Some deserve a second chance

Times are tough, but for those with nonviolent misdemeanors in their past, the tough times just won't release their grip. Pennsylvania legislators should seize the opportunity to provide such constituents with the chance they need to move toward self sufficiency by passing Senate Bill 1220 ("Pa. bill would let more get clean slate," Tuesday).

This bipartisan initiative contains well-conceived checks and balances that will help ensure it applies to deserving ex-offenders. Senate Bill 1220 would expunge the criminal records of a narrow range of individuals who have served their time and demonstrated that they learned their lesson well. Nonviolent misdemeanors, even those committed during young adulthood, too often slam shut the gates to the world of honest work, thereby effectively extending prison sentences.

Let's wipe the slate clean and help Pennsylvanians across the state get the chance they need to build new lives. These ex-offenders are not asking for a handout, but merely the opportunity to join the workforce and support their families.

Sydelle Zove, Conshohocken, sydelle.zove@gmail.com

New Jersey's system is better

I could not agree more with the Inquirer editorial "Parties rule in redistricting" (Dec. 16). The redistricting process in Pennsylvania has become severely unfair to the voters. The party in power is too busy worrying about getting its candidates reelected rather than what is fair for the people.

Pennsylvania needs to adopt a new redistricting strategy. I believe New Jersey's way of having a member from both parties and an outsider that both sides agree on is a great redistricting process. It allows voters to get representation from their party member, and the map will be redistricted fairly.

Matt Achuff, Springfield

Ron Paul's vision is right on

Ron Paul's agenda is not "batty," as Dick Polman claims ("Will Paul break the spell?" Dec. 22), nor is Paul hostile towards anyone or any nation. Ron Paul reminds us that as we increase government regulation and government handouts, base our economy on fiat money, continue to borrow and increase our debt, and base our foreign policy on militarism and empire-building at the expense of domestic needs, we as a people continually sacrifice the principles of personal responsibility and personal initiative, principles upon which liberty rests.

Jeff Benton, Drexel Hill

What is Romney hiding?

While I believe that Mitt Romney has the constitutional right to keep his federal tax returns private, this has nothing to do with legality and everything to do with politics and the (obvious) presumption that he has something to hide. Everyone knows that the man has a fortune estimated at around $250 million, so now the pundits and we everyday people can speculate to our hearts' content about what Mitt is really trying to hide.

Is it how his income is derived, how little he really contributes to charity (despite his public assertions that he gives "plenty"), accounting maneuvers that push the envelope of legality and morality, or is it something even more sinister? Mitt, the cover-up almost always eclipses the event that precipitates it. Eventually public and private pressure will build to an intolerable level until you do release the documents. Why not circumvent this pain and drama and release them now?

Ken Derow, Wallingford

They don't build 'em like they used to

Thank you for featuring Wanamaker's on the front page. It deserves it ("Wanamaker legacy at 100," Sunday). When it was being built, it was a modern marvel.

However, the statement that this work could not be done today is not quite right. With practical training in methods and materials learned through centuries of experience, craftsmen today could do as well as their predecessors.

It is time to return to erecting structures that are not only handsome and user-friendly, but will last longer than the mortgage. They are not only energy-efficient, but increase productivity (read: "profit"), jobs, tax revenues, and quality of life.

Gersil N. Kay, Philadelphia, bciorg2@yahoo.com

A recipe for deadly driving

Just as I get the feeling my adopted state, Pennsylvania, and my adopted city, Philadelphia, are about to catch up with the rest of the modern world, something occurs to prove me mistaken. How in the world can any legislator in his/her right mind vote to rescind the hand-held phone restriction? No phone call, sent or received, is worth a human life. Try going to a bereavement class, as I once did, and listen to a widow lamenting her late husband killed in a phone-induced accident.

I am involved in AARP's Safe Driving program and we teach older drivers it is a cardinal sin to phone or text and drive at the same time. In reality, that applies to drivers of any age.

Ralph D. Bloch, Warrington, ralphdbloch@yahoo.com

Charter schools feel the pain, too

Eileen DiFranco, a nurse at Roxborough High, asks why charter schools aren't sharing the burden with our fellow public schools ("Philly schools laying off nurses and others," Friday). We feel very bad that school nurses, library assistants, and others are losing their jobs, especially at this time of the year. However, the fact is that Philadelphia charter schools have a separate financial structure from the district, which allows us to make independent decisions about the best uses of our own (also strapped) budgets.

Each charter school has a board of trustees and acts as a mini-school district determining how its allotted money will be spent. These decisions are made in meetings of the board that are open to the public. Therefore, the public will find that some charter schools have a line item for full-time nurses, and some have part-time positions. All of us are fully feeling the impact of the economic crunch - it's just that we get to make the decisions that are best suited for the students and families we are serving.

Jurate Krokys, Vice President, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, CEO, Independence Charter School, Philadelphia

Holder wrong on voter ID

Based on his handling of the New Black Panther voter intimidation matter, Eric Holder is an unlikely poster child for opposition to new voter ID laws. I too have the right to vote. An illegal ballot may disfranchise me.

Aram Jerrehian, Wynnewood

Animals aren't for human amusement

The article about Lolita, the killer whale held in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium, saddened me ("Lawsuit aims to free orca," Sunday). The Seaquarium enslaved her and made her dependent on humans for her needs. Now, at 47 years old, Lolita is being further punished by not being given her freedom to live out the rest of her years with other whales in a more comfortable environment.

Whether breeding greyhounds for racing, forcing elephants to do circus tricks with bullhooks, or imprisoning a highly social animal like Lolita, it is inexcusable to use animals for entertainment at the cost of their suffering.

Judi Thourot, Sicklerville