As executive director of the Humane Society of Berks County, I know firsthand the struggle to balance the rights of traditional hunters with current social mores regarding animal cruelty laws. My organization's staff and board membership ranges from vegan to hunter. I myself am an avid fisherman, a gun owner, and far from a vegetarian.

Although we have come together with a range of opinion and experience to protect domestic animals from homelessness and abuse, we recognize that there are still issues where perfectly reasonable people can disagree strongly. Particularly in rural Pennsylvania, hunting is among these issues.

However, when our board recently took the rare step of taking a position on an issue not directly related to domestic animals by endorsing the pigeon shoot ban, our hunters and our antihunting directors were firmly on common ground ("Critics still take aim at Pa. pigeon shoots," Dec. 5). Pigeon shoots are not hunting. They are, at best, an unsporting canned hunt supporting an illegal gambling underground and, at worst, wanton and calculated cruelty fests.

It is time for Pennsylvania to join the other 49 states to end this "tradition." Our hunters and our animal advocates should unite in this belief.

Karel I. Minor

Executive Director,

Humane Society of Berks County



COLA unstoppable

I can hear the clicking of keyboards as angry residents across Chester County fire off e-mails and letters to their state legislators regarding the recent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) they received. I fully understand their anger, because I am angry, too.

I ran on a platform of not taking any pay raise while in office, so when I learned I was due a cost-of-living adjustment I simply wanted to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

I haven't been in office a full year and already I was getting a raise? That rarely happens in the public sector, and it shouldn't happen at the state capital. I quickly learned, however, that you can't just say "no" to a COLA if you are a legislator.

I contacted the chief clerk of the House and asked if I could turn it down. I received a letter from Comptroller Alexis Brown stating that I could not, because state law prohibits legislators from selecting their level of compensation.

However, just because the increase is included in my paycheck doesn't mean I have to keep it, and I won't. I will divide the adjustment among five local charities. And I will not declare the donations as charitable deductions on my federal tax return.

When I came to Harrisburg, it was to represent the needs of the people of the 156th Legislative District, not to strike it rich.

State Rep. Barb McIlvaine Smith

156th Legislative District

West Chester

Don't reimburse scouts

The Boy Scouts should not be reimbursed for their building or any improvements made to it since they have occupied the city-owned site as their headquarters ("Councilman says city might pay back scouts," Dec. 8).

The Boy Scouts of America do many good works, but as long as they continue their bigoted policies related to an avowed belief in God and sexual orientation, they should not benefit directly or indirectly from public funding.

Mark Chilutti, vice chairman of the board of the Cradle of Liberty Council, noted that the Philadelphia scouts are a franchise of the national organization, and cannot overturn policy. However, this is not a reason for Philadelphia to condone the scouts' discrimination. Paying compensation when it is not due them encourages their policies of exclusion.

Alex Cannon