It's a Christmas tree

Regarding the front-page picture of what the city calls its Holiday Tree, may I suggest that the city also describe the season's menorah as a Holiday Candelabra ("Light that tree," Dec. 5)? However, if we are to celebrate Hanukkah by the lighting of the menorah, then we should celebrate Christmas by the lighting of the Christmas tree. That's only fair to both celebrations.

Dianne C. Boldt, North Wales

Bank on land plan

The region's Realtors are grateful for City Council President Darrell L. Clarke's leadership as Council prepares to pass legislation that would create the nation's largest land bank. The backlog of 9,082 vacant, city-owned properties did not happen overnight, and won't be cleared overnight. As members of the Philadelphia Land Bank Alliance - a diverse coalition of business entities, community groups, and housing advocates - we recognize an opportunity to put these holdings back on the tax rolls, create jobs, sustain families, eliminate blight, and strengthen our economy. We also support nonprofit uses for vacant property, such as housing for the homeless and disabled, community and public gardens, and open space. We join Clarke in contending there is room for all of these uses in the land bank. After a myriad of discussions surrounding this legislation, we are pleased to endorse the final version of the land-bank bill, and hope for Mayor Nutter's full support of the land-bank proposal.

Allan Domb, president, Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors

Take down barriers

Philadelphia's 93,000 small businesses provide more than half of its private-sector jobs. But our current, broken land acquisition and development process stands in the way of the start-up, prosperity, and expansion of these important stakeholders. A business owner who wants to transform a vacant property encounters bureaucratic barriers at every step. Those barriers send a message that private investment is not welcome here. So as City Council deliberates over the final version of its land-bank legislation, we implore its members not to take their eyes off of the prize - a land bank that welcomes private investment in Philadelphia.

Jamie Gauthier, executive director, Sustainable Business Network, Philadelphia,

To study, to DREAM

Just as I didn't choose for my parents to immigrate to New Jersey from Egypt, there are young men and women in the state who didn't choose for their parents to bring them here without proper documentation. But under the pending New Jersey DREAM Act legislation, these so-called DREAMers - who have attended New Jersey high schools - would be able to continue on to a state college or university at in-state tuition rates and would be eligible, like their peers, for aid. That's not a free ride, mind you, but assistance in paying for school. Expanding access to higher learning for these young men and women is truly compassionate and right.

Marie-Christine Aziz, Edison,

Transparent flip-flop

Gov. Christie was for the DREAM Act legislation without condition when courting Latino voters. After reelection, his attention has turned to getting the nomination for a job in Washington. But doing anything for undocumented immigrants - other than jailing or deporting them - is a mortal sin to the Republican tea-party base ("Christie lists objections to tuition bill," Dec. 3).

Joseph W. McGuire, Mount Laurel

Cure close at hand

If Congress had simply expanded Medicare to cover all Americans, we could have avoided the craziness now associated with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Betsy Berger, Glenside