Political signs litter public rights-of-way

I was surprised to discover The Herald republished an editorial written by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, (Jan. 31, “PennDOT should enforce right-of-way sign rules”) that highlight my activism.

The article began with the question; “When is taking a sign out of the ground a crime and when is it not?”

The answer: It is a crime to remove signs from private property without permission. It is not a crime when the signs are removed from state road rights of way when posted without written consent from PennDOT.

I have contacted PennDOT and found that written permission is never obtained and the law is rarely enforced. I also went the extra mile by returning the illegal signs to PennDOT for retrieval.

Title 36, § 425 of the Pennsylvania Highway law prohibits the posting of any signage on state road rights-of-way without the express written consent from PennDOT. The penalty is abatement and comes with a $4 to $10 fine, which is obviously not a deterrent.

Upon further review, I learned about Title 75, § 3709 which addresses littering. Illegal signage litters the public landscape and comes with a greater penalty, a $300 fine as seen by the green and white littering signs throughout the Commonwealth.

Half of these fines are distributed to the agency or local government unit which brought the action to enforce this section. Half is allocated to the department for statewide public education and awareness programs to promote litter control.

Therein lays unharvested revenue needed for the state police without creating or raising a tax. Until this is enforced, expect the Turnpike Commission to continue annual toll hikes to fund PennDOT and the state police.

Fly-by-night businesses and politicians continue to litter our landscape, which motivated me to take down the signs and deliver them to PennDOT. I have repeatedly collected and deposited approximately 700 illegal signs each time on PennDOT’s front door for their lackadaisical enforcement.

This could have had the potential to gross $210,000 in revenue while cleaning up the


I was persecuted for doing a good deed. Had the local district judge listened to the law cited during the preliminary hearing, my case would not have gone to a jury trial and subsequent acquittal in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.

Yes, if PennDOT had done its job, this would have never become an issue.

Gary J. English

Murrysville, Pa.

Major farm processors control market

I watched an episode of the CBS Farm Show in February which featured a vegetable grower from the Salinas, Calif. area. Although he grew lots of tomatoes, I was surprised at how little he received for all the hours and hard work he applied to making a living.He received a measly nickel per pound, the highest amount of money per pound he had ever received. To gross $50,000 he had to sell 1 million pounds of tomatoes.

In his nearby grocery store the price was 99 cents per pound. Last summer I paid $2 for one large tomato at the farmers market and $10 for two tomato plants at a local outlet.

In 2007 there were 1,207 farms in Mercer County and a few farmers received as much as $250,000 a year but a lot received zilch from U.S. government subsidies.

According to Google, the median income for a farm was $150,000 but taxable income averaged about $30,000 after paying for labor, seed, fuel, fertilizer, buildings, feed, very expensive farm machinery, utilities, etc.

The Hightower Lowdown newsletter published a couple of eye-opening articles about beef production this year. The meat industry is dominated by the Big Four: Smithfield, Cargill, Tyson and JBS, the Brazilian company with nine gigantic meat packing facilities in the U.S. and which does business with 102 nations.The average beef steer weighs about 1,200 pounds and costs about $1.50 a pound to raise.

The Big Four are often the only bidders and JBS has often bid only $1.30 a pound.

The farmer/seller loses .20 X 1,200 or $240 per cow and when you have to sell 100 at a time you’ll lose $24,000.Though the Big Four have tripled their profits, they somehow get millions in subsidies each year under the U.S. Farm Bill.

JBS has averaged a U.S. handout of more than $20 million per year. Is that fair or right?

Do they and the others have to feed out of the Big Ag Trough? How about saving the family farmer for a change?

The farm bill is up for renewal this month.

Will we ever have a national farm bill that gives more help to family farmers than to rich corporate farming?

Did you notice that Wall Street is buying hundreds of thousands of American farmland? It’s not to harvest crops, but to monopolize water rights, to sell at a profit to farmers who desperately need water.

Contact your representatives in Congress to recommend cutting subsidies and tax breaks to the wealthy if they truly want to balance the budget, instead of punishing Americans and holding all of us hostage.

Roland Curry


Don’t trust IRS with taxpayers’ data

As directed by Congress, the IRS is currently studying what an IRS-run tax preparation system would look like. This proposal may be well-intentioned but there are many concerns to be considered, notably exposing taxpayers’ personal information and data.

Last year, the IRS unintentionally, but publicly, released personal information and data for more than 120,000 taxpayers. Additionally, 7-8 years ago, hackers gained access to the personal information of over 700,000 taxpayers and the IRS failed to inform those taxpayers about the breach.

The IRS clearly has a lot on its plate already, yet some politicians in Washington, D.C., want to add more responsibility to the agency, which I fear would put more taxpayers’ personal information at risk, which could expose them to identify theft and fraud.

The federal government has no business inserting itself into our personal financial affairs. Can we truly trust the federal government to create an effective tax preparation system that would adequately protect our private information?

The government clearly has a lackluster track record when it comes to safeguarding personal data, and we cannot afford to give the IRS access to even more of our information and expect different results.

I urge all our federal elected officials to reject an IRS-run tax preparation system and protect the interests of their constituents.

Gage M Bartholomew

New Vernon Township

Release Alzheimer’s disease treatment

As a caregiver and an advocate, access to treatments that can change the course of the disease in a meaningful way for people living with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease is important to me.

On Jan. 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lecanemab, now known as Leqembi, using the accelerated approval pathway.

Months later, despite unequivocal evidence confirmed by the scientific community, bipartisan support from 94 members of Congress, and urgent requests directly from those living with Alzheimer’s, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) still refuses to change its decision and stop blocking access to Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Alzheimer’s treatments.

Every FDA-approved drug is covered by Medicare, except for Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on CMS to change its decision.

Please join me in urging Congressman Mike Kelly to demand CMS take action to ensure individuals living with Alzheimer’s have equitable access to FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments. To learn more about how you can join the fight to end Alzheimer’s, visit

Melanie Cole


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