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Contrary to letter, Kanjo was key to saving VA

Congressman Paul Kanjorski helped to ensure that the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs Medical Center is still active and thriving today. Any claim stating the opposite, including in a recent letter to the editor in The Times Leader, is severely inaccurate.

From my experience as a veteran, I am proud that Congressman Kanjorski stood up for our veterans at a time when all VA Medical Centers throughout the country were evaluated and faced the threat of closure. Several centers, including one in Pennsylvania, were closed as a result of the VA CARES Commission. But Congressman Kanjorski did not let that happen in Wilkes-Barre.

Rather, Congressman Kanjorski encouraged me and other veterans who served him as advisers on veterans’ issues to gather 30,000 signatures in support of keeping the Wilkes-Barre VA open and present those names to VA Secretary Anthony Principi.

The congressman organized a busload of us to join him as he testified before the VA commission making the decisions about which centers should remain open. Congressman Kanjorski kept an open dialogue with area veterans to seek input on this issue. Finally, he secured $48 million for the first major renovation of the Wilkes-Barre VA, which was completed in 2000. The facility now serves more than 250,000 veterans living in 19 counties in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Congressman Kanjorski is deeply dedicated to the Wilkes-Barre VA. We all owe him a great deal for his efforts, as he saved the Wilkes-Barre VA from closure.

Additionally, the recent letter to the editor confuses the VA CARES Commission with the Department of Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission. The Wilkes-Barre VA was not part of BRAC because it is not a defense base operated by the Department of Defense.

Northwest teachers well paid for 6 months work

This is in reference to the Northwest Area School District teachers’ contract dispute:

First, the teachers are getting $65,000 a year. They work only 180 days a year, which works out to six months.

Also, they work for the taxpayers. We don’t work for them.

Criticism of teacher compensation off base

Why is it that some taxpayers have a problem with paying health care costs for educated teachers, yet never in my existence have I heard a taxpayer complain about their tax dollars paying health care for prisoners?

Why is it that some taxpayers have a problem with paying educated teachers a just salary, yet I never hear taxpayers complain about their tax dollars going to people who sit around and continuously collect from the system?

We as a society have our priorities backwards when it’s easier to nitpick at our children’s educators than it is to solve real problems in our decaying society.

County should consider alternatives to prison

The county prison 2009 budget request is about $26 million.

Have the Luzerne County Commissioners asked what the nonviolent prisoner population is? With the high cost of incarceration, it might be a good idea for the commissioners to work with the courts to consider placing nonviolent prisoners on “home confinement,” using the ankle bracelet as a zero supervision cost to the county.

The cost of the bracelet falls on the inmate, and the probation department would receive supervision fees (also paid by the inmate). The side benefit could be that, with the cooperation of the courts, home confinement could include community service such as road cleanup, municipal labor, etc. This would not create union grievances as long as current municipal staffing is maintained.

As for the immediate fiscal impact, the county would not have to feed, clothe or give health insurance to the inmates assigned to the home confinement program.

A lesser inmate population would not necessarily mean a reduction in prison staff, but it could very well result in less overtime expenditures.

Send us your opinion

Letters to the editor must include the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number for verification. Letters should be no more than 250 words. We reserve the right to edit and limit writers to one published letter every 30 days.

• E-mail: mailbag@timesleader.com

• Fax: 570-829-5537

• Mail: Mail Bag, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 1871 1

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