ISSUE | DEATH PENALTY
The Jewish Social Policy Action Network applauds the unanimous decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Gov. Wolf's grant of a reprieve to death-row inmate Terrance Williams ("Court backs Wolf in Phila. death penalty case," Dec. 22). The decision was in keeping with the position taken by JSPAN in a detailed statement of interest supporting a brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, in which we reviewed our long-standing opposition to capital punishment as it is imposed, based on a reading of many Jewish sources and our concern about its moral implications.
As long as the death penalty remains in effect, JSPAN insists that it be applied in the most restricted manner possible, with safeguards to ensure it is applied fairly and equitably across all social and economic groups, which is not the case today.
We further insist that in a society rife with individual and mass killings, capital punishment fosters a culture of violence and teaches our children that the way to settle scores is through violence, including the taking of life.
|Rabbi George Stern, executive director, Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN), Philadelphia, email@example.com
ISSUE | CLIMATE CHANGE
Natural gas pollutes
In response to the commentary "Energy revolution reducing emissions" (Dec. 22), people must understand that natural gas is a fossil fuel that puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere just like oil and coal. It is true that natural gas is less polluting, but it takes 50 pounds of natural gas to generate one million BTUs of energy, which emits 117 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Burning fossil fuels has driven the carbon content in the atmosphere up from a preindustrial 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million.
We have in inventory, ready to burn, 2,795 billion tons of carbon. If we burn that, it will drive up the Earth's temperature to about
11 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels, which would be disastrous for human survival.
It is at our own peril that we keep promoting the use of fossil fuels. We need to stop burning them as soon as possible and to do everything in our power to switch to clean energy. It will create jobs and clean up our planet. It truly is a matter of survival.
|Richard Whiteford, Downingtown, firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSUE | BRUCE CASTOR
A problem solver
I can attest that Bruce Castor could "truly solve problems for the people" officials serve ("Castor exits with a 'weight lifted'," Sunday).
A years-long dispute with the state Department of Environmental Protection over the actions of its subcontractor on my property had cost me about $9,000 in legal and engineering fees, without the resources to litigate a recovery. Writing to township officials, state legislators, the governor, and the DEP secretary was fruitless. No one seemed to believe or care about the subcontractor error. It's hard to fight City Hall.
I then wrote to Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. about the situation. He was the first and only official to personally call me to discuss and fully understand my grievance. He called the head of the local DEP office on my behalf, and he negotiated a partial recovery of the money I had spent to document the subcontractor's errors.
I have never met Castor, but I will never forget his genuine concern and intervention on my behalf.
|Tom Messmer, Blue Bell, email@example.com
ISSUE | EAGLES AND OWLS
Lurie should give Temple a break
Temple University is the engine that drives North Philly along the North Broad Street corridor. Does it need to spend
$100 million on a 35,000-seat stadium?
I am very ambivalent, but if you take the $12 million up-front charges, plus $2 million a year for a long-term lease, that's an unbelievable ransom that the Eagles are demanding.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie should be ashamed, since we fans have helped subsidize the stadium and support the team, while the franchise increased in value from $185 million to $2.4 billion - not a bad return. The agreement with Temple should be the same as the one the Steelers have with the University of Pittsburgh, charging a percentage of ticket sales and a fee for game operations while paying a percentage of concession revenue.
Philadelphia's economy is driven by "meds and eds" - health care and education. Since the Eagles have disappointed this longtime fan (70 years), let's see Temple's feasibility study before we dismiss the on-campus stadium.
Remember, Temple once contemplated a move to Ambler, but it opted to stay in the city and is a great urban university.
|Marc J. Horman, Doylestown, firstname.lastname@example.org
A generous community leader
The Philadelphia Eagles' commitment to the community has been called into question ("Kenney hits Eagles on lease to Temple," Dec. 19). Eleven nonprofit organizations that have benefited greatly from the Eagles' generosity would like to offer another perspective.
The Eagles have been supporting families in our area for decades. They played a significant role in the opening of the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, and Eagles Youth Partnership has served more than 50,000 low-income children with health and education programming.
More recently, the Eagles launched "Eagles Care." Each year, five nonprofit organizations receive access to insights, skills, best practices, and resources from the Eagles' leadership. The team also hosts an annual Eagles Care Summit for area nonprofits to learn from and meet leaders in the community, including representatives of the other sports franchises.
These nonprofits can attest to the character of the Philadelphia Eagles and their commitment to our community: Bringing Hope Home, Family Lives On, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, Greener Partners, Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, Little Smiles Philadelphia, Northern Children's Services, Riverbend Environmental Education Center, Simon's Fund, Steppingstone Scholars, and the Center for Grieving Children.
|Christine Cavalieri, executive director, Family Lives On Foundation, Exton, email@example.com
ISSUE | MAYOR-ELECT KENNEY
A good sign
I don't know Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, but if his willingness to dress as Buddy the Elf and appear as Santa's Helper in his old South Philadelphia neighborhood is a metaphorical indication of all that he'll do to help ensure this city's brightest future, then let the bells ring.
|Karol M. Wasylyshyn, Philadelphia
ISSUE | HOLIDAY SEASON
Bringing joy and warmth to children
At this time of year, when it is easy to be cynical about the commercial nature of the holiday season, the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia is fortunate to have experienced something that reminds all of us of the true meaning of the season.
On Dec. 19, nearly 1,000 PAL kids and more than 350 parents and volunteers were hosted at Wawa's annual Operation Brotherly Love Carnival. PAL was the largest nonprofit serving children to be invited to the event, which hosted thousands of kids from around the area.
For PAL kids, who live in the highest-crime and lowest-income areas of the city, it was a special day. They enjoyed an amazing winter carnival at Lincoln Financial Field, including games and food. As each child left, he or she received a new winter coat.
Throughout the day, joy lit up the faces of the children and parents. To share in a day dedicated to Philadelphia's youths was a privilege and something these children will never forget. PAL thanks Wawa and its partners and volunteers for providing an awesome day and for ensuring the warmth and well-being of thousands of kids this winter.
|Lt. William Eddis, commanding officer, and Ted Qualli, executive director,
Police Athletic League of Philadelphia