Par­ents ex­tend thanks to Lewis for help­ing in DUI fight

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

To the Ed­i­tor: In 2015, 345 peo­ple were killed by drunk drivers on Penn­syl­va­nia roads, mark­ing the first in­crease from a prior year since 2010. This is not merely a statis­tic to us as two of those vic­tims were our 16-year-old daugh­ter, Char­lotte, and 19-year-old son, Miles. They were killed when a man chose to drink to ex­cess and then drive at high speed on Route 100 in Uwch­lan. It is im­pos­si­ble for us to ex­plain how dev­as­tat­ing it is to lose chil­dren in such a sense­less way.

Since the deaths of our pre­cious chil­dren, we have be­come in­volved in mul­ti­ple or­ga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cated to com­bat­ing this ap­palling be­hav­ior. Thanks to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Harry Lewis’ sup­port and that of his col­leagues, last Novem­ber, the state leg­is­la­ture passed a bill man­dat­ing the in­stal­la­tion of in­ter­lock de­vices on the ve­hi­cle of cer­tain first-time DUI of­fend­ers. This mea­sure will let those first of­fend­ers get to work and pro­vide for their fam­i­lies but en­sures that they don’t drive drunk.

Un­for­tu­nately, ed­u­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion are not enough to de­ter some peo­ple. 47 states in our coun­try have stricter DUI laws than Penn­syl­va­nia. As a step to­wards in­creas­ing pu­n­ish­ment for the most dan­ger­ous, re­peat DUI of­fend­ers, Rep. Lewis has co-spon­sored HB 2318, which will in­crease penal­ties for re­peat DUIs and also grade a fourth DUI as a felony. Only five states, in­clud­ing Penn­syl­va­nia, do not charge an of­fender with a felony no mat­ter how many times he or she is con­victed of DUI.

We thank Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Harry Lewis for stand­ing with us in our mis­sion to change Penn­syl­va­nia’s weak DUI laws. We ap­pre­ci­ate Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lewis be­ing at our side in this fight, and on Tues­day, Novem­ber 8th, we ask that you please vote to re-elect Harry Lewis as State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Paul and Mag­gie Han­na­gan Downingtown

Sup­port for Kil­lion

To the Ed­i­tor: I am writ­ing to sup­port the re-elec­tion of Sen­a­tor Tom Kil­lion. From 2002 to 2015, I had the honor of serv­ing as the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Do­mes­tic Abuse Project of Delaware County, Inc. (“DAP”) and feel com­pelled to share my ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence with Sen­a­tor Kil­lion.

Sen­a­tor Kil­lion is a de­voted pub­lic ser­vant in our re­gion and to the hu­man ser­vices sec­tor. In par­tic­u­lar, he has been a true cham­pion for women in our re­gion through his ser­vice at the Do­mes­tic Abuse Project of Delaware County. Dur­ing his Board ser­vice, Sen­a­tor Kil­lion was ac­tively en­gaged in the ex­pan­sion of coun­sel­ing and le­gal ser­vices for women who were vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Be­cause of Kil­lion’s ef­forts, thou­sands of women in our area now have more re­sources avail­able to them to help them dur­ing their most des­per­ate and vul­ner­a­ble times. Tom Kil­lion’s ad­vo­cacy for women con­tin­ued when he served on Delaware County Coun­cil as he ad­vo­cated for sup­port of crit­i­cally-im­por­tant ini­tia­tives on be­half of DAP and lo­cal Delaware County hu­man ser­vices agen­cies.

Dur­ing Sen­a­tor Kil­lion’s ser­vice in the House, he fre­quently cham­pi­oned leg­is­la­tion and outreach ini­tia­tives on be­half of vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and the 62 ser­vice providers – like DAP - or­ga­nized in the Com­mon­wealth un­der the um­brella en­tity the Penn­syl­va­nia Coali­tion Against Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence. Then Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kil­lion worked ar­du­ously for amend­ments to the statewide fund­ing model for vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, de­fended the fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests of non­prof­its dur­ing re­cent bud­get im­passes, and was in­stru­men­tal in the pas­sage of key amend­ments in 2005 to the Pro­tec­tion from Abuse Act grant­ing greater le­gal pro­tec­tion for vic­tims. And, Sen­a­tor Kil­lion con­sis­tently sup­ported lo­cal grants to DAP gen­er­at­ing much­needed fund­ing sup­port on be­half of the only Emer­gency Shel­ter in Delaware County for vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and their chil­dren, as well as the Agency’s Le­gal Ser­vices and Coun­sel­ing Pro­grams.

For a decade of de­voted sup­port, Sen­a­tor Kil­lion was con­ferred the Lead­er­ship Ser­vice Award in 2009 from the DAP Board of Di­rec­tors.

I hope you will join me and sup­port the re-elec­tion of Tom Kil­lion to the Sen­ate. He is a de­voted, hard-work­ing pub­lic ser­vant who has been able to cross the aisle and seek sen­si­ble solutions. Sen­a­tor Kil­lion is an in­di­vid­ual who pos­sesses enor­mous de­cency and per­sonal in­tegrity. Sup­port for Sen­a­tor Kil­lion in­sures that all of us will ben­e­fit from the con­tin­ued ser­vice of an ex­pe­ri­enced elected of­fi­cial of whom we can also be proud.

Sin­cerely, Rita Buck­ley Con­nolly Bryn Mawr

Can­di­dates un­afraid to take on the NRA

To the Ed­i­tor: For many years, the is­sue of gun vi­o­lence in elec­tions has been strangely silent, ig­nored by Repub­li­cans and Dems alike in the be­lief that it was not a win­ning is­sue. Af­ter the pass­ing of the Brady Bill in 1993 and the As­sault Weapons ban in 1994, the NRA vowed to take down Con­gress­men who voted for those two laws. And though there were other fac­tors, be­cause so many who voted yes on these two com­mon sense gun safety bills lost their seats, it be­came com­mon knowl­edge that gun safety could cost a Con­gress man or woman their job.

This year, how­ever, feels dif­fer­ent, and the big­gest rea­son is that at the top of the Demo­cratic ticket, Hil­lary Clin­ton has made gun vi­o­lence pre­ven­tion a ma­jor plank in her elec­tion. Other can­di­dates, like Josh Shapiro for At­tor­ney Gen­eral, Mary Ellen Balchu­nis for US House in the 7th district, Mayor Carolyn Comitta for PA House in the 156th district, and Marty Mol­loy for PA Sen­ate, have all been outspoken cham­pi­ons for the cause of gun vi­o­lence pre­ven­tion.

Josh Shapiro was en­dorsed by the In­quirer, largely based upon his po­si­tion on gun safety. He is ex­plic­itly against a cur­rent bill that would give the NRA the right to sue cities. His op­po­nent, John Raf­ferty, is an NRA sup­porter.

Mary Ellen Balchu­nis lists gun vi­o­lence as a top pri­or­ity, and vows to use a dis­charge pe­ti­tion in the House to bring Univer­sal Back­ground Checks to a vote.

Mayor Carolyn Comitta was an orig­i­nal mem­ber of May­ors Against Il­le­gal Guns, and helped get a lost or stolen gun re­port­ing or­di­nance passed in West Ch­ester.

Marty Mol­loy speaks pas­sion­ately on the gun vi­o­lence is­sue, hav­ing lost some stu­dents to sense­less gun vi­o­lence, and vows to be a cham­pion for the cause if elected.

Maybe the NRA is loos­ing some of it’s abil­ity to scare politi­cians, or maybe Penn­syl­va­ni­ans are sick and tired of deal­ing with the fact that so many un­sta­ble and dan­ger­ous peo­ple are able to eas­ily get their hands on a deadly firearm. With over 1300 Penn­syl­va­ni­ans dy­ing ev­ery year from gun vi­o­lence since 2000, and with three gun homi­cides in Coatesville just last week, it is an on­go­ing scourge that de­stroys lives and needs Har­ris­burg’s ur­gent at­ten­tion.

What­ever the rea­son, the tide is turn­ing and we will find out soon enough if this year, we will have newly elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives ready to start sav­ing lives. Tom Buglio West Ch­ester Ch­ester County Coali­tion to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence

Con­cern for those with dis­abil­i­ties and their fam­i­lies

To the Ed­i­tor: Handi-Crafters is a mul­ti­ser­vice agency of­fer­ing em­ploy­ment, train­ing, hous­ing, and re­tire­ment pro­grams, and is a truly amaz­ing place. As you walk through the shops, you will see a wide va­ri­ety of jobs from as­sem­bling shoe kits to pack­ag­ing Crazy Aaron’s Think­ing Putty to repack­ag­ing Herr’s snack packs and more. Hand­i­crafters is an essen­tial ser­vice in the com­mu­nity, but it is also a work­force com­prised of peo­ple with dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties.

What makes Handi-Crafters spe­cial is the di­ver­sity of the peo­ple we em­ploy, who may have bar­ri­ers to com­pet­i­tive em­ploy­ment that other peo­ple do not have. Whether they live with Downs Syn­drome, schizophre­nia, PTSD, cere­bral palsy, hear­ing im­pair­ment or ad­dic­tion is­sues, they are a part of our com­mu­nity.

Handi-Crafters runs one of the largest em­ploy­ment and dis­abil­ity fo­cused sup­port ser­vice pro­grams in South­east Penn­syl­va­nia. Each year we help more than 400 in­di­vid­u­als ac­cess re­ward­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the com­mu­nity and in our Skill Devel­op­ment Cen­ter.

Main­stream­ing many of these in­di­vid­u­als into the work­force would be dis­as­trous for their well-be­ing, and for fu­ture em­ploy­ers. That is why we are con­cerned with the fed­eral Work­force In­no­va­tion and Op­por­tu­nity Act (WIOA) re­cently put into mo­tion.

Gov­er­nor Wolf signed an Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der ear­lier this year to align with WIOA so that busi­nesses hire more Penn­syl­va­ni­ans with dis­abil­i­ties by plac­ing them in jobs where they earn the min­i­mum wage.

How­ever, while bring­ing more Penn­syl­va­ni­ans with dis­abil­i­ties into the work­force to earn a min­i­mum wage is right for some, it is not right for all. This ef­fort ig­nores the unique needs of many and lim­its their abil­ity to choose where they want to work.

And, plac­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in “com­pet­i­tive, in­te­grated em­ploy­ment” could elim­i­nate Handi-Crafters as a vi­able op­tion for in­di­vid­u­als with bar­ri­ers to com­pet­i­tive em­ploy­ment. In fact, the Of­fice of Vo­ca­tional Rehabilitation at the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of La­bor and In­dus­try has stopped re­fer­ring po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees to or­ga­ni­za­tions such as ours.

Our em­ploy­ees have a lot of pride and we are proud of them for the tremen­dous ef­fort they put in ev­ery day. Pay day is al­ways an event be­cause no mat­ter the amount printed on their pay check, is are each proud of what they earned. Handi-Crafters is a place to make friends, be with peers and ex­tend those op­por­tu­ni­ties be­yond the work­place.

Penn­syl­va­ni­ans with dis­abil­i­ties and their fam­i­lies de­serve to have choices and op­tions as they seek the em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity that makes the most sense for their cir­cum­stances. They al­ready have many ob­sta­cles to over­come on a day-to­day ba­sis. Choos­ing a work­place that serves their in­di­vid­ual needs should not be one of them. Amy Rice, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Handi-Crafters Inc.

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