On the ballot questions, vote ‘no’

The ballot issues we should be voting “Yes” on are: term limits for City Council and bidding between nonunion and union contractors for all tax supported jobs or else no one gets the job.

However, the four ballot questions City Council proposes each require a “No” vote.

1. Council asks for more bond money.

A referendum requiring bids between nonunion and union contrators for all bond supported work would save 35 percent, or $48 million on this request.

Why subsidize unions when the less expensive alternative of open bidding would improve the bond rating and lower the cost of borrowing, too?

Vote “No,” please.

2. Continuing a “Sustainability Office. “

This made sense for the Nutter administration because Mr. Nutter and his deputies had a genuine interest in the issues.

Continuation without Nutter’s interest will just cost tax money with no effective mission leadership.

Vote “No,” please.

3. Create another department to run the prisons?

More people, another department, less efficiency without reduction in cost to do these jobs?

Please vote, “No.”

These three questions cost more money for no benefit, pointing directly to the need for term limits for City Council, which proposes such tax raising ideas.

4. Non-binding question to abolish SRC.

For 40 years we have needed clear executive authority to make beneficial decisions for the students, first and foremost. The SRC has that promise; a local board, appointed or elected, could not do what has to be done.

Please vote “No.”

Gardner A. Cadwalader

Chestnut Hill

PFT stands in way of better schools

The recent opinion piece (“Targeting teachers continues to miss the mark,” Oct. 22) and misunderstands Commonwealth Foundation’s goals with PFTfails.com. Allow me to make one thing clear: Our criticism of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) leadership is not a criticism of the excellent teachers throughout the city.

Indeed, we support merit pay to reward the most effective educators, as well as reforms to rigid seniority mandates that force the best talent out of the classroom. The PFT opposes these efforts – along with many other commonsense reforms.

There has been no longer-standing influence on Philadelphia schools than the PFT, yet 80 percent of city students cannot read or do math at grade level. In many cases, students are not even safe in their own classroom. That’s why we have chosen to engage – to prove that PFT leaders are not acting in the best interests of students, teachers, and the poor. They are in it for themselves.

There is no better example of the union’s self-serving agenda than its use of dues money to subsidize its massive political operation. The average Philadelphia teacher must forego $830 per year in union dues – else risk losing her job. Certainly these funds could be used to provide health care benefits or supplies in the classroom, but instead they are deployed by union executives to engage in partisan politics.

We agree that more money will not solve Philadelphia’s education problems. But expanding school choice and protecting excellent teachers is part of the answer. Put simply, the PFT stands in the way of both. They’ve been doing it for decades, and the time has come to stand up to the schoolyard bullies.

James Paul

Senior Policy Analyst

Commonwealth Foundation

Sheffield left out of Bird in Hand story

After reading – and re-reading the Oct. 16 letter re the “Longtime Hill consignment shop,” I was shocked not to have seen the inclusion of Dorothy Sheffield’s contributions over the past 35 years.

Dottie, her husband, Ed, and countless faithful volunteers have been responsible for “the interesting store for our community.”

Indeed, Bird in Hand is synonymous with the word “Sheffield”, for indeed it was Dottie who founded BIH, attracted good volunteers and kept the quality of items accepted for sale at the highest of standards.

The donations made to local charities have been gratefully received –in my case Meals on Wheels, a benefactor each year.

I’m sure there are so many in Chestnut Hill who share my gratitude for all that has happened since Dorothy Sheffield founded and ran BIH (and I believe still volunteers her time).

The omission of her name was surely an unintended oversight by the new leadership, for he has inherited a truly “interesting store” responsible for raising $1 million over 39 years of donations in Chestnut Hill.

Caroline Hausermann

Chestnut Hill