Pay election workers fair wages

It’s an under-the-radar problem in Philadelphia’s political system, but one that must be addressed quickly in order to ensure the integrity of our elections. The city’s election day workers are woefully underpaid. Every election day, those who serve in these important roles work a minimum 14-hour day. For their efforts, they make less than minimum wage. As a result, there are currently 2,500 unfilled election day worker positions in Philadelphia. That’s less than half the necessary workforce, which means Philadelphia runs the risk of not being able to open
some polling places for the rapidly approaching May 15 primary. With the integrity of our elections in the news on an almost daily basis, we must do everything in our power to ensure the integrity of the process and increase voter participation. For those reasons, I am working closely and in a bipartisan spirit with the Office of City Commissioners to increase their annual budget to allow for an additional $20 for every election day worker. The impact on the city budget would be negligible, but the increase would demonstrate how much the city values its election day workers and would help recruit others in time for the May 15 primary.

Councilman Al Taubenberger
Philadelphia City Council

Get rid of red light cameras

With the recent grant money from the state for Vision Zero, there has been no breakdown of how the money will be used. If it is in line with past comments by people in the city, we all need to be very watchful. City and state officials, in an effort to get people to stop driving and to raise money, have been pushing all sorts of silly ideas. Many speed camera areas had more crashes, there was no noticeable impact, lots of errors, tickets to safe drivers, and traffic diversion. Enhancements like setting 85th percentile speed limits, using longer yellow lights and stop signs only where needed were left out of the conversation. A 2012 analysis of NHTSA data from 25 states showed that speed caused 1.6 percent of crashes, so barely above zero. Perhaps the criminalization of average driving habits is being caused by poor engineering and predatory enforcement. Many media outlets reported that after red-light cameras went in, more crashes occurred in Philly. PennDOT also said the past few years have been the safest in the history of Pennsylvania.

With vulnerable road users, how many accidents are caused by these very people, who violate the law or do dumb things? A past NBC 10 story showed bicyclists gone wild. Bike Nice!

We do not need red-light cameras or speed cameras, we need best-practice engineering.

Why is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia a supposed expert on driving issues, while the National Motorists Association is never consulted on bicycling issues? It is odd that an anti-driving group is always consulted about driving issues. The NMA is not against bikes at all, and actually has a Streets That Work Program, which calls for bike lanes and sensible urban planning. Everyone could work together, which would be the smart thing to do, but that will never occur, sadly.

James Sikorski Jr.
PA Advocate National Motorists Association

We need better schools and medical care

I am both amused and bewildered by the direction politicians are taking the country. I hear cries for smaller government, lower taxes, bigger armed forces, etc. Let’s face it. The government has two main responsibilities. One, to protect all its citizens, and two, to educate its citizens. If these include higher taxes, so be it, but let’s make sure these dollars are well spent. This includes government-backed, fully funded schools for all its citizens, not good ones here and bad ones there. All should be good everywhere. This precludes the use of privately run schools (except colleges). The next thing is one payer medical care. This makes sure all our citizens are being cared for properly and without regard to income or standing in the community. Finally I would like to see all lobbyists barred from interfering with our government by paying legislators. After all, lobbying is the same as bribery, just with another name. These would be good first steps in changing our government to serve us better. Do I expect to see any of these changes in my lifetime? No I don’t but with people voting properly and for the right candidates, maybe it could happen in my children’s or their children’s lifetime.

Joe Orenstein