Tax increase is not good idea

I cannot believe the Southern Tioga School District is seriously considering a tax increase on people who are already stretched to the limit from loss of work and wages due to the coronavirus? It is insensible to even consider this action!

Find another way to cut the budget — and not from the schools or the teachers. Try looking in your own backyards.

As a landowner in the Morris Township, I am telling you to find another way. Or perhaps voters will find a way come election time.

Linda Blackwell (Peelle)


Pennsylvanians want citizens redistricting commission

The way the 1968 amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution sets up the redistricting commission is flawed when they wrote that the four leaders of the legislature, or their deputies, choose a fifth member who is to act as chairman. If there was no agreement on the fifth member, the majority of the state Supreme Court would chose the fifth member. That has ensured that the makeup of the redistricting commission would always be partisan. With increased technology, the results of elections are predictable. The public will continue to distrust the process.

I have been reminded by more than several legislators, or their office staff, that we are a republic-style government. They explained that means that the voters elect someone who will then represent the peoples’ interests in the legislature.

After talking to everybody who will listen, from my doctors to people waiting in line at the grocery checkout, township supervisors, borough council members, clubs and neighbors, and looking at the maps drawn in 2011, it is very clear to me that what the voters of Pennsylvania want in the composition of the redistricting commission is not the current commission made up of politicians.

According to the Franklin & Marshall Collge statewide survey, 67% of the registered voters want an independent commission, 16% want state legislators. Seventy two percent feel that the current system of drawing legislative districts allows officials to put party interests ahead of voters’ interests and 70% feel that the current system creates polarization and gridlock.

Over 100,000 voting Pennsylvanians have signed petitions in favor of an independent citizens commission, 99-plus state House legislators have cosponsored the bill. In some counties, 100% of their municipalities have signed resolutions supporting the independent commission.

On March 9 in Tioga County, Rep. Clint Owlett’s district, the Wellsboro Borough Council, our largest municipality, joined the majority of the county townships and municipalities, and signed a supportive resolution for an independent citizens redistricting commission.

The week that the Capitol was closed to the public, more than 600 residents had registered to attend a demonstration in Harrisburg requesting the support of the legislators to change the redistricting process before the 2020 Census mandates the drawing of new maps.

In the interest of reaching a solution for making our redistricting process fair, nonpartisan, accountable and transparent, what more does it take for our state representatives to represent “the people” in this important and timely civic issue?

Janet M. Gyekis


On #MeToo and Biden

I read the guest column last week by Ms. Flowers and have to say that I generally agree with it, although not for the same reasons. I’m a liberal Democrat and lawyer, the father of two adult daughters, and I am guided by two principles: first, a person is innocent until proved guilty and, second, a person making an accusation bears the burden of proof.

Regrettably accusations of the sort made against Mr. Biden and Justice Kavanaugh are guided by the principle of “guilty until proved guiltier” with the burden resting upon the accused to prove innocence. To me, this is antithetical to our system of justice.

You are accused of a criminal act taking place on Sept. 17, 1992. Could you reconstruct what you did that day, or whom you were with, or even where you were? I doubt it.

In Kavanaugh’s case and assuming the accuser’s story is accurate, does one drunken high school episode (which, unfortunately, was viewed differently at that time) negate all that he accomplished since then as well as his judicial qualifications? As a lawyer I’d rather be defending Biden and Kavanaugh than prosecuting them.

In Kavanaugh’s case the acts of a drunken juvenile are argued as negating his 13 years on the country’s second highest court, the D.C. Court of Appeals. In Biden’s case his accuser, a strong and vocal advocate for Bernie Sanders, failed to raise what would be a criminal act by him during his senatorial re-election campaigns or when he twice ran for an office which put him a heartbeat away from the presidency.

These cases need to be judged by logic, not emotion, and by the same standards of proof as we require in our civil and criminal law, regardless of gender or victim empathy.

James Tutak