Letters to the Editor

Run for charity

To the Editor:

The Swarthmore Lions, in partnership with the Swarthmore Rotary Club, are sponsoring the annual Swarthmore Fun-Fair 5K Run and Walk this Sunday, May 1, at 12 noon. The race kicks off the Fun-Fair which begins immediately after the awards ceremony.

Online registration is available at www.runtheday.com until Saturday afternoon. The pre-registration fee is $25.

On site race day registration will be held at the Swarthmore SEPTA station from 10:30 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. on Sunday. Race day registration is $30.

Proceeds from the race support Lions charities which include the Center for Blind and Visually Impaired in Chester. If you are not doing the Broad Street run, please consider joining us on Sunday.

Jim Ryan
Swarthmore Lions

Some votes count more than others

To the Editor:

People often ask: “Does my vote really count?” Every legitimate vote cast is counted, but whether it makes a difference in an election outcome may depend on where you live. If you live in a congressional or legislative district overwhelmingly packed with voters leaning to one of the political parties, then the surplus of votes needed to elect the winning candidate are “wasted.”

An example of “packing” to create a large number of wasted votes occurred in 2011 when the boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts were redrawn to accommodate population changes revealed by the 2010 federal census. Because Pennsylvania lost one congressional district, the remaining districts were enlarged geographically. Congressional District 1, an overwhelmingly Democratic district located mostly in Philadelphia was expanded to include Democratic-leaning suburban communities like Swarthmore. The boundary lines were gerrymandered to bypass Republican-leaning communities closer to Philadelphia. This is only one example. Numerous other counties, municipalities and even wards have been packed or split to unfairly enhance or dilute their citizens’ voting power. Pennsylvania is considered to be one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

In Pennsylvania, redistricting — the process of redrawing congressional and legislative district boundaries — is controlled by incumbents in the state legislature who have a vested interest in how the changes affect election outcomes. The process is largely conducted behind closed doors and is dominated by whichever political party happens to be in control at the time. District boundaries are redrawn in a way that maximizes that party’s representation in Congress and the General Assembly. The creation of districts overwhelmingly packed with voters of one party means that the primary is often the only meaningful election where incumbents face possible challengers from within their own party. Some political observers on the right and the left agree that extreme partisan gerrymandering has contributed to the gridlock which prevents lawmakers from working cooperatively with members of the opposite party to achieve mutually agreeable solutions to pressing problems like education funding and underfunded public employee pensions.

Voters in states like Arizona, California and Ohio have tackled this issue by overwhelmingly approving ballot initiatives to create independent redistricting commissions made up of private citizens selected to ensure fairness in the process, under rules to prevent partisan gerrymandering. Pennsylvania voters do not have access to the citizen’s initiative process, so we have to persuade the very legislators who benefit from the current system to reform it. That is why I have asked the Swarthmore Borough Council and am asking readers of The Swarthmorean to join Fair Districts PA (www.fairdistrictspa.com) and sign a petition urging our state legislators to support companion bills SB 484 and HB 1835 creating an independent, impartial citizens redistricting commission with rules ensuring fairness and transparency.

Lora Lavin
Swarthmore

Anabelle’s Wish

To the Editor:

Hello to our Swarthmore friends.

Anabelle’s Wish (anabelleswish.org), an organization helping families struggling with rare neurological disorders, just wanted to let you know what we are up to this spring.

First, we will be painting glitter tattoos on all who want them at this year’s Charity Fun-Fair. We will also have some beautiful handmade items for sale. Don’t forget to bring some quarters for our year long Quarter Collection campaign.

You will find us next at 1815 Spring Valley Drive, Springfield, PA 19064 for our Annual Mega Yard Sale on Saturday, May 14 (rain date: May 15). Please stop by to see what great items we have this year.

Finally, we will celebrate Anabelle’s 6th birthday at our Beef and Beer on Friday, June 17, at Tip O’Leary’s on West Chester Pike in Havertown. Good food, great company and awesome raffle gifts. Won’t you join us this year to celebrate Anabelle and the end of the school year? Tickets will be available on the website very soon.

We are grateful for the help we have always received from our Swarthmore neighbors. Hoping to see you at our events.

Stephanie Harper
Springfield

‘Inn was built to mock our borough’

To the Editor:

I was disappointed to read your paper’s two-part paean to the Inn at Swarthmore. Are we as a community so dazzled by the likelihood of a healthier local economy and the option to drink and not drive that we can’t see how the Inn was built to mock our borough?

Even the casual observer must realize that the Inn’s design choices evoke the worst of our history. The “Broad Table,” with its long, wide form, is a clear reference to our most public shame: Snakey, the fugitive boa constrictor. In addition, the semicircular entrance stairs (combined with the archway to which they lead) echo our accursed new roundabout.

Rather than tolerate this mockery, we should demand that the College redesign the Inn to reflect our town at its best. Instead of a snake-like table, the tavern’s mascot should be something truly Swarthmoresque — perhaps the sihouette of a responsibly-bred, shelter-adopted, leashed dog who’s been curbed. And instead of roundabout-like circles, the Inn’s entrance should be an underpass that emerges into an uncontrolled five-point intersection where every turn signal has at least two meanings.

Michael D. Raffaele
Amateur Semiotician
Swarthmore

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