Make Philly more parking-friendly
Inga Saffron’s architecture column applauding the demolition of a Center City parking structure (along with the Little Pete’s eatery) is a great example of how good design can go bad (“Down with parking, up with people,” Friday). It ticks all of the profession’s aesthetic boxes but never addresses the practical elephant in our civic living room: Philadelphia lacks adequate parking in its business and tourist centers.
In the fall, I moved back to the area after 23 years living on the West Coast. I was looking forward to prowling the neighborhoods of Center City, where I once lived and worked. But driving in from South Jersey, I soon grew weary of fruitlessly looking for on-street parking (given over to residential-permit parking) or paying through-the-roof prices for a space in a lot or garage.
My Philly-native friends in California who still come back for visits complain about the same thing.
Bottom line: We need to make Center City more welcoming to visitors, most of whom will arrive by car.
— Carl DiOrio, Mount Laurel
Reading Terminal is a real treat
I love the Reading Terminal Market and have been shopping there weekly for at least 40 years. Your wonderful story, “Class lines” (Friday), barely touched on one aspect that makes it particularly special: the friendliness between regular shoppers and merchants and between shoppers.
Harry Ochs, a longtime butcher, shared tips on what to eat while on chemotherapy, and his son and I talked about favorite places to ski. The manager of the Meltkraft cheese store and I discussed books and lent each other a few favorites. At Godshall’s, I discuss migrating birds with one of the people who sell me chicken, and so on.
But as wonderful as this is, it is even more fun when a stranger asks what I am planning to do with a food item that is unusual to him or her, or I get instructions on preparing something new to me. The market is a real treasure.
— Barbara Gold, Philadelphia
Two sides to Trump aid for women
While it’s safe to say that I disagree on pretty much everything President Trump has done or said since taking office, I am encouraged by the recent $50 million pledged to a World Bank fund to “spur women entrepreneurs” (“U.S. and others add to a fund for women,” July 9). It makes me wonder, however, why he has proposed reducing the budgets of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Community Development Financial Institutions. Both agencies spur female entrepreneurship.
As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I saw women start and grow their businesses in West Africa. The only credit they could access was through USAID. So, why is Trump cutting USAID’s budget nearly 30 percent?
As a board member of the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center, I know that CDFI loans are often the only source of capital that many aspiring business owners can tap into given no credit or poor credit history. So, why is Trump cutting the CDFI budget by 15 percent?
Access to credit for burgeoning female entrepreneurs is the way to grow local economies and create paths to economic mobility. Let’s use all of the tools available to do just that. Keep USAID and CDFI funding at their funding levels or, better yet, increase them.
— Jennifer Leith, Ardmore, firstname.lastname@example.org
Madison foresaw Trump
The wonderful commentary, “Media attacks a violation of our principles” (Thursday), makes a compelling case for the absolute necessity of a free and independent press. It quotes several of the founders of our nation to support this point, including James Madison’s: “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.”
With all due respect to Madison, we had a free press, and both the farce and tragedy happened anyway. But, thank God, we still have that free press, and they are calling that farce a farce and that tragedy a tragedy — something desperately needed, now more than ever.
— John J. Donohue Jr., Philadelphia
Set goals to get money’s worth
Columnist Helen Ubinas argues that when public money is granted, recipient agencies should be accountable for results (“City wastes cash fighting violence,” July 1).
There are good examples of this process. The Pennsylvania Department of Education makes grants to community-based organizations to operate after-school and summer learning programs. The department mandates performance measures (in other circumstances, those could be crafted to include stakeholder input) and mandates that 5 to 8 percent of the grant be used for an external evaluation.
In addition to reporting results, a good evaluator will work with the grantee to use the results for program improvement. An even-better outcome is when results benefit the whole system.
Research for Action, an educational consultant selected by a number of agencies, facilitated sessions with grantees, the state, and the Philadelphia School District to discuss best practices based on the results. Creating a similar process would not be difficult for the city to undertake.
— Elise Schiller, Philadelphia