Fans of baseball know that the Phillies' offense has had its struggles, regardless of the race of the players on the field, in part due to the injuries faced by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It's our concern that Tornoe's cartoon plays on stereotypes. We would hope that The Inquirer as well as the Daily News would do a better job in the future of reviewing such racially insensitive content.
Chris Murray, vice president-print, Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
Union official denies making deal
I would agree with the careful readers who read between the lines of your article Wednesday ("How Philly did a sludge-plant deal") that a pay day of $9.2 million is pretty powerful incentive to try to defame unions and union officials. Hiram Hicks, who was a consultant for Houston-based Synagro Technologies Inc., claims I agreed to let City Council pass a bill in 2007 privatizing city jobs in the Water Department in return for those union members not getting laid off. Those claims are bald-faced lies.
As AFSCME District Council 33 business agent Jeff Gilliam said, for years we've opposed this, because we knew it would increase, not decrease, the city's costs to provide this service. All I can say about Hicks's lawsuit, which supplies the supposed facts in your article, is that I wasn't involved in the lawsuit, am not a party to it, and was never given a chance to tell my side of the story in the lawsuit.
The truth is quite different: Our union and I always opposed this deal. I testified before City Council that this was a bad deal for the citizens. I did meet with Hicks, just as I met with Synagro representatives, the mayor, and members of City Council, trying to kill this deal. We reached no agreement. The real facts — for instance, that the homeless people Hicks hired to go to Council to support the bill got into fights with our members opposing it — don't jibe too well with his claim that all this was "staged." And I noticed the conspicuous absence of anything from any Council member supporting Hicks' claims. His "facts" about any agreement come from one source — Hicks.
For three years, I haven't given in to Mayor Nutter's trying to gut our union's hard-earned benefits. Why would I have given in to him over this? There was no deal, as Hicks — hot on winning a $9 million lawsuit — would otherwise have your readers believe.
Pete Matthews, President, AFSCME District Council 33, Philadelphia
Tax tobacco to help the needy
In Pennsylvania, a $10 cigar is $10. In New York, a $10 cigar is $17.50. Every state except for Pennsylvania collects taxes on non-cigarette tobacco products, according to www.tobaccofreekids.org. Florida does not tax cigars, but taxes all other tobacco products. Why isn't Pennsylvania enlightened enough to tax all tobacco products so it can fund needed state services?
I'm the founding president of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association. Every year is a bumpy ride, as we hold our breath for a better mental-health budget. But this year is like no other year, as Gov. Corbett and the Republican-led Senate and House have lost their moral compass and compassion to do the right thing for the citizens most at risk.
People with a mental illness die too young for a variety of reasons, including budget cuts, loss of services, and living in poverty. Enough of this madness! Restore the cuts in human services, education, cash assistance, and the arts.
Mark A. Davis, Philadelphia, email@example.com
Tired of coming to schools' aid
Maria Panaritis' column Sunday ("Austerity doesn't help Europe or Pa. schools") is just one more infuriating example of news articles and opinions that blindly support schools that never seem to have enough money and never fail to produce lousy results. The Philadelphia School District is the unrivaled poster child for dysfunctional schools and school administrators.
The SRC has repeatedly confirmed that the discredited but grossly overpaid former school superintendent succeeded in miring the district in deep financial crises, and then left town with close to a million-dollar settlement from that same district.
There's good management for you. Now the teachers, parents, employees, administrators, and save-our-schools-from-us whiners are demanding that the city ask for more "state" money, which would come from those of us who do not live in Philadelphia. No thanks.
The rest of Pennsylvania's taxpayers already contribute far too much to Philadelphia's schools as it is. Let them do what the rest of us do when our lousy schools come hat in hand: pay up.
Or, go get those City Council DROP participants to cough up the money they "earned" for the school coffers. Better yet, support House Bill 1776, which would eliminate property taxes as a source of funding for public education and forget about property-tax increases.
Peter Moore, Norristown
There's no alimony formula in Pa.
As a divorce lawyer who practices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I was disappointed to read an untrue assertion in Jonathan Zimmerman's article Tuesday, "Alimony myth persists in New Jersey's divorce-reform drive." Pennsylvania absolutely has not established a mathematical formula to calculate alimony.
Pennsylvania does use a formula to calculate alimony pendente lite, which is interim support awarded to the dependent spouse after separation until the final divorce. In Pennsylvania, courts decide the amount and duration of post-divorce alimony based on 17 factors enumerated in our Divorce Code. We have no "mathematical formula."
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, many litigants find the Pennsylvania formula used for interim support to be unfair and rigid, even though our rules do allow for deviations.
Accordingly, a blanket statement that New Jersey should simply establish a mathematical calculation for alimony ignores all of the nuances and particular circumstances of each divorce case.
Linda A. Kerns, Philladelphia
Stop giving bees a bad reputation
According to an article Tuesday, "Suburban beekeepers, neighbors learn a lesson," bees swarm when their queen dies. That could not be further from the truth. They swarm with their queen when the hive becomes too crowded and the beekeeper has not provided adequate space for raising brood and honey storage.
This is often the result of poor hive-management skills in the new beekeeper.
A swarm poses no threat to the surrounding community, no matter how impressive its size. The bees that swarm with the queen first fill their stomachs with honey so that when a suitable new home has been located they can begin to build comb immediately. They excrete little flakes of wax from their abdomens and form it into the shape of their cells so that new brood can be raised as soon as possble. While their stomachs are full of honey, they cannot bend their bodies far enough to activate their stingers, and are not in a protective mode, as they have nothing to protect until after they have relocated and have stores and young.
Too often, ignorance is the cause of the wrong attitude people have about bees.
June Paterson, Glen Mills, firstname.lastname@example.org