Family Court mess needs a private eye

Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille should appoint an independent investigator to examine allegations concerning payments of more than $10 million to a lawyer/developer and others to locate a Family Court building in Philadelphia ("A judge should know better," Sunday).

An unbiased and dispassionate examination, conducted by an individual without prior connection to the Family Court project or the parties involved, is the only way to ensure public trust in the findings.

This examination should not hold up the new Family Court building that this city desperately needs. It's a good sign that the project will now be competitively bid. But the public still deserves to know how its funds were spent, especially at a time when no part of government has an extra dollar to waste.

Zachary Stalberg

President and CEO

Committee of Seventy


nolead begins

Paul's biased views warrant concern

Anyone who belongs to a minority that has felt or witnessed the pain of discrimination ought to reassess his or her allegiance to the tea-party movement in light of Rand Paul's public admission.

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, when questioned by journalists, asserted his unfiltered belief as a libertarian that civil-rights laws may have gone too far in mandating the desegregation of private businesses. Following that logic, he and tea-party minions imply that, in addition to African Americans, private firms should be free not to hire or serve Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Catholics, or any ethnicity of their choosing.

This is not a minor issue. Even those who dispute the perceived overreach of Big Government ought to concede that America has evolved as a nation of immigrants and of diverse ethnicities and that allowing private businesses the same leeway as, say, private social clubs would propel us backward into the Dark Ages of our fledgling nation, where racism, gender inequality, and other types of bigotry were acceptable and indeed flourished.

Lawrence Uniglicht


nolead begins

Candidates must listen to grand jury

We are told by politicians that every vote counts, but this doesn't explain what our vote means. Let's make it clear between now and the next election.

Any legislator who scoffs at the grand jury report detailing abuses of power in Harrisburg ("Grand jury slams a corrupt Pa. Capitol," Tuesday) should immediately land on our "out" list.

Any excuse by candidates to not pledge to adopt the grand jury's recommendations, regardless of party affiliation, will send them home.

Isadore Cregar


nolead begins

Barnes' acquittal was right decision

William Barnes finally had his day in court and was found not guilty ("Man who shot city officer is acquitted," Tuesday). It was a day my uncle and family thought would never come. We just felt a calm come over us because we knew in our hearts the District Attorney's Office had rushed to judgment.

The defense team lead by Sam Silver did one heck of a job. We want to thank everyone who has supported our uncle, brother, and friend.

We'll never understand why the District Attorney's Office pursued this case, knowing 41 years is a long timeline to show that a murder was committed. It seems a lot of pressure was put on people involved in this case, especially medical examiner Ian Hood. Thank God the truth came out, and 12 jurors who did their homework throughout the trial didn't rush their judgment.

Joe Jordan

Lafayette Hill

nolead begins

Williams had little to offer voters

It's interesting that whether Tony Williams won or lost the Democratic primary for governor, the lesson for The Inquirer would have been the same: When it comes to elections, private citizens have no right to spend their money as they please ("Campaign cash," May 23).

More obvious takes on Williams' failed campaign might be something like: Fools and their money are soon parted. Williams clearly had fools for backers who failed to know that unless their candidate promised some equivalent of a free lunch, the urban and young voters he needed would just stay home.

No amount of money could bring luster to Williams' career, which was totally devoid of accomplishment. The Inquirer's concept of campaign fairness is to deny candidates access to the cash they need to compete successfully against The Inquirer's endorsed slate.

Michael Hudson


nolead begins

Rendell hasn't been a fiscal conservative

I read with astonishment a recent Wall Street Journal interview with Gov. Rendell in which he touted himself a fiscal conservative.

Rendell promised significant property-tax reduction during his first run for governor, in 2002. His pledge has been proven to be a cruel hoax, as Pennsylvanians today pay more in ever-escalating taxes than they did when he took office.

The governor's first major act was to insist on a 34 percent hike in the state income tax, a proposal which sparked a lengthy battle with General Assembly Republicans, with Rendell finally "settling" for a 10 percent increase, which remains in effect to this day.

If Rendellenomics is fiscal conservatism, God save us from a free-spending, big-government liberal.

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair