Your story about the hopelessness and hunger indigenous to North Philadelphia ("Flashes of reality in N. Phila.," Sunday) dovetailed perfectly with the topic of federal aid at the governors' meeting with President-elect Obama in Philadelphia. The nation's urban centers are dead or dying. Philadelphia has, once again, come face to face with fruit born of decades of bad legislation, dysfunctional city government, race-based politics, special-interest influence, and federal-government abandonment, in the form of a $1 billion deficit.
If the federal government wants to avoid a litany of once powerful and proud city giants slowly slipping into bankruptcy and urban prairie, it must intelligently begin to support rebuilding infrastructure and subsidizing some basic services to jump-start a renaissance. The nation's large cities have suffered long enough from federal neglect. I hope Obama changes that.
Last Sunday's editorial "Gaming industry troubles: Snake eyes" questioned whether, in light of the economic difficulties facing the gaming industry, Pennsylvania was wise to legalize gambling in 2004.
One question: Why single out gaming, when many other industries in Pennsylvania are doing far worse? Over the past 30 years, the gaming industry has proved to be very durable, and, when facing difficult challenges, it has always rebounded. The country is in a recession, and Pennsylvania's casinos will surely be impacted by further economic turbulence. However, I am certain that, with time, they will provide Pennsylvanians with much-needed economic opportunity and stability.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr.
President and CEO
American Gaming Association
Your editorial "Snake eyes" notes that "some community leaders are waking up to the downside of gambling and are openly discussing trying to block slots from opening anywhere in the city." If so, now is the time to step up and be counted. No more bargaining. We should be against casinos no matter where they are placed. Is it possible to find an economist who will tell us that casinos will produce a net gain, or a sociologist who will tell us they do not rend the social fabric?
Norma Van Dyke
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When Mayor Nutter and his staff learned of the budget shortfall, I'm sure they worked tirelessly to make cuts as reasonably as they could. They then scheduled town meetings to explain the situation. The problem is that in matters of this magnitude, it is desirable to seek public positions before action is taken. For example, the Friends of the Library have suggested placing all city libraries on a four-day week instead of closing some branches. The idea is well worth considering, as is the message to Nutter to seek appropriate input before announcing action.
Walter J. Gershenfeld
A story Thursday, "Obama is delivering diversity in cabinet," analyzed President-elect Obama's proposed cabinet by race, color, orientation and gender. As a recently naturalized immigrant from South Africa, where polarization was part of our lives for so long, I found this sort of story to serve no purpose other than to create further polarization at a time when there is at last a ray of sunshine, hope and optimism for the future, and a golden opportunity to bring all of the people of the United States closer together.
Re: "Keep schools open," editorial, Thursday:
As a a former high school social studies/history teacher, I can say instructors live for moments such as Barack Obama's inauguration, which can be shared in school with students and fellow educators. This is a day when schools should stay open, and the Camden school board should reconsider its decision to close. By closing, administrators cannot guarantee that the students will watch or attend this once-in-a 200-plus-years event. By staying open, they can make sure that the importance of this inauguration is not lost on the youth of Camden. If teachers are not there, and substitutes are hard to come by, combine classes in the auditorium and gym and show the whole thing live on TV.