ISSUE | CREDENTIALS

Qualified, unlicensed

There are many qualified, competent, and expert therapists who lack a Pennsylvania license ("Abuse expert lacks Pa. license," Feb. 7). As a Pennsylvania-certified - but not licensed - psychotherapist, I want to reassure Inquirer readers who followed news of the perjury charges against a psychologist over her expert-witness testimony: They can and will get excellent therapy from unlicensed individuals.

The real issue in the case of child-abuse expert Sue Cornbluth is that an individual allegedly lied about her credentials. Lying is never OK, and the public is right to be wary of such a therapist or psychologist.

|Judy Haas, Glenside

ISSUE | CHARTERS

One-way charity

The Philadelphia School Partnership claims to be agnostic on which schools would be the beneficiaries of its donations, but once again it has announced a major gift aimed at charters ("It's not just the money," Feb. 10). It's been apparent from the start that the group is primarily interested in expansion of charters and has no interest in the overall plight of the School District. This latest announcement further illustrates that its main goal is to shift students away from conventional schools.

|Sheth Jones, Philadelphia, syakov79@gmail.com

ISSUE | FOOD SAFETY

Washed up

Judging from his recent widely publicized comments, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) would set public health back 150 years with his suggestion that restaurant owners should decide if employees need to wash their hands.

There are approximately 50 million cases of food poisoning every year, which result in 3,000 deaths. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that more than 40 percent of food poisoning outbreaks are traced to food eaten in restaurants.

Hand washing is one of the primary defenses against the spread of pathogenic bacteria. Were I to meet the senator, knowing his thoughts on hand washing, I certainly would think twice about shaking.

|David J. Dzurec, adjunct instructor of food microbiology, Widener University, Media

ISSUE | CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

A practice guilty of being a dangerous waste

Coming just a week before Gov. Wolf issued his moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania, Daniel Silverman's commentary on the death penalty was dead on, pun intended ("Death-penalty system broken," Feb. 5). Capital punishment is abused and overused. Many prosecutors and district attorneys with political ambitions - while that's OK - seek a death sentence as a way to burnish their tough-on-crime credentials. And with death-penalty charges pending, it gives them a stronger hand in plea bargaining. Meanwhile, death-row incarceration and the endless appeals are extremely expensive, divert valuable legal resources, and delay other cases.

There's no credible evidence that the threat of execution deters those bent on homicide; but the potential for putting down an innocent person has been amply demonstrated. I also believe that juries are more likely to convict in a noncapital case. It's high time to severely limit, if not completely eliminate, this form of punishment.

|Ronald Dunbar, Wyncote, admin@dunbar7.name

ISSUE | GOVERNING

Wolf must be willing to wheel and deal

The likely response to Gov. Wolf's fracking-tax proposal from those who control the state legislature will be to ask what he's willing to offer in return. If the governor wishes to succeed, he should ask fellow Democrats to address Republican priorities: full privatization of the archaic, consumer-unfriendly State Store system, and dealing with a pension fund deficit that exceeds $50 billion. The key to success will be the extent that officials extend their hand across the aisle.

|Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair

ISSUE | BIKE-SHARING PROGRAM

Rules of the road for bike-share riders?

A most important component for the success of the city's bike-sharing system will be whether the rules of the road will be obeyed by Center City bikers ("Bikes set to roll," Feb. 11). What city entity will be responsible for overseeing the rules?

So far, it seems cyclists are allowed to bounce up onto the sidewalks and go through stop signs and red lights, endangering both drivers and pedestrians. At a minimum, there needs to be a greater public-service campaign informing bikers that they have an obligation to obey the same rules as drivers, and that they can be ticketed and fined for not doing so.

In New York, bikers are held to a high standard and police give out violations. According to reports, the city collected $12 million in bike fines alone in 2013. Of course, in New York, there are policemen walking the streets everywhere. Here? Well, that's why Center City bikers can run amok: No one seems to be in charge.

|Barbara Levy, Philadelphia

ISSUE | CBS REPORTER BOB SIMON

A public-health message in loss

As a 60 Minutes regular, I knew Bob Simon was the real deal. The tragic irony was that he died in a car crash and was not wearing a seat belt. Seat belts really do matter, and we should always buckle up.

|JoAnn Williams, Media, jwsewn@gmail.com