Letters to the Editor

Posted: August 05, 2010

Connections over competence

Re: "DRPA chair answers critics," Tuesday:

The chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority, John Estey, is described as "a prominent Philadelphia lawyer who used to be [Gov.] Rendell's chief of staff." In the article in which Estey purports to answer critics of the agency, he contradicts himself by stating there "has been too much political influence" at the patronage-rich DRPA. Estey then trots out the tried-and-true explanation of why these patronage salaries are so high, stating that the salaries are necessary to attract and keep qualified executives.

What special qualifications did John Matheussen have to run this $300 million agency? What was it about Michael Joyce that separated him from the other applicants for the position of chief public safety officer, besides his political pedigree?

Estey cannot have it both ways. Either you hire qualified executives without regard to their political connections, and pay them appropriately, or you hire political hacks. The public is tired of hearing about these exorbitant salaries with ridiculous perks paid to individuals whose only qualification is connection rather than experience.

Stephen P. Dicht

Ventnor

spdicht@aol.com

Let the CIA run the war

An article Sunday discussed the effectiveness of a counterterrorism strategy ("U.S. relying on targeting insurgents"). That same night, 60 Minutes reran a piece on how this was effectively done by the CIA in 2001. This demonstrates two things: 1) Vice President Biden was right when he proposed the limited strategy of counterterrorism, which was shot down by the military and ridiculed by now-retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and his staff; and 2) The regular military leadership is not competent to run the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is time that President Obama realized this and turned this war effort over to the CIA, supported by military special operations. We should not be nation-building; we should not be winning hearts and minds; we should be cutting the head off the snake until the rattle stops.

Bill McLaughlin

Collegeville

Imaginary threat to chemical plants

A recent editorial, "Protect chemical plants" (July 28), seems intent on finding a problem where none exists.

Just how many U.S. chemical plants have ever been attacked by terrorists, or even been targeted? The editorialist seems blissfully unaware that 80 percent of the roughly 9,000 chemical firms in the United States employ fewer than 50 people, and that most of these are making such mundane products as soaps, toiletries, paints, and medications - hardly dangerous or terrorist targets.

Yet, the one-size-fits-all security approach The Inquirer is advocating would require every one of these small, harmless businesses to be treated as though they were oil refineries or explosives manufacturers.

Roger F. Jones

Broomall

Misstating Obama's pledge

Re: "Believed Obama would end America's two wars," letter, Monday:

I'm sorry that the writer is disappointed in President Obama's performance in office. Like him, I worked in Obama's campaign, but, unlike him, I actually listened to what Obama said. He never said he would get out of both wars, only that we should have never gone into Iraq, and that because of our distraction there, we dropped the ball in Afghanistan.

And think about the writer's comment that the "American people do not have the stomach for wars in two countries that most people here cannot even locate on a map." How many Americans could have found the Pacific Islands we fought for in World War II, or even nations in Europe, in battles that saved the world?

Ron Stoloff

Blue Bell

rstoloff@comcast.net

Senate should focus on real threats to life

An article Monday ("Teenage 'sexting' targeted by Pa. bill") quotes a Pennsylvania lawmaker as saying, "The goal . . . is not to send children to juvenile jail for petty pranks but to create a law to protect them from themselves - and one another."

Meanwhile, in an article in the same edition ("Fatal crash is a stark reminder"), another well-intentioned state legislator observes: "This is an emotional issue." Responsibility cannot be legislated, he added.

The first burning issue, teenage sexting, has embarrassed the sensibilities of families and apparently challenged the common sense of several district attorneys. The latter issue involves the deaths of 500 teenage drivers and 300 of their mostly teenage passengers, along with 300 other Pennsylvania victims, in the last five years.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Senate drastically weakened House Bill 67, which placed limits on passenger occupancy and cell-phone use (including texting) by new teenage drivers. The fate of this demonstrably lifesaving measure now awaits legislative action this fall, with the outcome appearing very uncertain.

The question is how responsibly our state senators will act this fall when asked to reconsider this life-and-death issue.

Laurence J. Gavin

Chair, Clinical Emergency Medicine

University of Pennsylvania

Health System

Philadelphia

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