Violating society's core values

For decades, the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council has been a disgrace to the American labor movement ("Union-developer standoff: Is it time for intervention?" Friday).

While progressive unions have fought at the bargaining table to better the wages and working conditions of underpaid and abused workers, the Building Trades have used violence and intimidation to ensure that nonmembers are excluded from high-paying construction work. In a city that is half African American, the Building Trades are overwhelmingly made up of white males from the suburbs, and that membership demonstrates the construction unions' de facto discrimination against minorities and women for generations.

The discriminatory practices and violent tactics of the members of the Building Trades Council violate the principles of equal treatment and fair play that are core values of a democratic society.

Francis W. Hoeber, Philadelphia



Part of community's revitalization

As a near neighbor of two Post Brothers apartment buildings in Germantown, I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I watch the union picketers assemble and unfurl banners that announce "Post Brothers are Destroying our Community."

In a neighborhood that has seen the construction of many union-built projects of dubious value to people who live and work here, the Pestronks' investment in Germantown stands out as a welcome exception. I find it interesting that they have used private money to undertake quality renovations of rundown buildings. The finished result is of far greater value to our community than many of the publicly funded projects that now mar our once-thriving business and historic corridors.

As community partners, the Pestronks have impressed me with a level of commitment that clearly extends beyond the confines of their properties. They participate in neighborhood initiatives and have lent support to neighborhood causes. It's clear that they are a driver of Germantown's revitalization, not its destruction, and that they see a link between their own success and that of the greater community.

Can we really say the same for the union picketers?

Nicole Juday, president, West Chelten Neighbors Inc., Philadelphia



Scouts have right to position

I thought it appropriate to send you a vote in support of the decision rendered by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to bar openly gay boys and openly gay adult leaders from membership ("Scouts can accept gays or fade away," Sunday).

As a former Boy Scout, I am ecstatic that the National Council has stood firm and held to the long-standing traditions of the Boy Scouts of America.

I understand that a number of liberal foes will take exception to the ban. However, as a private institution, the Boy Scouts certainly have the right to establish and maintain membership conditions, as upheld by the Supreme Court.

Daniel G. Dufner, Southampton



Raise one wage, lower another

When you raise the minimum wage, everyone else takes a pay cut ("Still time to raise N.J. minimum wage," July 23).

Frank Slattery, Eagleville,



Facts about L. Merion's manager

Larry Platt issued a cattle call for resignations of Lower Merion commissioners who voted in favor of a new contract for their manager ("Do the right thing and quit," July 22). Platt states the township manager will be "pulling down" $275,000 a year, as if that were his take-home pay, and, absent factual analysis, concludes that the contract was "impractical."

Among the items that The Inquirer has failed to note is that 11 prior commissioners — of both political parties — endorsed the contract. There was no mention that the manager has saved the township more than $800,000 in debt service in 2011, had a $400,000 savings in debt service in 2010, and achieved significant cost containment in workers' association contract.

There was no mention that, under this manager's leadership, Lower Merion is one of only five municipalities to maintain an AA bond rating. Also not mentioned is the township's national recognition for its excellence in financial reporting for 22 straight years.

The prior contract from 2007 resulted in a base salary of $202,000 in 2011. That wage remains the same in 2012. (The net contract is a decrease.) In addition, the manager was entitled to a longevity bonus for his 28 years of service ($16,000) and deferred compensation ($17,000). Thus, his "pull down" is $235,000. The other benefits, such as health insurance, FICA, and Medicare, create an all-in cost to the township of $275,000. That number is not what the manager takes home.

More significantly, the prior contract provided the manager six months' severance ($101,000). Amortize that over two years, and the base salary that even opponents concede is the rock bottom to be anticipated to replace a manager of competitive caliber, and a new take-home pay would be $230,000 (plus benefits).

The small potential savings is hardly worth the loss of a manager with the pedigree and track record of Douglas Cleland. Losing his skills would have been the "impractical" approach.

Daniel S. Bernheim, Ward 1 commissioner, Lower Merion Township



A pitch for new priorities

A baseball player earns $7,359 each time he skillfully throws a ball to his catcher ("Hamels affirms his love for Philly," Thursday).

I earn $2 for each full month that I care for the medical needs of any of my patients who are insured by the Keystone Mercy Health Plan.

It's the American way, all curves and screwballs! It's way past time for a change-up.

John Brodsky, M.D., Swarthmore,



Hite's salary vs. Hamels'

The juxtaposition of stories on Thursday's front page on the salaries of William R. Hite Jr., the new Philadelphia superintendent of schools ("Hite to get $300,000 annual pay") and Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels tells us in a glance how bent our compensation structure is.

Hite will be paid $300,000 annually to oversee 200 schools. Hamels will get paid $22 million annually to play a game.

I am of the opinion that no one, no man, no woman, is worth more than $1 million a year. But if anyone's task should draw that kind of salary, it should be Hite's, not Hamels'.

Let's keep this up. Let's keep underfunding education and overfunding spectacle and see where it leads us.

Dan Reynolds, Elkins Park



The land of limitless opportunity

God bless America! We are truly the land of limitless opportunity.

Way to go, Cole Hamels, getting about $300,000 per hour worked. Not bad.

Hamels worked to develop his God-given talent and was fortunate enough to live in the greatest country in the history of mankind. We all know that he will continue to use this great wealth to help the less fortunate.

Mike Sofranko, Coatesville