Breaks? That's rich

The city's approval of a package of tax breaks to build luxury hotels on prime real estate in Center City is nothing but welfare for the rich ("Hotels' tax break clears Council," Dec. 13). Adding insult to injury, these hotels have obtained $40 million in other public financing. It's not as if Philadelphia's ordinary citizens don't have enough issues with high taxes, poorly rated schools, and lackluster services. The city should be looking out for the 99 pecent, not the 1 percent.

Andrew Terhune, Philadelphia,

Journey of the heart

I sympathize with the LaLoup family over their discovery that Marine Sgt. Brian LaLoup's heart was not returned ("Greeks say a bit on missing heart," Dec. 12). About 10 years ago, I was defense counsel for a nutritional supplement company accused in the death of a police recruit during a training run. His heart had been sent to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology for testing, but not returned. When we petitioned to take custody for testing, the recruit's parents learned for the first time that their son had been buried without his heart.

I had the solemn task of taking this young man's heart around the country to the top private cardiac pathologists for examination. My first stop was Johns Hopkins. Knowing my legal adversaries were Catholic, I made a detour to the Shrine of St. Jude, also in Baltimore, and had a priest bless the heart. Upon completion of the testing, the heart was returned to the family. Once the lawsuit concluded, I informed the family that it had been blessed. I waited until then so that they would know it was a genuine - dare I say, heartfelt - gesture, and not designed to pander to their emotions during the lawsuit.

Steve Ryan, King of Prussia

Unreasoned course

As reasoned society slowly but wisely deconstructs false foundations that inhibit enlightened acceptance of others, administrators at Holy Ghost Preparatory School, with their dismissal of a gay teacher, remain cemented in thinking as old as the stones and mortar used to construct the institution in the late 1800s ("School failed to honor ideals," Dec. 11). At least, that's the view of this 1965 Holy Ghost graduate and former director of education in the Neshaminy School District

Richard Marotto, Newtown,

Much ado

Have we really been stricken by a budgetary Stockholm Syndrome ("Senate approves spending blueprint," Dec. 19)? We appear to be grateful and cooperative with our jailers for passing a federal budget that cuts food stamps, ends extended unemployment, and underfunds government oversight of corporate criminals. All this is being done in the name of protecting the Bush tax cuts that were supposed to pay for themselves in jobs and increased revenues, and to protect a bloated defense establishment and congressional perks.

Ben Burrows, Elkins Park

Cellphone manners

While shopping in a craft store recently, I heard a woman taking loudly on her phone. I tried to steer in another direction. But when I got to the checkout line, she ended up in back of me. I almost left my items in my cart and walked out of the store, and cannot imagine sitting on a plane with that annoyance.

Kathleen Patton, Glenolden

Sees satire in kudos

Thanks for publishing two pieces of satire in the Tuesday Inquirer. The first obvious piece was the one humorously mislabeled as commentary ("Temple's expendables," Dec. 17). The second satirical piece was the letter that jokingly - one presumes - lauded The Inquirer as always "reported with integrity" ("Reliable sources," Dec. 17). I would not have enjoyed the first as much were it not for the second. Brilliant use of irony. Great stuff.

Susan Smith, Philadelphi