ISSUE | EX-JUDGE

Legal balls still loose

in the McCaffery case

It turns out that apparently, former state Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery did have a role in case referrals that brought fees to his court-employed wife ("Fees come with a cost," March 15).

The Supreme Court had asked the Judicial Conduct Board to do an investigation that abruptly ended when McCaffery resigned last year. The books were closed without a finding of what happened. As a result, we the public pay McCaffery's pension as he continues to live the good life.

Now we learn that his partners are the titans of the Philadelphia bar and champions of the working man and those unfortunates who've had buildings fall on them. This puts the entire judicial process into question. Is it a rigged game?

As in life, it took two to tango. The state has a disciplinary board that is supposed to police lawyers. I'm not holding my breath.

|Mark D. Schwartz, Bryn Mawr

ISSUE | GOOD TURNS

Off-duty hand up

Early Wednesday evening, I was having trouble starting my car near my home in the Wissahickon section of Roxborough. A woman walking her dog stopped and offered to return with her car and jumper cables in the hope that we could get my car to start.

While she was connecting the cables, she offhandedly mentioned that she was a police officer. And not only did she get my car running, but she offered to follow me to the service station and then take me home. I don't know her name, but I want to publicly acknowledge the willingness to help and kindness of the off-duty officer.

|Janet Anderson, Philadelphia

Quite a lift

You might think of the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 5 as real-life Spidermen spinning miles of cable strands as they install systems throughout the high-rise world. But I'm grateful that they also stay close to the ground, having helped their fellow man in a simple two-story townhouse.

My dad is 89 and relies on a chair lift (Mom calls it his trolley) to take him from first to second floor. Like all things, it eventually broke and was beyond my limited skills to fix.

I found Local 5, which has a wonderful program called Lift for a Vet. I felt pretty vindicated when two union members stopped by and they couldn't get the trolley working either. But they didn't stop there. Nope, these guys returned and installed a new trolley that runs smoothly, quietly, and safely. My thanks to Local 5.

|Paul G. Stridick, Merchantville, paul.stridick@comcast.net

ISSUE | TRASH TALK

Something rotten in city of Philadelphia

I agree we need more trash cans in Philadelphia, as proposed by City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. But we also need a culture change here - starting with better trash pickup ("A move to curb littering, one can at a time," March 13). I realize the snow caused problems and backups for trash collection, but it clearly isn't a priority in this city.

Why not offer overtime for the rounds lost due to bad weather? We missed a week and then were a day behind on our pickup. More trash cans is a great first step. More frequent pickups would be welcome, too.

|Sheryl Young, Philadelphia

ISSUE | R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

When the loyal opposition goes too far

As to the source of racism, we need to look no further than our political system. It is a disgrace the way Congress disparages the president. There are many executive decisions that I find questionable, but I do not denigrate the president or his family. Congressional Republicans have led this country down a dangerous path that has repercussions for the future of democracy.

|Carol L. Smith, Philadelphia

ISSUE | TEMPLE SNUB

Former Penn coach puts it all in perspective

As a Penn alumnus and longtime Big Five supporter, I found the comments of Temple Coach Fran Dunphy to be further evidence that we have always had the classiest coaches ("NCAA wrong to omit Temple," March 16). On the disappointment Temple players felt, Dunphy said, "If this is the most disappointed our guys will be in their lifetime, then they will have a really, really good life." As always, it was a teachable moment from a great coach but, more importantly, a great human being. Although disappointed when Dunphy left Penn, I forgave him because he stayed at Temple.

|Marc J. Horman, M.D., Doylestown, lizmarc@comcast.net

ISSUE | ENERGY TAXES

Deflating LNG tax makes sense for Pa.

As the cofounder of a small, rural, and entrepreneurial Pennsylvania-based business, I applaud Gov. Wolf for his bold, immediate, and decisive decision to adjust the alternative-fuels tax rate on liquefied natural gas. This is a monumental step in the promotion of what many consider the fastest-growing global commodity, which is also being produced right here.

Wolf's leadership will allow continued development and increased use of LNG in fleet vehicles, agriculture, and manufacturing, as well as emerging markets like rail and marine vessels.

Despite this small victory, there is still progress to be made. At current adjusted rates, Pennsylvania will still have one of the highest LNG tax rates. My industry colleagues and I encourage further reduction. National leadership on this issue could begin here, and the governor and legislature have the ability to show that a new approach for taxing alternative fuels is a worthy agenda to pursue.

|David Kailbourne, chief executive officer, REV LNG, LLC, Ulysses

ISSUE | RELIGION ADS

A message that serves to divide

While the region's Religious Leaders Council affirms the constitutional protection of free speech, the language used in proposed SEPTA advertisements by a group known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative is distorted, prejudicial, and hateful ("Judge: Bus ads on Islam must run," March 13).

We condemn inflammatory messages that serve to divide, stigmatize, and incite prejudice. We will continue to reject attempts to stereotype any tradition or community. Working as spiritual leaders with members of the diverse faith and ethnic communities within Philadelphia, we consider it our challenge and our hope to strengthen the ties among all communities to improve the quality of life.

|Rabbi David Straus, co-convener, Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia, Wynnewood

Newtonian physics in play with ad campaign

Public transportation services in several other American cities, including New York, Boston, and San Francisco, have showcased hate-mongering advertisements from pro-Islamic groups such as American Muslims for Palestine, which routinely targets Israel and Jews ("Judge: Bus ads on Islam must run," March 13). Surely, such ad campaigns were the fulcrum for the American Freedom Defense Initiative's creation of anti-Muslim ads as a counteroffensive.

|Elana Starr, Wynnewood