Unfortunately, Thomas refuses to acknowledge that without the help and struggle for civil rights, he would not be in the position he is in today. He should do some deep thinking about his attitude on civil rights legislation, and give it the respect and credit it deserves, as the source that gives all Americans, regardless of color, a fair shot at the American Dream.
For a person who admitted she used to think "condoms were places where people lived," Dr. Ruth Hayre, School Board president, has colossal nerve calling the parents' testimony, "frivolous, shallow and showing little depth or knowledge of the issues."
Mrs. Cindy Landon's picture should not have been taken as she was leaving her husband's funeral.
As was done with the funeral of ex-mayor Frank Rizzo, the interment was private. That meant family and close friends only; the "sightseers" and ''voyeurs" were kept away. But it was shameful to have seen one of the baskets that contained flowers was turned over on its side. As for those who stole the flowers to keep as mementos of Rizzo, that is completely incredulous!
Even when the deceased was a "public person," the family's request should be respected. Michael Landon's wife's privacy was most definitely invaded. There was no photograph or media coverage of Rizzo in his coffin; this was the wife's request.
BERNICE A. DANIELS
THE GOP'S DILEMMA
Billy "The Shepherd" Meehan has led his GOP flock down the garden path of hidden agendas and confusion that will divide the party for many years to come. He's selfishly sitting on his clout and throwing the mayor's race in the ashcan, knowing full well there isn't a snowball's chance in hell to win without Sam Katz.
Is this any time for a choiceless lesser-of-two-evils Stupidelphia politics-as-usual mayoral campaign? Joe Egan may be a man of substance but is he capable of leading this city with its hysterically cancerous financial and crime-ridden time bomb about to blow? And if he is, will he be able to prove it to wary voters in 13 or 14 weeks? In a pig's eye he will. If the Republicans had any notion of winning in November, it could only have been with Katz, who had not only a number of workable plans and feasible schemes to save the city but the confidence of many voters already in place.
However, Billy's stubborn stance, with all the litte obedient sheep (ward leaders) right behind him with lips puckered, has put an abrupt end to the election before it even got a full head of steam. Ed Rendell will laughingly run away with the job, come election day, winning almost by forfeit.
It's a sad situation, indeed, when you have an incorrigible powerhouse like Meehan, threatening ward leaders with their jobs if they don't vote his way. Manipulating jackasses like him is why this country took an independent stance 215 years ago and gave birth to a free nation, and told people like Billy The Shepherd to kiss off.
ARTHUR J. ESTERLING
If Joseph Egan wanted to be mayor of Philadelphia, he should have entered the primary. Even if he didn't, he should have entered the primary as Ron Castille did.
Castille didn't really want to be mayor, so therefore had boss Meehan's endorsement. That automatically brings him in second place, a spot Mr. Meehan is very comfortable with, since he has enjoyed it for so many many years. Heaven forbid Republican voters should have a voice in nominating a candidate for mayor or senator.
Although an endorsement by boss Meehan has been the kiss of death for the Republican party, he has been a big asset to the Democrats, and we can all see what a fine job they've done for the city.
Ron Castille's political career has hit the skids for two big reasons:
* He went from being his own man, when he was first elected district attorney, to being Billy Meehan's errand boy. The next mayor Meehan elects will be his first.
* He took Frank Rizzo's supporters too lightly. Rizzo had a legion of friends and supporters he spent a lifetime helping out.
No, Castille never should have resigned to run for mayor. He just doesn't have what it takes to win the big one.
WILLIAM A. MATTIFORD JR.
The Republicans are in a shambles. This election will be a cakewalk for Ed Rendell, Jim Kenney, Joe Vignola and the Democrats.
I am glad to say I will be helping these people get elected. It looks like the Democratic Party will remain in City Hall.
NAVY YARD MOST EFFECTIVE
If, as reported, the Federal Base Closing Commission did not make political decisions, but rather decisions of federal cost effectiveness, it is a mystery as to how single-purpose repair facilities were found more cost effective than the unique Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
Since Philadelphia's was the first naval shipyard in the U.S.A., it stands as a monument to the trials and tribulations of our founding fathers. So why not "Philadelphia Naval Shipyard Park?" As the only naval repair facility, our yard could serve the dual purpose of monument to our forefathers and still a functioning repair facility.
Let's send that commission to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, so they can be taught that a dual-purpose article is always more valuable than one serving just one of those functions.
JOHN B. KELLY
HEALTH CARE A RIGHTS ISSUE
Re Jesse Jackson's column, "The tragic risk of living without health insurance:"
A middle-aged Korean shop-owner and his wife were held up and the man shot in the chest, requiring three days hospitalization, but the couple had no health insurance, so they were left with a big bill.
Taking her two small children to the doctor's for a check-up and shots cost a mother $160 for a 15-minute visit.
It is an absolute disgrace that what is supposedly the richest country in the world is one of only two industrialized nations not to offer its citizens some form of basic affordable medical care with equal access for all. The other country is South Africa. The U.S. continues to practice medicine with
dollar signs, dependent on insurance companies that are unjust and unfair in methods they use to cover people, regularly raising rates, co-pay deductibles, refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions or who have been hospitalized within five years, refusing life-saving techniques.
Surely, there must be a better system. Jesse Jackson is correct. It is an absolute failure in leadership, and with leaders like George Bush who just doesn't care, how could we miss? As a recent letter writer noted, he even held up funding for measles vaccine in the midst of an epidemic.
It should not even be a political matter, but a basic human or civil rights issue, number one on the domestic agenda.
2 CONFLICTING VIEWS OF RIZZO
As a resident of Philadelphia for some 70 years, I became a friend and an ally of Frank Rizzo. His death is the end of a Great Era.
I met him at the start of his first campaign, when I was a Democratic committeeman in the 33rd ward. Through these many years, it was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the mayor's team, be it Democratic or Republican. He made me feel as important as any member of his staff.
Your coverage of Frank Rizzo's funeral was a bit much. You almost made him into some kind of folk hero, on the level of Ben Franklin and the Founding Fathers. In fact, Rizzo was a hero only by contrast to his sucessor, Mr. W. W. Goode.
That was in the '70s when Rizzo had cleaned up his act. In the 1950s and '60s, Rizzo and his underlings wrote the book on police brutality. How quickly we forget!
Somewhere between Benjamin Franklin and Frank L. Rizzo, Philadelphia produced some real heroes - real because they were all right, people thought they cared. Some of the names that come to mind as genuine Philadelphia Good Guys are Raymond Pace Alexander and his wife Sadie, Frank Palumbo, Lisa Aversa Richette, A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., Clifford Scott Crea, Jerome Shestack, William H. Cosby; Joseph S. Clark, Richardson Dilworth . . .
Your newspaper has committed a public disservice by showering all that praise on Rizzo's memory while omitting the horrible deeds that Rizzo & Co. committed. How do you expect your younger readers to put Rizzo in his corrupt historical perspective?
North Wildwood, N.J.
DEMOCRATS FOR WORKING JOE
Anyone who doesn't know the difference between Democrats and Republicans should take a look at the controversy surrounding the proposed extension of unemployment benefits for displaced jobless workers.
Current benefits in Pennsylvania cover a 26-week period, with very few exceptions for extension of such benefits.
Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate recently proposed extending these benefits to help jobless men and women continue to pay mortgages, send kids to school and put food on the table while they are unemployed. Can anyone doubt that this should not be a national priority, particularly in Philadelphia? The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard is the most recent casualty of our national economic downturn.
President Bush and other Republicans vowed to defeat any attempts to extend the protection of jobless workers. The president has cited the potential cost. Give us a break!
Is this the president who didn't blink an eye when we bailed out the wealthiest Americans, including his son, and their S&Ls at the cost of tens of billions of dollars to the same working people Bush ignores?
Why? My guess is that not many shipyard workers, teamsters, steelworkers, or teachers are on the White House "A" party list.
I'm proud to see Democrats championing the cause that is their birthright: working people. Let Bush continue to coddle "Biff" and "Muffy" of the country club set. As a Democrat, give me "Working Joe" every time. They need and deserve protection.
(State Rep.) MICHAEL P. McGEEHAN
Editor's Note: The writer represents a Northeast Philadelphia district in the Legislature.