Letters: Vote on House ethics rules - yea or nay?

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Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia (right), who sponsored a Republican proposal to gut the independent Office of Government Ethics, talks to Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas on Tuesday, as the 115th Congress got underway.

Vote on ethics rules - yea or nay?

On Monday night, House Republicans voted to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics by a secret vote ("House relents on ethics watchdog," Wednesday). Under the Republican proposal, the office would no longer be an independent body and would be controlled by the House Ethics Committee and the majority party's leaders. The office would no longer make independent public statements outside of the committee. Those changes would make it easier for Republican leaders to hide ethics violations within their own party.

After President-elect Donald Trump denounced the changes on Tuesday, House congressional leaders dropped them, and the office will remain the same.

Because the vote was by secret ballot, we will not know the votes of each Republican unless they are announced publicly. Rep. Ryan Costello of Chester County has failed to announce whether he supported weakening the oversight over his office and the office of other congressional officials. We must call on Costello to publicly share his vote and tell his constituents of the Sixth Congressional District whether he believes his office should fall under independent review.

|Kevin Burk, Charlestown Township

Reporters have rules, too

On a recent field trip with my granddaughter's grammar school, we visited Citizens Bank Park. We toured the clubhouse, dugout, batting cages, and the press box. While in the press box, our guide, a Phillies employee, pointed out the rules of conduct that must be followed by the professional journalists who work in the room: No loud talking, no rooting for either team, and no arguments. He told us that when a person violates any of these rules, he or she would be ejected from the area.

I was surprised this employee thought it was important to explain these rules to the 8-year-olds. Perhaps he thought it was a good idea for kids to know that grownups have rules they must follow.

Journalists are professionals, just as police officers are professionals. Neither one is above or excluded from following proper rules of behavior. The ousting of a scribe from the Lincoln Financial Field press box during Sunday's Eagles-Cowboys game for violating the rules of conduct ("Why, Eagles, why," Wednesday) has gotten way too much press.

Rules are rules; even journalists are not above them.

|William D. Markert Jr., Philadelphia

Deserving of clean air and water

As U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (D., Pa.) reminded us in his statement against the nomination of Scott Pruitt as director of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Constitution outlines our right to clean air and water. Pennsylvania Moms Clean Air Force applauds Casey and is grateful for his leadership on this issue. We implore Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) to uphold the state constitution and do all he can to protect the right of "all the people."

|Christine Dolle, field organizer, Pennsylvania Moms Clean Air Force, Philadelphia, cdolle@momscleanairforce.org

Toomey must heed constituents

On Tuesday, a group of about 50 constituents of Sen. Pat Toomey, including myself and my three children, tried to carry out one of the most democratic of activities - to deliver our concerns about the environment and global warming to our elected representative. On that day, we would be locked out of his Center City office building and prevented entry by the security staff. We were told Toomey's office was closed, even though members of the group had spoken on the phone to Toomey's staff in the office earlier that morning. When we tried to call his office, the staff took the phone off the hook and refused to come down to accept our letters for the senator.

We will be back at 8 Penn Center on Tuesday, demanding that Toomey listen to his constituents' concerns and reminding him that he is elected to represent the interests of all Pennsylvanians.

|Terrilyn McCormick, Philadelphia

Focus on teens' health needs

Gov. Wolf has proclaimed Jan. 9-13 the

2nd Annual Pennsylvania Teen Health Week, to focus our communities on the health needs of teens.

Of the more than 1.5 million youth ages 10 to 19 in the state:

Nearly 40 percent feel depressed or sad most days; more than 15 percent of students have considered suicide and 20 percent self-harm.

Opioid abuse typically starts with obtaining prescription medications from their homes.

Bullying occurs most often at school, but actions taken by adults decrease as students get older. One in three high school students has been in an abusive relationship.

More than 25 percent are overweight or obese. Nearly all eat fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended, while consuming sugar-added beverages daily.

Teens 15 to 19 account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Teens can positively influence health behaviors in their families and communities. It is critical, therefore, that teens are provided with comprehensive and accurate health information and health care.

|Laura A. Offutt, M.D., and Robert G. Sharrar, M.D., Section on Public Health & Preventive Medicine, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia