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A Trump, building trades partnership

President Trump has signaled to the national building trades his commitment to investing in the nation's deteriorating infrastructure. We in Philadelphia need look no farther than the Delaware River Bridge, which was shut down due to a major structural breach, to understand the dire need for infrastructure improvements ("Delaware River Bridge closure will last a long time," Wednesday).

A Trump-trades partnership

President Trump has signaled to the national building trades his commitment to investing in the nation's deteriorating infrastructure. We in Philadelphia need look no farther than the Delaware River Bridge, which was shut down due to a major structural breach, to understand the dire need for infrastructure improvements ("Delaware River Bridge closure will last a long time," Wednesday).

As the business manager of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, I have championed greater investment in infrastructure for years, including the extension of the subway into the Navy Yard. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers invested in the Market East development, which has convinced the developer to spend an additional $100 million on a third building. That success has led to projects on Chestnut Street, the Gallery, and more. These investments provide our members with long-term employment and solid returns on their pension funds.

There are at least 50 immediate infrastructure projects across the country that are worth billions of dollars, with more to come. I am advocating my national building trades colleagues to pool our pension dollars in a public-private-government partnership to invest in national infrastructure projects. It's evident the White House wants to rebuild our infrastructure. In the building trades, the new administration could have a great partner.

|John J. Dougherty, Philadelphia

Pruitt no friend of environment

Pennsylvania is America's second-largest natural-gas producer and its fourth-largest coal-producing state. Securing Pennsylvania's future demands protection against lead and mercury and limiting carbon and methane pollution, which amplifies asthma attacks; increases the spread of Lyme disease; induces storms, floods, heat waves, and wildfires; and instigates threats to our national security.

Scott Pruitt, President Trump's pick for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, fights against protections such as the Clean Water Rule, which safeguards 48,000 miles of Pennsylvania streams and the drinking water for

8 million state residents. Pruitt considers "subject to debate" the scientific consensus of human responsibility for climate change, when the only debate remains what actions we'll take to mitigate its damage. The best action is to reject Pruitt's nomination. I commend Sen. Bob Casey for doing so. Sen. Pat Toomey should do the same.

|Roger Eardley-Pryor, Philadelphia

DeVos' education reforms needed

There has been negative media coverage of the cabinet hearings in the U.S. Senate ("Booker, Casey to reject key Trump nominees," Jan. 19). Betsy DeVos, nominee for secretary of the Department of Education, has had a flurry of negative attacks on her education-reform record. While she is not a member of the education establishment, she has been a champion for school-choice initiatives across the country. Under her leadership, the American Federation for Children has worked to pass school-choice programs in 25 states and Washington.

DeVos will channel that same fire into education reform on an even larger scale. Our education system can be radically transformed so all children can benefit from great schools and parents can take advantage of the ability to choose what is best for their kids.

I would ask Sen. Bob Casey to look past party lines and see that DeVos' experience can create a positive disruption and help achieve educational equality for all. I hope he will make the right decision for Pennsylvania and our country.

|Steven Casper, assistant professor, finance, Temple University, Newtown

Nominees no laughing matter

I laughed at Kevin Ferris' wonderful satire about the caliber of the Donald Trump cabinet ("Hopes for the nation on Inauguration Day," Friday). It was satire, wasn't it? After all, the new president is "draining the swamp" with crocodiles from Goldman Sachs after assailing the investment banking company throughout the campaign. And just about all of the nominees oppose the missions of the departments they'll be heading. I thought the column was funny, though I don't expect the next four years to be.

|Joel Gardner, Cherry Hill

Wage law will hurt city

Mayor Kenney and City Council seem to believe they live in some alternate reality in which they decide what's best for business without ramification, even as they would profess to want to see more jobs in the city ("Philly is first with a pay-equity law," Tuesday).

While the desire to achieve greater wage equality is worthy, barring companies from asking questions about salary history ties employers' hands. Asking about pay history, along with interviews, reference checks, and other procedures specific to a job, help determine fit. Knowing how much it will take to hire someone at an experience level saves countless hours spent with candidates who will never take a job for what they are offered. In business, wasted hours cost money and divert those managers from devoting time to viable candidates.

Employers and employees pay more in taxes to stay in the city, which sees no problem with outlawing what is a common business practice in other cities and neighboring counties. The region benefits when Philadelphia is a good place for business. This action provides another reason for employers to come out to the Main Line. We will be here to welcome them.

|Bernard Dagenais, president and CEO, Main Line Chamber of Commerce, Wayne,

Fight black-on-black crime

Philadelphia teacher Christopher Paslay said what needed to be said in his commentary, "Skip Black Lives Matter's Action Week in city schools" (Thursday), especially that African American lives are taken on a daily basis by other African Americans. It's horrifying that a person is shot for cleaning his car, bullets flying into people's homes, innocent storekeepers gunned down, and violent home invasions - and this is the tip of the iceberg.

I don't understand why Mayor Kenney and the black clergy don't show moral leadership and conduct a televised news conference to express their outrage. Former Mayor Michael Nutter was right when he advocated for stop-and-frisk and held parents accountable for controlling their children. He was considered a sellout for speaking the truth.

Paslay showed moral courage by writing this piece. Someone has to show courage on this issue, Mayor Kenney.

|Zachary Margolies, Philadelphia

Teach about Black Lives Matter

Educators have always been on the forefront of the civil rights movement. Whether it be the abolitionist movement in the mid-1800s to end slavery or the Jim Crow protests in the 1960s, educators have consistently lent their voices to the cause of equality.

The present-day Black Lives Matter movement is no exception. This group seeks to promote the ideas of unified and progressive communities, empathy, diversity, tolerance, and respect for all. Aren't these ideas worthy of academic discourse in Philadelphia public schools and elsewhere?

Unfortunately, many Philadelphia young people have been impacted by mass incarceration, discrimination, the breakdown of a communal approach to raising children, and police brutality. What's more, it is not very often that our students receive a platform to discuss these issues. Black Lives Matter's Week of Action provides an opportunity for our young people to explore equality and justice as they relate to their everyday experiences. We should encourage conversation around the movement in our classrooms this week and beyond.

|Daninia Jordan, Philadelphia

N.J. needs affordable housing

Three cheers for the N.J. Supreme Court's ruling on municipal affordable home obligations ("N.J. justices say towns must fill housing 'gap,' "

Jan. 19. Feet-dragging towns must now figure out how to comply. Where do they find the money to do that? There is not enough private or public funding to build all those homes.

There are two major sources of funding - the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, run by the N.J. Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency; and below-market-price homes created by for-profit developers via inclusionary agreements with towns. Below-market-rate homes are included in predominantly market-rate projects - a terrific concept. But inclusionary home building will never meet the state's need.

The state's allocation from Washington is inadequate. In 2015, the housing agency awarded credits to 24 projects with 1,700 affordable homes. That's not much when statewide need exceeds 100,000. We won't catch up until private and public funding is expanded. Increase the LIHTC program so the state gets more funds, and resurrect former funding programs.

The court has again told us what is required under the state constitution. We need our congressional delegation, governor, Legislature, and home developers to work together to get this done.

|Matthew Reilly, president and CEO, MEND Inc., Moorestown

Israel forcing out Palestinians

The small amount of land left of what was allowed the Palestinians in 1948 is being contested because the occupied Palestinian territories are being riddled with Jewish settlements to the point of eliminating any real two-state settlement ("Israel approves new settler homes," Wednesday).

The recent peace conference in Paris made a reaffirmation of international law, in which the U.S.-brokered sham of a "peace process" has allowed Israel to indiscriminately displace Palestinian residents for 50 years. If Pope Francis is "really concerned about safeguarding the Holy sites in Jerusalem," he would not refer to the Palestinian/Israeli debacle as a conflict but a blatant occupation by Israel.

In bringing about the impossibility of a two-state solution, Israel will further displace the Arab population and assert itself as a Jewish state. It will no longer be "the only democracy in the Middle East," but a colonial occupier apartheid state.

|Warren R. Smith, Kennett Square