Try shorter hours

Closing libraries is a terrible way to balance a budget. But instead of closing 11 branches, why not expand the list to perhaps 25, but without closing any and instead curtailing hours at each? They could be open after school from 3 p.m to 8 p.m. and eight hours on Saturday. Each would have one paid professional, working 33 hours a week, and the balance of the needed help would be provided by volunteers. Each library would form a Library Parents Association, similar to a PTA.

In this way, no child would be deprived of a safe place to study and learn the excitement of books, and parents would have more time to interact with their children. It's easy to ask the city to do everything, but in times of need, if folks sort of rolled up their sleeves, it is amazing what might be accomplished.

Ralph D. Bloch


Boost meter rates

Driving into Center City to catch a movie the other night, my wife and I couldn't find a parking spot for blocks around the theater. Why? Because at a dollar an hour - compared with $10 or more at a private garage - the rate for on-street parking is severely underpriced.

While Mayor Nutter's proposal to raise on-street parking rates in Center City is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough. Charging anything less than market rates, say, $5 an hour, for on-street parking amounts to a subsidy paid for by city residents. In addition to providing additional revenue for the cash-strapped city, this system could be good for Center City businesses, as it would facilitate quick shopping trips.

Daniel Thut


Hail, Britannia

Mark Alan Hughes' brief op-ed piece ("Sharing much with U.S.," Thursday), contained any number of profound observations about parallels between Philadelphia and Mumbai. It put U.S and Indian history properly in context, unlike the high school American history courses I took.

The modern world is more a product of the British Empire than of any other influence, whether we like it or not. And, whether we will admit it or not, the effect of that influence was far more positive than negative.

John Baxter

Newtown Square

Purple Haze

The world little noted the passing last month of Mitch Mitchell, the drummer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In a world of Britney Spearses and Kanye Wests, there is little need for "The Experience." His time was the Vietnam War and Woodstock, an era that holds a kind of tongue-in-cheek sympathy for the present.

Mitchell was part of a much larger collective that espoused free love, tuning in, turning off and, oddly enough, caring. He was a ferocious drummer with dangerous accuracy and a dedication to music that is missing in today's artists. Interspersed with the alchemy of Hendrix and the spirit of Mitchell was the idea of at least standing for something. "Machine Gun" and "Manic Depression" garner thoughts of a time and circumstances that trouble us to this very day.

Joe Mussari

West Chester

Missed motive

Jonathan Last ("Let chips fall where they may," Friday) omitted one very salient detail that undermined his position. The reason President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress want to bail out the car companies is because about 2.5 million jobs are at stake if the Big Three go under. The net effect of that much unemployment - and the inability of the unemployed to buy much of anything - is what drives the motivation to bail out the car companies.

Still, I agree with him that the companies themselves should have to pay a price and take responsibility for their incompetent business practices.

Stan Slotter


Consider his actions

Leave Gov. Rendell alone ("What Ed meant to say," editorial, Friday). He spoke in a shortcut way that we all do. You cannot expect a person who is constantly talking in public to never slip into the style of ordinary conversation.

Look at the women he appointed when he was mayor and whom he has appointed as governor. Look at the woman to whom he is married. That tells you, fundamentally, what he thinks about the role and abilities of women. A casual remark is not evidence - lifetime characteristics are.

Anita A. Summers