Coach's impact spans decades

I cannot imagine what swimming coach Dick Shoulberg possibly could have done to deserve such disrespectful treatment after his long and successful career at Germantown Academy ("GA swim coach to return, but only in limited role," Dec. 17). Maybe he fostered too much happiness by enabling hundreds of swimmers to confidently access their full potential. Perhaps the life lessons learned in the pool inspired too many of his swimmers to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, leaders, coaches, and outstanding citizens. Or maybe his values of hard work, personal responsibility, integrity, humility, unconditional love, courage, discipline, resilience, and patriotism were over the top. While I have not been coached by him for 40 years, the lessons I learned from Coach Shoulberg continue to influence my character and inform my decisions on a daily basis. I am proud to call this extraordinary man my mentor, friend, coach, and second father.

Deb Weiler, Atlanta, Ga., debweiler@fastlanecoaching.com

High price if failure's an option

Transitioning our economy from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy requires government planning, coordination, and action ("Ignoring science is a mistake," Dec. 15). When politicians, executives, and others in leadership positions ignore this reality, or downplay its significance, not only is it an insult to the intelligence of the average person - it is a moral failure with possibly catastrophic environmental consequences.

Carolin Schellhorn, Ardmore, yokoleroy@yahoo.com

Focus must be to keep Pa. green

I agree that our environmental protection and conservation efforts must be based on science rather than politics ("Ignoring science is a mistake," Dec. 15). However, I object to the idea that the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) secretary's job is to "strike the right balance between the state's economy and its environment." In fact, other commonwealth agencies are responsible for promoting jobs and business development. Economics is not part of DEP's mission statement, and rightfully so. I want and expect DEP to focus exclusively on environmental protection on my behalf.

Stephen P. Kunz, Phoenixville, spkunz@aol.com

Cure for Medicare scams

As noted by The Inquirer, those on Medicare do not need to buy supplemental coverage as part of Obamacare ("Beware Medicare scammers," Dec. 15). Nonetheless, we at CARIE (Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly) have heard about scammers pushing expensive add-on policies by falsely claiming that such coverage is required. Others are telling people that the law means they need new Medicare cards - again, not true. At CARIE, we are remaining vigilant and helpful. Those who fear they've been defrauded should call our hotline at 215-545-5728.

Rebecca Nurick, program manager, CARIE, Philadelphia

Schools' top salaries excessive

The cost of college is becoming a major concern for young people ("Drexel president joins leaders of Penn, Lehigh in $1M club," Dec. 16). Due to constantly increasing costs, students are faced with the prospect of large debts upon graduation. While I understand college and university presidents have excellent credentials and that their responsibilities are many, I don't know how they can ignore the crisis of exorbitant tuition and crippling student debt as they cash million-dollar paychecks.

Suzanne Russo, Flourtown

Better health for moms, babies

Recent reporting on shortcomings in the health status of pregnant women and newborns in Philadelphia painted a realistic picture of maternal and neonatal outcomes in the city. But it's equally important to note efforts at the region's academic medical centers to improve the quality and safety of obstetrical care over the past five years.

Faced with the closure of many maternity programs, obstetrics and gynecology departments initiated regular meetings with the city health commissioner, hosted annual quality forums, and adopted citywide guidelines and quality initiatives in each hospital. Infant and Maternal Mortality Review Committees sponsored by the city have analyzed each case with the goal of improving outcomes. Anecdotal reports of an increasing number of "near misses" are not borne out by those actually providing care. In fact, the number of adverse events has declined with the implementation of comprehensive safety programs.

The obstetrical programs in Philadelphia are committed to providing safe, high-quality, patient-centric care, and are working to continue to improve maternal and infant health. The vast majority of neonatal demises and maternal deaths are not related to poor care, but to the social, cultural, and economic burdens faced disproportionately by women in the city. We urge those committed to improve maternal and child health to join us in more aggressively addressing the fundamental causes of poor outcomes in order to make this the nation's safest city for women.

Arnold Cohen, M.D., Deborah A. Driscoll, M.D., Enrique Hernadez, M.D., David Jaspan, M.D., Jack Ludmir, M.D., Owen Montgomery, M.D., and William Schlaff, M.D., Philadelphia

Without reasonable cause

The worst part about the National Security Agency's telephone program is that it collects information on citizens before any crime has been committed, thus violating civil liberties and privacy ("Judge rules against the NSA," Dec. 17). Most agencies spy on individuals only after they suspect a crime. It is as if the NSA is on a fishing expedition, collecting phone records on virtually our entire population just to try to catch a handful of terrorists. That sounds like overkill. Kudos to the federal judge who ruled against the NSA.

Kenneth L. Zimmerman, Huntington Beach, Calif., kennethzim@aol.com

Howl against coyote bounties

Coyotes, greatly revered by Navajo herders who called them God's dog, are tragically the most persecuted predator in Pennsylvania, and now a misguided Harrisburg proposal would pay hunters and trappers a $25 bounty for each coyote killed. State law currently allows hunters to kill an unlimited number of coyotes year-round. It is urgent to contact state lawmakers and Gov. Corbett's office, and ask them to oppose any coyote bounty bill. Coyotes are natural predators that instinctively balance the ecosystem and should be respected, not slaughtered.

Silvie Pomicter, Chinchilla, pomict@aol.com