Keeping his focus on others

What's most remarkable about St. Joseph's University basketball coach Phil Martelli is not the string of personal blows he has absorbed in recent weeks ("Tough season and tougher aftermath for Martelli," May 19). Rather, it's how he has responded to his crises - with dignity, class, compassion, and a commitment to improving the quality of life enjoyed by others.

Despite challenges that would make lesser men take cover, Martelli has continued to work tirelessly for thousands of individuals he will never know - but who will long be grateful for his kindness and generosity. Whether it's exhorting youngsters to make education a priority and perform acts of public service, helping the American Cancer Society raise substantial funds for research projects, or hosting a corporate olympics and golf tournament to benefit intellectually challenged men and women throughout our region, Martelli has put his personal issues aside to serve others.

As the Hawks' all-time winningest coach, Martelli has received numerous honors, including consensus National Coach of the Year. But what he does off-court, personal challenges notwithstanding, is what makes him head of the class.

Ed Shapson, Philadelphia shapson.pr@comcast.net

School aid a critical investment

Philadelphia has spent millions to encourage middle-class families to move here, and it worked. The tax abatement program - foregoing revenue in the shortterm for more in the longterm - is a success. Philadelphia is vibrant with new homeowners and renters delighted to live here. But that ability to plan for the long-term will be wasted if City Council stints on support for schools.

People move for jobs and schools; allowing the schools literally to die will destroy Philadelphia, and will have wasted Council's previous efforts. In addition, the disgrace of uncollected taxes in Philadelphia adds salt to the wounds. If the city needs this revenue so desperately, there's no excuse for minimal and ineffective efforts to collect it. So city leaders must do the right thing: Fund the School District so that people want to move here, and show Harrisburg the way.

Meg Berlin, Philadelphia, megberlin1@aol.com

Wasteful Obamacare repeal votes

How much does it cost for the House of Representatives to hold a vote, as opposed to continue with its usual business? There must be a cost involved, and knowing our government, it is probably a number that is not trivial to the average American. Add to that the opportunity cost of 435 congressmen and their staffs' time, and multiply it by the 37 pointless votes to repeal Obamacare, and we have found a true and documented example of government waste.

Kenneth Gorelick, Newtown Square

Parents can drive teen safety

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the 100 deadliest days of the year on our nation's roads for teen drivers. During the summer months, hundreds of teens are killed in crashes and their families devastated. These deaths are unacceptable, especially because they're preventable.

Parents must remain vigilant, since they play a big role in the fight to end these tragic crashes. School might be out, but teens still need to be off the roads by 10 p.m., when teen-crash risks sharply increase. Although teens may spend more time with friends during the summer, they should not ride with or carry other teen passengers. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver's crash risk by as much as 48 percent. Parents must not sacrifice safety for convenience. If a teen is out late or with friends, other travel arrangements should be made. The risk isn't worth it.

Parents must become advocates for their teens' safety on the road. By doing so, they can make this summer the safest yet for teen drivers.

Felicity Erni, Pennsylvania Teen Safe Driving Coalition, Harrisburg

Work that bucket list now

The tragedies of the recent days and weeks should convince all of us to put certain things at the very top of our priority list. Spend an afternoon with the little ones coloring or blowing bubbles. Take your kids fishing or hiking. Call that friend you have been meaning to call. Listen to that elderly neighbor from across the road retell war stories from his youth. Sit on the back porch with the one you love and watch a sunset fade into a cool, summer evening, and be serenaded by an orchestra of crickets. Find time to get to church, and reintroduce yourself to God.

Tony Bianco Sr., Philadelphia

Don't want to be seen as slackers

Tea-party activists who believe that they were unfairly targeted by the IRS should understand that tax-exempt status is a privilege, not a right. Having the term "tea party" in a group's name should be a clear indication to any investigator that an organization is not devoted to social welfare, and therefore not worthy of being excused from taxes. Tea-party organizations denied tax-exempt status are not thwarted from engaging in political activity; they simply must pay taxes. That's something they shouldn't mind. After all, if they didn't pay taxes, those who did pay taxes would be subsidizing them. That would make them part of the 47 percent of Americans whom they so often malign.

Bill Fanshel, Bryn Mawr, wfanshel@hotmail.com

Healing from war's madness

Every year at this time, many may cringe at the outpouring of mindless jingoism, xenophobia, and superficial patriotism. We are all badly scarred by war, whether in body, mind or spirit, and no doubt our inner psychological gyroscopes require that we justify, applaud, and enoble the madness. Admitting the error when a war is over and the nation has come to its collective senses is apparently just too much for heavy hearts to bear.

Occasionally, though, some voice of reason will speak out in the midst of the battle frenzy, as Mark Twain once did with his "War Prayer." In our time, a proper Memorial Day prayer might honor our war dead, but also ask for divine providence along these lines: "Help us here now resolve, and then plan, and then work without faltering, never again to let the agreements of civilization break down so completely. In fervent prayer we ask: Help us live so that they will not have died in vain."

J.T. Taylor, Chester

Solving the low-turnout problem

What if they held an election and no one showed up? That's pretty much what happened last week with the Pennsylvania primary. But it's hardly new. In fact, this year's appalling low turnout had nothing to do with backlash about Traffic Court, fatigue after the 2012 presidential election, or any other knee-jerk explanations. It's a totally predictable result of holding elections in off-years for offices that may be important but no one really understands. For higher turnouts, municipal elections should be aligned with statewide elections.

Laslo Boyd, Philadelphia, lvboyd@gmail.com