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EDDIE COSTIK: Orangeade and the kindness of Mr. Roksandic

 

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I bought a gallon of orangeade yesterday. At Turkey Hill. Got home, took a swig right from the jug, male pig that I am. Couldn’t wait for a glass.

I was immediately transported to my summer days of the early 1960s. Summers spent in the recreational programs conducted by Mr. Roksandic behind the Feaser School. Days spent playing tether ball. Wall ball. Home Run Derby. Softball. Basketball.

Arts and crafts, patiently taught by art teachers from the public school system.

Back then, time seemed a luxury. Time and instruction freely given. No compensatory expectations – teachers compensated by the smiles and laughter of the children under their supervision. Not everything was measured in dollars and cents. Different times.

Attitudes were taught and nurtured – patience, conduct, sportsmanship, kindness. Most important? Kindness. Examples expressly set by Mr. Roksandic on a daily basis.

He’s gone now. I miss him. I do. I remember Mr. Roksandic giving old baseball gloves, old hardballs, old baseball bats, old footballs, old basketballs to kids who were less fortunate. He didn’t check with school administration. He didn’t ask anyone’s opinion. He didn’t confer. He just did it. I still can see the smiles on the sweaty, grubby faces of those kids. Different times.

I got caught smoking one of my mother’s Chesterfield King cigarettes while I was waiting my turn to play tether ball. My youngest brother told on me. My mother made me smoke an entire pack the next day. I turned green. At least that was the color reflected back to me from the mirror in our bathroom. I couldn’t see straight. Literally.

Had Mr. Roksandic seen me instead? No. Things would’ve turned out differently.

Mr. Roksandic would’ve taken a tether ball paddle and given me a good swat on the backside. But I would’ve been spared the indignity of smoking an entire pack of non-filtered Chesterfield Kings! It would’ve been just between me and Mr. Roksandic. He was a peach. Different times.

I don’t know how Mr. Roksandic pulled this off, but I remember one summer afternoon he had Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Gus Triandos and Jim Gentile, all players from the Baltimore Orioles, come to the old baseball field behind the fence of the Feaser School and give batting and fielding lessons to us kids. No charge for autographs.

They brought with them old, cracked professional baseball bats. I was fortunate enough to get one. I meticulously screwed and taped it back together – it was too heavy to swing. It got lost in the Flood of 1972.

I still can’t believe Mr. Roksandic pulled this off. I’m pretty sure he didn’t pay them. I’m pretty sure the four Oriole players didn’t expect it. Different times.

That orangeade brought back those memories.

In the rear of the Feaser School, there was a vending machine under the stairwell. It dispensed white milk, chocolate milk, lemonade and orangeade in 8-ounce wax cartons. I loved the taste of that cold orangeade on those steamy, summer afternoons. They cost a nickel each.

I still remember Mr. Roksandic pulling nickels out of his pocket every day and placing them in the palms of those unfortunate kids. Kindness. Different times.

Eddie Costik, a Middletown native, writes from Hummelstown.

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 22 May 2015 17:05

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Mike Folmer: Openness and union contracts

 

Openness, transparency and accountability are key elements of my “Promise to Pennsylvania” – and words that sometimes echo through the halls of the Capitol. However, these words apparently have no meaning when it comes to public sector unions.

This sad fact was recently demonstrated by deliberation and debate on a bill to give taxpayers more information on the costs of the Commonwealth’s union contracts.

So far this legislative session, more than 150 bills have been proposed in the Pennsylvania State Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives with the stated goals of providing some form of “openness,” “transparency” and/or “accountability.”

Among these 150-plus bills is a call for “openness, accountability and scrutiny” related to any proposed privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery. Another bill would require the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board make its procurement policies “more transparent and accountable to taxpayers.” Still another bill would require the state Department of Community and Economic Development to assess its economic development programs and penalize employers for “noncompliance” and impose “requirements for public disclosure.”

I believe the goals of “openness, transparency and accountability” should also apply to one of the biggest cost drivers of the state budget: collective bargaining agreements. This is why I introduced Senate Bill 644: Empower the Independent Fiscal Office to provide cost estimates on proposed contracts two weeks prior to their execution.

Once the governor and the unions have tentatively agreed to terms, I would like an independent set of eyes to assess the estimated added costs of employee wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions.

This year, 16 collective bargaining agreements could be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf and cover nearly 45,000 of the more than 72,000 state employees under his jurisdiction. Fourteen of these contracts were to expire at the end of June and are estimated to cost more than $3 billion. Over the next two years, four other contracts will expire and total another $1.5 billion.

If these contracts increase wages by just 1 percent, the costs to taxpayers will total approximately $45 million per year, with additional – and presently unknown – costs for employees’ health care and pension benefits.

The General Assembly needs this important information to pass a truly balanced budget. Otherwise, this year’s “structural deficit” will remain unresolved and will grow in future years.

More importantly, taxpayers who will be footing the bill of these agreements negotiated by others have a right to know the costs before they are signed.

Surprisingly, opponents of SB 644 claim it will inject the General Assembly into the collective bargaining negotiations, which are rightly under the purview of the governor. Opponents also say giving the Independent Fiscal Office two weeks to generate cost information is attacking unions. Perhaps most amazing of all, some allege that requiring such information is a secret plan of the Koch brothers to destroy unions! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Senate Bill 644 is about openness, transparency and accountability of taxpayer money. This is the very same reason why both the Senate and the House send a host of bills to their respective Appropriations Committees: Get a fiscal note so each chamber and the public know the costs of proposed legislation before voting.

During my time in the Senate, I’ve never heard anyone question the need for fiscal notes to get good cost information on bills before the Senate.

SB 644 seeks similar information from the Independent Fiscal Office two weeks before proposed collective bargaining agreements are signed. Two weeks – that’s all SB 644 seeks to give the Independent Fiscal Office to prepare cost estimates for the General Assembly and for the public to know what each contract will cost before they are signed.

The fate of Senate Bill 644 will demonstrate who is truly for openness, transparency and accountability and who isn’t. Mike Folmer is a Republican member of the Pennsylvania Senate. He represents the 48th Senatorial District, which includes Middletown, Royalton, Lower Swatara Twp., Highspire, Londonderry Twp., Steelton and the Swatara Twp. communities of Bressler, Enhaut and Oberlin.

Mike Folmer is a Republican member of the Pennsylvania Senate. He represents the 48th Senatorial District, which includes Middletown, Royalton, Lower Swatara Twp., Highspire, Londonderry Twp., Steelton and the Swatara Twp. communities of Bressler, Enhaut and Oberlin.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 May 2015 17:05

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Thanksgiving leftovers

The turkey and stuffing are long gone. Place settings and cookers are tucked away. Family and friends are back in their routine.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 11:43

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