ISSUE | FORFEITURE

Stacked deck

District Attorney Seth Williams' plea to save civil forfeiture laws fails to note the real threats to every Philadelphian ("City must keep forfeiture laws," March 1). No one should have his home or hard-earned cash forfeited to the government when he hasn't been convicted or even charged with a crime. Yet Philadelphia leads the pack among large cities gobbling up private property.

Students in the Penn Law Clinic regularly represent honest, law-abiding grandparents whose homes are seized for alleged low-level drug offenses by their grandsons. These elderly homeowners' only sin is providing shelter to extended families.

Civil forfeiture laws are stacked against the average citizen. The burden of proof is far too low; the legal process too time-consuming and expensive; defenses too complex to be mounted without a lawyer; and there is no right to a lawyer for those who cannot afford one. When the government seizes $500, it costs the owner more than that in lost work time to get the money back. Many citizens lose property by default.

It is hard-earned property - not forfeiture laws - that deserves to be saved.

|Louis S. Rulli, practice professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, lrulli@law.upenn.edu

ISSUE | ROAD HAZARDS

Safety bars for cars

Major highway pileups during the winter emphasized the need to protect car drivers from sliding under a tractor-trailer. More than one death on the roads involved such a crash.

Installing steel crossbars on the sides of tractor-trailers will save these lives. Just as many lives were saved as a result of the rear, car-level crossbars ordered for trailers years ago.

|Peter F. Green, Cinnaminson, greenom123@aol.com

ISSUE | TAXES

Seniors will pay up

It's great to see the governor and mayor striving to fund the schools, but Gov. Wolf wants to raise the sales tax and lower the city wage tax. And Mayor Nutter wants to raise real estate taxes. Retirees will suffer the most to improve education.

|Jim Shew Sr., Philadelphia, jshew216@comcast.net

ISSUE | FLOWER SHOW

Thousands of trees will take root due to event

At the end of a movie, the credits roll and the producers acknowledge the people who made the production possible ('Time to break it all down," March 9). So I want to thank Philadelphians and visitors from out of town, our generous sponsors, and the designers from around the world who made the Philadelphia Flower Show's "Celebrating the Movies" theme an amazing success. We welcomed a quarter-million visitors - including gardeners, film fans, dog lovers, and little princesses - over the course of nine days. We were thrilled to see twice as many young people at the show, and we added 15,000 new members to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society family.

What this means is a bright, beautiful season ahead for the region. Revenues from the show will help the society and its partners add tens of thousands of trees to the landscape (we'll hit the half-way point in the Plant One Million campaign this year); expand the network of community gardens; clean and green hundreds of vacant lots; and bring locally grown, healthy food to more families in need.

|Drew Becher, president, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia

ISSUE | OBAMACARE

Still not finding the affordable part

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and had most of the reconstruction performed under our old insurance, which we lost on Dec. 31 ("Health law under attack is a life-saver," March 8). The last bit of reconstruction still needs to be done, but, under Obamacare, we can't afford the deductible. So I await liberals' efforts to prove me in error.

|Rob Spina, Laurel Springs rspina@comcast.net

ISSUE | ANIMALS ACTS

Activists paid up, the elephants go

It's startling to see that elephants will no longer be in the Ringling Bros. circus ("Wise Dumbo move," March 9). We can chalk this up to a decades-long campaign by radical animal-rights activists taking its toll.

We shouldn't forget that activists had their day in court to prove their claims of mistreatment - and lost spectacularly. A judge dismissed their case, finding that animal-rights groups had covertly paid their key witness, who lied under oath, nearly $200,000. Ringling's parent company sued the activists for racketeering and bribery, and collected a multimillion-dollar settlement - including a payment by the Humane Society of the United States.

It's nice to hear, however, that the Ringling elephants will retire to a company care center in Florida that has helped breed these animals, which are endangered in the wild. Ironically, this animal care exceeds anything the always-complaining animal-rights activists provide.

|Will Coggin, director of research, Center for Consumer Freedom, Washington

ISSUE | WINTER'S PASSING

Now that was a good snow job

Thanks to the city Streets Department and its crews' effectiveness in keeping us moving during and after the recent snowstorm. It was amazing to see many of the side streets were passable.

|Marlene Tenuto, Philadelphia