Letters: Jewelers Row deserves better

Jewelers Row deserves better

We at the City Conservancy were appalled to see the callous disrespect evidenced by the Toll Bros. design for Jewelers Row ("A two-faced tower," Friday). It seems that Philadelphia is becoming a dumping ground for mediocre modern architecture. The era of the "Philadelphia School" of architects making superb and urban-sensitive designs is long past.

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Artist's rendering of Toll Bros.' planned 29-story condo tower on Jewelers Row.

Façade preservation is a well-established technique for reducing the impact of incompatible architectural styles. We already have an effective example south of Independence Square, with Philadelphia's Mitchell/Giurgola's 1975 Penn Mutual Tower sitting discretely behind John Haviland's 1838 office building. Why not the same for Jewelers Row?

Adding insult to injury, the SLCE Architects of New York have cranked out a generic, faceless building that lacks the quality and imagination deserving of a site just steps from Independence Hall. Its complete lack of character is yet another example of automated design work with standard building components that is the curse of developers imposing low-budget thinking (even in a high-rent district) and who lack an understanding of the importance of "place" in the urban setting.

If Jewelers Row must have change, must it settle for this?

|Ronald B. Levine, director, City Conservancy, Philadelphia, cityconservancy@aol.com

Sanctuary city protects rights

Some people believe that Philadelphia may be providing sanctuary to shield criminals (who happen to be immigrants/refugees) from deportation proceedings, allowing them to commit more crimes. Nothing could be further from the truth. On behalf of United Voices for Philadelphia, we commend Mayor Kenney for recognizing these grave misconceptions and declaring Philadelphia a Fourth Amendment city ("Clarke: Rethink policy on sanctuary," Friday).

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the seizure or detention of any person without a judicial warrant based on probable cause. In fact, municipalities may be liable when they participate in wrongful immigration detentions, as a 2010 case documents. Ernesto Galarza, a New Jersey-born U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent, won a settlement after wrongful detention in Lehigh County Prison for three days because of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold request. Under current policy, people arrested or convicted of a first- or second-degree felony involving violence are detained and released to ICE agents when a judicial warrant is issued.

Holding people based on profiling without a warrant also traumatizes families and friends, particularly in immigrant communities. The mayor's Fourth Amendment policy protects our city and our rights.

|Andrew Toy, Mohamed Bakry, and Magali Sarfatti-Larson, Philadelphia

Harrisburg's attack on unions

The deceptively titled "Paycheck Protection" legislation is once again snaking its way through the Pennsylvania legislature, having won approval by the House State Government Committee late last month. The bill would ban payroll deductions from government workers' paychecks to support their union's political activities, such as campaign contributions, lobbying, or voter-registration drives. The bill is positioned to advance to a vote by the full House in the near future.

The legislation is an unnecessary attack on unions to further a cause promoted by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council and its corporate supporters, the same entities that are pushing national Right-To-Work legislation. My union brother, Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, correctly argues that the partisan legislation is really about keeping control in the hands of corporations. I wonder how many corporate CEOs would support legislation that required their companies to obtain permission from each of their stockholders before engaging in political activities? Their silence speaks volumes.

Paycheck Protection is nothing more than unnecessary legislation in search of a problem. As it was in 2014, the legislation should be shelved.

|Andrew Thomas, president, Philadelphia Firefighters & Paramedics Union Local 22, athomas@iaff22.org

Pa. needs jobs, clean energy

Like most Pennsylvanians, I am concerned about jobs and the environment. Harrisburg must focus on policies that can deliver both.

Clean energy is one of the fastest-growing industries in America. Most clean-energy companies are locally owned businesses. The jobs cross all sectors, from construction to manufacturing to professional services. In Pennsylvania, clean energy employed more than 66,000 workers at 5,900 businesses in 2015, a 15 percent increase over 2014. In comparison, jobs in the oil and gas industry are declining, with a 32 percent drop last year.

I want more of those jobs in Pennsylvania, but our state policies have been holding us back from becoming a leader in the clean-energy economy.

We need more common-sense policies, such as Pennsylvania Act 129, to attract these jobs. Let's return to Harrisburg and work on policies that will promote wind and solar energy and provide customer incentives. There is bipartisan support to both protect our environment and create jobs.

|Donna Bullock, state representative, 195th District, Philadelphia, RepBullock@pahouse.net