'A real mess'

The Christmas story of "no room at the inn" is alive and well in Harrisburg ("Wolf's big decision: To sign or not," Sunday). Before wishing one another a merry Christmas and leaving town to celebrate, Pennsylvania representatives sent Gov. Wolf a budget package of about $500 million less than the budget he supported, badly shortchanging public schools and social services.

"They simply left town before finishing their job," Wolf said Tuesday. "And they left all of us with a real mess."

The governor refused to sign this "ridiculous" budget, but he promised to release emergency funds for schools and human services. While this may provide some temporary relief, our most vulnerable citizens - the homeless, those with mental-health conditions, and children - remain at risk. In addition, thousands of employees in social-service agencies face the prospect of layoffs because of the lack of funds.

The legislators who voted against the governor's budget are probably congratulating themselves for asking him to accept a system that is not working and that was perpetrated on the people of this state by the previous governor.

Our lawmakers left the people of Pennsylvania out in the cold. Where are the wise men?

|Michael Brody, president and chief executive officer, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,


West Poplar is no place to sell firearms

Yuri Zalzman is trying to overturn Philadelphia zoning rules so he can sell guns at his shooting range in the fast-growing West Poplar residential and commercial neighborhood ("Gun range owner fights to sell arms," Dec. 21). The range is around the corner from the notorious former Colosimo's gun shop, which was shuttered by federal authorities in 2009 for illegal gun sales.

Zalzman has compared his not being able to sell guns at his shooting range to an ice cream store being prohibited from selling cups or cones. His words say it all about his views of lethality, public health, and safety - frightening.

|Russ Alexander, housing manager, Simpson Mid-Town, Philadelphia

Consider the neighbors

I am pretty sure the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding citizens in Philadelphia do not want another gun store, especially one near the old Colosimo's location. Yuri Zalzman seems bent on inflicting a gun store on the citizens of the West Poplar neighborhood no matter what they may want.

He said it is his constitutional right. What about the rights of the vast majority in that neighborhood?

We unfortunately have too many guns on the streets, in schools, and in the hands of criminals. Zalzman said extremists "are locked in a cycle of mantras and slogans." More likely, they merely want safer streets, less violence, and fewer dead children.

Perhaps he should consult with Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. I would bet he knows a lot more about this subject than Zalzman.

|John Stevens, Cinnaminson,


Subaru can make a better first impression

Subaru of America's relocation to Camden signals that revitalization works ("Driving change in Camden," Dec. 11). While the carmaker's commitment to the region is welcome news, its relocation should do more to satisfy Camden's Sustainability Ordinance and Complete Streets Policy, which requires safe street designs for all transportation modes.

Subaru and its parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, have clear sustainability goals, but their site plans for Camden fall short. The plans include 1,031 parking spaces for 600 employees, a disproportionate number considering the transportation choices within a half-mile. Plus, the site is an important segment for completion of the Cooper River Trail, part of the Circuit Trails network, connecting Camden to the Philadelphia area with active transportation options.

As a true community partner, Subaru should amend its plans by reducing parking, improving trails and pedestrian crossings, installing traffic-calming devices, and providing incentives for employees to use alternative transportation. We call on Subaru to set an example for Camden development.

|Dana Dobson, South Jersey advocate, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Camden, and John Boyle, research director, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia