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Letters to the Editor Policy

Consumers Beware

Can you remember when you were in school and how you averaged your grades? The dairy industry has put into the pay price of the farmers an average of four classes of milk, instead of paying the farmers for milk. Each class pays less! The milk that they produce is pure; the government makes sure of that, and then "they" divide it up. Four classes of milk pay nothing compared to what it is worth, and a lot less than what the dairy farmer gets paid.

It's sad to say, but I am not sure how many people care about the dairy farmers anymore. The term "the cream of the crop " is slang now instead of being the rule. Farmers may as well make Vaseline instead of butter. Milk is milk, and yet the consumers don't know the difference, or the hard work that goes into making milk. Yet you trust that the system must be fair, because there is always milk on the shelves.

I do know who does know about the hard work it takes to make milk, and I know who does know how the price is calculated and paid to farmers. I know "they" are the politicians who promised the dairy farmers that they would help them. No help yet. Why?

Yep, the ones we elected; they have turned their backs on the hardest working people in our world. Please, consumers beware! They are representing you, too!


Peter A. Seman

Thompson, PA

Is There Any Interest?

I am writing this letter because we have lived here (in Susquehanna) all our lives and we are raising two sons. We are very proud of our hometown. There is nowhere we would rather be raising our sons.

But, there is something missing. There is nowhere for the young people to go to have a little fun in town. Even as we grew up, there was no place to go and hang out. We would like to change that, but we cannot do it without the help and support of the town.

We are not rich people; my husband and I work very hard and long hours. We manage on our income, but don’t have the money to invest in a small business. But, that isn’t going to stop us. We will do the research to see if there is any way we could acquire the funds to pursue this venture.

If we can get the support of the town and its residents, we will do all the legwork required to research the possibility of starting up a center where kids could go after school, early evenings and weekends just to have a little fun playing music, pool, and some games. Also, we would like to have some small food items available to them.

We know doing this isn’t going to be easy, but if we were to meet resistance from the residents or the town council, all our efforts would be for nothing. That is why we are asking all of you to please respond to us as to your thoughts on going forth with this venture.

Maybe it won’t work out for us, but we will give it all we have to see that there is a place for our sons and many other children in town to have a chance to do something they won’t be getting in trouble for and keeping them off the streets in a safe and fun environment.

So, we ask all of you to please let us know by way of a letter to the paper, or e-mail me, or letter to us. Give us your input and let us know if you all think this to be a viable venture for the children of Susquehanna.

Having a place for the children would not only be good for them, but would also attract more future business for the town. It would show people who might consider moving here that we do have outside things for the children to do.

Our address and e-mail address are as follows: Nancy and Rob Gorton, 520 Broad Ave., Susquehanna, PA 18847; klocker13@yahoo.com.


Nancy and Rob Gorton

Susquehanna, PA

The Faith-Based Party

It takes a lot of faith to be a Republican! (And not the usual kind of faith, either.) In order to be a Republican, you have to believe: Muslims "hate us for our freedom," not our policies in their part of the world; giving the Muslim world more reason to despise us makes us more secure; the Iraq War has anything to do with the War on Terror; Liberals and Islamic extremists are soul mates; huge deficits are good for the economy; homosexual orientation is a choice; the Founding Fathers were Fundamentalists; Democrats are usually sinister, depraved wretches who hate America, and devote every waking minute plotting how to destroy it; Bush is doing a good job.

It takes a lot of energy to maintain all these odd beliefs. It would be easier to deal with reality. But apparently that's the last thing Republicans are interested in. Reality is, their policies have been consistently disastrous. That only makes sense – what good can come from delusional beliefs?


Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA

It Is Illegal

The Blue Ridge School District is collecting your taxes illegally. They have absolutely no authority to collect. They have no authority to appoint themselves tax collector. The order of Judge Vanston was not in favor of the school district. The reason the tax collectors pursued legal avenues was to have an order showing that the "statutory duty" to collect taxes belongs to the elected tax collectors.

Their attorney claims the school district "has acted in complete accordance with the applicable law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania". I have yet to find the law that allows a taxing district to appoint themselves tax collector. Unlike that lawyer, I have taken an oath to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As a county elected officer I believe that you, as taxpayers, are entitled to know your rights regarding the tax notices. Neither the school district, nor their lawyer, has informed you of the two-month discount period. And they have printed the incorrect collection dates on the tax notices they have mailed to you (New Milford Township, Great Bend Borough and Hallstead Borough).

The discount ending period is 60 days from the postmark on your tax notice envelope. If your postmark is September 8, you should legally have until November 6, 2006 ( not October 31 as is printed on the bill) to pay at 2% discount. If your postmark is September 8, you should legally have until January 5, 2006 (not December 31 as is printed on the bill) to pay the face amount. Act of May 25, 1945, P.L.1050, No.394 (Local Tax Collection Law) Section 10.

Please make sure to keep your postmarked envelope from Blue Ridge School District. If you mail your taxes, use a postal service requiring a signed receipt from the school district for your tax payment.

Jackson Township, New Milford Borough and Great Bend Township tax collectors have not yet received their bills at the time of this writing, therefore those taxpayers will not have received any tax notice for their school real estate taxes. Those bills have the same discount and face ending dates. The tax collectors have no choice but to collect as the tax notices are printed. You will have to pay the face amounts to them after October 31. If you pay within the 60 days, however, you should request the refund for the difference from the school district. Again, your tax collector will not have the authority to accept anything other than what is on the notice.

The business manager, Loren Small, who had run for tax collector himself, and lost, had presented this same scheme to the Mountain View School District. Luckily for Mountain View taxpayers, that school board rejected the proposal. I am amazed that school superintendent Bob McNamara is not advising the school board against this action.

This quote from last week's County Independent makes the situation appear that the school district is a victim in this outrage: "Taxes have fallen to us due to exoneration," said Hall, who added that the District's solicitor advised the change. That change being the recision of the appointment of a school district employee as tax collector and the appointment of the school district as tax collector.

The solicitor advised the change because the employees collecting monies are not bonded as required. The taxes have not "fallen to..." the school district. The exoneration was forced on the tax collectors so the school superintendent, business manager and president of the school board could seize upon the opportunity to eliminate the tax collectors.

And while Alan Hall, board president, told me by phone that the school is "in the business of education, not in the business of tax collection" his actions betray his words.

It is not too late for the Board to put an end to this action. It will not be easy but we (tax collectors) can put things back in order and we may even have time statutorily to accept the delinquencies in the tax claim bureau. Truly, these folks in the school district have no idea how they are putting your homes at risk.

I am so disappointed in the Blue Ridge School Board that I simply have no words for them right now. When I do, however, the words will probably be "We tried to tell you.."

And, taxpayers of Jackson Township, New Milford Borough and Great Bend Township, if you are financially able, please join me in giving our tax collectors an additional $3.00 per bill when you submit payment.


Catherine R. Benedict

Susquehanna County Treasurer & Tax Claim Director

Blue Ridge School District Taxpayer

Where Were They?

I joined a huge crowd gathered at Crisman's memorial park just outside of South Montrose, Monday, September 11. The celebration was two part; one a dedication of a monument in memory of SSG Daniel L. Arnold and other members of the 109th Infantry Regiment who gave their lives for our freedom; and the other was for remembrance of those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center tragedy. Many presenters, including Congressman Don Sherwood, recalled fond memories of those lost and made us all aware of what true heroes are. I for one was proud to shed tears in humble honor of what a true hero does. Of course the victims of 9-11 bring to each of us the reality of the world in which we live.

This was the second dedication honoring our military heroes who paid the ultimate price for our safety. The previous dedication was at the Visitors Center in Great Bend in July. Both our senator and congressman sent a representative along, and our state representatives were present. It was noteworthy that at each gathering political party was not significant. The gatherings were truly for the purpose of honoring the soldiers.

None of our commissioners were present at the Great Bend gathering. When questioned, the excuse was that there was a important meeting at the time, but it was assured that it would not happen again. Can you believe it that no commissioner was at the South Montrose gathering? Once again the excuse was that a meeting held priority. My dear friends for this to occur once is not excusable, for it shows total lack of patriotic appreciation for the defenders of our freedom. For this to occur the second time is totally unforgivable, and a big black mark against our county leadership. Are these the type of people you want managing our county?


Tom Jurista

Silver Lake Township

Commissioner Or Dictator?

I attended the September 13 meeting of the Susquehanna County Commissioners. After hearing three years of negative comments come out of the Commissioners meetings, I decided to go to one. I was a first-time attendee, and that meeting will probably be the last, under the current administration. Please allow me to explain.

During the public comment portion, Mr. Fred Baker questioned Commissioner Kelly on some items he had on the current hospital scandal. Please keep in mind that I have no emotional attachments to any of the people involved, and I am only interested in seeing whose facts and figures are correct. Commissioner Kelly interrupted Mr. Baker in mid-sentence, rapped her gavel, and yelled at him not to raise his voice. The only one I saw yelling then was Commissioner Kelly. Mr. Baker, apparently unhappy with not being allowed to finish his complete thought, then raised his voice, and he was yelled at again. He then told Commissioner Kelly that she yelled first. Commissioner Kelly also told Mr. Baker to “shut up.”

If that was not enough of a spectacle, Commissioner Kelly started “name calling,” saying Mr. Baker is a “Commissioner Wanna-be.” He asked specifically what steps were taken to rectify the situation, probably so that we taxpayers will not inherit the mortgage, and she just kept repeating that “proper steps are being taken.”

Commissioner Kelly also tried to say that confidentiality laws were involved. There I believe that she is wrong. Confidentiality is only for patient health records, not financial accountability of the books. She also accused Mr. Baker of wanting the hospital closed. It was obvious to me that in fact the opposite was true, and I felt that I was witnessing “posturing tactics” on the part of Commissioner Kelly. In order to keep that hospital, things need to be monitored and fixed, not ignored.

Please allow me to explain why I am so distressed about this. The facts on the scandal itself, whomever is correct, will come out. The public display of all the financial records and a public meeting will indeed both “vindicate” and “convict” whoever needs it. I still question why Commissioner Kelly is being so secretive and seems not to want to give item specifics. I am mainly concerned however, about the manner in which the above-described altercation took place. In my opinion, Commissioner Kelly conducted herself in the most unprofessional and disrespectful manner possible. Her emotional outbursts and name-calling were startling. The other two commissioners sat there and said nothing. I wanted to, but felt that it would be an exercise in futility. Perhaps they did too. What good would it do to try to talk rationally to one who so irrationally interrupts people in mid sentence before the complete thought is heard?

I would like to offer the following comments to each of the parties involved. First: to Commissioners Warren and Loomis. Remember: two out-votes one every time. The two of you have it in your jurisdiction to put a stop to this erratic and unprofessional behavior. Both of you are just as much a Commissioner as Commissioner Kelly. That’s why there are three. If one gets away with nonsense, it is because the other two allow it. Second, to Mr. Baker. Perhaps since it would seem that Commissioner Kelly is not going to give straight answers, maybe you should try the Auditor General or Attorney General’s office, that is if your facts and figures are correct.

And finally, to Commissioner Kelly. Your conduct was completely unprofessional and out of order. Temper tantrums and name-calling are not what you were elected to do. You were elected by the good people of our county to attend to the business of the county and look out for the taxpayers. You are a public servant, and an employee of we, the taxpayers. You were elected Commissioner, not “Dictator.” Please govern yourself accordingly.


Barney Wilkins

Gibson Township, PA

What Are They Hiding?

During the public comments portion of the commissioner’s meeting held September 13, I asked Commissioner Kelly, for the record, how many meetings of the board and finance committee of Barnes-Kasson Hospital were attended by either a commissioner or county representative. Commissioner Kelly’s response at first was, “More than before.” That was to be the last clear answer to be given. All further questions were answered with, “All you need to know is it is being handled in a professional manner.” Further inquiry yielded responses like,” Shut up!” Also, several times, parroting the label assigned to me by P. Jay Amadio, “You are just a commissioner wannabe.” It would seem that my unsuccessful bid for commissioner in 2003 disqualifies me for any rights, as a concerned citizen and taxpayer in the county, forever more. I also asked if the commissioners were aware that there were reports that the hospital had not made the Workers Compensation payments, money withheld from the workers’ paycheck, since June, or that the hospital had taken away four sick days, President’s Day Holiday and stopped payments into the worker’s pension plan. The latter of which might be cause for the employees to bring suit with the Labor Board, causing further troubles for the hospital. I was interrupted, shouted down and called names several times, all the while given no direct answer. Furthermore, it was inferred that I wished for the hospital’s closure. I explained that it was not my intent for it to be closed. It is my concern as a taxpayer, that we should be given information that would show the commissioners have a knowledge of the situation, initiated an investigation and possibly instituting available remedies. Instead, I came away insulted by arrogance and ashamed (again) by the juvenile behavior of our county representation. Could it be that Commissioner Kelly doesn’t want the public to know how badly the issue has and is being handled by lack of understanding or involvement? It is obvious to me that Commissioner Kelly has dropped the ball or, worse yet, is facilitating a cover-up and it appears that we, the taxpayers are going to be left in the dark and holding the bag. I find it interesting that Commissioner Kelly has done everything to keep this scandal out of the public eye, even after I exposed it in the August 2, 2006 Transcript. Truth has a marvelous way of sorting it all out. Will the truth ever be told to us? As long as Commissioner Kelly is (or isn’t) telling the story, I doubt it. I can only wonder what is being hidden.

In the early 1980’s, I confronted Senator Specter over milk prices, accounting irregularities in the CCC Fund and farmer’s cost for milk advertisement. Like Commissioner Kelly, he did his best to sidestep an answer to the problem, but to his credit, he did not resort to shouting and name-calling. We taxpayers are asked to foot the bill for many worthy projects in order to have a better community. If we are to be asked to pony up for the Barnes/Kasson money woes, while the Executive Director and six other family members continue as in the past, then I feel Commissioner Kelly, as the hospital liaison, has a responsibility to give a full accounting. Sidestepping and ignoring public concern doesn’t cut it. Shouting and name-calling is an especially unprofessional response.


Fred B. Baker II

Meshoppen, PA

On The Way To Jahannumas

What is the most hated nation on earth? North Korea, Iran, Syria; maybe Russia or China – no, not even close. (Hint: You're standing on it.) The world's 1.8 billion Muslims have voted the United States as the nation they would most like to send to Jahannumas. How we won this deplorable distinction, what we could do about it – yet will not do – follows.

Beginning with 9/11 we were told that they (the "they" are always Muslims) hate us because of our freedom and life style. The argument goes something like McDonald's, Pizza Huts, Rock and Roll and American movies are the reasons why "they" have hate-America parades and red, white, and, blue flag-burning parties? Granted American movies make somewhat of a case for this, but it's a weak one.

The fast-food and film reasons were later refined to: They hate us because they hate freedom and democracy. Is this the reason they're donning suicide vests and reducing themselves to something like tomato paste? At this moment, U.S. soldiers are fighting in Iraq for freedom and democracy, a Muslim nation that we are told hates freedom and democracy. There's a contradiction here. Not that we should get hung up on reasonability, but it shouldn't be thrown out the window, either.

There is also the disturbing fact that when Muslim nations have free elections, they choose caliphatic governments: in Palestine it was Hamas and in Lebanon it was Hezbollah. And if the three Arab dictatorships which we prop up – Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia – were given a chance to vote, they would overwhelmingly vote for a mullah-led regime. Sorry, no campaign for freedom and democracy there.

Another idea. There is a theory that terrorists terrorize because that's what they do. Pirates piratize, vandals vandalize, and terrorists, well, you get the idea. This is a compelling hypothesis – unless one thinks about it.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is far from a foaming-at-the-mouth terrorist. In a nation of 68 million he placed at 130 in a nation-wide university entrance exam. He earned a doctorate in engineering, is eminently sane, and is more than willing to talk. In a recent interview with Mike Wallace, President Ahmadinejad had this to say: "Well, please look at the makeup of the American administration, the behavior of the American administration. See how they talk down to my nation... They want to build an empire. And they don't want to live side-by-side in peace with other nations. The American government, sir, it is very clear to me they have to change their behavior and everything will be resolved. [George W. Bush] believes that his power emanates from his nuclear warhead arsenals. The time of the bomb is in the past, it's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges."

If it's crazies you're looking for, try Fox news. Lt. Col. David Hunt is a regular on this channel. In an August 8 interview on Hannity and Colmes, the colonel's opinion on pulling out of Iraq was solicited. The colonel: "We have a lot more killin' to do [before we leave]." What about Syria and Iran? The colonel: "I think we should line them up and kill them." Interviewing Col. Hunt is like talking to a serial killer on one of his bad days, but he is at least consistent.

Well, if President Ahmadinejad is not a raving, rug-biting lunatic, what else fans the flames of hatred of one-third of the world's population against the United States? Could it be because we have bombed two Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq back to the 5th century? And is it possible that our overt and covert support of Israel's blasting Lebanese villages – a third Muslim nation – to waist-high piles of rubble and its cities to a WW II vista of bombed-out Berlin are not winning hearts and minds? And threatening Syria and Iran with a little of the same doesn't seem to help. As a rule, people don't like being bombed.

The United States' military and financial support for Israel over the past several decades has created a militant monster. In so doing we have destroyed the balance of power in the Middle East. Israel has no military imperative to restrain herself.

Furthermore, the U.S., together with Israel, has created a situation where the Shiites in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are uniting; worse yet, we may also succeed in forging an alliance of Shiites and Sunnis. The chant, "Death to Israel. Death to America," is something like a hit tune. I think they're trying to tell us something.

What, then, are the chances of the U.S. disengaging its interests from those of Israel's? About 50 to one against disentanglement. Last month the House voted 410 to eight (HR 921) to reaffirm our support for Israel – like retaking the marriage vows – and to condemn any enemies of the state of Israel; ergo, Israel's enemies are our enemies. The Senate passed a similar resolution by voice vote.

Too bad. A reevaluation of U.S. foreign policy would end the turmoil in the Middle East caused by American ambitions of hegemony, curb the power of the military-industrial complex, and end domestic terrorists' threats. As things now stand, another 9/11 is virtually assured.

Oh, Jahannumas, the place we're on our way to? That's the Islamic version of hell.


Bob Scroggins

New Milford, PA

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