ISSUE | 'CAN'T BREATHE'

A quiet time for her

After repeated exposure to the video of Eric Garner's arrest in New York, I began to wonder how he could have said that he could not breathe 11 times had he been in a serious chokehold - as I was once. The most terrifying thing I experienced about a chokehold - as a small, older woman - was that I could not make a sound as I tried over and over to scream for help. Later, I regained consciousness on my back in the middle of the street, just yards from my front door. (And it was a very fine neighborhood.)

So I'm just saying: The New York police officer may not have been trying to really hurt Garner, as some media reports would have us believe. Was he, instead, trying to remove him from the spot on the sidewalk where he was causing problems for the shop owners who called for police help?

|Pamela Sinclair Todd, Philadelphia

ISSUE | NATION'S HEALTH

Top doc U.S. needs

Commentator Aseem R. Shukla explores whether the Senate would confirm the highly qualified Dr. Vivek Murthy for surgeon general in the face of Murthy's insistence on gun-violence research and limiting access to assault rifles, which has raised the ire of the National Rifle Association ("Health nominee targeted by gun lobby," Dec. 7).

Americans are increasingly buying guns, usually for self-defense. However, there are accidents and incidents: Somebody gets nervous or angry; it "goes off." Someone gets hurt or dies. People grieve and cannot trust their neighbors, and more buy guns.

Murthy should be confirmed. The nation needs healing, not more guns.

|Charlotte Gillespie, Moorestown

ISSUE | WORKING

Ease overtime costs, spread the wealth?

It seems the Editorial Board has the idea of overtime pay backwards ("Reviving overtime," Dec. 10). Requiring an employer to pay time and a half or more is a disincentive for the employer to authorize more hours unless absolutely necessary.

However, if any employee wishes to work more hours at his own request, why not make working more hours at the same pay an incentive that works for the employee? Of course, it is different if the employer needs more work and pressures people to work overtime. But why not give workers an additional option to make more money?

|Gardner A. Cadwalader, Philadelphia

ISSUE | TORTURE REPORT

Add another one to that terrorists-win list

What the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture reveals is that the 9/11 terrorists were successful in getting some in the U.S. government to renege on the country's core values and succumb to the banality of evil ("Torture by any name," Dec. 11).

|Bill Fanshel, Bryn Mawr

ISSUE | UTILITY SALE FAIL

Counting sheep on City Council

While City Council President Darrell L. Clarke deserves every bit of the condemnation for his inexcusable decision not to hold hearings on the proposed Philadelphia Gas Works sale, let's condemn in equal measure the 16 other Council members who chose not to introduce a bill to put the issue to public debate ("Deal breaker," Dec. 9).

And extra shame on those Council members who wanted to have it both ways by professing eagerness to have hearings.

|Joan Markman, Philadelphia

ISSUE | SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY

Neshaminy hit the books before new moves

An Inquirer report on the grade-configuration change and school consolidation projects in the Neshaminy School District failed to provide a complete picture ("Another uproar in Bucks district," Dec. 8). The result seems designed to stir the pot instead of informing readers.

The consolidation plan is the result of more than eight years of commissioned studies, demographic reports, committee meetings, open debate, and recommendations from a citizens' advisory committee - hardly the "fast track" process cited. Hearings were scheduled to comply with state guidelines without risking losing financing at historically low rates.

The grades 5-8 configuration plan was also a result of lengthy study and public debate. Describing it, the article notes unattributed "critics" without offering the balance of information from the study or from those who created it. We expect better from The Inquirer and hope in the future that readers will be given a much better, objective overview of a complex situation.

|Scott Congdon, president, Neshaminy School Board, Feasterville