New Orleans stinks

Re: "Ray Nagin need not apologize: New Orleans mayor had it exactly right," April 25. Not for a moment do I think Philadelphia is a garden spot. For Nagin to imply, however, that New Orleans is a cleaner place than Philadelphia is laughable - unless Katrina washed all its dirt and detritus out to sea.

I visited New Orleans pre-Katrina and had a wonderful time. Being too old to take part in the fraternity party that takes place daily on Bourbon Street, my wife and I went to enjoy the food, and enjoy we did. We stayed in the warehouse district and each day walked to the French Quarter.

Let me tell you: Pre-Katrina New Orleans had nothing on Philadelphia in the cleanliness department. There was plenty of trash, and quite a few unpleasant smells emanated from the gutters and sewers. I take offense at what Nagin said not because I believe Philadelphia is cleaner than New Orleans, but for his implying that New Orleans is cleaner than Philadelphia.

George Albany

People come first

Re: Whether pet owners should be compensated in our courts for emotional distress when someone else's negligence causes the loss of a cat or a dog or a goldfish ("Emotional distress and loss of a pet," commentary, April 26).

Some perspective: If someone else's negligence causes me to lose the companionship of my life partner of 25 years, I will get neither economic nor emotional damages. It's because the right to recover damages goes with marriage, but not with other relationships where marriage is forbidden, such as same-sex relationships.

Our four-legged friends may be important to us, but shouldn't we think about reforming arbitrary restrictions on recovery for loss of human companionships first?

Andrew A. Chirls
The writer is a former chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Refuse negative ads

The Democratic primary race for mayor in Philadelphia has been a pleasant surprise in its lack of negativity and its focus on core issues by a deep group of qualified candidates. How sad it would be to see the air waves filled with negative and possibly dishonest attack ads from anonymous groups.

I urge all media outlets to refuse money and all candidates to disavow support from groups that degrade our democracy with their cowardly smear tactics. These groups are only as powerful as our media allow them to be. Our city deserves better.

Kevin Corcoran

Tour guides' lies

Re: The commentary "Nuggets of nonsense" last Monday. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin fathered dozens of illegitimate children, was a syphilitic, and weighed 300 pounds at the time of his death? Were you aware that British soldiers who died in Philadelphia during the Revolution were buried vertically head first as a type of post-mortem punishment?

These are only some of the "facts" I heard from passing tour guides when I worked at one of the city's historic sites. My fellow employees and I strove in vain to set the record straight for visitors who had listened to an ill-trained guide. As Avery noted, tourists are usually in town for a short time and interact with a limited number of Philadelphians.

Historical accuracy is only one reason for tour guides to set the record straight. Another reason is that tourism is a very important source of revenue for the city. Why not do a good job, one that will make visitors want to come back?

Leslie Watson

Know your history

We applaud Ron Avery's crusade to get Philadelphia tour guides tested and licensed. It's time. Avery certainly knows the city, as anyone who has seen his entertaining documentary, "Urban Explorer," can attest.

As members of a family that awards a history prize at Central High School graduations we are aware that the teaching of history is in jeopardy. We hope City Council is listening.

Henry and Bobbie Shaffner
Bala Cynwyd

Wrong priorities

I had a great night's sleep after learning that Philadelphia has taken action to immediately rid the streets of those pesky palm readers, tarot card folks, and other fortune tellers by ordering their shops to close. Now that this burning safety issue has been so effectively resolved, do you think maybe we could focus on guns?

Scott L. Carson
Kennett Square