IF I COULD have given the city the perfect gift for the holidays, it would've been a full set of inspiration, imagination and innovation.

I'd peel back the layers to arrive at the core spirit here at the beginning, a spirit that saw the birth of institutions and solutions, not the presiding over of their demise.

Don't close a library in Kingsessing and ask a child to walk two miles through the streets of West Philadelphia to another spot. Don't ask a child or elderly person to make that trek in cold, rainy weather. Don't close a door on a community gathering spot in a part of the city that needs to feed its soul.

Instead, rearrange and reuse the space. Consolidate the library space and use part of the building for the offices of some government entity that needs to get closer to the neighborhood. Put a DHS office or an L&I satellite there - get them into the communities that need them. Make the city work again, for everyone.

Don't make a decision and then call us together in neighborhood after neighborhood to stand in line for hours to voice our concerns, only to be met with the strained tones of the message: It's already done, there's no turning back. We are the people you are governing, let us in on the process and you might be surprised at the result.

Centralization and streamlining are not always the answer. The center will not hold if the extremities wither.

Donna Miller, Philadelphia

Mayor Nutter needs to do a better job explaining the need for more staffers at healthy salaries when the city is facing such a huge deficit.

He's spending money we don't have. Like private industry, the city should be doing more with less.

How about libraries and rec centers? Fire stations? If these vital services are to be scaled back, so too should the bureaucracy in City Hall.

The mayor's constituency is not limited to those who work in City Hall. He represents everyone.

Mayor Nutter, please lead through your actions.

Ken Kelly, West Chester

Movie shooting drama

I can understand that the man at the movie theater got upset with the loud family, but why shoot the father?

Isn't it the manager's job to remove problem moviegoers? I put up with seat-kicking, making out, cell phone talking, kids carrying on, adults talking loud - they should stay home and let us watch the movie in peace.

Robert F. Schaffer, Philadelphia

Anyone who commits a violent crime using any kind of weapon should get a sentence of 25 years to life, according to the severity of the crime. Open up the old Eastern State pen and don't bother cleaning it up.

Jam the animals in, and let them sit in their cells until their sentences are up. No TV, radio, computers, yard time. They gave up their rights when they committed their crime. People in the neighborhood will be a lot safer.

Lou Gerner, Philadelphia