Only now, with Philadelphia facing monumental financial shortfalls, has the city Revenue Department tried to pervert the application of the amusement tax to cover activities beyond an admission fee, and has done so only in the instance of gentlemen's clubs, which I represent ("Strip clubs' tax dodge is theater of the absurd," July 29). There are many other places of amusement which collect both a cover and other fees - for example, a piano bar that has a $5 cover charge and a $2 song-request fee - yet no attempt has ever been made, nor is currently being made, to impose an amusement tax.
If the amusement tax is to be imposed upon activities like a lap dance, that will require an amendment to the ordinance, which is the role of City Council, not the Revenue Department, and would require equal application to all places of amusement, not just gentlemen's clubs. Whether a lap dance constitutes a choreographed or artistic performance is neither the only nor the main issue, and has been raised purely as a subsidiary defense because the amusement-tax ordinance contains language specifically exempting performances that are part of "contemporary American theater" - whatever that means.
George Bochetto, Philadelphia,
Big-city unpleasantries intrude
Reading of the pregnant Philadelphia woman's frightening encounter with a flash mob of young thugs on bikes, I recalled one of former Mayor Frank Rizzo's favorite sayings ("Sad reflections on a city mugging," July 26). As Rizzo often noted, "a conservative is a liberal who got mugged the night before." Welcome to the real world.
Gerald K. McOscar, West Chester
Papal reminder: We are the world
During his Brazil trip, Pope Francis toured the Rio de Janeiro slums, commenting cogently that "no one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world" and "no amount of peace-building will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained, in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins, or excludes a part of itself." In America, we have a staggering and rising rate of income inequality. We have a growing number of families facing poverty. Once, when Americans heard observations like that of Francis, they thought it was a speech about others. But today it is also a speech about us.
Stephen Weinstein, Elkins Park