There's help for opioid addicts

Thirty-five heroin deaths in Kensington in five days ("Overdose surge may have killed 35," Dec. 9) underscore the tragedy of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania and throughout the country.

By the end of the year, Philadelphia will likely experience 25 to 30 percent more deaths than last year, an increase almost entirely due to heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Fentanyl overdose deaths in Philadelphia have increased from 25 in 2013 to 184 in 2015, and we're on target for about 300 this year. Behind each of these deaths are heartbroken family and friends.

Authorities worry about the potency of new drugs related to Fentanyl that threaten to prove fatal when laced with heroin.

Opioid-reversal drugs such as Narcan don't always work - their effectiveness depends on whether the heroin was laced with additional narcotics and the dosage.

An opioid user's biggest fear is the discomfort of withdrawal. There are safe, state-of-the-art detox opportunities available. People need to know that treatment can work and that Philadelphia is filled with former addicts who want to help others find recovery. Please let us help.

|Deni Carise, chief clinical officer, Recovery Centers of America, King of Prussia, dcarise@recoverycoa.com

Christie's plan is dangerous

Gov. Christie's plan to end the requirement that government agencies publish legal notices in newspapers will open the door wider to corruption in the Garden State ("Christie pushes website notices," Dec. 19). Legal notices inform the public and contractors when bids are requested on anything from building a school, paving a road, or buying equipment. When published in a regional newspaper, information is centralized - a foolproof, dated record. The alternative would be for the notices to be posted on the websites of many of the state's 565 municipalities and 586 school districts, not to mention state and other agencies. That would be unwieldy, favoring "insiders" tipped-off to postings. The postings would be subject to chicanery, easily back-dated, with specifications changed or hacked.

|Bob Fowler, Egg Harbor Township

Bar group right to drop Hamilton

Contrary to Chris Mondics' provocative column, "Was law group wrong to drop Hamilton?" (Dec. 19), the Philadelphia Bar Foundation's decision to change the Andrew Hamilton Ball to the Access to Justice Benefit was a model of intellectual clarity and integrity. It does not demean Hamilton's success in establishing freedom of speech in the libel and sedition trial of John Peter Zenger. But it does recognize that honoring a slaveholder (who was a political leader of the pro-slavery forces in Pennsylvania during his nine years as speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives) muddies the waters in appealing to a group that seeks "to expand justice for all, particularly people struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination."

The Andrew Hamilton Ball is not a venerable tradition that dates to the founding of the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1802. Instead, it dates to the Jimmy Carter administration in 1978. It follows Carter's rhetorical style of blurring distinctions and seeking to convert symbols of past racism into future progress. More knowledgeable and intellectually honest generations today prefer a more direct confrontation with the past, a stronger and more institutional commitment toward a better future, and the greater public involvement that such an approach enables.

|Mark B. Cohen, Philadelphia

Philly students need music

I applaud the arts community for its support of music education in Philadelphia schools ("Arts community fills the gaps for music education in Philly," Tuesday). Music education in the lives of all children is of the utmost importance. As stated in the commentary by Anne Ewers, president and CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, music impacts all areas of children's lives.

As a product of the city school district's music programs, my daughter expanded her music education from elementary school through high school to college. She now educates scores of children in music, dance, and theater in a public school and an after-school and summer camp program she has created. This is a positive testimony to the good that music education can bring to children.

I'm grateful for music in children's lives and my life, as I see children experience the gift of music.

|Meryle Gurmankin, Philadelphia, meryleg1@gmail.com

Spreading the joy of reading

The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children was thrilled to read the commentary about the library at Vare-Washington Elementary School ("Keep library time in lineup," Dec. 15).

Opening new worlds to children through the joy of reading and the wonder of books is what we are all about. The alliance operates volunteer-staffed libraries in 14 Philadelphia elementary schools, providing regular access to books, read-aloud sessions, and literacy-enrichment activities supporting almost 5,000 children each week.

Our work is immensely fulfilling and incredibly challenging and would be impossible without the two key factors mentioned in the commentary: reliable volunteers and generous donors. As fellow promoters of children's literacy, we applaud former Phillies star Ryan Howard and the members of the Society Hill Synagogue for their commitment to this vital work.

|Heather Farber, executive director, West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, Philadelphia, heather@wepac.org