RE: VALERIE RUSS' "Billboards are a blight to her": I live near Rittenhouse Square, but I consider all of Center City my neighborhood. One of the major reasons I chose to move to Philadelphia back in 1980 was because I was so impressed by some of its outstanding architectural and historical attributes, attributes that I still appreciate on a daily basis as I walk our downtown streets.

Thus, I am absolutely appalled by these proposals to erect garish, invasive LED billboards at key locations in the heart of our city. Despite glib promises that these signs would display some public-service announcements, by far most of the messages would consist of an incessant barrage of tawdry advertising.

Personally I do not want my community to start looking like Las Vegas!

Kerry L. Bryan


The really big elephant

With all the rhetoric surrounding the upcoming elections, not one candidate is addressing the elephant in the room.

All present and retired police, fire and nonuniformed employees, as well as their widows and widowers, depend on the city pension fund. That fund has only 47 percent of the assets needed to meet obligations. It has $4.7 billion, while it needs $10.2 billion.

I have written to candidates to ask if any have a specific plan to restore the fund. None has answered.

I have also written to all four city unions to ask if they are pressing the issue, especially since they are in the midst of endorsing candidates. Again, no answer.

One can only wonder if city retirees will face the same fate as their counterparts in Detroit: unilaterally reduced pensions.

Matthew Augustine


Union obstacles

In his commentary on mayoral candidate Jim Kenney's endorsement by several Philadelphia labor unions, Tom Ferrick suggests that unions, by their very existence, hinder progress and, because of their middle-class wages and benefits, somehow harm "the average city resident" who is not so fortunate.

If only these workers - including police, firefighters, teachers and construction workers - and their benefits could be brought under control, the city would be able to provide better services, according to Ferrick. Construction would become more affordable. Schools would become more "competitive" - if only principals could hire and fire at will.

So, according to Ferrick, the only way that the city can become "competitive" is to reduce the wages, benefits and labor rights of its established middle-class workers.

And of course everyone will be happier and better off.

He says this with a straight face.

Gloria C. Endres


Asking why

Three Philadelphia teenagers have been charged in the cold-blooded murder of 51-year-old Jim Stuhlman earlier this month in the city's Overbrook section.

Mr. Stuhlman was walking his dog in the quiet neighborhood when the boys decided he was an easy mark for a robbery. He resisted and was shot.

Conspicuously missing in the tragic aftermath are protests by black activists and community leaders condemning not only Stuhlman's senseless murder, but the epidemic of black-on-black murders and violence that make many black neighborhoods virtually unlivable.

One must ask, why?

Gerald K. McOscar

West Chester, Pa.

Immediately after the slaying of 51-year-old James Stuhlman - referred to by the news media as the "Overbrook dog walker" - police launched an intense investigation and were determined to bring his killers to justice.

They wasted no time scouring the neighborhood for clues and combing through surveillance footage.

And local media outlets - including the Daily News - were quick to point out that the incident occurred "in Mayor Nutter's neighborhood."

And, in under a week, three teenage suspects were being held without bail on murder charges.

Had this senseless killing occurred elsewhere in the city, such as in Strawberry Mansion or Hunting Park, would it have received the same treatment? Would investigators have worked this case around the clock? And, would it have received such intense news coverage?

Rob Boyden

Drexel Hill, Pa.