Letters to the Editor

Posted: February 12, 2013

Fearing revival of bike race woes

The bike race through Manayunk became an excuse for an out-of-control party. Neighbors had to contend with vandalism, brawls, underage drinking, illegal beer parties, noise, litter, broken glass - not to mention urination and vomiting in yards and on our streets. Many residents would be just as happy if a bike race never happened here again.

Nevertheless, local community leaders began meeting over two years ago in an effort to get the destructive behavior under control. We called for strict enforcement of regulations that had been ignored, allowing the carnival atmosphere to get out of hand. With increased enforcement, the problems associated with the race had abated, leaving a more family-friendly event.

The concern now is that, in an effort to maintain some semblance of a bike race, our efforts and the need for enforcement will go by the boards.

Don Simon, Philadelphia, bodhran41@verizon.net

Charters good option for Phila.

While The Inquirer correctly notes needed charter-law updates, comparing Philadelphia charters with schools statewide is misleading ("Truth revealed about charters," Jan. 30).

In Philadelphia, 29 percent of charter schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) - compared with only 13 percent of district schools. Comparing charters in Philadelphia with the statewide average isn't fair, as the statewide average includes schools in the most affluent districts.

Philadelphia charters outperform the city's district schools, even though charters subsist on only 73 percent of per-pupil public funds as compared with the district. With an AYP performance rate that more than doubles Philadelphia's traditional district schools and a significantly lower cost to taxpayers, charters are viable and valuable additions to public education. Supporting legislation and policies that hold charter schools accountable, requiring better authorizing-authority oversight, and creating equitable and adequate funding should be a top priority for all public education supporters.

Lawrence F. Jones Jr., president, Pa. Coalition of Public Charter Schools; chief executive officer, Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School, Philadelphia, ljones@rapcs.org

Dad-in-chief vs. concussions

While President Obama recently said that, if he had a son, he is not sure he would let him play football, I suggest he issue a stronger statement.

As the president might say, "It has come to my attention that there are probably about 65,000 concussions every year from high school football alone. This number is entirely too high, and today I would like to set the tolerance level to zero.

"If there is another concussion resulting from any high school sport, I expect to have a full report on my desk. While any injury is tragic, we simply cannot allow an academic institution to promote serious injury to any of our children.

"It is time that we all came to our senses and began to protect all human life in every possible arena, and under every possible circumstance."

Joseph Carducci, Pittsburgh, carducci@hotmail.com

Welfare chief won't be missed

What relief to this human-services professional that Gov. Corbett's welfare secretary, Gary Alexander, is heading back to Rhode Island. Alexander appeared to be appointed with no sense of the enormity of the job or the vulnerability of the people needing help with food, shelter, medical care, and short-term cash assistance.

When Alexander set office-wear rules for women requiring nylons and the like, didn't anyone on Corbett's team inform him such actions would be seen as petty, small-minded, and proof Alexander lacked vision and passion?

There are so many established, well-run agencies in human services here. As Corbett looks for Alexander's permanent replacement - from Pennsylvania, it's hoped - he can turn to someone who doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.

Sandy Watson, North Wales

Ducking for cover is better plan

Imagine a pitched battle in my house as I confront armed intruder(s) using an automatic weapon with a large-quantity ammo clip: bullets hitting sofas, walls, shattering mirrors, sending feathers flying all over from exploding pillows. Might ruin my wife's antique china collection. Even the refrigerator could get shot up.

That's not really a comical scene - more like one that's perverted, illogical, and grounded in false assumptions. With a gun in the house, the chances of its being used for home defense are dwarfed by the risk of accidental shootings, and even murder and suicide. Might it not be safer to call 911 and hide under the bed?

P.M. Procacci, Moorestown

Focus on disarming the bad guys

According to the FBI, there are 33,000 gangs in the United States, with 1.4 million criminal members who may commit up to 80 percent of the nation's crimes. Maybe the focus of the federal, state, and local government should be to disarm these criminal enterprises first, before disarming the general population.

Tim Byrne, Wayne

Franco's sympathy misdirected

The efforts of former football great Franco Harris and his Pennsylvania State University buddies to re-glorify disgraced coach Joe Paterno are anything but noble. What would be noble is for Franco et al. to come to the aid of those who suffered at the hands of the Penn State hierarchy.

Avrum Fine, West Chester, filmamerica@comcast.net

Valuing the best in Paterno

Those who gathered at a recent vigil to honor Joe Paterno didn't believe success in sports takes precedence over the safety of children.

People remembered Paterno as the man who spent 61 years serving the university, and providing moral leadership to thousands of young men as their coach. They recalled that his program was one of the cleanest, stressing academic success; that he and his family gave much financial support to the university, both directly and in fund-raising efforts.

The fact that people still feel a connection to the man and reverence for him has absolutely nothing to do with the importance of sports, or the safety of children. That vigil was not for Jerry Sandusky.

Edwin C. Tyrrell Jr., Willow Grove

Clinics need better oversight

In the debate over siting methadone clinics, my advice is for residents to fight them with everything at their disposal. I have worked around several methadone clinics over the last few years and can tell you firsthand they have a highly negative impact on quality of life. Patients start lining up at all hours. Once they receive their treatment, many loiter around the clinic, deal drugs, use drugs, and leave trash. Needles and human waste also are a frequent by-product.

Clearly, the clinics' biggest problem is that nobody monitors what goes on outside them.

Frank J. Gontowski, Philadelphia

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