Letters to the Editor

Posted: January 20, 2013

When TV was comforting

I write to pay long-overdue homage to my fellow local daily children's show hosts, who touched millions upon millions of young lives for the better.

They rode in on skates, bicycles, tricycles, trains, and horseback (the galloping horse was only heard, never seen). They worked their wonders in front of the studio curtains with props of sails and saddles, tepees and storefronts, sometimes with painted canvas backdrops of ocean waves, Western plains, snowy mountains, and spooky forests.

Now they are all gone. Most stations have not a prop, not a grateful plaque, not even an old tape, as evidence they were ever on the air. How sad.

The tragic part of the demise of the local children's show is the disappearance of their celebrity: telethons for special-needs kids, store openings, Special Olympics events, birthday parties, community parades, playground award programs, hospital wards, school assemblies. Gone for most kids are the exciting visits to the TV station to be a part of a show, or to simply stand in line for an autographed picture and a quick, but caring, conversation with Skipper Chuck, Cowgirl Sally Star, Uncle Al, Mother Moose (Alaska), or, yours truly, Captain Noah.

I was truly lucky to be one of these people.

In our place are TV shows and movies of unspeakable terror and horrible weaponry, known by name and caliber by our sons (and daughters?), and video games in which our children are allowed to be "first-person shooters."

Networks have replaced children's television shows with what are called "talking heads" shows for adults, while their frightened children climb aboard their yellow school buses, bullied and afraid, unfortified by positive messages of yesteryear's children's shows. What about these children growing up in homes where both parents are off to work, leaving the child with unlimited access to these violent images, without even a choice of tuning in to a children's show whose host provides the parental comfort they lack?

W. Carter Merbrier, Philadelphia

Open process on Pa. Lottery

The editorial suggesting that Gov. Corbett snubbed lawmakers and somehow rushed the proposal to privatize the state's lottery doesn't misstate the facts so much as it lacks them altogether ("Wrong number for lottery," Tuesday). The governor publicly announced on April 2 of last year that the administration had issued a "request for qualifications to pursue a private management agreement for the Pennsylvania Lottery." A brief story appeared in The Inquirer the next day. Numerous administration announcements followed throughout the rest of the year.

During the past nine months, administration officials met with 127 members of the legislature, issued 10 updates to both houses, sent 23 letters responding to questions, and provided two cabinet members for public testimony as long ago as April and as recently as last week.

By 2030, fully one quarter of all Pennsylvanians are expected to be over the age of 60, presenting an immense demand for the kinds of senior programs the lottery funds. Corbett is confident that the innovations growing from a private management contract will produce the revenues needed to keep these programs flourishing.

The entire process leading us to this moment was transparent and open, and it promises important benefits to our seniors in the decades ahead.

Simply because the Editorial Board wasn't paying attention doesn't mean that the administration wasn't being open about its desire to pursue lottery privatization and didn't share that information with the legislature and - when it decides to listen - the press corps.

Kevin Harley, director, Governor's Office of Press and Communications, Harrisburg

Eagles' gutsy call on Kelly

Like most cynical Eagles fans, I immediately considered the hiring of Chip Kelly to be a desperate attempt to turn over the rock that no other team would consider looking under ("Enter Chip Kelly," Thursday). I thought that once again our foolish owner with a scholarly-looking lackey had found the fireman in the first round whom they believed was the steal of the draft.

I changed my mind. Jim Harbaugh was the captain of the safest ship in the NFL, the 49ers. But he didn't play it safe. He played a young quarterback with no NFL experience because he recognized the upside in Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh didn't fear failure or what people would say.

It's not good enough to play it safe when the only thing that matters is winning a Super Bowl. Gus Bradley would have been a safer hire, but I'm glad the Eagles had the guts to call Kelly.

Jay Gagliardi, West Chester

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