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Time To Take Action
Many challenges face dairy farmers today. Perhaps most perplexing is the fact that a vast majority of Americans are completely unaware of these problems, let alone the cause of the problems. Indeed, most farmers are uninformed about the forces behind the low farmgate milk prices.
One area of concern is the breakdown of the free market system that has been brought about by greed, power, and lack of oversight. The free market should not give license for anyone to control, exploit, and manipulate the marketplace with no accountability. When this happens the free market is no longer free. One example of this is the way milk is priced. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) essentially sets the price of the nation’s milk on a very small percentage of cheese and butter, with very few traders involved. Where does this cheese and butter come from? What is the quality? The NASS Survey parrots the results of the CME. Where are these plants located? Is there really any verification of the selling price? There is no transparency.
Another area of serious concern is the milk monopoly in the Northeast. Why is Dairy Marketing Service (DMS) allowed to control all of the component testing in the Northeast? Can milk be pooled in the Northeast without Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) being involved? If not, why not? Milk is moved around so much that no one really knows what the real production figures are. Excessive milk movement also dilutes Class I utilization, hurts producers, and excessively enhances the fortunes of a few. Where has Anti-trust been? Where have the “moralist politicians” been? It seems that they have come down squarely on the side of big business and look the other way rather than deal with injustice.
In Pennsylvania, officials are looking to fund the construction of large dairies to meet the needs of processing plants. It shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that if farmers were taken care of by means of fair pricing, farmers would produce enough milk to keep these plants fully supplied, and it wouldn’t cost the taxpayers any money to do that. It seems apparent that the “experts” are bent on catering to large farms.
It is time that our elected officials get serious about insuring accountability and transparency in the dairy marketplace. They can no longer look the other way in the face of blatant corruption. Also, the pricing system has to change. Farm milk price must reflect the economic cost of producing milk. It is essential in a free market system that the farm price be tied to the real value of milk, which is reflected in the retail price of milk. When there is no signal between farm price and retail price there is no real free market. The time to take action is now!
A Block Party!
There will be a block party on Washington St., in Susquehanna, on September 9 (rain date September 16). All residents and their families and friends are welcome to come out and meet your neighbors, enjoy good food, music, and games for kids. There will be a bicycle parade at 4:00, with prizes for winners. Raffles will be staggered between Second and Fourth Avenues. These streets will be blocked off from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Food is free until it’s gone. Come and enjoy yourself and help us make this a yearly event.
Kudos To Illegal Parkers
Thank you, New Milford drivers, for parking illegally in the handicap spot at the town post office day after day. Since you cannot comprehend what a handicap symbol means, you probably cannot read this letter, either. But maybe someone smarter can read it to you.
At first, I was steamed seeing dozens of perfectly healthy people use the handicap spot on a daily basis, while those with handicap license plates have to hoof it. However, the more I thought about it, the more I understood that you are very likely improving the quality of life for the handicapped individuals who have to park way down Delaware Street, instead of in the more convenient and clearly marked handicap spot. How are you improving their quality of life? By making them crawl on their hands and knees from a great distance, you are helping them gain upper body strength. By forcing them to hobble up the street to their destination, you are increasing their vital lung capacity.
In addition, there is apparently some entertainment value in seeing these people suffer. Recently, I witnessed two toothless old men sitting in their car (with no handicap license plate) which was parked in the handicap spot. These morons were giggling while watching a young man in a wheelchair navigate down the street to his car (with a handicap license plate), lift himself off his chair, finagle himself into the driver’s seat, and then hoist his wheelchair into his vehicle. I told these two blockheads that they were in a handicap zone, and one of them looked at me dumbly and said, “Whattayamean?” The next week, I gently informed a woman that she, perhaps, parked erroneously in the handicap zone. She looked me up and down and then growled angrily, “Mind your own damn business.”
So, standing corrected, I insist you keep on parking in that handicap spot at the post office, citizens of “New Meanford.” Because while saving yourself the five seconds it would take you to walk from a legal parking space, you are doing your part by helping your fellow handicapped neighbors tough out their disability – and having a chuckle at their expense.
Thanks, and give yourselves a big pat on the back!
Let’s Put On The Brakes
I am very concerned about the latest scandal surrounding the current county commissioners. In addition to being the chief executives of our county, they also have an implied responsibility to maintain and project a good image for our county. Susquehanna County has indeed many things to be proud of, yet, with the last four administrations and their constant barrage of finger pointing, worrying about who gets credit for something, scandal, “playground ego” type infighting, and missed grant opportunities, they are taking away from the many positives of our county.
Our county is a community, and we as a county community have a lot to be proud of. We have Harford Fair and Elk Mountain, state and nationally recognized respectively, both providing many of our young people their first work experience. We have the state softball champs at Blue Ridge. Our music students from all our schools compete for and win auditioned positions at regional, state, and yes, national music festivals every year.
Our county chapter of PA Farm Bureau has been recognized numerous times for high standards of achievement, both on state and national levels.
The Pennsylvania Freemasons of our county provide to parents, free of charge, child identification packets in case the unthinkable should ever happen, and have provided this at record levels. Ararat Twp.’s Peter Seaman has been published in many newspapers with his expertise in bio diesel and ethanol studies.
And yes, our county’s numerous organizations, such as our volunteer fire companies, our veterans’ groups, scouts, and many others have indeed set the bar very high for positive regional and state recognition. All this and much more, due to the diligent and dedicated work of our friends and neighbors right here in Susquehanna County.
We have a lot of positives; however, the negatives surrounding the hospital scandal are too great to dismiss, and lead to many questions. While Commissioner Warren may have signed the bond, is it not Commissioner Kelly that accepted the responsibility of being the liaison, and is it not her job to monitor the happenings there and report back?
Another question is whether Commissioner Kelly is either asleep at the wheel, or knew about this and did not report. One would think that it is one or the other, and either is bad. Which is it?
The cavalier attitude that the public does not need to know the details of what is being done to fix the problem is offensive. How arrogant! If we taxpayers are going to foot the bill for seven-plus million dollars allegedly being dealt into a few people’s pockets while doctors and staff are apparently told to take pay cuts, and we taxpayers want to keep that hospital, as I feel we very much need to, then we taxpayers should demand that these “steps” be made public knowledge. What is the position of the other two commissioners? Are they demanding this as well? If the commissioners are not capable of selecting a competent liaison, then an independent overseer should be appointed, one that has no political or personal ties. Perhaps a public meeting should be held in the auditorium at Susquehanna School, and all records should be put on display.
Allow the people and the press to ask direct questions and get direct answers. Lots of facts, figures, and opinions have been brought forth from a variety of sources. No matter who is correct in this, we need to get to the bottom of it before the hospital does go under, more people loose their jobs, and someone dies because it was not there.
All you need to know?
In the Transcript last week, P. Jay Amadio reported that Commissioner Kelly, chair of the Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners, made a statement relating to Barnes - Kasson Hospital, “All you need to know is the County has implemented the necessary steps to help save the largest employer in the county and that is being done in a professional and proper manner.” According to Mr. Amadio, Commissioner Kelly, referring to hiring a financial attorney, further stated, “There are areas that have to be dealt with. It’s not a big issue, just a common sense move.” Common sense would dictate that if Commissioner Kelly had been attending the Director and Financial Committee meetings, and reporting back to the Board of Commissioners, the problems with Barnes-Kasson would not have been allowed to get out of control. I too, believe that Barnes-Kasson should be saved, but I also believe that the county’s interest should be foremost in all actions taken.
I have read several letters to the Editor lately, concerning Sara Iveson and it would seem that she has a large base of support. However, certain facts need to be brought to the attention of the taxpayers, those ultimately responsible for guaranteeing the loan payments currently in default. The facts seem to contradict those glowing sentiments. Initially the three defaults of a County guaranteed loan in only the second year of the loan heralded attention to a management concern. Another management problem is revealed by a simple search of the internet site, “Memberofthefamily.net,” which shows that Barnes-Kasson is on the National Watch list for “Nursing homes cited for actual harm/immediate jeopardy,” stating in part, “Based on the annual and complaint survey data reported by CMS as of 07/06/2006, this home is listed because in at least one area they caused actual harm to a patient and/or subjected the patients to immediate jeopardy.” Furthermore, according to the Hospital By-Laws, Article 2, Section 9, “Directors and members of all Committees, standing as well as ad hoc, shall receive no compensation for services rendered in the capacity of Board Member.” The 2003 IRS form 990 signed May 14, 2004, lists Sara Iveson receiving, as Executive Director, $146,807.00 compensation and $7,340 to benefit plans and deferred compensation, a total of $154,147.00. In 2004 the form 990 signed May 12, 2005 lists $167, 664.00 and benefits of $8,383.00, a total of $176,047.00. From 2003 to 2004 she has received a total increase of 14.2% or $21,900.00. Form 990 for 2005 is not yet published, but I fear the trend already established. That increase seems hardly justified since the total revenue from line 12, less expenses from line 17, of the form 990 shows $17,911.00 less from 2003 to 2004. Finally, The family members on the payroll include, Sara, husband Bill, Bill Jr., wife Mary, Mike, wife Kelly and Sara Fran. Nepotism? Commissioner Kelly and Commissioner Warren should have researched all of this information before they signed the contract. More importantly, there should have been a more intense review of the financial and management procedures as written into the loan contract. In a day and age of holding corporate officers accountable for financial problems, it would appear that Barnes-Kasson has been overlooked.
I for one would like to hear a more detailed report by Commissioner Kelly stating that the responsibility to the county by attending and reporting back to the Board of Commissioners the status of the Board of Director’s and the Finance Committee meetings was no longer an act of omission. There is a reason for the seat in these bodies to be created; it is past time for the duty to be executed. I think that as a taxpayer, I need to know that steps are being taken to protect our county from learning of a Barnes-Kasson loan default four months after the fact. As a matter of fact, I consider this a very big financial issue ($7,338,619.30 worth) and based upon past actions (or lack thereof) I do not believe Commissioner Kelly’s assurance “All you need to know is the County has implemented the necessary steps.”
Don’t Be Fooled
Election time is near and the price of gas at the pumps is falling. Hurricane season is in full swing and no major storms have hit America, so no excuses or reason to raise the price at the pumps.
People are feeling the pinch and more people are complaining to the authorities, the economy is hurting because of the high price of gasoline and heating oil.
Americans are all struggling to survive with less money, because everything they need just to live has increased because of high oil prices.
I personally feel it is time now, not be thankful about the lower price at the pumps but to keep on screaming about the reasons that the prices went sky high.
Don't think for one minute the price of anything we have to buy won't go back up at the threat of a storm or a leaky pipeline.
The citizens have to take back the control of our country now, by thinking through and seeing through the ploys and speculations that the large oil companies used to raise the price at the pumps
It is so easy to see why now, after a year of high prices at the pumps, it is time to regain our control of the elected officials who have let this happen. Hold them accountable for their inactions!
There is no justification for what happened to all of us, the citizens of our nation.
The economy as a whole has slowed and has hurt America, and the country can't take anymore of high, unjustified oil prices. What else could make the prices go up nationwide? It will be so evident at election time; suddenly the gas prices will drop to once again fool us and relax us until they get re-elected.
Not fooled one bit here.
Peter A. Seman
The Strangest Bedfellows
It was a pervasive and shabby tactic during the Cold War to accuse Liberals of being "commies," "pinkos" or "fellow travelers". It wasn't true, but too many people allowed cheap accusations like these to create a climate of fear and intimidation, one that falsely made dissent tantamount to treason.
Today, in the War on Terrorism, rabid right-wingers – pain-stricken at their pending ouster in November – are borrowing a page from the old Cold War playbook. Liberals who dare dissent from the failed policies of the Bush Administration are not doing so for honest or patriotic reasons – they're now being accused of pro-Islamic radicalism!
In what parallel universe does this make any sense? Islam is a profoundly conservative religion. It's highly oppressive to women, while Liberals are scorned for being feminist. It's fiercely puritanical, while Liberals are derided for sexual permissiveness. It acknowledges no distinction between religion and politics, while Liberals are resented for opposing the right's constant efforts to misuse government as a tool for evangelism.
The truth is that it's arch-conservatives who have a lot in common with Muslim fanatics, not Liberals, whom Muslims despise as much as right-wing Americans do.
If the right wishes to make a valid objection to Liberalism, they'll have to do better than their current piffle.
Stephen Van Eck
Shocked And Awed
To critics who call the President's foreign policy a failure, I have two words: Get Real. Failure is an "F" on a spelling test, it's another try for a driver's license, or striking out with no one on base. But for President's Bush's foreign policy, the noun "failure" is a nonstarter. It's weak. A wimp. Emaciated. What's needed is a word with shoulders: disaster, calamity, dysfunction. Even these fall short. Perhaps a neologism is called for: Bushism.
Bushism [boosh-iz-uhm] noun. 1. A succession of failures having a commonality. 2. An unsuccessful policy doggedly pursued. 3. A series of similar cataclysmic mishaps. For example:
Afghanistan. Remember the "total victory" over the Taliban? Well, that call was premature. That nation, if it can be called such, is now mostly under the control of warlords. Heroin production is at an all-time high; about 80 per cent of the world's production. And for this we're paying $1.5 billion every month. There's a greater cost: 327 Americans KIA.
Iraq. Not "total victory" here. It was a modest, "Mission Accomplished." Today that nation is fragmenting into a three-way civil war; a murderous ménage a trois with U.S. troops caught in the melee. The cost thus far is in the hundreds of billions of dollars, fast approaching one-half trillion dollars, and increasing at the rate of $2 billion a month. To this add 2,626 (Aug. 28) Americans KIA. When you read this, that number will be out-of-date.
To the number of KIAs in Afghanistan and Iraq, add 8,000 U.S. soldiers who have been seriously maimed, crippled, and disfigured.
Lebanon. Yes, Lebanon. President Bush was with the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert from the get-go. It was a swell idea. Israel would smash Hezbollah, intimidate Syria, and pave the way for a U.S. air assault on Iran.
What was accomplished was the destruction of a nation. The U.N. estimates the cost to Lebanon at $15 billion. President Bush has sought to ameliorate our image with a grant of $230 million to rebuild the damage done to that country by U.S.-made jets and bombs. That's exactly one-tenth of what we give to Israel every year. There is a better solution.
Suppose instead of giving Israel its $2.3 billion yearly allowance, why not donate that sum for the next seven years to the reconstruction of Lebanon. This would cover the $15 billion. That seems fair; you broke it, you pay for it. (And why in the world is Israel getting $2.3 billion of our tax dollars every year?)
Atop a pile of rubble in southern Lebanon someone planted a hand-lettered sign in English and in Arabic, "Made In The U.S.A." At the bottom of this mound can be found the reputation of the United States, the myth of Israel's humanitarianism, and any chance of a stable Middle East.
Another result of the Israeli-American Lebanon war are the 1,300 Lebanese civilian fatalities – and they're still digging them out from under the rubble. Should we be surprised that Hezbollah is now idolized and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, is lionized?
The Middle East. The wind is on Iran's back. Iran is now a major player on the world stage. Russia and China realize this and will probably block any attempt of the U.S. Security Council to impose sanctions. Iran will continue to pursue what she believes to be in her national self-interest, viz., nuclear development.
Syria has also become emboldened. Cowed by Israel's military might, this nation meekly warmed the bench during the conflict. Now Syria is openly vocal against the United States and its conjoined twin, Israel. President al-Assad rejected Israel's demands for the deployment of international forces on the Syrian-Lebanese border to stop what Israel suspects as arms smuggling.
Our vassal states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt will find it increasingly difficult to suppress Muslim fundamentalists. American arms and money may not be enough to stem an Islamic tidal wave from washing over the entire Middle East.
U.S. Hit List. Our list of enemies is growing like mushrooms after a spring rain. We started with Saddam Hussein, then added Osama bin Laden. We killed Ayman al-Zawahiri but cannot expect that this endeared his successor to us. The Axis-of-Evil speech added two more: President Bashar Assad of Syria and Kim il Jong of North Korea. Presently, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad is in the No. 1 spot, followed closely by the leader of Hezbollah, Nasralllah.
Maybe it's time to stop this Bushistic policy of bullying and bombing and ask a simple question: Why do they hate us? We never asked that question, but those who are under the heel of American foreign policy answered it many times. They flipped the question to the positive side and listed how to eliminate the hostility.
First, stop the indiscriminate support of Israel; have an evenhanded policy in the Middle East. Second, get American troops and bases out of the Middle East. Third, abandon the goal of regional hegemony in the Middle East.
Three simple steps and forget about baggage searches, red alerts, and terrorists' threats. Will this be done? Not a chump's chance. The failed past will chart the course to the future. We will continue to look for peace through a gun barrel and a bomb sight, and that's how we will be seen.
New Milford, PA
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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