Letters to the Editor

Stop discriminating against autistic children

To the Editor:

Our son has high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Like many children with high-functioning ASD, our son has areas of uncommon skill, interest, and dedication. One of his was musical theatre.

In his young life, he’s performed in 18 different shows. Musical theatre was the one place in his life where he could be successful and be accepted. Last summer, our son was recruited by the Rose Valley Chorus & Orchestra for its production of The Mikado. He tried out just like anybody else. RVCO, which knew of his autism but judged him on skill alone, accepted him. Six weeks of rehearsal went by without incident. Our son worked hard and paid close attention. Because he is autistic, he knows that he can interpret language differently than others. So he asked questions of his fellow performers to make sure he had it right. No one ever told him that he was being disruptive.

Then, just two weeks before the show was to open, RVCO kicked our son out. They told us his “autistic behaviors” weren’t “working out.” By “autistic behaviors,” they meant “asking questions.” But no one had ever told him that his questions were distracting. No one ever said they were uncomfortable. RVCO didn’t bother to give our son that feedback. Why? RVCO assumed that because he’s autistic, our son can’t respond meaningfully to constructive criticism. RVCO was wrong. He can and does. But RVCO didn’t even give him a chance. Then, when it got too frustrated because he didn’t change “autistic behaviors” RVCO didn’t tell him to change, RVCO kicked him out.

This may not be a big deal to RVCO, but it is to us. Autistic children like our son face misunderstanding and frustration every day. They’re ridiculed and excluded because their brains process stimuli differently than most people’s brains. When children like our son can find success and belonging, it’s precious. Musical theatre was the one activity where our son knew he would always find success and be accepted. But since RVCO excluded him for “autistic behaviors” without warning, when we’ve asked him if he wants to audition for a show, he’s only given us one answer: “They’ll kick me out because I’m autistic.”

RVCO owes our son an apology. And it must stop its discrimination against autistic children.

Maria Deysher and Michael Heins
Garnet Valley

Streambank stable; native plants to come

To the Editor:

Thank you for your recent article and photograph publicizing Rose Valley’s streambank stabilization project. The project will stabilize 165 feet of streambank along the Ridley Creek, which will help to reduce the sediment loading in this important waterway. This was made possible by a grant under Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program. The grant was authored with the help and guidance of the Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association (CRC), and CRC is also managing the grant for the borough.

In addition, the grant includes funding for riparian buffer restoration in 2.5 acres along Ridley Creek that had been previously completely infested with Japanese knotweed. Volunteers will remove remaining invasive plant species — especially wineberry — in June, and the area will be replanted with 265 native trees and shrubs in the fall.

Anyone interested in helping out can talk with a member of the Rose Valley Environmental Advisory Council at our native plant sale and spring work day during the morning of May 12 (rain date: May 19). The plant sale will be located behind the Old Mill at 9 Old Mill Lane, Rose Valley.

Dave Firn
Rose Valley Borough Council

Letter to WSSD Board

The following letter was addressed to the Board of Directors of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District.

Dear WSSD Board of Directors:

Swarthmore Borough Council would like to express its support for the “Resolution Against Arming Educators” passed by the Wallingford-Swarthmore Board of School Directors on February 26, 2018 in response to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We applaud your focus on safety and security improvements, and on efforts to address the mental health needs of our young people. We understand that Strath Haven High School will be offering educational assemblies on school safety to students, and that both high school and middle school students will be allowed to recognize and remember the shooting victims of Stoneman Douglas High School by walking out of class on March 14, 2018. We support these actions and your decision allowing the students to participate responsibly without repercussions.

Very truly yours,
David J. Creagan, President
Swarthmore Borough Council

Letter to the Editor

School Safety: Motivations and Preventions

To the Editor:

Our school board recognizes the importance of emotional factors involved in motivating killers: The Swarthmorean, March 2, cites “address the mental health needs,” “see changes in their child’s emotional well-being,” and “students … knowing the perpetrator was struggling mentally.” But unfortunately, “There are no reliable cures for insecurity, resentment, entitlement and hatred, or for angry young men with violent fantasies” (says Sacramento psychiatrist, Amy Barnhorst. New York Times. Feb. 19)

There is also no cure for shame and its motivating effect. The late Philadelphia psychiatrist Donald L. Nathanson, made a study of the shame family of emotions and concluded that human beings respond in one or more ways. These are to withdraw in depression, to attack the self by acts such as cutting, or suicide, to avoid the feeling by using drugs, alcohol or exhibitionist opinion or by attacking the perceived source of the shame.

Given this situation and the risk of being attacked, it would seem that we have no recourse but to rely on increased security measures at schools, constant work to reduce the availability of weapons, and — with less attention to civil rights than to public safety — take a pro-proactive approach to investigate, disarm, and attempt to help those who might be at risk of acting on their feeling of shame by attacking.

For The Tomkins Institute
John Brodsky

Letter to the Editor

Supporting CADES

To the Editor:

Theresa and I would like to thank the CADES community for the opportunity to be involved in this year’s fundraising. For over 65 years, CADES has been dedicated to fulfilling its mission to enhance the lives of children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. This year is no different.

A goal has been set to raise $30,000 for the purchase and implementation of ProxPad in 15 classrooms. These devices will greatly enhance and help develop the communication skills of these precious children. I know I take for granted my ability to communicate that I may be hungry or thirsty. With this device, these children will now have a “Voice.”

Over the years we have been involved with numerous fundraising events. In my mind none of those efforts had such an immediate and profound effect as these devices will have for these children.

How can you help? Go to the CADES website CADES.org and purchase tickets for the 7th Annual Beef & Beer. Stop into Occasionally Yours and make a donation … No purchase required. This week our window was decorated by CADES. Please take a look. Follow the goals success with the thermometer display now at $10,000 on its way to $30,000 with your generous and compassionate participation.

Our, not so little, little girl Megan, now 23, works at CADES. She is a one-on-one instructor. Each night she shares with us her challenges and achievements. The next achievement I want Megan to share with us is when her student, using this technology, is able to express, “May I have a glass of water please.”

Please help us to help them and remember, “Everyone should have a voice!!!”

Scott & Theresa Richardson
Occasionally Yours

Letters to the Editor and Editorial

Thank you for your service.

That’s what we say to the men and women who go to war on our behalf to protect American freedom, and who work in our communities to protect our lives and property. And that’s what we should say to the surviving children of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They have faced danger and death at close range, and are responding by taking up the work that adults have failed to do: protecting schools and society by rationalizing gun laws.

While we talk about solutions both complex and counterproductive (turning schools into fortresses, arming teachers, outlawing modifications to assault weapons) the students’ agenda is simple: keep guns out of the hands of people who can’t be trusted with them — children and parties known to be violent or unstable — and reduce access writ large to the military-spec semiautomatic weapons that make mass murder so easy, yet somehow are sold in this country as sporting goods.

Support the people who work to protect our communities. Join these students in their protests. Donate to their causes. And vote for candidates who are listening to the arguments for real changes in the laws governing gun sales and ownership — laws which still have to be made by adults.

— Chris Reynolds

The following letter was addressed to Pennsylvania
Governor Tom Wolf from the Swarthmore Borough Council.

The Honorable Thomas Wolf
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capital Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Re: Congressional Districts Map

Dear Governor Wolf:

The Council of the Borough of Swarthmore thanks you for your rejection of the Republican legislative leaders’ proposed congressional district map that would have placed the Borough of Swarthmore in the First Congressional District. As you prepare an alternative congressional district map, the Council encourages you to include the Borough of Swarthmore in a district that consists primarily of Delaware County, and the other municipalities that lie within the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, so that the Borough will be within a district of its peer suburban communities with which it has common interests.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Swarthmore Borough Council
David J. Creagan
Council President

Applauding moral leadership

To the Editor:

I want to apologize to any clergy that felt offended by the concluding sentence of my December letter urging pastors to speak out against President Trump’s hateful attacks endangering Muslims and other minorities. I stated that those who fail to do so “forfeit moral authority.” A dear friend and retired pastor pointed out to me that judgmental remarks by individuals who are not themselves responsible to communities with diverse convictions are not helpful.

Better to give thanks for the communities and clergy that have not kept silence. Foremost among them is Martin Luther King Jr., arguably the most important preacher in American history, who said that the stakes are high for Christian churches that shrink from public witness against racism: Silence is “complicity” in racism that will cause churches to “lose [their] authority [and] forfeit the loyalty of millions. … After we have forgotten the hateful words of our enemies we will remember the silence of our friends.”

Jim Wallis is President of Sojourners, the voice of progressive Christian Evangelicals. In a recent address to his fellow white Christians, Wallis urged Evangelicals to public witness regarding social justice: “There is no moral or biblical justification for silence.”

In our area, the Unitarian Universalist faith community has undergone a year-long discernment of their calling to publicly witness against racism. Rabbi Jeremy Gerber of Congregation Ohev Shalom spoke in his High Holidays sermons of the need for faith communities to reject silence: “May we all – Jew and non-Jew … wrestle with God, with ourselves, our communities … let’s all challenge ourselves to truly feel something, to feel it fiercely, and let it spur us to action. We ignore those prophetic voices – outside and inside – too much. It’s time to make a change.” Pastor John Weicher, in a sermon delivered at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church shortly after the riot in Charlottesville (which followed a demonstration by white nationalists), was concise, strong and prophetic: “Let us be clear. White nationalism is a sin. Support for white nationalism is a sin. Silence is a sin.”

As I write this there is outrage about the school shootings in Florida. When our nation privileges the profits of gun manufacturers over the lives of its children, when obscene violations by our political leaders of the most basic norms of integrity and decency have become normalized; silence is a mortal sin. Faith communities are the most important non-partisan, moral agents in our divided nation. They must not leave it to Florida high school students to express outrage and take action.

For the sake of our communities, local and national, let us no longer ignore the prophetic voices – outside and inside. Moses, Jesus and Muhammad would all be proud of followers in their faiths, lay and clergy, that refuse to be silent. Swarthmore residents and neighbors committed to social justice, including those indifferent or hostile to religion, can be proud of them as well.

Grant Grissom

Sue and be sued

“Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief” is a jingle my mother taught me to prepare me for a career choice. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.

To the Editor:

Today I learned that my favorite Swarthmore musical duo is now insured. This means that if they accidentally drop a speaker on your head, they are “covered.” Shall we blame this on the lawyers? A problem obtains: after the speaker is removed from your head and the lawyer is consulted and the insurance company is notified there will be no doctor to close the wound — because there are too many lawyers. You get my drift here!

What this country needs, without reservation or “reservations,” are Indian chiefs.

John Brodsky

Letter to the Editor

Keeping up with changes

To the Editor:

In our continuing efforts to keep the public informed, the League of Women Voters would like to remind voters in Delaware County that two recent events will have a major impact in our communities as we move into 2018.

The League was a participant in the recent lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that Pennsylvania’s drastically gerrymandered districts must be redrawn before the primary election in May. The legislature’s redistricting plan must be presented to the court by February 15, or the court will create the map itself. Voters should be aware that their representatives may change as a result. Keep tuned for more information from the League. Follow updates at lwvcdc.org.

County Council changed significantly with the election of two Democrats who were sworn in this month. The League of Women Voters of Delaware County, which includes the Haverford, Radnor, and Central Delaware County local Leagues, hosts an Annual Luncheon for County Council where the attendees can enjoy casual conversation with Council members over lunch. Council members will also give reports regarding their specific responsibilities. This year, the luncheon will be held on Wednesday, February 21, at 12:30 p.m. at the Media Borough Hall Community Room. It will be catered by Margaret Kuo’s and will cost $17. To make reservations, call Marita Green at 610-724-1376 or email her at maritagreen6@gmail.com.

The League of Women Voters, recognized as one of the country’s most respected community organizations, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020. Membership in the League is open to anyone over the age of 16. In League,

Joanna Nealon, President
League of Women Voters of Central Delaware County

Letters to the Editor

Questioning zoning decisions

To the Editor:

In many ways the zoning board is the most important government body in Swarthmore. It affects quality-of-life as well as financial aspects of home ownership in our borough.

Swarthmore can be seen as an island of sorts, a small retreat, one might say, surrounded by commercial properties, less costly residential properties, and the several noisy traffic lanes of Baltimore Pike. The quality-of-life inside our island community (along with our top-notch school district) is what makes Swarthmore residents willing to pay very high taxes to live in our borough.

Two recent zoning board decisions to override zoning ordinances illustrate the board’s ignoring the quality-of-life and financial welfare of Swarthmore residents:

1.) The decision to override zoning ordinances to allow the opening of Nick’s House, a group-home creating additional traffic, in an already high traffic neighborhood. Adjoining property owners fought this variance at length and great expense in order to maintain their feeling of a residential neighborhood and, therefore, their quality-of-life. Property values all along Chester Road, bisecting our small retreat, need support.

2.) The decision to override zoning ordinances to allow an Airbnb in an area of multi-family residences with already very crowded on-street parking. This Airbnb is across the street from a playing field owned by the school district. Many children play in the street by the playing field on skateboards, bicycles, scooters and the like. Mothers with strollers and parents parking for practices and games are ubiquitous.

Of course, highly regulated Bed & Breakfasts took years to be approved in the borough. And now, a totally unregulated Airbnb was approved against zoning ordinances, despite public opposition at several meetings. The Airbnb website currently has about six Swarthmore listings. Have those all been given variances as well?

It is time to insist that the zoning board stop issuing variances that erode the quality of life for Swarthmore neighborhoods and decrease the value of Swarthmore homes.

Barbara Whitaker-Shimko

A mind-blowing library

To the Editor:

When my husband and I were looking for a place to live in Delaware County a few years ago, this factoid in a local magazine caught our attention: The Swarthmore Public Library has the highest per capita circulation rate of all public libraries in Delaware County. We knew that a community that supported and used its local public library was one we wanted to live in.

Flash forward six years later, and as a Swarthmore Public Library trustee I find myself amazed by a list of other numbers about our local library. Consider that in 2017 alone, the library:

• Held 185 adult programs attended by 1,862 people;
• Conducted 305 youth programs attended by 6,374 children and their caregivers;
• Circulated more than 102,640 materials. That included 37,581 adult books; 20,874 juvenile books; 19,426 picture books; 3,765 young adult books; and 8,244 eBooks;
• Provided more than 6,000 hours of computer and internet access to patrons;
• Issued free passes more than 500 times to local institutions such as the Mutter Museum, The Academy of Natural Sciences, Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Museum of the American Revolution, Elmwood Park Zoo, and the Railroad Museum in Strasburg.

But the number that really blows my mind? The Swarthmore Public Library provided approximately $2.2 million in free services in 2017, averaging $830 per Swarthmorean — all with an operating budget of only $278,016.

How can you help support this cost-effective treasure? If you are not already a patron, check us out (pun intended). Get a library card, attend the programs, investigate our innovative digital services such as Mango (language education), Hoopla (video streaming), Zinio (digital magazine access), and of course enjoy it the old-fashioned way — check out a book, magazine, video or CD.

There are many other ways you can help the library continue and expand its valuable contributions to the community: Donate to the Friends of Swarthmore Public Library, which helps provide funding for many of our services; participate in our planned giving program; “adopt-a-book” to commemorate a special event or loved one; and take part in or sponsor our second annual Book It! 5K on April 7.

If you would like to learn more about the library, please read the 2017 Annual Report, which can be found at swarthmorepubliclibrary.org.

Bridget Doherty
Swarthmore Public Library Board of Trustees

Letters to the Editor

Controlling consumer healthcare costs: choose wisely

To the Editor:

The rise in the cost of individual health insurance is an epidemic sweeping our nation. Health care spending in 2015 averaged $10,028 per person, an increase of 26 percent since 2010. Between 2013 and 2017, the average monthly insurance premium for families increased 140 percent to $1,021 while their average deductible increased by 97 percent to $8,352.

Health insurance companies are supporting legislation in the Pennsylvania House and Senate (HB1553, SB678) that would require health care providers to tell patients their likely costs before services are provide, and not to charge patients more than their health plan’s cost sharing. Unfortunately, these bills do nothing to keep insurers from limiting the number of physicians in their networks, nor do they reduce patient charges for deductibles, co-payments or insurance premiums. The legislation does nothing to increase the availability of health care services in emergencies or in health care shortage areas.

There is a good chance that these bills, as currently written, will actually make each of these situations worse. They will increase the power of insurers to determine which physicians and services are available and what they will cost patients. Insurer business decisions will increasingly determine not only what health care costs but how health care is delivered.

There is a better way to facilitate health care coverage and address rising costs. Instead of the current system of arbitrary “covered charges” and “balance bills,” we should employ market-based, independently determined “usual and customary charges” to be used by physicians and insurers for each service. A database already exists which could, and should, be used to determine usual and customary charges within Pennsylvania without favoring either insurers or providers. FAIR Health (fairhealth.org) is designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a “qualified entity.” Its database — the largest collection of private insurance claims in the country — is already used by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Worker’s Compensation and at least two large national insurers, including Aetna, a major private insurer in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, patients have easy and free access to FAIR Health data regarding the expected costs and insurance payments for their own health care.

There are two very different outlooks for health care in Pennsylvania. One option is to put a system in place that ensures fair and transparent provider charges and insurance payments, reduces gaps in coverage and preserves access to quality care. The other option is a system marked by increasing administrative hurdles, reduced patient choice and access to services, growing gaps in coverage, and a lack of oversight and accountability as insurance companies determine their pay-outs.

We must take the option that puts the health of our citizens before the profits of insurance companies. Patients, providers and lawmakers must stand together to demand fair and transparent practices from health insurance companies. I urge you to call your State Senator and Representative today. Tell them to support fair and transparent health care billing practices, and help put an end to rising patient costs!

Richard O’Flynn, M.D.
Rose Valley

Election help needed

Dear Swarthmore Community:

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to be more civically involved in 2018?

I am the new Judge of Election for Swarthmore’s eastern precinct (the portion of Swarthmore whose polling place is Borough Hall) and I am seeking people from the precinct who are potentially interested in being clerks and machine operators on Primary and General Election days — the people who help you sign in, and those responsible for the voting booths.

In addition, there were no candidates in 2017 for the position of Minority Inspector for the precinct — and that role should if possible be filled by someone not registered as a Democrat — so I am especially eager to hear from Republicans or those of other parties.

Please feel free to call, 610-604-0669, or email me at jimmosk@yahoo.com for more information.

Jim Moskowitz

Volunteer for Putt Putt Palooza

To the Editor:

CADES is hosting its indoor mini golf fundraiser, Putt Putt Palooza, next Sunday, January 28.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., come play the course and help us raise money for communication technology for non-verbal students who attend CADES. Last year, we had 600 people at the event and are hoping for an even bigger turnout this year.

We need more volunteers. If you would like to donate your time to help us raise money for CADES, or to find out more about Putt Putt Palooza, please go to CADES.org to sign up. If you would like to donate a raffle prize, contact me at anneb88@comcast.net.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Anne Merz
Putt Putt Palooza Coordinator

A modest proposal

To the Editor:

I was amused by John Brodsky’s letter in the January 12 issue. John’s premise seems to be that he should not have to pay to park in the Borough.

In fact, he was ticketed for not paying to park while he was in the process of paying a fine for another ticket.

That dime for 12 minutes seems excessive to me as well. In fact I don’t think I should pay taxes in the Borough. Perhaps I can walk into the Co-op, pull some items off the shelf, and walk out without paying. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Remember, socialism works until you run out of other people’s money!

Jim Smith

Letters to the Editor

The full moon accentuates the luminaria-lined street. The picture is courtesy of Jen Armstrong.

Another successful fundraiser
for the Luminaria Club

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Luminaria Fundraiser Committee, it’s with great pleasure we announce our donation of $28,000 to ABC Strath Haven. This year’s fundraiser was our most successful yet.

This remarkable effort could not have been accomplished without help from some key groups in the community. The effort started back in September when the Luminaria Club at SHHS, ably led by Sophia Foglio and George Steinke, gathered in shifts at The Luminaria Factory (a Swarthmore College building kindly loaned by Swarthmore College) in order to make approximately twenty-four thousand luminaria.

In November, the effort shifted to the incredible group of approximately 100 block captains, led by area coordinators, who spread out over the town of Swarthmore and the participating neighborhoods of Wallingford, and encouraged the residents of Swarthmore and Wallingford to purchase luminaria to support the Luminaria Fundraiser. Their efforts were so successful this year that, in December, the Luminaria Factory was reopened, and thanks to some wonderful families from within the community, another six thousand luminaria were made!

In December, the effort shifted back to the SHHS Luminaria Club when they, very ably led by Lizzie Healy, organized the very efficient distribution of the luminaria to the block captains. Over two blocks of time (one of which was very snowy indeed!) the dedicated block captains arrived at the factory and the Luminaria Club counted and packed orders into cars. The effort culminated, on the coldest New Year’s Day in a long time, when the communities of Swarthmore and Wallingford lined their luminaria along their curbs and lit them so that each neighborhood glowed. The full moon that night was but the cherry on top!

Please thank anybody you know in any of the groups, and also thank your neighbors, each and every one of them, because without the wonderful support from the residents of Swarthmore and Wallingford, this beautiful event could never have occurred.

We look forward to the 2018/2019 event!

Luminaria Fundraiser Committee:
Anne Clauss, Chris Darrell, Oonie Lynch, Anne Papa, Georgie Perullo, Jean Steinke and Julie Vrooman

18 reasons to keep a resolution

To the Editor: Here we are: 2018. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time and more money in the Co-op. And in its honor, and reflective of the year, I have come up with 18 reasons why I enjoy shopping at the Co-op.

• loose Brussels sprouts
• salmon filets (custom sliced)
• cheese tastings
• very thin (but not shaved) ham
• enticing specialty items
• gnarly heirloom tomatoes (in season)
• paté, paté, paté
• local apples
• tree hugger wraps (hold the onions)
• high quality meats
• soup, glorious soup
• day-old pastry (O, those almond croissants!)
• phone-in “to go” orders
• water bowls for dogs
• friendly cashiers (and they know how to pack a bag!)
• senior discount Wednesdays
• tons of community outreach
• and finally, the Co-op is a fine meeting place for friends and neighbors.

No doubt Swarthmoreans will come up with their own reasons. What are yours?

Louise L. Coffin

Thank you, thank you, thank you

To the Editor:

I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation to the thousands of volunteers for the Swarthmore Recreation Association (SRA) with whom I have had the pleasure of working with since 2005. I left the position of executive director of SRA in December and want to thank the community, coaches, commissioners, extraordinary program coordinators and all the participants for their commitment to this great organization over the years. SRA has grown dramatically over the last decade and relies more than ever on volunteers in our community to help make sure everything runs smoothly. It has been an honor to work with so many community members, parents, grandparents and kids!

I would also like to personally thank the most amazing and dedicated staff I have ever worked with, Don Henderson, Karl and Kathy Swierczek, David and Cindy Herring, Lee Smith, Tom Granahan, Nika Haase, Terry Lynch, Jean Tierno, Dan Shaffer, Megan Richardson, Bill Kane, Joyce Perry and all of the summer camp staff. And of course, many thanks to Swarthmore Borough for the financial support for SRA.

SRA is a unique, incredible, valuable and important organization for our community. Check out the programs and get involved — it is worth it.

Linda McCullough

Parking issues

To the Editor:

I got a parking ticket for briefly parking here while stopped briefly to pay a parking ticket.

I have made Swartmore my home for 50 of my 82 years and my car has made Swarthmore its home for 18 of its 23 years. Everybody knows us. People I do not recognize wave hello to us as we drive on our streets.

I do not think we should have to pay to park in our home.

John Brodsky

Emily Geddes and self-portraits

To the Editor:

What fun it was to see one of our kindergarten classes with their self-portraits in your paper! I hope the photo put smiles on readers’ faces.

I neglected, though, to credit our wonderful art teacher, Emily Geddes.

Self-portraits are a holiday project in her art room, and all of our 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds paint them. To quote Emily, “… after studying the rich, dark lines of Picasso’s self-portrait, the children drew their own … A large mirror, a blank page, a black oil pastel, water colors, and time for observations …” were what she provided.

Cathy Conahan
Interim Director
Swarthmore Presbyterian Nursery Day School

Mitten Tree success!

To the Editor:

This letter serves to thank Carol Mackin, other staff members, and all volunteers at the Swarthmore Public Library for their help with the 2017 Mitten Tree.

Much gratitude is also sent to the donors of the large amounts of beautiful and warm clothing and blankets, as well as the monetary contributions, which were used to purchase even more winter apparel.

All of the items were brought to CityTeam Ministries in Chester, and much appreciated.

Happy 2018!

Jane Callan Sottile
Rose Valley


Letters to the Editor

Take my taxes — please!

To the Editor:

Given the recently passed federal tax legislation, I am extremely disappointed that the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District will not accept pre-payment of school taxes for the 2018-2019 school year (per the District website at wssd.org/domain/19).

There have been many months of public discussion in Washington regarding a $10,000 ($5,000 for married taxpayers filing separately) aggregate cap on deductions of state, local sales, income, and property taxes normally deducted on a Schedule A. It is irresponsible that in all this time the District was unable to get approval of its tax levy this year instead of “some point in May or June (of 2018).” At the very least, a simple escrow system could have been created to hold estimated payments made ahead of the actual levy approval.

The District’s failure to anticipate this event and find a solution will cost many taxpayers in Wallingford-Swarthmore School District thousands of dollars in extra pre-tax payment obligations. In a District which already has extraordinarily high property taxes, this failure is indefensible.

Phil Gocke

Note: On December 31 Dr. Lisa Palmer, Superintendent of Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, commented by e-mail on WSSD’s decision not to accept prepayments for tax year 2018-19:

“It seems like it was only moments after the legislation passed that we started receiving phone calls and e-mails regarding a taxpayer’s ability to make a pre-payment of their [2018-19] school taxes. Since we didn’t readily know the answer, we took contact information and advised that we would contact them once we had a definitive answer.

“We then immediately tried to obtain a copy of the bill’s final wording, and consulted with our solicitor and auditors to see if the pre-payment would be permissible. Once we received both of their opinions (on 12/20), we posted the following statement on our website:


‘The District appreciates your interest in pre-paying taxes attributable to the next fiscal year (which is the 2018-2019 school year, beginning July 1, 2018). The school district budgeting process is highly regulated by the state and [has] very specific timelines for approval. Unfortunately, the tax levy for the coming school year — the mechanism that gives the School District and tax collector the authority to accept school tax payments — will not be approved in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District until some point in May or June. The District has sought the advice of both the District solicitor and the local auditors. Based on these discussions, the District has no authority to accept such tax pre-payments under these circumstances. We are aware of the advice circulating through the various media outlets suggesting that property owners should make such pre-payments where available, but have determined that the advice is inapplicable to the School District. In summary, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District will not accept pre-payment of the taxes for the 2018-2019 school year.’

“The tax office then communicated this message by phone, e-mail, or in person to the taxpayers who contacted us. On December 28, we updated our website with the statement (including the legal reference) that appears today [at https://www.wssd.org/domain/19].

“Our tax office was open on December 27 and 28, so we were able to speak with taxpayers as they inquired about the pre-payment option. If payments have been mailed to us over the break, we will return them when the office re-opens.”

Help wanted at Co-op

To the Editor:

The Swarthmore Co-op is looking for individuals to fill upcoming Board of Director vacancies, beginning April 2018. Terms run for three consecutive years. The Co-op believes in the importance of providing local and sustainable food, while seeking to fill all aspects of a community grocery store. We are searching for like-minded people, who are interested in promoting the health, well-being and future of this important community food cooperative. We have a particular need for individuals with a strong financial and/or business background.

The Board has a strong commitment to creating an inclusive environment that values a diversity of experience, cultural background, and opinion. We seek prospective Board members from every corner of our Co-op member community. All candidates must be Swarthmore Co-op members.

To learn more about the Board, its goals and functions, please contact me at michaelm@imageconnection.biz.

Michael Markowicz
Board Member, Swarthmore Co-op

What to do about gun violence in Chester

To the Editor:

On December 10 I attended a service of worship which included a necrology for 28 murder victims in Chester this year, accounting for about 70% of the total for the entire Delaware County. For me the necrology drove home the realization that 28 murders represents not a statistic, but 28 human tragedies: each victim was someone that someone loved.

In response I want to respectfully ask that the faith leaders in our community who discern that it is God’s will for them to speak out on the need for gun control legislation do so. As the most powerful non-partisan, moral agents that remain in our divided nation, your voices are terribly important.

I believe the people of Chester want the politicians who cower before the National Rifle Association to screw their courage to the sticking place and pass gun control legislation. Perhaps legislation mandating background checks for all gun purchases, and making bump stocks and the class of weapons that includes AK-47s illegal. Gun control legislation is strongly favored by most Americans, including some steps favored by most members of the NRA. The NRA pretends to represent the interests of gun owners, but as their consistent deafness to the opinions of their members shows it is far more concerned to represent the interests of gun manufacturers.

Imagine the effect upon the residents of Chester if each pastor, rabbi and imam in our community led a discernment of their community’s willingness to undertake public advocacy for meaningful gun control, as one response to the grief of Chester parents whose sons and daughters will never come home. I believe it would put to rest the question of whether white folks from suburbia are willing to take a risk in response to the suffering of black folks in Chester.

And there is risk: the risk of disaffection of members who object to introduction of “politics” in worship. Partisan politics has no place in worship. But this issue isn’t one of partisan politics; a majority of both Democrats and Republicans favor some form of gun control legislation. It is an issue of the form that is needed, and an issue of morality.

Yes, it is controversial; faithful members of the same religious community will disagree. But I submit that the spiritual giants of all major faith traditions would be sickened at the thought that their descendants would avoid moral questions that are controversial. In the words of an Executive Director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness, a church whose members can’t speak with one another in love about controversial issues isn’t a church.

Grant Grissom

Letters to the Editor

‘Feeling blessed’

To the Editor:

Oh what a joy it is to grow old. I dribble and drool. My nose runs. I don’t see well. But I don’t have a hearing aid — yet.

My writing is illegible and my printing, in which I once took pride, is not good. I can’t spell anymore. At one time, I was able to do simple math in my head at lightning speed. That’s over. I have a balance problem, so I can’t get on a ladder anymore. I use a cane.

My social life consists of doctors appointments. I haven’t much energy, so I don’t do things around the house and yard like I once did. My favorite pastime is sitting. I like to read, but when I do, I fall asleep after about 15 minutes. Therefore I watch a lot of TV and have learned that when you turn it on, the odds are you will get a commercial on any channel you select. They last forever.

One thing I can still do is drink, although not as much. I don’t need a nap, because after I have my one drink, I nod off for about 15 minutes and wake up just about when the news starts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Although I am 90 and my wife is 86, we both love life and in spite of our infirmities, we feel blessed. We’re not ready to go yet. Of course, you never know. Even though life is winding down, what fun it’s been.

Larry Drew
Hobe Sound, Fla.

What we cannot do

Crossing the street
at the pedestrian walkway
white stripes
permission granted

Crossing the street
on Rutgers, crossing Yale
as though we have a right to do this
as though we can

Crossing the street
What level of citizen must we be
to cross this freely
who should we know

Bob Small