ISSUE | OBAMACARE

In law's complexity, confirmation of ills

Janet Trautwein of the National Association of Health Underwriters tells us that we should solicit advice from a licensed professional agent to sort out all the confusion about the health-care law ("Advice to the confused: Get an adviser," Dec. 8). So now we must not only pay an accountant to do our annual taxes, since tax law is almost too complicated for an average citizen to keep up with, but we must pay an agent to advise us on how to obtain health insurance, which will, most assuredly, also cost more. Isn't it great to have people in Washington taking such good care of us? How would we manage without them?

|Sharon Breen, Lansdale

ISSUE | TRADITION

Latkes of memory

I beg to differ about the latkes from my 1960s childhood ("Latkepalooza: Variations on a Hanukkah theme," Dec. 8). My mother was a foodie before her time. We had curry latkes, grated zucchini latkes, and enough others to have eight different kinds for the eight nights of Hanukkah. My mom was unusually creative, and latke experimentation is one of my favorite memories of her.

|Sukey Blanc, Philadelphia, sukeyb@gmail.com

ISSUE | GOOD NEIGHBORS

Desirous streetcar

I was on the Paoli/Thorndale line into town the other night, and an elderly woman suddenly required assistance. The two women college students in the three-seater with her flagged down the conductor and, within minutes, a nurse and a doctor came to offer their help. It was about 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived to take the woman off the train, and during that delay I never heard one word of complaint in the car. Maybe Philly is really the City of Brotherly Love.

|Tim Byrne, Wayne

ISSUE | ART

Hodgepodge view

After looking forward to my first trip to the Barnes, I was stunned by the number of second-string paintings ("Tchotchkes and great art don't mix," Dec. 2). The arrangement also made it difficult to view, and the lack of historical notes was disappointing. So the recent letter writer's view was not, as she was informed, completely unique.

|Carole Rozycki, Gwynedd

Clearing the record

A Dec. 7 editorial said police shot to death victims in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y. The New York death was the apparent result of a stranglehold.

ISSUE | BEYOND FERGUSON

Arm's-length separation for justice

Like commentator Glenn E. Martin, I think the tragic events in Ferguson, Mo., and the aftermath provide a political opportunity to improve our criminal-justice system ("The result may be lawful, but we need to stop calling it just," Dec. 7). An increasingly two-tier judicial system seems to be evolving, with racial overtones.

New police equipment (body cameras) and policy changes would be most welcome. Another possible improvement would be to prevent prosecutors from serving as judges in the same jurisdiction. Prosecutors must work closely with the police. If one aspires to the bench, the combination of police, prosecutor, and judges - all familiar with one another and having close working relationships - presents a formidable obstacle for the defense bar. It can tip the scales of justice away from a fair and impartial tribunal.

|Angus Love, Narberth, alove@pailp.org

Recruit, retain right people in uniform

Once again, the talking heads - including President Obama - are advocating throwing money at a problem, i.e., millions of dollars for equipping police officers with body cameras ("Should have had trials," Dec. 7). When are we going to learn to treat the causes of problems instead of trying to put on patches in an effort to reduce them?

The solution to excessive police aggressiveness is threefold: One, stop hiring those with the wrong reasons to become law officers. Two, fire those officers already in uniform who earn a record of repeated complaints filed against them for excessive and unwarranted aggressiveness. And, finally, restore the grand jury system to one that clearly only decides merit for trial based on reasonable cause or doubt, not on apparent guilt or innocence.

|Rod Meyers, Bryn Mawr, rodmeyers@aol.com

Criminal acts played a major role

What happened in Ferguson, Mo., is that an adult, after a strong-arm robbery, attacked an armed police officer, and attempted to take his weapon and shoot the officer ("Echoes of slavery era in reaction to Ferguson," Dec. 4). The officer acted with restraint and then was forced to shoot to defend himself after being threatened and charged by the thief. Those are the facts.

Michael Brown's mother lost her son to the modern-day slavery of lawlessness. It was not forced upon him by a system nor by any other person because of his race. It was as a result of his own free will.

Perhaps commentator Erica Dunbar would do better to concentrate on writing about those mothers of our police officers who lost their lives defending us from criminals who have no regard for life - of any race.

|Tom Phillips, Collegeville

ISSUE | UTILITY SALE

Jobs and turf trump wider interests

I cannot recall behavior by City Council that is more detrimental to the welfare of all of the citizens of Philadelphia than that of Council in the Philadelphia Gas Works sale debacle ("Political struggle scuttled PGW deal," Dec. 7). I see two Council obsessions at the heart of Council's decision: One is protecting jobs for city workers, which is inseparable from Council's obsession with votes that keep members in office; and the other is Council's obsession with turf.

Council members have long-behaved like kings and queens presiding over fiefdoms with absolute authority. In the proposed PGW sale, Council apparently was not involved from the outset of negotiations, ergo Council would not cooperate, citizens of Philadelphia be damned.

|Angelo Sgro, Philadelphia, agsgro@comcast.net

Painful pace of civic progress noted

City Council criticism of Mayor Nutter's handling of the planned municipal gas utility sale to UIL Holdings Corp. holds little water when Council members didn't even take advantage of UIL's offer to discuss modifying the terms of the agreement to satisfy their demands ("UIL pulls PGW bid," Dec. 5).

In Philadelphia, it seems progress is taboo. We're stuck with the worst large airport on the East Coast, an inadequate, four-lane Vine Street Expressway and southern sections of the Blue Route, and now the decaying infrastructure of the Philadelphia Gas Works.

|John Baxter, Downingtown