Beautiful tribute

Thank you for a beautiful tribute to Anne d'Harnoncourt ("Museum's heart and soul," June 3). Melissa Dribben's final lines brought tears to my eyes: "She was one of those rare people who achieve greatness without feeling - or behaving - as if they were God's gift to man. Only, she was."

I knew D'Harnoncourt only through a course of hers I once took. I was so impressed by her clear thinking and manner of getting her thoughts across so simply to her audience. And, of course, her beautiful voice on audio during art exhibits adds so much to the listener's understanding.

She will indeed be greatly missed, and Dribben's words were a lovely memorial to her memory.

Joan Copel

Havertown

VAST impact

For 20 years, I have taken a course called Visual Arts as Sources for Teachers (VAST) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Because of VAST, my life has opened up to the joy of art. The impact has not been just on me, for as a result of what I learned, my pupils study the great artists to see how their works connect to literature. The highlight of the year for my 120 students is seeing the real thing when I take them to the Art Museum.

About 2,400 of my students have been enriched by Anne d'Harnoncourt since she instituted that summer teachers program. Now, multiply my number by the 60 or so teachers who take the class each year. Considering the thousands of students they bring to the museum, you can see what an amazing impact D'Harnoncourt had on the young people of this region.

I was too shy to thank her when I saw her in the museum, but wanted the rest of Philadelphia to know how grateful I am.

Emily Farrell

English teacher

Strath Haven High School

Wallingford

N.J. budget cuts

One of the major sticking points in the final days of New Jersey's budget discussions is how to reduce the state's workforce (Inquirer, June 3). The governor wants to offer early retirement incentives, but when similar incentives were offered in 2002, all 3,000-plus state workers were replaced the next year. Taxpayers are still paying for the early retirees, and their replacements.

State workers already receive benefits that far outpace the private sector, including a monthly retirement check based on earnings, free medical, prescription drugs for as little as $5, and a monthly Medicare reimbursement. Under the governor's plan, workers as young as 50 years old with 25 years of service can retire. They could collect benefits for a longer period of time than they worked.

If the state's leaders are serious about reducing the workforce, they can adopt our recommendations (

), not add another half-billion in pension liabilities that will be paid for by our children and grandchildren.

Kathleen A. Davis

Executive vice president

Chamber of Commerce

Southern New Jersey

Voorhees

Boutique battle

Given the Catholic Church's practice of sheltering child rapists, its repressive position on homosexuality, and its unhealthy preoccupation with sex in general, one might be forgiven for thinking that Msgr. Edward Deliman and St. Agnes Church have bigger fish to fry than the Feminique Boutique in West Chester ("New adult shop finds itself in a touchy spot," June 1). If these good folks have a genuine interest in promoting a healthy view on human sexuality, they may want to reconsider their own ill-informed and shameful positions and visit the boutique. Perhaps owner Jill McDevitt can offer some modern insights.

Paul Reitano

Philadelphia

Wake up, SEPTA

It is encouraging to read that the Nutter administration has made the restoration of trolley service a priority ("Return of trackless trolleys bypasses South Phila.," June 1). For many years cities such as San Francisco and Toronto have understood the benefits trolley service can provide, not just in terms of transportation, but also in economic development and urban revitalization. In this age of high gas prices, it's time for SEPTA to fully take advantage of this under-appreciated asset.

Jay Corbalis

Philadelphia