The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission welcomes the scrutiny of the auditor general and the many independent audits performed on our operations or finances each year. Contrary to the auditor general's assertion, we cooperated fully throughout the performance audit.
We also take exception to the most recent report regarding access to our system for employees and contractors ("Auditor: 7,000 getting free ride," Dec. 11).
The Turnpike operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and our employees need 24-hour access to our system. Last year alone, our employees made nearly 10,000 calls from the roadway to our Operations Center to report and ensure a prompt response to incidents, making the Turnpike safer for our customers.
From a business perspective, it makes no sense to charge a contractor working on a road project a toll - only to reimburse him for the toll paid. The cost of the additional paperwork and accounting time would far outweigh any potential cost savings.
In the past two years, we have begun to review the access we provide and more closely monitor usage. In recent months, we have changed our procurement process and created the Office of Compliance and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to provide more transparency, accountability, and competition.
We will continue seeking ways to improve our operations to provide our 510,000 daily customers with safe and convenient travel.
Bill Capone, chief of communications and public relations, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Middletown
The New York Times recently highlighted Philadelphia as making progress in the fight against childhood obesity while also emphasizing that one-time exercise programs rarely work. I agree with this sentiment and support the need for programs that have ongoing platforms. The National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils (NFGFC) is a great example of a national program that provides schools with the tools that have a lasting effect on fitness.
As the chair of NFGFC, I've put together public/private partnerships with companies like Coca-Cola, which provide funding for state-of-the-art fitness centers in schools across the country. Winning schools demonstrate unique and ongoing methods of promoting physical activity and wellness.
This year, we came into Pennsylvania and awarded fitness centers in several cities: Reading, McKeesport, and Troy. We also placed a center in Philadelphia's Roberto Clemente Promise Academy. Schools throughout the state showed their commitment to students being healthy and in return received a fitness center that can be used for years to come.
Gov. Corbett and Philadelphia schools are making a change for the better, and I'm confident that together we can reduce childhood obesity and help build a nation that, through innovation and a "Don't Quit" attitude, boasts the fittest and healthiest kids in the world.
Jake Steinfeld, chairman, National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils, Los Angeles, www.nationalgovcouncil.org
Equating the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha and a harmless prank is being insensitive of cultural differences ("In defense of the DJs," Sunday). Playing music as a teenager is hardly the same as invading the privacy of an ill person. The teenage brain is hardly mature and this kind of childish prank is understandable, even amusing. But radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian are supposed to be adults and should act accordingly.
Saldanha seems not to have given out any patient information, but she obviously was embarrassed that she forwarded the call to another nurse who did give out information on Catherine, the duchess of Cambridge.
Of course, Greig and Christian had no intention of harming anyone, but at best they acted immaturely and without consideration. While there may be no evidence to suggest that Saldanha's suicide was their fault, they should heed the advice of most parents "to think before you act."
Stephanie F. Fine, Elkins Park
Use of drones
President Obama's use of drones entails a "kill list" of suspected terrorists who are marked for execution and then blasted by these missiles ("Liberals quiet on drone war," Friday). All of this violates the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution. And drones have resulted in many civilians deaths, which we call collateral damage but are nevertheless murders. Obama must answer to the law and to his conscience for his actions. Government secrecy about the use of drones and the willful blindness of some Obama supporters have conspired to silence a challenge or outcry. Many thanks to Dick Polman for shining a light on this matter.
Gerry Givnish, Philadelphia
It is interesting to see the hand wringing over the lack of diversity in Presdient Obama's cabinet ("Grumbling on cabinet," Sunday). George W. Bush rarely got the credit for the ethnic and gender diversity of his appointees, who were vilified as conservatives by others of their race. The irony of this is that the Democratic Party is finally being recognized as the white boys' club, not the Republicans.