We hope that our city's ideals - which include the birthplace of religious tolerance and freedom of worship - will continue to inspire all Americans and all citizens of our global community to work to create societies that reflect these ideals, and that we might truly become a city of brotherly love and sisterly affection.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Bishop Claire Schenot Burkat, Imam Anwar Muhaimin, Rabbi David Straus, co-conveners, Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia
Philadelphia is big on business
Larry Platt's suggestion that the Nutter administration has not been aggressive enough in pursuing business will come as a surprise to the many CEOs the mayor and I meet with and visit each month about moving to or expanding in Philadelphia ("Philly doing little to attract business," Aug. 5). It will also come as a surprise to the developers currently constructing projects worth more than $2 billion, and to the Philadelphians who see tower cranes all across the city skyline. As developer Jim Pearlstein said just last week, "Philadelphia is now an upper-tier city for investment. The difference between Philadelphia now and eight years ago is night and day" ("Phila.'s aerial act a good sign," Tuesday).
If Platt had asked us about any of this, we would have happily shared everything we do every day to aggressively attract business and jobs to Philadelphia, including working with City Council to reform our business taxes.
Do we spend enough time touting our own successes? Probably not. We've been busy getting things done.
Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development and commerce director, Philadelphia, email@example.com
Nutter's line in the sand on reform
When it comes to labor contracts, Mayor Nutter isn't kicking the can down the highway ("Stop kicking can down the road," Tuesday). Rather, he's drawn a line in the sand in support of vitally needed reform.
He has repeatedly called for labor agreements that are fair to taxpayers and city employees, but these contracts must also confront the chronic structural budget problems facing this city - pensions, health care, and costly work rules.
The mayor has refused to sign contracts that don't support critical reforms that Philadelphia must have to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.
And while the fire arbitration does include pension reform, it does not provide enough cost reductions elsewhere to help fund the pay increases firefighters want, and that's why the award was appealed to the court.
However, there are signs of progress: New arbitration awards for correctional and probation officers place all new employees in a hybrid pension plan that will reduce long-term costs, and require current correctional officers to contribute more to their pensions.
Finally, contrary to your editorial, the city did not lose an earlier appeal regarding the firefighters' award, and the mayor has never closed a fire station.
Shelley Smith, city solicitor, Philadelphia
Do right by city firefighters
I recently heard a disabled Detroit firefighter say, "We're not paid for what we do; we're paid for what we're willing to do." He was living testimony to that comment, as he had been permanently disabled fighting a Detroit fire.
Mayor Nutter and his administration should "man up," or to be politically correct, "person up" and do the right thing by their firefighters, who have proven over the years just what they're willing to do.
William C. Richmond, retired Philadelphia fire commissioner, Bensalem
Those who fight America's wars
Soon, my son will be headed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan, in the heart of Taliban country. He's been there before, and he has been to Iraq three times. My other son was in the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I am fed up. I am frustrated. I didn't let him know how upset I am, but, after I hung up, I threw up, then cried. Then I called my friends and cried some more so that they could tell me it will be all right. Once again.
Afghanistan is a mess. Marines like my son, who are training Afghan military and police, are having the tables turned. Mentors are being attacked by those they are seeking to help. According to reports, between 2007 and 2008, there were only four such attacks. There were that many in July alone this year. It is as dangerous a place as it was on day one. Probably more so.
A tiny handful of men and women are still bearing the brunt of America's wars, and we now have a candidate for president who is doing saber-rattling in favor of more. It's time to go back to the early years of these wars, when America was cognizant and appreciative of the sacrifices these people are making. And it's time to consider that when a candidate says things such as war are "on the table," the lives of his sons and those of his neocon friends should be "on the table," too, along with mine. War should not come under the heading of "electioneering."
Nita Martin, Wallingford
Grateful for doctor's care and concern
Alan Berg is a very good doctor whom you would want to care for yourself or a family member ("Visiting Nurses adding doctors to their roster," Tuesday).
In the spring of 2008, my husband had two very bad falls. After the second one, he became home-bound and asked me to find a doctor who made house calls. I found Berg through Einstein Healthcare, and every few months this quiet, unassuming man with his black bag would come to examine my husband. In August 2009, my husband was admitted to Einstein Hospital. Berg consulted with the attending physician and gave him pertinent information about my husband's condition. My husband passed away shortly thereafter.
I will always be grateful for Dr. Berg's care and concern.
Ann P. Gold, Philadelphia
Betraying the American Dream
The Betrayal of the American Dream tells the story of how the world's most awesome manufacturing machine was deliberately gutted by a group of multinationals and wealthy elites and their allies in Congress ("Offshoring ensures loss of good U.S. jobs," Aug. 5).
When well-paying jobs are shipped overseas, it means a huge underinvestment in the United States. When we buy products made here, we contribute to Social Security, Medicare, needed infrastructure, education, and much more. When we buy foreign products, we subsidize them and, with our own dollars, China buys up our factories and resources. It has even bought into Canada's tar sands industry. Will it be the Canadian/Chinese Keystone XL pipeline winding its way through America?
Turn off those political TV ads and do your own unbiased research. Find out which members of Congress voted not to end tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs and ask why you continue to vote for them.
Elaine Hughes, Ambler