Parents extend thanks to Lewis for helping in DUI fight
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.