Letters to the Editor 2-11-11



At first, I thought I was angry, but then, I tried to reason with myself as to why the situation I was looking at was the way it was. The issue I was looking at was the printed lists of property owners of nonpaid taxes to Northgate School District and the boroughs of Bellevue and Avalon. I reasoned that the economy has been in some rough times over the past few years, but citizens should still be responsible for their taxes and all debts, no matter what. This is an easy thing to say, until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes. Well, the shoes are starting to fit me, as I have been unemployed for the last year and a half.

When I finished analyzing all the information, I came to the conclusion that I think most people have come to and that is that there is, and always will be, a group of property owners that do not and will not pay their taxes, even though they enjoy all the services of the police department, the DPW and firemen in their respective communities. I guess these property owners do not care that they are hurting their community and their neighbors. This group is made up of people that are just not nice.

The next group, I think, makes up the rest of the list. The citizens in this group are probably listed because they could not come up with the amount owed. The problem is they tend not to make any effort to pay, even in partial payments. I am not saying the governing bodies will warrant such actions, but it still reduces the overall account. This group also includes some owners whose bills have been lost in the mail and they just don't think about it since they are only billed once a year. This group could include owners that thought the mortgage company or bank paid the taxes from the escrow account set up. (Companies are bought and sold and paperwork can fall through the cracks.) I think you get the drift. These citizens are not bad people, it is just that circumstance has happened and I am sure that they are embarrassed and will take corrective action when they see their name published.

Then I realized, what made me angry, really angry, is the list of names of council members from both boroughs, past and present school board members, business owners from our community and residents that are in positions to influence our families and communities by the roles they play or the position they hold, being on this list--over and over and over again. The first thing that could be said about the last group is that maybe this is a one-time mistake, and I believe that for a very few, this is true. The problem I have, is this group of civic and business leaders, that have been on the list for years and years and, with a straight face, ask you to vote for them, shop in their stores or use their services. They have no shame. What really puts the icing on the cake, is, in many cases, the property they have not paid taxes on is not their primary residence, it is a business front or income producing rental property.

One last thing, these names, you can be sure, are the same ones that show up on past due garbage bill lists. At least they are consistent, if nothing else. It is time for you to join me in being angry and do something about it. I encourage all Bellevue and Avalon residents to re-read the lists that are published, and take a good hard look. You will see many familiar names. Just remember those names on election day and when you are shopping and spending your hard- earned money in the community. Ask yourself why you meet your obligations with taxes and sewage and garbage, but some business and store owners and elected officials feel they do not need to do the same? And if you are really want to know the answer to this, just ask them! Clearly, several are very happy to see their names in the paper -- over and over and over again. I am sure they would be happy to speak with you!

George Doscher
Mayor of Bellevue



I believe readers of The Citizen need to get involved in fixing the education system.

Senate Bill 1 is Pennsylvania's answer to a lagging out-dated education model. The education decisions for a child is best done by the parent. Many parents do not have a choice of private school or other public setting based on income. The default is the local district.

The School Choice Voucher System has improved test results, graduation stats, job placement and saved tax revenue in cities like New Orleans, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Let us bring it to Pittsburgh.

The Northgate School District spends $11,924 per pupil in current expenditures. Northgate School District was ranked 51st out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and one year of science.

Local private school tuition rates are about $10,000 in high school and vary from $7,000 - $9,000 in grade school. These students are typically testing two grades higher on the same standardized tests.

The private schools are not nearly as well funded as the public sector yet are performing dollar for dollar higher.

The school voucher system will make schools more accountable to taxpayers for results and what they are doing with the money. Contact your state senator and urge him/her to not only support Senate Bill 1, but also be a co-sponsor. Our elected officials need to hear from their constituents that are affected by this legislation to counteract the special-interest groups.

Beth Kloss



If you have followed the articles in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette regarding the pollution in our air, you are aware that the Allegheny County Health Department has a lot on their plate in terms of updating and identifying what it is in our air that is making us sick.

Once you read the articles, you can choose to ignore the problem or be part of the solution. This isn't new to a lot of us as we know that our health has been and is being compromised. With the county health department regulating only a fraction of what is in our air, it's time for them to identify for us what it is we are breathing. An Air Toxics Committee has been formed by the health department to try to identify and measure our exposure.

We would like to discuss the issues that directly affect our health from pollution and how we can remedy or improve the situation. So I would like to invite concerned citizens, parents or relatives living in the area around Neville Island, to be part of a letter-writing campaign to ask the Air Toxics Committee to have their next meeting here in the North Boroughs and let us know how they plan to protect our health. Visit www.pabucketbrigade.org for an example.

Janet Strahosky

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