Goodwill ambassador on a bus
We visited beautiful Philadelphia for the first time recently and had a wonderful time. Of course, we stopped at the usual tourist sites and gained a sense of immediacy about American history. The tourism center was helpful, and the bus system was easy to use thanks to helpful bus drivers. The Rosenbach Museum and Library is phenomenal, and we could easily have spent days browsing in the Book Trader, where the staff seems to know every book on every shelf. The only disappointment: The Edgar Allan Poe house was closed, and there was no bus tour to take visitors as far away as the Gettysburg battlefield. But we will always remember the man on the bus who said, "May you have a safe and blessed evening." A great treasure of Philadelphia is its people.
Betty and Elsy Slifer, Filer, Idaho
Denied a promised reunion
Opponents of the adoption records bill on Gov. Christie's desk say it's unfair to birth mothers' promised anonymity ("Adoptees' rights," April 25). But having relinquished my daughter in Trenton, let me tell you about fairness to birth mothers. It was unfair that I was lied to by Catholic Charities, told I had a year to reclaim my daughter. That led to a hasty marriage after the agency said that, as a single parent, I would be considered unfit. It was unfair that I lived with the expectation that at age 18 my daughter would contact me. It was unfair that, when I wrote Catholic Charities asking them to share information if contacted, they knew and did not tell me that my daughter had died in infancy 26 years earlier. I never expected to move into her life uninvited but would have welcomed the opportunity. I had lived all that time with hope and felt she at least deserved an explanation as to why I relinquished her.
Cathy Bolin, Winchester, Va., email@example.com
City planners on the Schuylkill
In commenting on a development along the Schuylkill where the developer and community agreed on a project that all sides are excited about, Inga Saffron questioned whether city planners had done their job ("Harmony on a high-rise," April 20). In fact, city planners, including me, were involved in this project from the beginning, both formally and informally. Through the development of a new zoning code, we have carefully designed a process for community engagement to assure projects are improved, community needs are met, and everyone benefits. What is often not seen is the informal part of the process - the countless hours that my team and I spend with architects and developers, sometimes literally with pencil in hand, improving designs. Our goal is not for city government to be a heavy-handed arbiter, but rather a facilitator of good development that balances the rights and desires of community and developer.
Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor and chairman of the City Planning Commission
Put down that e-cig, kids
It's welcome news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to place strict regulations on electronic cigarettes, especially the move to eliminate access for minors ("FDA weighs in on e-cigs," April 25). While there is scant scientific knowledge about e-cigs, we do know the percentage of high school students using them has more than doubled in a year. In combination with evidence that e-cigs can be a gateway habit, this raises the alarming concern that a new generation of smokers is being developed, undoing recent progress.
Bruce MacLeod, M.D., president, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Pittsburgh
Early preparation for marriage
There's no reason to wait until a marriage has failed to provide marriage education or therapy ("Time to reform divorce laws," Apri 25). With so many marriages ending, most children have no working models in which they can observe the skills that make a marriage work. In addition to sex education, family skills and work-life skills are important abilities from which secondary-school students could benefit - and which might aid schools in generating orderly environments where learning could take place.
Ben Burrows, Elkins Park
Court did collegians a favor
Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's support for upholding state voters' right to ban college admission preference by race should have indicated that it was the correct decision ("Past bias still has impact," April 24). Predictably, The Inquirer digs up a few irrelevant, bad state decisions in arguing the opposite - apparently not heeding Chief Justice John Roberts' 2007 statement that the "way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." It is counterproductive to award college places to applicants on any basis other than their demonstrated willingness and ability to undertake the rigors of obtaining a four-year degree.
Nick O'Dell, Phoenixville, firstname.lastname@example.org