehicles through it, it would not receive a hazardous tag. Is it safe, absolutely not.

This is where we need to use common sense. In a board meeting before this study was complete and results were not known, it was brought up and the statement made that this would be a piece of the puzzle. When the school got the results of non-hazardous (no surprise) I received a letter stating that, based on this repot the school will do nothing. So much for a piece of the puzzle.

At this point, I contacted my board rep. to see if he could look at the route and relay his findings to the board. Well, no surprise his findings were the same as the superintendent’s and ours, yet the board still refused to do anything. By the way, I was very happy with my board rep. and his response.

At this point I have the superintendent and my board rep. acknowledging the same thing we as concerned parents did, back when this started a year ago. Why has nothing been done? How can someone make a decision to not do anything when a child’s safety is concerned, without even looking at it themselves? Why has more time, effort and money been spent to find reasons to not do anything, than doing something? Is this any different from other cases where something has been done in the past? How can a board make a decision on something they haven’t seen, when two people sitting with them have and found what we did?

They are using dollar signs to make a decision where, as responsible adults and parents we should use common sense.


Dennis Vonada

Nicholson, PA

Taxpayers Will Thank You

Many of us are now receiving our tax bills in the mail. When examining our bills, some of us will see (depending upon where we live, for it varies from town to town and school district to district), maybe a bill for earned income tax, or per capita tax, or occupation privilege tax (a tax where you work), or occupation tax, (a tax where you live) to name some of the possibilities. Nuisance taxes. Our school districts and towns determine which we'll be hit with.

There is one tax that is uniform throughout Susquehanna County. The "county occupation tax.” Let's focus on that. Like our real estate taxes, the occupation tax comes to us from jolly old England. There, land was taxed and you were taxed by what "guild" (job) you belonged to.

I called the five counties around us to ask if they levied a county occupation tax. None do. I wonder how many I’d have to call to find one that does, like Susquehanna. When I asked why they didn't, a couple didn't know but a couple said it would be unfair of the county because the school districts and municipalities assess the occupation tax. Just what’s done here in Susquehanna County!

Add to that, the fact that the county, if it’s lucky, will receive one of every four dollars assessed for the county occupation tax. A few months ago when this came up at a meeting, commissioner Loomis tried to justify the disproportionate amount tax collectors are compensated for the county occupation tax by saying overall it’s a good deal for the county. He pointed out that the tax collectors receive a small percentage of assessed real estate taxes in addition to the compensation received for the county occupation tax. That may be a sound argument when you’re operating a retail business. They often have a "loss leader” to draw in customers. But this is a county government, not a retail business. Every part of every deal should be the best we can get!

This county occupation tax makes no sense. It’s a boondoggle, and I urge the commissioners to do away with this unjust, double tax. Every taxpayer in the county will thank you.


James Jennings

Brooklyn Township, PA

Reduce Spending (Taxes) Plan

I’ve already told you that I’m against commissioners not paying 100% for their healthcare. I’m also for putting an immediate freeze on any increments in elected official salaries. Now let’s explore additional ways to cut costs that I have experienced in my career and also as an elected official.

Replace Permanent Employees with Temps or Subcontract:

Many industries and businesses have long since gone to this to save money. Huge savings are realized by not paying benefits, especially healthcare and retirement. To successfully do this, well documented operating procedures must be written for each department. Most county departments also can benefit from this practice.

Eliminate Certain Departments:

Review tasks performed by all departments and identify those that are candidates for being out sourced. Most industries utilized this approach long ago for major savings.

Purchase Used Vehicles from Federal and State Agencies:

Many agencies automatically replace their vehicles on a regular schedule. These can be purchased by public institutions at way below wholesale value. Compare this to new vehicle cost and you see that tens of thousands can be saved each year. With vehicles lasting ten plus years, who cares if it’s two or three years old when we make the purchase.

Grants, Grants, and more Grants:

Immediately we need a Grant to preserve and restore the old jail while it's structurally sound. The courthouse is listed as a historical site. The windows are extremely inefficient and need replacement to save heating and air conditioning costs. At the same time, all of the original interior trim should be restored. Tunkhannock is the county seat of Wyoming County. They used a Streetscape Grant for new sidewalks, lighting, and trees in the downtown business area. Picture this happening to Susquehanna County at no cost to taxpayers!

Our new economic development motto should be growth through lower taxes. Make Susquehanna County a place where business and industry can grow and you can afford to live.


Tom Jurista

Silver Lake Township

A Cold-Blooded Killer

To the person who brutally killed my dog on Turnpike St., Susquehanna, just past the Jackson Ave. turn, on Thursday, February 6 around 9:00 p.m. at night.

I just want you to know what you took from me and my family; not just some dog, but a member of our family. I sincerely hope you can live with yourself and sleep at night. I didn’t think it was possible for a human being to be so coldhearted. You didn’t even have decency enough to stop, step up and be a man/woman and take responsibility for your actions. You hit her with such impact, because you obviously didn’t obey the speed limit, that she was dragged over 15 feet. Her nose was almost ripped off her face, her neck was broken, and I can only assume several other broken bones. As much as I don’t want to know you, because in my eyes you are a cold-blooded killer, I ask everyone who hears about this, please, if you know anything please come forward. If you want to remain anonymous, I have no problem with that.

The one thing I can’t get out of my mind is, I have three grandchildren. Kids, like animals sometimes don’t think before they do things. If you would have hit one of my grandkids, would you have still kept going? I believe you would.

People of the area, if you have any info for me it will be greatly appreciated. Come talk to me at RR 2 Box 675, Turnpike St.


Tom Robbs

Susquehanna, PA

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