Williams' corruption tarnishes all blacks | Readers respond

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Seth Williams leaves the federal courthouse. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Williams a plague on all blacks

It's crystal clear that disgraced Seth Williams was corrupt long before he became Philadelphia's district attorney, but it took for him to become DA to illuminate just how corrupt he is ("DA pleads guilty," Friday). And boy, is he corrupt .

Williams, like disgraced former Congressman Chaka Fatah, betrayed not only every resident of Philadelphia but specifically the black community. For decades, bigotry and hate told us that we couldn't aspire to become elected officials because of the color of our skin. We were fed daily a spoonful of ignorance that we were not intelligent enough to hold elected office because when the pressure became too great, we'd submit easily to corruption.

Every stereotype that African Americans continue to fight against is validated by Williams and other corrupt African American elected officials. Because of Williams' treachery of using his office as quid pro quo to anyone who would support his exorbitant lifestyle, there may never again be another African American leading the DA's office. Let's close the chapter on Williams - a man so corrupt that even his elderly mother wasn't safe from his thievery.

|Anthony Johnson, Philadelphia, johnsonanthony99@hotmail.com

Many city workers deserve praise

The Inquirer's "Political Wall of Shame" lists 15 examples of corruption and criminality among city public servants going back to the 1970s. It's embarrassing, for sure. But we have to keep in mind that during that time, tens of thousands of city employees and, yes, politicians, showed up for work every day doing the best they could for the people that employed them. Let's not tar them all with the same brush. I, for one, am proud of them.

|David R. Fair, Germantown, Drfair@comcast.net

Eliminate partisan primaries

The editors correctly note that turnout is notoriously low in DA races ("Just another day in Philly," Friday). It is in part because the action is in the partisan primaries that effectively disenfranchise all voters who are not registered Democrats. In my voting division, only one independent and a handful of Republicans even bothered to show up at the polls for the May primary.

A solution adopted by some states is nonpartisan elections for municipal offices.The advantage is that all citizens can vote for any candidate, and their votes will matter. Equally important, the general election between the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the primary means that this election counts for more than simply anointing the winner of the Democratic primary.

In a city as Democratic as Philadelphia, it is likely that the winners would still be Democrats. The difference is that all citizens would have a say in who is chosen and, therefore, a reason to vote in both the primary and general elections.

|Andrew Terhune, Philadelphia, asterhune@gmail.com

Buy a panhandler a sandwich

Text $5 to help a homeless person, which is reduced by 8.5 percent in fees, which then sits unused until a certain amount is raised, which then is ultimately sent to "organizations that propose initiatives to curb panhandling"? ("Better than panhandling," Monday)

Seems like a lot of bureaucracy without much direct benefit for those in need.

Here is a novel idea. How about taking five minutes to visit the nearest coffee shop, street vendor, or sandwich shop and buy the person a meal?

I admit that this does not solve panhandling, but it does provide a basic need for an unfortunate person who is somebody's child and who likely still has individuals who care about him or her.

One person cannot help everybody, but everybody can help one person. I witnessed this very act just the other day in University City.

|Dom D'Ginto, Downingtown

Clean entire Mayor's Fund house

I applaud City Representative Sheila Hess' move to replace not just the executive director of the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia, but the entire board as well. Too often when an executive director of a nonprofit has been found to have misappropriated money over a sustained period of time, the board of directors' move is to let the executive director go while maintaining their positions on the board. Sadly, in those cases, the board fails to recognize or accept its own culpability in allowing the misappropriation to have happened, along with the other poor to egregious behaviors that so often accompany one misstep over the line.

In sweeping almost the whole organization clean, Hess is making room for the introduction of a new, ethical, and accountable culture. But she should do the full housecleaning and not place the outgoing executive director on the new board. Clean the house completely, and then make sure that the new leadership - both those who are paid and those who volunteer - receive solid education of their roles and responsibilities as leaders of an ethical, trustworthy nonprofit.

|Laura Otten, director, Nonprofit Center at La Salle University, Philadelphia, otten@lasalle.edu