Sunday, August 2, 2015

POSTED: Friday, April 11, 2014, 2:15 PM
Revel Casino Hotel was smoke-free when it opened, but reverted as it ran into financial problems. FILE (CLEM MURRAY / Staff)

I am delighted that State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R., Montgomery) and State Rep. Mario Scavello (R., Monroe) have proposed eliminating the ludicrous exemption in the Clean Indoor Act of 2008 that permits smoking throughout as much as 50 percent of casino gambling floors.

A reasonable person knows this rule is a farce, as smoke filters throughout an entire casino. While I value my hard-earned money too much to gamble it, I visit and enjoy casino restaurants. Without exception, the diner must travel through smoke-filled areas to reach his table. As miserable as it is for me and other nonsmoking customers, it is much worse for the hapless casino employee who must choose between a good job or protecting their health; that is a choice which no one should have to make.

Twenty enlightened states, including neighboring Ohio, ban smoking at their gambling casinos.

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair
Inquirer Editorial Board @ 2:15 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 4:35 PM
Here's looking at you: the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's "All Join Hands: Visions of Peace" by artist Donald Gensler at Benjamin Franklin High School, at North Broad and Spring Garden Streets Thursday, April 3, 2014. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer

In 2013 the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance launched GroundSwell, a grassroots movement to make our region a better place for kids to learn and grow, for families to thrive and for businesses to prosper.

One of the founding principles of GroundSwell is that arts and culture are powerful tools for positive social change and community revitalization, and no organization better exemplifies this principle more than the Mural Arts Program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a flurry of activities, exhibits and community events.

Mural Arts has shown the relevance of arts and culture to addressing a whole host of social and community needs that go way beyond neighborhood beautification. Its many projects and programs have focused on youth education, workforce development, behavioral health, restorative justice and environmental sustainability, among others. This work is over and above the murals themselves, which have become one of the primary ways Philadelphia captures its stories and histories, reflects them back to the city’s residents and shares them with the world. And all of this work is rooted in a time-proven process of inclusion and engagement that builds community and creates lasting change.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 4:35 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 3:09 PM
A brawl in the cafeteria of Bartram High School was captured by a cellphone camera and posted on social media Tuesday. Several students exchanged punches while school police struggled to control the incident. Nine students were suspended, and two sustained minor injuries.

As a child, growing up in a modest home in Northeast Philadelphia, my parents taught me the importance of education, the value of hard work, and that teachers deserve our utmost respect.

Every night before bed, my parents read to me — Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Margret and H.A. Rey, Shel Silverstein — from the time I was just an infant. My mother, but often times my father, sat at the kitchen table with me when I practiced my letters and numbers.

They listened to me read to them and when I didn’t know the meaning of a word, invariably, I was directed to a well-worn Webster’s Dictionary conveniently kept on top of our refrigerator. My parents showed a genuine interest in my academics and when I came home from school, my parents wanted to know what I had learned that day.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 3:09 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 10:55 AM

 Many of us were privileged to be part of a historic effort at Burlington County College to distribute 40,000 new books to children in need throughout our communities—a historic effort to end illiteracy and promote academic success.

This year-long effort was only possible because of the many students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members, including a team from Fulton Bank, all pitched in. We could say thank you 40,000 times—to match the number of books distributed—and still not cover all the acts of support this project received.

We are so grateful to each of the 350 volunteers who helped during the six-day distribution, the English students who spent last fall identifying eligible groups, our First Book partners—the state Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, African American Chamber of Commerce of N.J., the Burlington County Freeholders and First Book—a social enterprise dedicated to getting quality books and resources to children in need.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 10:55 AM  Permalink |
POSTED: Monday, April 7, 2014, 11:50 PM
Reid Kanaley / Staff

Pennsylvania's electricity choice initiative is another example of political influence. There was never a real reason for it, just a way for a bunch of non-electricity companies to get some of our electricity budgets.

I played their game and signed up for a 3 year "fixed rate" contract with First Energy Solutions, FES. Now that they had to pay more for their inventory, we customers now must pay a surcharge so that they will make the same, or more, profit they had planned to make. I am told I agreed to this type of extra charge in the pages of fine print I agreed to a year ago.

That contract that touted a fixed rate for 3 years and also contained a $100 penalty if I changed suppliers during the contract period. This meant that if other companies offered me lower rates, it would cost me the penalty if I changed to get the better rate.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 11:50 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Sunday, April 6, 2014, 11:20 AM

 As a clinical sexologist I get to hear many complaints regarding vaginal pain ("Female trouble: 50 plus," March 30). My experience is that women don’t talk to their health care providers about their sexual issues, since they haven’t found one who is comfortable listening to their problems. Plus most doctors have not been trained to ask the appropriate questions pertinent to menopausal women’s genital health.

I know this from the relief my clients (many in various stages of menopause) express at my comfort with their sexual issues. Sometimes the remedy is quite simple and I recommend specific suggestions based on their needs. Other times I advise medical intervention.

I know firsthand, as a patient of Dr. Susan Kellogg-Spadt, she is quite comfortable speaking about these issues and takes the time to understand her patient’s concerns. She is a rare find. As a sex therapist and educator, she had to participate in special training to become certified. The Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) program is designed to ultimately get professionals to become comfortable discussing their client’s sexual needs.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 11:20 AM  Permalink |
POSTED: Thursday, April 3, 2014, 3:15 PM

Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Stack introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and eliminate the tipped wage. During the press conference, assertions were made that servers make less than minimum wage. This implication is incorrect. It is illegal for a server to make less than minimum wage. Should a tipped employee not make enough in tips to earn minimum wage, then it is the business' responsibility to make up that difference.

In Pennsylvania, the average salary of an experienced tipped employee is $16 per hour. A $12 base wage would most likely eliminate tips entirely, resulting in servers making less than their current wages. Additional consideration needs to be placed on the job loss that will occur when restaurants must close their doors due to a 400 percent increase in labor costs.

Sen. Leach also stated that employers "demand employees do un-tipped work like dish washing and cleaning bathrooms for $2.83 per hour." This also is an inaccurate statement. Federal law stipulates that tipped employees may not spend more than 20 percent of a shift doing any kind of un-tipped labor, and that labor must be related to the tipped work.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 3:15 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 3:17 PM

There are many calls for Pennsylvania to enact tougher ethics laws. The purpose of these laws is presumably to prevent elected officials from doing bad things, things which everybody agrees are bad, such as taking bribes in order to promote the briber’s wishes. But, I hope that the legislature does not enact such laws. To do so would be to commit yet another serious trauma to what it is that almost everybody agrees is appropriate behavior.

Behavior is not right or wrong, good or bad, wise or unwise, depending upon whether it is lawful or not, but rather upon whether the behavior reinforces or damages personal and societal beliefs and practices. Communities don’t work when they have to be based on laws. While the rule of law is one of mankind’s greatest creations, laws only need to exist because the majority needs to be able to enforce controversial actions such as the amount of taxes individuals are required to pay for purposes of protecting minorities from overzealous majorities.

We should not need laws to regulate what should be routine behavior; we do not need ot have a law to prevent us from spitting on your children, or a law to protect us from litigation when we help somebody who has tripped on the sidewalk and fallen down. When societies need to enact laws to prevent us from spitting on our children, helping others, or to prevent officials who are elected to represent their constituents from hurting those constituents by taking bribes, the society has already seriously deteriorated.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 3:17 PM  Permalink |
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