IREALIZE THAT the city has a severe budget shortfall, but why, whenever they talk about cutbacks or layoffs, do they always throw it on the Police Department, as mentioned in a recent editorial:

"Without this deal, the city would have no choice but to lay off hundreds of police officers, decimate services, and shred the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens."

The city is in a bind, but there are other departments not as essential to maintaining the peace and tranquility of the citizenry. It's hard on those who have to be laid off, sacrifices have to be made, but they shouldn't be made by one of the most important departments, the police.

Why not start with all the deputy mayors and their assistants, Council's bloated staff and their exorbitant perks and the street and other municipal unions?

Paul D. Kelly Sr.

Retired Police Officer, Philadelphia

Dwight's plight on budget

Dwight Evans, Democratic state House appropriations chairman, attended a hearing in Pittsburgh designed to throw cold water on the relatively austere GOP budget plan. Chairman Evans said that the hearing was "the first of many to explain to Pennsylvanians what is happening with your tax dollars."

I'd be willing to bet that there are areas of public expenditure that Mr. Evans will consider off-limits to his discussion, including the cost of running the General Assembly, which is $330 million a year, the $200 million-plus slush fund that the body has accumulated for no valid purpose, and the millions of dollars that have been squandered in legal fees to defend the legislature, and particularly members of the Democratic caucus, against charges of widespread criminal activity.

Would Evans be willing to point out the areas in which our Lords and Ladies of the Legislature have led by example, how they have diminished their standard of living in order to show solidarity with their struggling constituents? I can't find any.

I see members continuing to draw salaries that begin at $78,000-plus and escalate to in excess of $100,000, plus lavish benefits and platinum-plated retirement plans that are unheard of in private industry.

Would he explain why, in an era when communication may be made via e-mail, it's necessary to maintain 203 House districts and 50 Senate districts at enormous expense?

We Pennsylvanians know all too well how our tax dollars are being squandered, Mr. Evans, and the problem is properly laid at the feet of with individuals like you.

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Obama vs. Kim

Good one, Signe Wilkinson!

Kim Jong Il is giving Obama an opportunity to prove he isn't the effete-elite jingle-balls a lot of us thinks he is. We'll see.

Even the president of France mocks you! After the Obamas left Paris a month ago, Nicholas Sarkozy, at a business lunch, was asked what he thought of Obama. Sarkozy told the assembled he found Bam "weak," ridiculed his skinny resume and added that when Bam returns in June for the D-Day anniversary event, he would "ask him to walk around the Channel!" This was reported to Le Figaro by someone present.

Georgia Makiver