Philly deserves a better look

The honeymoon is over. No more free passes to build higher, wider, or cheaper so that you'll construct something in our fair city ("A paler shade of green," Friday). Philadelphia has regained its self-respect. We are a boom town once again.

It was actually Society Hill that spawned the first boom town in the American colonies, growing bigger than Boston or New York City, the largest city that George Washington ever saw. Those proud members of the Carpenters Company who erected the graceful homes in Society Hill had migrated to Philadelphia after rebuilding a fire-devastated London, our fireproof bricks so fine that we exported them to other colonies. No other city can boast of 1,000-plus colonial buildings.

It is high time for you, my dear developers, to respect all our unique neighborhoods. Oh, and hire a good architect. We have more than enough outsized new buildings that look as though they were slapped together from a Home Depot sale. And we certainly have our fill of big, square boxes that look like 30 stories of bathroom mirrors.

Edward A. Mauger, founding president, Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, Philadelphia,

Pa. lottery funds pay for seniors’ rides

SEPTA provides senior citizens with discounted rides on the Regional Rail and free rides on city buses, subways and trolleys, but SEPTA is fully paid for those rides ("Seniors should pay for SEPTA rides," Monday). The note, "Lottery proceeds benefit older Pennsylvanians, every day" is printed on the back of every lottery card and ticket. Among many such senior benefits, a portion of the lottery proceeds kept by the state are given to SEPTA specifically to offset the cost of senior rides.

The cost is not borne by ordinary "Joe Straphanger."

There are likely some SEPTA riders who get but don't need this monetary benefit. But, for thousands of Philadelphia-area seniors, it provides a mobility that would not be otherwise affordable on their reduced finances.

Stephen Pearl, Philadelphia


Unless I am displacing a paying rider, why should I not accept SEPTA's offer of free transportation? The train is going to run anyway. Why not fill the empty seats with riders who will boost Center City's economy with their purchases?

George O'Brien, Morrisville

Don’t blame Dems’ City Committee

Political corruption is certainly a problem in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania ("Party needs to clean up act," April 23). But is it the fault of the Democratic City Committee?

It was the Inquirer, not the City Committee, that endorsed Kathleen Kane for state attorney general, Seth Williams for city district attorney, and Rob McCord for state treasurer.

It was former Gov. Ed Rendell, not the City Committee, who made John Esty his chief of staff. Yet, the Inquirer and Rendell point their fingers at the City Committee instead of admitting their own role in supporting failed political officials.

Progressives want to destroy the City Committee without supplying an alternative. We should be wary of reformers who call for destroying the one source of Democratic leadership that more often than not represents and speaks for working people and organized labor. We need a party that cares as much about sustainable jobs as bike lanes, as much about good wages as beer gardens, as much about stable neighborhoods as fine restaurants and cultural institutions, as much about economic inequality as racial and gender justice.

They are all important, and at the moment, the City Committee plays an important role, along with other groups, in ensuring that Philadelphia Democrats speak for all of them.

Louis Agre, Democratic leader, 21st Ward, Philadelphia

Teachers right to demand contract

As a retired professional and longtime volunteer at a local K-8 public school, I've admired and respected the commitment that teachers make to a challenging and difficult calling. I applaud the willingness and potential risk in acting on the frustration of not having a contract or a raise for several years ("Contractless four years, teachers plan action," Monday).

I called the Philadelphia School District to register my support and was told there was no mechanism for taking names or information from the public. How dare these officials ignore the legitimate concerns of the teachers and the public. The teachers are the people who can nurture development of student learning so that Philadelphia does not continue to be the top major city with the highest deep-poverty rate.

In a city with an "eds and med" economic base, a turnaround will only occur with an actively supported teacher program. Kudos to the teachers who are willing to fight, protest, and, by example, show the children what it means to be productively angry.

Robert Rabinowitz, Philadelphia

Is censorship on the way?

Little noticed U.S. House Resolution 1695, which was passed, 378-48, last week and sent to the Senate, would shift control of the U.S. Copyright Office from the Library of Congress to the White House. It would hand President Trump and future presidents a back door into censoring what we hear, see, and read. That includes digital information, news, music, entertainment, and art.

As an artist, this bill is of particular concern to me, since it could have a direct impact on what happens to the art I produce. Keep America great by urging your senators to oppose the bill.

Frederic C. Kaplan, Upper Darby,

Solving the puzzling crosswords

After several weeks of trying different sources for the crossword and dealing with reader complaints of too simple or too difficult, the puzzles by Timothy E. Parker seem to be the happy in-between solution. A title for each puzzle gives a clue to the commonality of the key words in solving the puzzle and adds to the fun.

Phillip Dykstra, Southampton