Mediation will lessen courts' backlog

Former Sen. Arlen Specter is right ("Way out of courts' gridlock," May 23): We need to make greater use of mediation and arbitration.

Although there is some use of both now, we should do what a number of jurisdictions have done: make mediation mandatory in all cases before you have the right to a jury trial. In my former practice in Missoula, Mont., this was a requirement, and 85 percent of all cases were settled.

Imagine what that would do for our backlog. Moreover, many times in my own experience, big cases that didn't settle during mediation did so later, in part because of the prior mediation.

James T. Ranney

Philadelphia

jamestranney@post.harvard.edu

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Weather not climate, except when it is

Interesting how Tony Auth's cartoon in Tuesday's Inquirer does exactly what the global-warming alarmists say the skeptics shouldn't do: Judge whether global warming is happening on the basis of short-term weather events. But I guess it's OK to do that if you agree with the alarmists.

John Musial

Wycombe

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Barnes on Parkway is a counterfeit

In his column on May 22, "Barnes' soul will stay behind," Edward J. Sozanski correctly assessed the Barnes Foundation's move to the Parkway. There are many reasons why this move is wrong, including that it will never duplicate the essence of experiencing the Barnes in its rightful Lower Merion home.

As Henri Matisse, whose art adorned the walls at the Barnes, said, "The Barnes Foundation is the only sane place to see art in America." The move is tantamount to digging a long, deep ditch in New Jersey's Pine Barrens and calling it the Grand Canyon.

The Barnes on the Parkway will be nothing more than a forgery.

John Miscenich

Delran

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Voter ID is not undemocratic

In an article last Monday, "Push for voter ID is a threat to turnout," Robert Brandon suggests that having to produce identification when you vote is a Republican plot to "suppress the votes of groups that generally vote Democratic." Really?

Somehow, voters - even Democratic ones - in every state except Pennsylvania and Kansas have avoided such "suppression" despite having to show ID to prove that they are who they say they are before having their vote counted. Voter ID laws have been upheld by the courts (in Indiana's case, by the U.S. Supreme Court).

You have to show a photo ID to get on a plane, open a bank account, get a job, or cash a check, and when stopped by the police for a speeding ticket or at a random sobriety checkpoint. Is it really too much to require people to do the same when exercising one of their most important rights as a citizen? According to a Rasmussen poll, 82 percent of Americans think this should be a universal requirement.

Nick O'Dell

Phoenixville

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Cellphones are not always expensive

A letter to the editor on Tuesday asked, "How can someone, especially a parent, indulge in a cellphone and not realize that the monthly cost could certainly provide meals for his or her children?"

Parents and children living on very low incomes need to keep in touch with each other just as much as any middle-class family, and cellphones are often much cheaper than land lines.

My cellphone was bought at a Rite Aid for $10. Yes, $10. It's not fancy, but I can call and text, which is sufficient for my needs. I prepay for usage. If I don't use it, I don't pay anything. My land line, without long distance (for which I have a separate provider), costs me a minimum of $25 per month, whether I use it or not.

Judging how people use their money is easy to do, but not always fair.

Anne Slater

Ardmore

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Sad consequences of a school's closing

Monica Yant Kinney's column on May 15, "Philadelphia mothers battling to save funding for neighborhood school," reminded me of a similar effort some years ago to save the parish school, St. Leo the Great, in Tacony. Unfortunately, bake sales, raffles, and tuition increases could not save the school, which was a drain on parish funds, and in 2005 the school finally closed.

While the parents, students, and community lost a precious asset, there was a benefit to the archdiocese in that it was able to sell the school buildings to a charter school. This may have been good for the archdiocese, but it wasn't for the students, parents, and community. They lost a treasured resource.

Another consequence, of course, was that a number of parents now had reason to move to the suburbs and send their children to the same public schools that some Philadelphia school administrators send theirs to.

James E. Douglas

Philadelphia

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Playing ping-pong while storms rage

Something didn't look right to me when I looked at the front page of Wednesday's Inquirer: A horrific picture of the unthinkable devastation in Joplin, Mo., then, a few inches below, a picture of President Obama playing table tennis in London!

Is it just me, or do other Americans think he should have returned to the United States when so many of our people were suffering because of these catastrophic events?

Marlene Tenuto

Philadelphia