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A champion of workers' rights

ISSUE | WORKERS' RIGHTS A difference maker I was pleased to read about John Dodds and his continuing work at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

John Dodds, who is pushing for a $10.10-an-hour wage, draws praise from both young and older activists.
John Dodds, who is pushing for a $10.10-an-hour wage, draws praise from both young and older activists.Read moreED HILLE / Staff Photographer


A difference maker

I was pleased to read about John Dodds and his continuing work at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project

("A veteran of Pa. wage fight soldiers on," Dec. 20).

In 1981, my employer closed without notice, leaving several dozen of us suddenly unemployed. We learned that there were no laws requiring any type of advance notice or severance pay. The economy had soured, inflation was rampant, and jobs were scarce.

My wife found the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and John Dodds. We soon found ourselves in groups visiting City Council, buttonholing representatives in Harrisburg, and testifying at hearings conducted by the House of Representatives in Washington. We lobbied for extensions of unemployment benefits and laws to require 90 days' notice when large layoffs or closings were planned.

John had some great quotable lines. My favorite was, "If the American workers have to be soldiers in the war on inflation, they deserve some combat pay."

Eventually, the unemployment benefits were extended, and local and national laws were passed requiring advance notice of closings or layoffs.

I wish John well as he soldiers on, because, as he says, "The people at the bottom need a break."

|Ronald Miller, Folsom,


Allow N.J. to carry

It is time for New Jersey to change its laws concerning concealed carry guns. Allow good, honest, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

I am not a gun person and never cared about guns. I have never hunted. If you asked me my position 20 years ago, I would have said, "Do away with all guns."

I have a concealed carry license, and when I am in other states, I carry a handgun because it makes me feel safe. It has been 70 years since the end of World War II, and you would think this world would be a safe place - it is not.

Only evil people with bad intentions (and law-enforcement officers) carry concealed weapons in this state. I do not want to be in a situation in which someone starts slaughtering people and I have no way of stopping it.

Unfortunately, it's time for this state to allow us to carry guns and make New Jersey safer. Maybe if someone had a gun during the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings, some of the

14 innocent people would still be alive.

|James J. McCullough, mayor,

Egg Harbor Township


Retain history with the growth

Architecture critic Inga Saffron contends that thoughtful incorporation of three historically certified buildings on Sansom Street is necessary to make the overall project at 1911 Walnut St. a success ("Glass sheath needs some tucks," Friday). Although the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia is still reviewing the financial hardship application, it strongly agrees. While Southern Land Co. has offered elements of a well-designed project on a parcel long starved for smart development, it should not come at the expense of the historic fabric.

Cities are most successful when they strike a balance between old and new, continuity and change. This project presents an opportunity to strike that balance.

Those who choose to make Philadelphia their home and those who visit are drawn by the city's history. Lately, however, our city has tilted the balance heavily toward change, with little regard for our historic assets.

As Philadelphia continues to grow and adapt to the 21st century, as glass towers rise and new residents continue (we hope) to flock here, let's not lose sight of what makes the city such a desirable place. The price of progress need not be the destruction of the old (we've been there before), but, rather, a sensible incorporation of the old with the new.

|Caroline Boyce, executive director, and Harry Schwartz, board of directors, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia


Danger in Queen Village

After the fatal 2013 building collapse at 22d and Market Streets, Mayor Nutter promised to keep the residents of Philadelphia safe.

For the past three years, residents of the South Second and Monroe Street neighborhood in Queen Village have tried, without success, to get the city Department of Licenses and Inspections to order the demolition of a large, unsafe, unfinished concrete structure that was begun in 2006 and abandoned in 2008. L&I says it was built without city permits or L&I inspections.

The neighborhood is waiting to see whether Mayor-elect Jim Kenney's L&I will be different from Nutter's L&I. Will L&I be cleaned up, and will it remember that its mission is to ensure the safety of Philadelphia's residents rather than to facilitate unsafe development?

Will the department finally order the demolition of this illegal and unsafe structure? We invite Kenney to visit this site to see what Nutter has forced the neighborhood to live with.

|John M. Kyler, Philadelphia,


Young people can connect by casting ballots

All that young voters need to do to feel "connected" is to vote, but as a class they vote less often than other groups ("Young voters feel disconnected," Dec. 20). Every elected official knows how often a voter goes to the polls, even though they don't know for whom they voted. And if young voters would merely turn out in higher numbers every election, local and national, they would feel more connected because the politicians would seek them out. As the cartoon character, Pogo, said: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

|Ben LaGarde, Glenmoore,