The state income tax was needlessly hiked from 2.8 percent to 3.07 percent by Gov. Edward "Spendell," and before him it soared from 2.1 percent to 2.8 percent under another reckless spender, the late Gov. Robert Casey. On what basis do we conclude that the tax shall remain at that inflated level? If there is "extra money" that is burning a hole in the pockets of our spendthrift General Assembly members, what a novel idea it would be to return it to those who created the surplus, the taxpayers! I do not want to hear that is necessary for funding for colleges and universities to be maintained when these institutions have money to burn, many of them compensating administrators and sports-team coaches with more money than they could ever spend.
I think of the Pennsylvania General Assembly when the adage "If you give them the money, they will spend it" comes to mind. The need to spend every available cent and then some is a recipe for the destruction of the taxpayer.
Oren M. Spiegler
Upper Saint Clair, Pa.
A rich felon's lot
Re: "It's Past Time to Free Ex-Felons" comment by Barbara Vinyard (June 13).
It is not true that the rich who get convicted of crimes get off easy.
Rich and famous convicted felons still have had to do time in prison. No prison is a country club. Prison is prison.
Rich and famous convicted felons, upon release from prison, because of the many legal restrictions against felons, will still have to live in the portable prison convicted-felon status imposes on such people. Unless of course. they are lucky enough to be issued a full presidential pardon.
For example, I only need a passport to visit Canada or Great Britain. As a convicted felon, Martha Stewart had to apply for a visa to visit Great Britain, and even then her request for the visa was refused.
Convicted felons not only cannot vote, they cannot practice such professions as law, medicine, or banking, or run businesses that serve alcohol. They cannot own fireams, so if Ivan Boesky used to have a hobby of duck-hunting, he would not be able to do it anymore. They cannot freely visit certain countries like the ones I have mentioned, even if they have passports. We all make foolish mistakes. In my own youth, I did things that could have landed me in prison. During my late teenage years, I seriously contemplated committing a very serious crime, but fortunately I did not go ahead with doing it.
Therefore, I do agree with you that convicted felons, upon release from prison, should not be discriminated against from being hired in jobs they legally can hold. Everything should be done in society to legally help and encourage convicted felons so that they can go straight and not be financially compelled to return to crime, like when Jean Valjean was compelled to try to steal a loaf of bread because he could not find work.
Many prison inmates take college courses and learn trades in jobs they can legally hold upon being released into society.
Another important message of my comment is: Stay on the right side of the law!
DEAR FELLOW Philadelphians:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of you who partnered with the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services' Community Partnership Program (CPP) this past fiscal year. From July 1, 2011, till now , more than 713 community organizations and individuals received a loan of over 9,000 pieces of equipment such as rakes, brooms and shovels to coordinate cleanups in their communities. Your commitment to your neighborhood and our city is to be commended and I thank you.
Additionally, our Community Service Program (CSP) has worked with more than 2,000 nonviolent offenders and more than 1,000 volunteers to help clean and beautify our city. Their efforts have included sweeping more than 900 residential blocks and business corridors, cleaning more than 320 vacant lots, removing trash and debris from 400 underpasses and working with neighbors to clean more than 90 alleyways.
I would like to personally thank the supervisors and administrators of these programs — Manny Ramos, Kathy Harris, Mike Beuttenmuller and Jim McCarthy — and their staffs for their continued willingness to go above and beyond their call of duty as city employees.
If you are interested in organizing a community cleanup, please visit our website atphila.gov/qualityoflife. Working together, we can and will make a difference in your neighborhood and our great city.
deputy managing director
City of Philadelphia