Many Pennsylvanians are not at all sad about the death of the redistricting bill ("Pa. is losing its way," May 29). The current process is controlled by our elected representatives, and ensures that a variety of interests are represented in the legislature.
In Philadelphia, so-called gerrymandering ensures that the Northeast's Republicans elect several representatives to Harrisburg. If districts were instead drawn to follow the just-as-artificial boundaries of the city's wards, Republicans in the Northeast would likely be deprived of any hope of gaining seats in the legislature. Similar efforts play out in the suburbs to allow representation of Democrats in majority Republican areas.
It's difficult to see how an unaccountable redistricting process run by unelected elitists helps democracy. Far better that the process be controlled by elected politicians who must answer to the will of the electorate.
Kudos to Mayor Nutter for his ambitious program to help former prisoners reenter society ("Philly pushes hiring of ex-cons in new attack on old problem," May 27). In addition to giving tax breaks to businesses that hire ex-offenders, as Mayor Nutter has done, there are other ways cities can promote the successful reentry of former prisoners: pass "ban the box" measures so job applicants are not immediately disqualified because of past criminal convictions; help former prisoners obtain birth certificates and other forms of identification in order to find jobs and housing; and help provide no- or low-cost legal counsel to those who have been unfairly denied employment.
Many cities have implemented some of these measures, and others should follow suit now.
Frederick A. Davie
Cheez Whiz got started at the GE cafeteria at 32d and Chestnut in 1962 ("What's up wit' the Whiz?" May 24). The employees wanted cheesesteaks or pizza steaks, but melting the American and provolone cheese caused the food-service line to back up. The cook started using Whiz to alleviate the backup. We were going to object, but realized that ARA, the food-service provider, would pull the sandwiches if it couldn't use the Whiz. The popularity of the sandwiches decreased, but they stayed on the menu.
In 1967, I worked at ARA, editing the quality-control analysts' reports. They confirmed the story of Whiz's introduction, and that the sandwiches would have been discontinued if the employees had insisted on American or provolone.
Regina Gear Keating
Martin Sheen is the perfect choice to give voice to Camden's Father Michael Doyle ("Film gives voice to Camden's rebel priest," May 28). In accepting Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, given annually to a Catholic "whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church, and enriched the heritage of humanity," Sheen observed: "While acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive." Sheen's is no celebrity photo-op commitment; it is part of his very being.
Kudos to The Inquirer for putting Dr. Craig Aronchik and his inspirational story of his struggle with a disfigured face on the front page ("A charity born of his own calamity," May 27). After years of trauma, he came to the realization that a person's worth lies within, not with how a person looks. Realizing how psychological help is a component of "recovery," he has generously donated compassion and cash to help children overcome their own inner pain. The prominent display of this important story should help so many achieve a more productive outlook on life.
I see where Mayor Nutter is looking for a friend in Harrisburg to look after Philadelphia issues ("Nutter makes a Harrisburg push," May 28). Just what does he call Gov. Rendell?