ISSUE | SCHOOL FUNDING

Too quick with plea

As a suburban, moderate Republican legislator, I was appalled that the Philadelphia schools' chief financial officer did not even try to balance the School District budget before declaring what the schools need from the legislature and governor ("District banking on extra funds," March 27).

Philadelphia's children should get a good education, but Gov. Wolf wants me to tax seniors to provide more money for education - the bulk of which is designated for Philadelphia schools. How can I justify that with such an ask, one that does not attempt first to balance the budget or determine real need?

|Kate M. Harper, state representative, Blue Bell

ISSUE | PILOTS

Trim abatements

A better idea than levying payments in lieu of taxes on nonprofits might be for City Council to impose a mandatory minimum tax on all residences now allowed to slide by without paying anything at all under the tax abatements.

|Scott Cameron, Philadelphia, scottcameronart@comcast.net

ISSUE | SENATE '16

Sestak putting heart and sole into run

I am inspired by former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and his 422-mile walk across Pennsylvania, where he's been meeting with people of all walks of life. This caring attitude and energy will make Sestak an exceptional senator.

Sestak, a retired admiral, graduated second in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy and later earned a doctoral degree from Harvard. In 31 years of naval service, he held many important positions of responsibility and authority.

I have been disappointed by many of the votes of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), but the last straw was his signature on a letter to Iranian leaders.

|Pamela Smyth, Coatesville

ISSUE | DIALOGUE

Probing Mideast talking points

Congratulations to the students at Swarthmore for taking a principled stand on discussions about Israel ("Swarthmore group breaks from Hillel over dispute," March 28). Rather than simply regurgitate the pro-Israel party line, they elected to have a broader, more meaningful dialogue and to schedule a more inclusive roster of participants.

Their parents and professors should be proud. These students are attending an educational institution that is actually producing thoughtful and reflective citizens.

|Sharon A. Bembery, Philadelphia

ISSUE | 3-D BILLBOARDS

No groundswell for flashing billboards

City Council voted to permit large, three-dimensional digital billboards in an area that includes a great number of residential buildings whose windows will be assaulted by the displays ("Vote coming on bright lights in big city," March 26). The supposed widespread support cited by the sponsor, Councilman Mark Squilla, was in the form of 300 typewritten letters that suspiciously contained identical language and font and the signatures of many nonresidents.

The president of the Center City Residents Association urged Council not to pass this bill. That esteemed body chose to ignore the wishes of residents in the neighborhood. The city will never attain first-class status if it continues to sell its soul to the highest bidder.

|David and Joyce Smith, Philadelphia

Councilman Squilla's yardstick: not so bad

Regarding the monstrous three-dimensional digital billboards that City Council approved for Center City, Councilman Mark Squilla said, "When folks see these things, they're going to say, 'They don't look so bad.' " Could he possibly be serious?

I hope Mayor Nutter and every concerned city resident does everything possible to keep these highly distracting and aggravating devices from ever being brought to fruition.

Anybody who travels Interstate 95 knows how bright and disrupting to one's attention such signs can be, and the ones being proposed downtown will be allowed to be much larger than the I-95 signs. I do not live anywhere near Center City, but I suspect that those who do reside within sight of these so-called "urban experiential displays" will never again enjoy the city lights and skyline as before.

|William R. O'Brien, Philadelphia

ISSUE | CITYSCAPE

Fresh off drawing board, but send plans back

LOVE Park was intended to provide a fitting terminus to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Instead of a bold redesign statement, we are presented with four generic versions of a whimper ("LOVE Park redesign plans are unveiled," March 25). None of the plans comes close to meeting the city's redesign principles, nor do they truly respond to the urban context or physical constraints.

The notion of a continuum of spatial and sculptural events along the Parkway has been ignored. The plans also fail in their details. The location of the garage headhouse, ignoring all previous engineering studies, provides awkward access to the garage levels below. The proposed flattened grading and the existing roof elevations do not seem to support the number and location of trees shown.

The city deserves a much better plan.

|George Bryant, Philadelphia

Quick with wrecking ball around here

With about 32 church-going Christians left, Europe somehow manages to preserve thousands of cathedrals. Here in Philadelphia, a leaky roof condemns our most precious asset - history ("St. Laurentius in Fishtown to be razed," March 23). Watch out for Independence Hall; it might one day be razed for condos.

|Stephen Carb, Philadelphia

ISSUE | GREEN ENERGY

Competitive edge aged to perfection

I usually don't pay attention to Wisconsin if there's no cheese involved, but the state's Republican lieutenant governor said last week that states emphasizing renewable energy have a competitive advantage over states that don't, including her own. Indeed, reducing carbon pollution is a perfect opportunity for states like Pennsylvania to spur innovation and growth. That's why the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is so important, given that it targets climate change at the source by setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The home of cheesesteaks should heed the home of cheeseheads.

|Elowyn Corby, Philadelphia, elowyn@pennenvironment.org

ISSUE | INCOME INEQUALITY

A rising tide raises all yachts

George Will's optimism about the good that economic polarization accomplishes, and the economic efficiency that is accomplished through outsourcing, is the rhetorical equivalent of climate-change denial ("Economics 101, cheerfully," March 27). Will's arguments ignore the statistical flat-lining of middle-class incomes since the Reagan era. His claim that "every day that Chinese go to work, Americans get a raise" is complete nonsense: Corporations and their executives get a raise, but the average American fails to benefit.

|Ben Burrows, Elkins Park