ISSUE | GIVING

Open museum doors to more city teens

This week's #GivingTuesday global day of charity donations offers a chance to pause from the frenzy of holiday shopping and give back to your favorite nonprofits and causes. Our agency's goal is to raise $15,000 for STAMP: The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Teen Program. STAMP (razoo.com/story/stamp) gives Philadelphia teens free access to 15 top museums.

Our 2014 Portfolio research shows that children's attendance at cultural institutions is up 17 percent since 2009, and now at more than 3 million visits annually. As the School District eliminates art, music, field trips, and afterschool programs, STAMP helps to make sure those attendance numbers keep growing, and that Philadelphia kids still have opportunities to experience the arts and explore their full potential.

If we care about the next generation of Philadelphians, arts and culture are important resources worthy of support.

|Nicole Allen, director of policy & community engagement, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia, nicolea@philaculture.org

ISSUE | NOISE

Fall quiet sought

I used to love autumn, but what's that smell of fumes and why do my eyes burn? And why is that herd of mortally wounded rhino roaming the neighborhood for hours every day? Of course, it's the leaf-blower invasion - those insidious machines whose job is to blow one leaf at a time into submission. One landscape worker even told me they disable the muffler so there's more kick to the blower. How can that be legal, or good for the environment? These things should be regulated. But queries to my township have fallen on deaf ears. If only more people would simply use a rake, breathe fresh air, get some exercise, and listen to the quiet. Omm.

|Sheri Walker, Wayne

ISSUE | THE COS

Reassessing a great

Bill Cosby has not been charged with anything, but the stories of attacks from all these women are overwhelming. ("Americans are often forgiving, but this?" Nov. 25). Many fans are so disappointed that this perceived great man might not be what we all thought.

|Sy Levy, Plymouth Meeting, hifisy@comcast.net

ISSUE | THE ARTS

Looks like the circus has come to the Parkway

Stephan Salisbury's coverage of the Barnes Foundation's second year on the Parkway was a mild example of damning with faint praise ("The Barnes at 2," Nov. 25). We learn that attendance is down, but it's in keeping with predictions. The endowment generates $2.5 million out of a budget of $18.5 million. The museum needs to raise $8 million yearly in perpetuity, it's noted, as well as create $8 million in earned income, it is also reported.

Such numbers predict failure of the institution in the next few years, because no institution can survive with those financials. The courts knew this when approving the move to Philadelphia. The accountants and the movers and shakers knew this. But the rush to dismantle an icon eligible for national historic status was unstoppable. We now have a large white elephant in our midst, destined for financial ruin. What a way to treat a treasure.

|Walter Herman, Merion Station

Helping audiences lend a discerning ear

Peter Dobrin's review of guest conductor Susanna Malkki's concert comprehended the music, the conductor and the orchestra's performance ("Guest conductor's remarkable debut," Nov. 24). Surprisingly, Dobrin called out two orchestra members for lackluster play. While there is no pleasure in revealing musicians' flaws, it serves the listener well to consider these things. I will remember the name Malkki due to Dobrin's praise. As for his other critique, Dobrin is an astute critic who helps us attune to the music.

|Gerry Givnish, Philadelphia

ISSUE | CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE

Fix up and watch the economy speed ahead

We must start repairing/replacing the infrastructure now ("Tap gas tax to fix roads," Dec. 1). Thousands of good paying jobs would be created, to say nothing of spinoff business for the housing, food, and restaurant industries, and the clothing and shoe industries. Something must be done now, even if it means raising gas taxes. People don't want these taxes raised because their take-home pay shrinks, but there's a good chance everyone's take-home pay would increase when this infrastructure work begins. It's good for the economy.

|Joe Orenstein, Philadelphia, joe4189@verizon.net

ISSUE | NONVIOLENT OFFENSES

Official warning beats slapping on the cuffs

New Jersey's legal system faces an overload of offenders accused of minor, nonviolent crimes. While diversionary programs offer a method for first-time offenders to avoid a formal conviction, these programs do nothing to substantially reduce caseloads.

Under the British criminal-justice system, police can give an adult a formal warning called a caution, ordering that they not reoffend in lieu of criminal prosecution. Cautions self-expunge after six years for adults and two years for juveniles.

If you're out for a night in London and get caught with a small amount of marijuana, you'd likely be issued a caution and sent on your way. In New Jersey, you're likely to get a criminal record and placed on probation with substantial fines.

Especially because it is tourism-dependent, New Jersey should follow the British example and enact a system for issuing cautions instead of convictions for minor crimes.

|Eric Hafner, Toms River