San Francisco bought many of our cars, refurbished them and now uses them as the local point of its F-Market trolley line, which serves the main tourist areas of the city. Colorado Springs has purchased a number of the cars and plans to use them to start a new trolley line. Other cars have been sold for use as offices and restaurants, and for display in trolley museums. Even the parts supply SEPTA used to maintain the cars has been a hot commodity, with Newark, Pittsburgh and San Francisco gladly buying up scarce parts that only we seem to be getting rid of.
It's time to make certain that the rest of this fleet of historic vehicles remains here in the city they called home for more than 50 years. It's time for Philadelphia to use the vehicles in a downtown tourist operation and follow the lead of other cities before it's too late. Our region only stands to benefit.
Matthew W. Nawn
ICA is looking ahead In response to Edward J. Sozanski's article ``The ICA, at 35, looks back on its glory day,'' I would like to respond as Mark Twain said more than 100 years ago, ``The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.''
Anniversaries are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the past, and we have taken this moment to reflect on our major exhibitions and discoveries. But we are, at the same time, focused on the future. Witness our upcoming exhibitions starting on Nov. 13 with Tacita Dean, now on the short list for the Turner Prize, clearly demonstrating ICA's ability to recognize emerging talent, and Steven Pippin, whose work is an innovative homage to Eadweard Muybridge's motion photography.
It is ICA's mission to develop, affirm and challenge the public's understanding of contemporary art. Success is often measured only through hindsight. Sozanski does recognize many of ICA's groundbreaking exhibitions, all, may I add, organized under different directors, yet he overlooks many of the wonderful exhibitions of the recent past such as Bill Viola, Rachel Whiteread, Marlene Dumas, Jose Bedia, Glenn Ligon, Andres Serrano and Vija Celmins.
We are 35 years young, quite strong and ready to take on the future. ICA exists, not to be in the limelight, but to light the road ahead.
ICA Advisory Board
Handling telemarketers As a former telemarketing rep, I found myself reacting with equal parts bemusement and disgust upon reading of Ameritech Corp.'s ploy to help people block telemarketer calls (Inquirer, Sept. 23).
It astounds me that people would be willing to pay $11.45 a month to the phone company to prevent the device from ringing at all. That's part of the telephone's function - to receive incoming calls.
While a telemarketer, I was amazed at the number of people who went ballistic once I got them on the line. The computer that dials the number has no way of knowing the person on the other end is in the middle of some supremely important task like eating, sleeping or watching television.
So what if a telemarketer calls your home? What's the big deal about listening to the pitch or politely cutting in and saying you're not interested before hanging up? Afraid to say ``no''? You're not hurting the caller's feelings. The average telemarketing employee is well-trained in dealing with rejection. They just move on to the next call.
Interruptions by telephone calls are a fact of life at home and in business. Deal with it.
Leroy Williams Jr.
Election for East Timor The prospects for a just and peaceful settlement for East Timor may have increased, but any such settlement must respect the wishes of the East Timorese people (Inquirer, Sept. 22). For 23 years, at great cost, the East Timorese have resisted Indonesian rule. They are unlikely to accept any proposal imposed on them by Indonesia, just as they have refused to accept their forced incorporation into Indonesia.
The surest way to determine these wishes is for the East Timorese to exercise their right to a U.N.-supervised vote on their political status. The East Timorese were preparing for such a referendum when Indonesia invaded, using U.S.-supplied weapons.
Two decades ago the United States armed and politically supported East Timor's invaders. We should now make clear to the Indonesian government that it must allow a referendum, sooner rather than later. Prerequisites for an uncoerced vote are release of all East Timorese political prisoners and internationally monitored troop withdrawals.
John M. Miller
Media & Outreach Coordinator
East Timor Action Network
Peanut allergies are serious Jack Severson states that he doesn't doubt the seriousness of peanut allergy, but then makes an attempt to be humorous while he expresses his opinion that this is a frivolous ruling (Inquirer, Sept 13).
For some peanut-allergic persons, the odor from sitting next to someone eating peanuts can trigger an anaphylactic reaction that can lead to a rapid death. Simply touching areas such as seats or tray tables that have had previous contact with peanuts or peanut fragments can induce a life-threatening reaction. Flying takes on an added risk for peanut-allergic persons.
As health-care professionals and as parents of a peanut-allergic child, we are thankful that the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking seriously the risk of peanut exposure on aircraft.
Dorothy and Samuel Wilson
The Allegheny sale The scheduled sale of the Allegheny system hospitals on Tuesday to a for-profit buyer seems highly likely (Inquirer, Sept. 23). The demise of this nonprofit system has apparently been brought on by an inept and possibly corrupt administration, and appears now to threaten the viability of Allegheny University as well. Despite the tragedy of this loss, it is important not to compound the disaster with further errors in the confusing times that lie ahead.
If the sale is made to a for-profit firm, it will be crucial to assure that the asset value of the nonprofit Allegheny is preserved. This sum represents over a century of charitable tax-exempt donations and local government subsidies donated to Hahnemann Hospital, founded in 1848; the Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded as a women's hospital in 1850; St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, founded in 1875; and the five other institutions placed on the block for potential sale to a commercial corporation.
Author Robert Kuttner has warned: ``Under the well-established common-law doctrine, a charitable corporation that has raised funds for one set of purposes is not free to convert its assets to new purposes, nor are executives of charities free to convert assets to personal benefit. But that is precisely what occurs when a for-profit buys out a nonprofit.''
Every effort must be made by Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, legislators, and other appropriate state agencies to assure that, if the nonprofit hospitals are sold to a for-profit corporation, their assets not be placed under the control of a nominally nonprofit foundation connected to the Allegheny debacle. No executive, board member, attorney, banker, consultant, accountant or relative associated with the mismanagement that led to Allegheny's bankruptcy should be allowed to play any role in the conversion foundation that will control the assets after sale and payment of creditors.
In other communities (Phoenix is a good example), conversion foundations have successfully been formed after the sale of nonprofit hospitals. Let us make sure that Allegheny's demise is not accompanied by further abuse of the public trust.
Jon Van Til
Congregations and crime fighting The article on Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's call for residents to band together to help fight crime quoted Norristown Mayor Ted LeBlanc, who commented: ``The Cardinal brings us what we needed . . . a little push here in Norristown'' (Inquirer, Sept. 20). There's nothing little about the push churches can bring to the war on crime.
Earlier this year, a Church/Town Watch Initiative was established in several parishes in Southwest Philadelphia. The objective was to register large numbers of residents in the city's Operation Town Watch program to be trained to proactively target crime, violence, drugs and disorder in their neighborhoods.
Not for nothing are churches becoming more active in supporting community efforts. The ``out-migration'' of families with children leaving urban neighborhoods for the suburbs disorganizes neighborhoods. Churches lose families and students. Town Watch groups disband for lack of volunteers.
Church congregations are also a significant source of volunteers for community projects such as Town Watch. An analysis of our community showed that church boards and church-related organizations had the highest participation rates of any form of civic activity. Because of this, we met with the pastors of Barnabas, Good Shepherd, St. Mary's and St. Irenaeus. Each pastor gave us access to their congregations at the end of Sunday Mass to encourage their participation in Operation Town Watch.
The Church/Town Watch Initiative provided 68 percent of the new volunteers registered. In the west end of the 12th District, where all four of the participating churches are located, the churches provided 97 percent of the new volunteers from that area.
As a result, the activity level of Town Watch groups, as measured by the number of 911 calls generated, has increased nearly 34 percent from last year.