IF IT IS

more blessed to give than receive, we may owe the Delaware River Port Authority a huge debt of gratitude this Christmas.

How huge we won't know until the wise men of the DRPA decide how much more we must give to help offset their profligacy and mismanagement. They may decide to scrape by on what they collect on their bridges and from the PATCO High-Speed Line fare boxes.

But there's a good chance they'll decide that they need more of our money to maintain and staff four bridges and a commuter railroad. That is, after all, what they're supposed to be doing.

But the wise men (and women) at DRPA are also major patrons of the arts. Using our tolls and fares, they pay interest on the hundreds of millions of borrowed dollars they have donated to the Kimmel Center, the Pennsylvania Ballet and dozens of other nonprofit arts organizations.

We don't have a problem with the spirit of giving. But if somebody is going to decide to give our money away, shouldn't it be us?

And, oh, yes, if the DRPA has millions to pay in debt service for its generous gifts, it sounds like we may already be paying more than it costs to maintain and staff bridges and rail lines. *

IN A TOWN that measures courtesy and human kindness by the standard of whether it's better or worse than booing Santa, it's nice to see that the standard has been revised and the bar has been lowered even further.

We're now a town that steals donations intended for the grieving family of a slain police officer— and not once, but twice.

On Saturday, a jug containing $100 in donations for the family of Chuck Cassidy was stolen from a Wawa. Two people were arrested.

The day before, a man climbed through a drive-through window of the very Dunkin' Donuts where Cassidy was gunned down and stole a canister containing about $30.

Shame on us! Yes, individual cretins stole the money, not an entire city.

But how can we not be sickened by these two acts, and not despair over the state — and darkness — of this city's heart? *

SCHOOL KIDS HUNGRY for much-needed financial support cried out for more money yesterday, but well-fed state legislators burped, turned their backs and walked away.

The Legislature extended for four years the red-light-camera program, run by the executive-bloated Philadelphia Parking Authority. But lawmakers have refused to send the district $1.2 million in fines collected from motorists who blow through stop lights.

Rep. Tony Payton, D-Phila., sponsored the camera-reauthorization bill. Michael P. McGeehan, D-Phila., proposed the money go to the district in light of reports that PPA has brought in huge revenues, doubled its size and increased the number and salaries of its executives — but hasn't given $45 million to the struggling district, as promised. It has turned over $4 million to the district in six years.

Granted, $1.2 million seems a drop in the bucket compared with $45 million. In a district still bailing out from a nearly $74 million deficit, $1.2 million can mean a lot. But that doesn't matter to state legislators, who talk of change, then continue with the same old stuff, and the same old disregard for Philadelphia school kids. *

McGeehan, D-Phila., proposed the money go to the district in light of reports that PPA has brought in huge revenues, doubled its size and increased the number and salaries of its executives — but hasn't given $45 million to the struggling district, as promised. It has turned over $4 million to the district in six years.

Granted, $1.2 million seems a drop in the bucket compared with $45 million. In a district still bailing out from a nearly $74 million deficit, $1.2 million can mean a lot. But that doesn't matter to state legislators, who talk of change, then continue with the same old stuff, and the same old disregard for Philadelphia school kids. *