ISSUE | ALL THAT JAZZ

Let good vibes begin

Philadelphia has nurtured the jazz art form since the early '20s, producing extraordinary luminaries from Ethel Waters to John Coltrane. Many jazz and bebop legends are proud products of the city's jazz culture - most nurtured by a lively jazz scene in the 1940s and '50s, spurred by clubs in North and South Philadelphia. Today, the local jazz scene enters a new period of synthesis with innovators and virtuosos like Jamaaladeen Tacuma and Orrin Evans.

So it's fitting that Mayor Nutter will formally launch the city's monthlong "Jazz Lives" campaign Wednesday morning. The City Hall event will highlight more than 40 activities (creativephl.org/jazz) designed to resurrect the distant chords of jazz's past. Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month is an opportunity to explore just how jazz lives in all of us.

|Helen E. Haynes, chief cultural officer, Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, Philadelphia

ISSUE | IN-CAR DIALING

Block all calls

Even after education on the risks of talking or texting while driving, I feel teens' compliance would be minimal ("Distracted teens' crash course," March 25). Pressure should be put on car manufacturers to incorporate devices that disable cellphones unless a vehicle is stopped and the engine is off. It's well within their capabilities.

|Charley Law, Malvern

ISSUE | DOWNED PLANE

Antiterrorism sleuth needed, not a doc

While officials are still in the early stages of the investigation of the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, I'm troubled by the direction it is taking in looking into medical conditions as possible causes ("Copilot had treatments for suicidal tendencies," March 31).

A person suffering only from depression or an eye disorder would not slam a jetliner full of screaming adolescents into a mountainside. Only a sociopath would, and if copilot Andreas Lubitz had been a sociopath, that surely would have emerged during Lufthansa's (albeit cursory) screening process.

In the end, the only conclusion we're going to reach is that Lubitz committed a criminal act of terrorism.

|Rebecca Craven Greenhow, West Chester

ISSUE | DRUG TREATMENT

Show compassion with services in Center City

Purging Center City of marginalized citizens like those treated at a methadone clinic on Market Street would be shortsighted and inhumane ("Methadone on Market," March 30). What family has not been touched by drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness? Rather than drive these folks to the margins of society, we should create humane spaces in our midst to treat and house them.

I'm delighted that developers are sprucing up Market East. But that goal can be achieved while accommodating the clinic. The same can be said of a much-needed Center City facility where the homeless can get a shower, use a restroom, receive mail, and get other services.

The commercial district, not the neighborhoods, is the best place - not the worst - for such facilities. Let's be creative and compassionate and get it done.

|Angelo Sgro, Philadelphia, agsgro@comcast.net

ISSUE | PENSION SHOWDOWN

Fattened checks then, playing hardball now

One of the most outspoken state lawmakers on the $50 billion-plus pension fund shortfall happens to be one of those who bears responsibility for getting us into this mess. In 2001, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) joined dozens of Senate colleagues to retroactively boost lawmaker pensions, bringing along rank-and-file employees for a hike so as to deflect allegations that this was unabashed greed on their part. Corman now insists the shortfall that developed in subsequent years be dealt with before any revenue enhancement will be considered.

It is curious that a Republican governor who repeatedly called for pension reforms was rebuffed at every turn by his party, but now that a Democrat is in office, the issue has suddenly become one of utmost importance, demanding immediate action.

|Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair

ISSUE | VIRAL COOKIES

To post or not to post about baked goods

The well-meaning Lower Merion teacher's efforts to double-check with parents about snack-eating are not so strange ("A permission slip to eat an Oreo?" March 28). The somewhat appalled reaction by the parent? Understandable. What's ridiculous is that the parent saw a need to post such a trivial matter on social media, whereas once upon a time she might have just shared it with a family member or friend.

But what's really outrageous is that the story became front-page news. Even with the steady movement from actual news toward pure entertainment in the nation's best news publications and programs, the word viral does not confer news status on a topic by virtue of its popularity.

|Maureen Wellner, Philadelphia, maureenwellner@gmail.com

A Sesame Street moment for real

As a graduate of Lower Merion schools, I could not believe that a student would need permission to eat a cookie ("A permission slip to eat an Oreo?" March 28). Looks like the Cookie Monster is for real, and I guess the term tracking cookies should now be taken literally.

|Paul Benedict, Broomall