Letters to the Editor

John C. Haas
John C. Haas
Posted: April 16, 2011

Time for school safety hotlines

The Inquirer is performing an important public service by examining school safety in depth ("Going online to avoid violence," Sunday). One way to make our schools safer would be to adopt a system several other states use: telephone hotlines for students, parents and others to make safe, anonymous reports of threats and potentially violent situations.

In Colorado, for example, all tips are immediately investigated by school or law enforcement officials. Since its hotline was started in 1999, there have been more than 3,000 calls, 744 of which resulted in investigation, early intervention, and prevention. The Colorado hotline prevented 27 school attacks.

With bipartisan support, I have introduced House Bill 1078 to require Pennsylvania's Education Department to establish similar hotlines here. Our young people deserve the same protection as students in other states.

State Rep. Margo Davidson

Upper Darby

Haas legacy: Help for city's children

In her Sunday column ("Education is the key to fighting violence in schools"), Karen Heller says that giving young people enriching activities and a safe place to congregate outside of school is essential to combating the high crime rates plaguing Philadelphia teens.

Heller calls on nonprofits, corporations, and individuals to band together to provide these opportunities. That is exactly what Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia has been doing for 123 years for thousands of children in some of the city's poorest communities.

In 2009, it launched a fund-raising campaign with the goal of mitigating the cycle of violence and negative behavior. Inspiration for the campaign came from an unprecedented $3 million gift from John C. Haas. He passed away this month, but his legacy will live on through the important work of Boys & Girls Clubs.

Nonprofits must work with corporations, city leaders, and compassionate individuals such as John Haas to make our city a safer and more vibrant place, filled with opportunity and hope for our children and, ultimately, for all of us.

Rick Wegryn

Chairman of the Board

Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia

Civil War was about more than slavery

As a part-time professor of American history at a local college, I must take exception to the tone and temper of Tuesday's column by Steven Conn ("Losers have written the Civil War's history").

Conn tells us bluntly: "Make no mistake: the Civil War was fought over the question of slavery." Nonsense. Only Northern abolitionists (the liberals of that era) saw it that way.

The war was a conflict between two variants of nationalism: the desire of a people for national independence (the Confederacy) and the desire of a people for territorial integrity or expansion (the Union).

These were the paramount motives on both sides, and to define that conflict as a struggle over slavery is an oversimplification filtered through the mental lens of an ideology from a bygone era.

George Tomezsko


Doing the right thing about animal abuse

I applaud The Inquirer for shining the spotlight on animal abuse, in particular dogfighting.

Tuesday's article ("Dogfighting targeted in raids") presented a very graphic description of the cruelty and heartless abuse of these innocent animals.

It was hardly surprising that weapons and drugs were found at the scene of the raid. Only 17 people were arrested, but a strong message was sent - to those involved, to witnesses, and to those who read The Inquirer - that this activity is inexcusable and criminal.

The ASPCA is to be commended for its continuing effort to end the dogfighting business. But it can't do it alone. I hope that further articles on animal abuse inspire people to do the right thing and report incidents they witness or hear of.

Judi Thourot



Long-term success for Barnes unlikely

Michael Smerconish is right to point out in his Sunday column ("Even Barnes' future success won't make the move right") that taking the Barnes art collection from its rightful home in Lower Merion to the Parkway in Philadelphia is indefensible.

But he is wrong in thinking that the Barnes on the Parkway will prove a long-term success.

Once the novelty wears off, the Barnes will likely fall into hard times, such as those now being experienced by the Philadelphia Orchestra, which has been operating in the red.

Even those who engineered the move must be aware of this possibility; otherwise they wouldn't be trying to raise $50 million to endow the Barnes.

Barnes wanted the perfect setting for his art. Its new home will only be a warehouse for it.

John Miscenich


Orchestra board should be ashamed

Threats by the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra to declare bankruptcy ("Musicians stage job action amid threat of orchestra bankruptcy filing," Friday) are the height of irresponsible corporate citizenship.

With a national economy on the rebound, a new music director on the horizon, an aggressive campaign to build support well under way, and an endowment of $140 million, the threat seems to be a cynical and self-serving tactic by the board to slough off its obligations.

Shame on it for treating one of Philadelphia's proudest assets as if it were a pencil factory.

Allan M. Hasbrouck


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