LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition, 6/30/2021 (2024)

Trauma from gun violence

Helen Ubiñas’ column (June 23) about the trauma children confront from the rampant gun violence in Philadelphia zeroed in on a serious issue hiding in plain sight. More than 150 kids 18 and under have been shot this year alone. Scores of others have been impacted by the daily shootings and murders of friends and family members. Sadly, many of the children are left to suffer in silence. The fallout from the carnage leads to many long-term mental health issues, including depression, anger, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress. I know this firsthand from the children we educate at our school and from witnessing my own husband’s murder in Philadelphia nearly a quarter century ago.

The pain and trauma do not go away, and often require professional counseling and years of therapy. I am heartened by the outreach efforts by various organizations, including the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia and the Uplift Center for Grieving Children.

But more must be done. There needs to be a coordinated effort led by Mayor Jim Kenney in partnership with schools, churches, law enforcement, nonprofit youth agencies, and students as well. With so much violence plaguing Philadelphia, we cannot continue to ignore the mental health crisis that lasts for decades and leads to many other untold issues that harm children and impact our society in a myriad of ways.

Laurada Byers, founder, Russell Byers Charter

School, lbyers@byersschool.org

HB 972 targets trans kids

Why is the Pennsylvania legislature attacking youth instead of ending the pandemic and bringing back jobs?

During the COVID-19 pandemic which has taken the lives of 27,675 Pennsylvanians and caused 1.1 million job losses in the state, State Rep. Barb Gleim (R., Cumberland) is introducing legislation that attacks trans youth instead of ensuring our families and economy are healthy.

This legislation (HB 972) is almost word for word the same legislation written by national think tanks and introduced in states like Alabama. Advocates believe it would turn Pennsylvania’s schools into a hostile environment and increase levels of self harm for trans kids.

It could also cause businesses and sports leagues to pull out of Pennsylvania, as they have pulled out of other states with these laws — which would cause more job losses.

Some advice for Rep. Gleim and her 41 HB 972 cosponsors: Pennsylvanians don’t want to be drawn into culture wars: We want you to do your jobs, get the pandemic under control, and get our economy on track. If you agree, contact Rep. Gleim.

Daye Pope, Philadelphia

Valedictorian’s speech interrupted

Instead of cutting off Bryce Dershem’s microphone and crumpling his speech, Eastern Regional High School principal Robert Tull should have taken a moment to read his school’s vision for his students. Had he done so he would have learned that: “Physically, students are protected within a safe school environment where respect for the individual and an appreciation of diversity are of utmost importance … Socially, students are valued and respected for both their unique qualities and their youthful perspective. … Emotionally, students are encouraged to take pride in their accomplishments whether they are academic, artistic, athletic, personal, or career-related. The development of self-esteem, personal responsibility, and self-respect is integrated into every aspect of the school experience.”

Paul L. Newman, Merion Station

Fixing fake problems

The issue of restaurants not being able to sell liquor outdoors or co*cktails-to-go is a real one, but laying the blame on the legislature’s ending the governor’s 14-month emergency misses the mark. The emergency was going to end eventually and when it did, the liquor laws would still be as archaic as they were before the emergency. That’s the real problem.

If these emergency measures taught us anything, it is OK when restaurants are allowed more freedom to serve their patrons. Let’s encourage the legislature to make permanent and expand the freedoms allowed during the emergency. Could we even imagine ending the LCB’s monopoly on liquor sales too?

Andrew Terhune, Philadelphia, asterhune@gmail.com

Only cut is scarcity

General Assistance (GA) — cruelly eliminated in 2019 — was a lifeline for me while waiting for disability benefits, as it was for women escaping domestic violence, homeless youth, people in drug programs, and leaving prison. I was in Harrisburg on June 7 with the Pennsylvania Poor People’s Campaign, demanding reinstatement of GA as part of a moral budget and a “Third Reconstruction” to fully address poverty from the bottom up. With a $10 billion+ surplus — why are millions of Pennsylvanians still in poverty, the majority women and children? With Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefit levels unchanged since 1990, children are being taken and placed in foster care across the state due to poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination. Meanwhile we see no limit on money handed to harmful industries, prisons, horse racing. GA must be reinstated and expanded, and TANF benefits increased with work requirements and time limits ended. The money is there.

Pat Albright, Philadelphia

Redistricting needs fair criteria

What if the owners and coaches refereed the Super Bowl? Fans would howl.

Yet this happens in Harrisburg. Twentyfive senators (50% of senators) cosponsored a bill limiting gerrymandering (SB 222). It doesn’t receive a vote. How come? Bills must go through committee. The committee chair, Sen. David Argall, proposed a gut and replace amendment instead. Why is Argall chair? He has long seniority. How come he has seniority? He represents a “safe” (often gerrymandered) district. It’s a broken system.

So, Philadelphia: HOWL! Call State Sen. Sharif Street and ask why he voted for the amendment. The new bill’s “criteria” heavily favor Republicans. We want fair districts, not districts weighted to any party. Why won’t Rep. Amen Brown, Rep. Danilo Burgos, Rep. Angel Cruz, Rep. Jason Dawkins, Rep. Michael Driscoll, Sen. Vincent Hughes, Rep. Joanna McClinton, Sen. John Sabatina, and Rep. Martina White commit to real redistricting reform? Philadelphians would never tolerate this in football: Our democracy is just as important.

Rachel Sorokin Goff, Elkins Park

Hidden tax in USPS slowdown

The recent postal delivery delays resulting from the Postal Service’s “strategic restructuring plan” have and will continue to result in a hidden tax on those who rely on paying their bills by mail. Many people who have to wait for their next check to pay credit card, utility, or other bills could, in the past, count on delivery of the payments in one to three days. Now many are experiencing significant penalties and interest charges for payments that are received “late” due to the unreliability of the delivery of their otherwise timely payments by the Postal Service’s. A credit card payment, for example, received late can result in penalties of $30 or more and interest charges of 20% or more. Obviously those living from paycheck to paycheck, or on Social Security are the most likely victims of this hidden tax. The Postal Service has been a reliable service for the citizens of this country for all of our lifetimes and let’s keep it that way.

Harry Tischler, Philadelphia

Censorship vs. cancel culture

Republicans don’t want to admit our violent past so they can reinforce the image of benevolent white people. Forgetting that if we ignore our history, we are condemned to repeat it. That’s an apt explanation of why we continue to have the inequality and racial tension that’s been dogging our society since our failed attempt at Reconstruction back in the 1860s.

The white mobs that destroyed Black sections of our country, that were prosperous, has now been replaced by laws that state critical race theory (CRT) is anti-American and divisive. When in reality it is an analytical framework to critique institutionalized white supremacy; which is the problem Republicans don’t want solved.

Tennessee recently banned teachers from teaching it. That is comparable to banning teaching the Holocaust in world history class. Yeah, let’s talk about liberals using cancel culture and CRT while ignoring the GOP’s censorship, denial, and rewriting our history!

Michael Miller Jr., Philadelphia

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition, 6/30/2021 (2024)
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