Special providence

A four-time felon who shoots a person and buries her alive can't endure a "botched" execution ("No more executions," May 1). The expression you want is "providentially extended."

Jerry Axelrod, Huntingdon Valley

In Wolf's pack

I agree with the editorial "McCord best of a fine field" (May 4) in that it is a quality group of gubernatorial candidates. But we part ways on the endorsement of Rob McCord partly because of his House of Cards-style attack on Tom Wolf.

Pennsylvania needs high-quality jobs, and Wolf speaks the language of business. And in buying back his company when it declined under new ownership, he showed he cared - a quality our current governor does not seem to possess.

Pennsylvanians seem to have a predilection for reelecting incumbent governors. Let's hope Wolf can win the primary and go on to break that pattern in November.

Eric Schott, London Grove, vonschott@verizon.net

It's not that bad

Olivia Mitchell made some important points about the potential impact of a Philadelphia Gas Works sale for the city's underfunded pensions ("Why a sale of PGW makes sense," April 27). The pension plan is under 50 percent funded and perhaps the city's biggest fiscal challenge. Any substantial additional pension funding would provide desperately needed help.

It is not accurate, however, that the fund could run out of cash within five years. That projection was based on a scenario in which the city stopped making annual contributions. Beneficiaries do not have to be concerned about that unrealistic scenario.

In a recent report, the pension fund's actuary found no risk of insolvency as long as the city continues its long-held practice of paying at least the amount required annually under state law. The city will keep making those payments.

So yes, the city needs to bolster its pension fund, but no, there is not a threat that the fund will run out of cash.

Rob Dubow, finance director, city of Philadelphia, rob.dubow@phila.gov

Biased and naive

Trudy Rubin argues that blame for the collapse of peace talks must be assigned to "hawkish Israeli leaders," not Secretary of State John Kerry ("Kerry's not the problem," May 1). She is dead wrong.

Kerry's pursuit of a Nobel Peace Prize and a first foreign policy success for the Obama administration has pushed him into a strategy of blaming Israel and threatening it with imminent doom whenever the Palestinians flee negotiations. But the problem according to both Kerry and Rubin isn't the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to make concessions, but rather Israeli settlements.

Let's be clear: These negotiations failed because Kerry is biased and naive, and because the Palestinians know that he can be counted on to bludgeon Israel into making foolish concessions.

Steve Heitner, Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., stephenheitner7@gmail.com

More than a woman

I very much enjoyed the Memory Stream article on preservation architect Penelope Hartshorne Batcheler ("A new face to study what's old," April 27). I worked with Penny for several years, and she was a joy. However, park historian Miriam Quinn Blimm made a significant contribution to the historical research and reports that supported the Independence Hall restoration, so Penny was not "the only woman working on the restoration."

David A. Kimball, Willingboro

But how was it?

I always enjoy David Patrick Stearns' imaginative reviews of Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. I thought that his article about the most recent program had an unmitigated buoyancy that carried the casual reader into a hyperbolic state of rapturous complicity ("Barber, Bartok, Bruckner," May 3). However, I could not tell whether he enjoyed the performance or thought it was good.

Joel Chinitz, Fort Washington, jjchin@comcast.net