RE ELMER Smith's recent column on health-care reform:

I admire Elmer, but I totally disagree on this blunderbuss of a bill. It's bad for me personally, for fellow city workers and fellow Pennsylvanians. So bad that the president of AFSCME, Gerald McEntee, is against it.

Last year, I earned $40,000. This year, $35,000. I'm making less but because Harry Reid and his Democrats think I have a "Cadillac" health plan, we city workers will have to pay tax on our plan, and that's not fair (especially since "Little Caesar" wants to give us the shaft on a new contract).

Obama and the Democrats promised they wouldn't raise taxes on the working and middle classes, but this crummy plan puts the lie to that.

There is also the increased Medicaid funding the state will have to come up with. Under this disastrous plan, that will be at least $1 billion, and the only way to cover that is even more taxes - and what fool raises taxes in the middle of a recession (his Edness)?

And, what of all of the side deals? Nebraska gets its future Medicaid costs covered, and Pennsylvanians get rooked? Elmer, a really, really bad (and corrupt) bill is a thousand times worse than no bill at all!

Keith A. Barger, Philadelphia

A Dougherty legend

Farewell to Father William J. Benonis, who passed on Dec. 18.

Father was a "firebrand" at Cardinal Dougherty High School, a disciplinarian superior. I'll always remember him as being scary, fearsome - but always fair. I recall greeting Father Benonis with a "Good morning, Father," and him responding, "Good morning, man." He was a legend. God rest our Father Benonis.

M.A. Vare, Cardinal Dougherty '73


Waa-waa High

To the bullies and crybabies at South Philly High: Boo-hoo!

"Sarge" Samuels is too strict. I'm going to tell my mom, and she'll be in tomorrow to complain.

Give me a break!

Jack Meehan, West Wildwood, N.J.

Do the right thing

Cash rewards for recycling are rewards for doing what you should be doing for free.

How hard is it to recycle?

The message: Only do the right thing if there is something in it for you.

Catherine Murphy, Woodlyn, Pa.

Careful what you ask for

Dear Lora Neal,

By your letter, you sound like a person who wants to be taken care of by the government from the womb to the tomb.

But you forgot one thing, personal responsibility. We should not have to depend on the government for all our wants or needs. The more the government does for you, the less freedoms we have. The programs that President Obama wants to put in place will control your life. So please stop blaming all our trouble on President Bush.

Domenick Lazzaro Jr., Philadelphia

Lighten up, Dom

To Dom Giordano:

Michael Vick got an award. Big deal. Get over it.

Maybe the team sees a different Vick from the heartless rogue that you and the other media folks make him out to be, and to them that's enough. How about listening to the words of another great humanitarian, John Lennon: Let it be.

Damon Evans, Philadelphia