Unhappy with change in city tax law
To the editor:
I am furious with Salem City Council to change the tax laws for city residents who work outside the city. I already pay the highest tax rate of the whole state by working in Youngstown at 2.75 percent. Why am I being punished because there aren't any jobs here in Salem?
I have better pay, better benefits and a higher tax rate then others but there are no jobs in this town. I have had a Salem address my whole life but this is crazy to have to pay an additional 1 percent when it has been reciprocal from Youngstown. It is no wonder there is no one living in this town because you are nickel and diming everyone in this town so they are all moving out
Look at all the houses for sale in this town - you are making it impossible to live here. There are several empty businesses in this town. Try to fill them by bringing new ones into town then people will want to live here again, but with no jobs in this town we are forced to get jobs in surrounding areas. Your answer... annex land that is not in the city and build another industrial park that won't be filled just like the last one you annexed in. We are left with few options in this town and I think a for sale sign in my yard will be my next move!
Salem police officer responds to letters
To the editor:
In response to Jon Arnold's letters:
Mr. Arnold's letters would have the citizens of Salem believe that all members of the police bargaining unit earn an average of 35 days paid vacation per year. Officers earn vacation by the following schedule: After completing one year 80 hours; five years 120 hours; 12 years 160 hours; 17 years 184 hours, 20 years 200 hours.
There are 17 police bargaining unit officers (including the two currently laid off) and they earn yearly vacation as follows: (three) 80 hours; (five) 120 hours; (four) 160 hours; (three) 184 hours; (two) 200 hours. That totals 2,432 hours, divided by 17 officers equals 143.06 hours, further divided by eight hours equals a factual average of 18 days vacation per officer earned per year.
The figures provided to Mr. Arnold were incorrectly calculated as if a vacation week equaled seven paid days (rather than the factual five paid days) and the claimed yearly average earned was nearly double the true amount. Fiction: 35 days, Fact: 18 days.
Twelve paid holidays and two personal days, why so many? The extra holidays help offset the fact that most officers don't get to spend the holidays with their families. Less than one third of the officers can actually take a day off during a holiday because the police department never shuts down. Instead, officers who must work the holidays will get to take other random days off during the year, hardly the same as being able to celebrate the holidays with family.
Thirteen days average paid sick time, why so much? Liability, that's why. Mr. Arnold's letters imply that police jobs should be comparable to jobs in the private sector, but unlike most private sector jobs, there is major liability attached to the job of a police officer. They carry firearms and routinely respond to emergency calls, requiring defensive driving through city traffic. The leading cause of death to police in the line of duty for the past 12 years has been traffic accidents and the fifth leading cause of death in the US is accidental injuries.
Police make life and death decisions, often with little time to contemplate the impact of those decisions. It might be acceptable for a person in the private sector to go to work suffering from a minor illness, but that same illness being suffered by a police officer could contribute to the officer making a mistake of fatal consequence. A liability no officer is willing to create and no employer is willing to accept responsibility for.
The job of police officer is ranked within the top 15 most dangerous jobs in the US each year. They are regularly in the midst of crimes involving physical violence, heightening the potential for physical injury and subjecting them to frequent contact with blood. Few employees in the private sector will ever have to endure the experience of waiting for the results of a blood virus test after being punctured by a drug users needle during a pat down search. It's a risk the police routinely face and an experience that some Salem officers have been subject to in the past.
Mr. Arnold's letters can scrutinize police sick time all they want, but the fact remains that the liability of a police officers job dictates the necessity of the sick time and clearly differentiates it from the private sector.
I agree that police officers earn good benefits, but the liberal use of the word "lavish" in Mr. Arnold's letters is an overstatement when you weigh the risks of the officer's job. The compensation police receive is hardly worth the risks they take to protect and serve, and yet there is no shortage of officers willing to do the job.
Salem PD's officers are well aware of the economical problems our community is facing. Since 2007 approximately a half million dollars have been saved by the city as a result of five full-time police positions being eliminated through attrition. With two officers on lay off, the police department is currently understaffed a total of seven police officers and a secretary.
Contrary to what Mr. Arnold's letters imply, the police are helping to reduce the financial burden to the city and its citizens. Salem's police unanimously agreed to a one-year pay freeze, foregoing a 2.75 percent raise they were entitled to beginning July 2010.
Officers are also incurring increases in health insurance contributions and have discussed future changes to both health care and pension pick-up. Several ideas have been presented to the mayor and city council members that would increase staffing levels without inflating the budget, but it is imperative that the two police officers on lay off be brought back to work before those ideas can begin to be implemented.
The police appreciate the support that so many of the citizens of Salem have shown in these tough times and hopefully this letter has helped provide a better understanding of the importance of a police officers time off.
15 year veteran police officer,
Salem city resident
Kind words for township firefighters, responders
To the editor:
General Stonewall Jackson once said "Put everything in to the fight." Every hour of every day, men and women serving on our township's volunteer firefighter and emergency medical teams do just that. They sacrifice to fight for the safety of our residents, our neighbors and those within our township. I see a number of these heroes on a routine basis.
They are autoworkers, college students, farmers, orchestra directors, retirees, road workers, secretaries, small business men and women, steelworkers, teachers and the list goes on. When the tone alarm goes off and the pagers begin ringing, it's off to save lives and property.
While we focus on our everyday lives, from working to leisure to sleeping, these people are on call 24 hours a day. They have commitments just as we do, like families to run, events to attend, jobs to perform at. But the one thing that sets them apart is their willingness to sacrifice what's most precious in life, time. Time to be with loved ones, time to be refreshed for the next day's challenges, time that cannot be taken back. Every time they respond to a call they risk injury and death. As the fire chief regularly communicates to staff and community leaders, the hope is that "Everybody goes home."
As I have grown to learn more about the inner workings of township safety forces, it is humbling to see the sacrifice that is taking place each time an ambulance or fire truck takes to the road in our township.
It should stir us to take a moment each time one of our vehicles passes us, to wish those suffering an experience of compassion and comfort, and for those serving, a passionate heart to "put everything in to the fight."
Salem Kiwanis Club is thankful for support
To the editor:
The Kiwanis Club of Salem recently held our 46th Annual Antique and Craft Show at Centennial Park.
Money raised from the show helps to support the many community projects that we undertake during the year as we support the Kiwanis International mission of "Serving the Children of the World."
We would like to thank all of the residents of Salem and surrounding communities for their continued support as both vendors and shoppers. People come great distances for this show but the "locals" really make it a success.
Special thanks go to Parks Director Steve Faber and his crew. Year after year, we arrive at Centennial Park on the Wednesday before the show to begin our set-up and the park is in immaculate condition. Numerous longtime vendors always comment on how great the park looks.
Thanks also to the various government, civic organizations and businesses that have always supported and cooperated with us in support of the show.
We look forward to seeing all of you at next year's show on the third Saturday in July, 2011.
Salem Kiwanis Club
Calls a call for boycott of BP sheer hypocrisy
To the editor:
I read with some amusement the article about BP gas station owners attempting to disguise their affiliations. To hear the sanctimonious and self-righteous bad mouth the big bad BP Oil for their misfortune in the Gulf while they speed around in their SUVs is nothing short of hypocrisy.
To boycott BP gasoline is something akin to biting off your nose to spite your face. BP is one of the few companies that produce its gasoline without Mideast Oil. So when you are ranting about lessening our dependency on OPEC oil, keep in mind that BP produces its gasoline from oil from North America and the North Sea off England.
In no way do I condone what has happened, however, more can be accomplished by working together to resolve a bad situation than by standing in the crowd shaking your fist.
Government spending won't solve the problem
To the editor:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" Simple, concise, but far too often ignored.
We can look back at history and find many examples that prove this to be true. But we need not look far if we would just open our eyes and watch it playing out right in front of us.
What we are repeating is akin to the failed Keynesian economic policy of the 1930s which produced the New Deal. Like our modern day stimulus packages, the New Deal it was crafted to lift America out of the Great Recession/Depression and put people back to work.
Unfortunately, as in the 1930s, all the massive spending doesn't erase unemployment and doesn't produce a recovery.
On May 9, 1939, FDR's Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau Jr. said, "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work....I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And an enormous debt to boot!"
Fast forward to July 11, 2010. Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of President Obama's deficit commission said, "We've got to cut spending or increase revenues or do some combination of that. This debt is like a cancer, it is truly going to destroy the country from within."
I think it was Albert Einstein who said, "insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Comments on the proposed annexation
To the editor:
Dear People of Salem, Ohio:
Your town was the main destination for my family during the long Air Force career of my father, Robert D. McCluggage. Year after year we left Air Force Base residences all over the United States to come home to Salem to visit relatives we loved and missed. Salem became for my siblings and me home also, though we had never resided here for very long. We watched this town change, our relatives age and our family's numbers change through the natural order of death and birth. Always it was to Salem, our home that we came. After retirement, my parents bought an older home in a lovely country setting on Pine Lake Road and moved for the last time. They have happily lived there for 42 years, a beautiful and peaceful setting for their twilight years together.
This year has brought a new sorrow that has been difficult to believe and harder to actually deal with. The annexation issue that has lately been a source of news and concern in the area stands to affect my parents very personally. I wrote a letter of concern to this paper in late March, trying to convey my disbelief that a plan was under way to involve my parents' home in an annexation to the city of Salem in order to industrially develop the land behind them and surrounding the Quaker City Drag Strip on Route 165.
Green Township trustees and area farmers and my father's neighbors were also upset and concerned that this change that would affect so many was so quickly being moved through the process and being applied to their lives.
A lawyer, Mr. Al Schrader of Akron, was hired while plans were made to share their feelings about this development. Many handmade signs were erected in the area expressing concerns and we began to realize that what had begun as resistance to the proposed annexation had developed into a citizens' defense of Constitutional rights. As awareness heightened, and too few facts emerged to inform the populace of the monies involved, the time frame in scope of the project, the benefits to the town that were supposedly the focus for decision, and the far-reaching effects of this development, many perspectives of concern began to develop. Our grassroots movement took on a growing energy among those who opposed the annexation, determined to make more voters aware and to try to stop this movement until more was known by those who would watch their town change radically because of it.
Many people from many walks of life began to actively discuss this issue around town; of course these discussions included differing opinions, things that had been heard and surmised, and chagrin over the woeful state of fiscal affairs that the city is already facing at present. Salem is their town, their home that has had school and protection forces problems: over the years we have all seen industries depart, residential areas fall into sad states of disrepair and dereliction, streets and services become less than optimum. These are times of concern for all us as our country faces uncertainty on many fronts.
County commissioners accepted the ordinance despite the opposition toward, and though my father had rescinded his agreement before council had heard or accepted the annexation agreement that he had signed. As one of his last acts in retiring, Judge Tobin dismissed the objections of Green Township and my father in a hearing last spring.
A legally drawn up referendum petition in response has been circulated recently in the area by concerned citizens who are trying to get the issue on the ballot in November, in order to have time for voters to have more real information about the issue. People eagerly signed and so many differing opinions and concerns were expressed during the week of canvassing Salem neighborhoods around the Fourth of July. In all, 973 voters signed, nearly twice the number needed to start the process toward balloting in November. The verification process takes time, but is in process.
Joining in the petition circulation to help this cause, I walked in neighborhoods that I had not seen since childhood with my cousins. Unique and showing their character, lovely homes that I had observed over decades of visits to Salem found me on their porches. Residents seemed eager to inquire and express their opinions about the issue.
Their concern seemed fairly universal-rarely did we encounter people who did not want to be heard through this process. They understood that a petition signature was not a vote, but part of the process to make a vote possible in November. All of those who signed love Salem and want to help, and hope that this avenue could be more thoroughly explored before commitment. Thank you, Salem residents, for responding to our asking for your signatures! Thank you, Green Township trustees, veteran and citizens watch group, municipal employees, business owners, neighbors, relatives and friends who assisted in so many ways in the gathering of signatures.
As we went door-to-door, we noticed a sense of sadness reflected in the some neighborhoods having so many homes standing empty, displaying sheriff sale signs, or displaying realtor signs. We observed the lack of information begin to take on critical importance as people could only imagine what could happen next. Our petition circulators heard much in our weary walks around town in the heat, and had the opportunity to try to convey the facts that we do know, but were constantly aware of just how little is known about this huge undertaking.
We have been accused by the mayor through the media of spreading lies and rumors; in fact, those were already buzzing out there, some of them were amazingly inaccurate and we tried to be forces for truth. It was very interesting and even amusing to hear some of those stories even about my own family that were totally without fact. It was a pleasure to be moving among people to set the record straight, as I understand it. I too, would like to know more of what this is really about!
Recently the council tried a new strategy, adding more to the concerns of those of us who thought that things were over in that stage. Apparently council minds have been rethinking the issue, because on Thursday evening the second of three called emergency meetings ended with the mayor's ceding the new strategy to the people's right to vote!
Can we rest now? Do we dare?
and Teresa C.
Disappointed someone took her purse
To the editor:
I am 6 years old and am very sad and disappointed that someone picked up my Hello Kitty purse containing all my favorite belongings, including a Bahamas change purse with my Hello Kitty camera, $20, a Claire's wallet with my dad's name in it on a card.
It happened at Goodwill in Salem on July 9, 2010. I keep checking Goodwill to see if someone tuned it in and nobody has turned it in.
Please return everything to me. You can turn it in to the cashier at Goodwill.