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Letters to the editor, 07/17/02

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

WE-HAV will help to strengthen the city's west neighborhoods

As a resident of the West Pittsburgh neighborhoods, I am pleased that City Council chose to pass the legislation establishing the West End Home Assurance Value (known as WE-HAV) program ("Council OKs West End Improvement District," July 3). I also am pleased that the Post-Gazette believes the program is beneficial to the community ("Home Improvement," July 8 editorial).

The question often asked by those who oppose the program is, "How do I benefit from the $20?"

The answer is simple. Homes are just that. They are homes. The people who live in them should be the owners of that home and be people who like the idea of having something to call their own.

In the West Pittsburgh neighborhoods, there are many homes for sale. The number of homes for sale is far greater than the number of people willing to buy the homes, except for the landlords. The landlords love to buy the homes in our neighborhoods. They can buy them cheap, put little money into them and rent them out. It is a perfect business opportunity.

The homeowners in these neighborhoods now live next to renters. Renters do not typically live in a place very long. Renters do not typically get involved with the community or neighborhood to establish friendships and that wonderful community feeling.

With the establishment of the WE-HAV program, more people will be encouraged to purchase the homes for sale in our neighborhoods. More people will live in these homes for longer periods of time. More friendships can be established. The sense of a strong community can be established. Let's all work together to make this happen.


Welcome this chance

As a resident of Sheraden, I am grateful to City Councilman Alan Hertzberg and City Council for voting to start a new and innovative program in the West End ("Council OKs West End Improvement District," July 3). This is the best opportunity these neighborhoods have to stop the decline in property value and to encourage home ownership.

Nobody will know if this program is going to help unless we try it. If it doesn't work, each homeowner has lost $20! It's a small price to pay if it does work, isn't it?

There are thousands of people in these neighborhoods who want this program and welcome the thought of "home assurance." Come on, people, "be bold" like Mr. Hertzberg said and give it a chance. It's $20! Mayor Murphy, are you listening?


Learn from Philadelphia

As a volunteer planner of science fiction conventions, I was not at all surprised to read "Bookings Fall at Philadelphia Convention Center" (July 7). I worked on a conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia late last summer, and while our conference did get off in a timely manner, it cost thousands of extra dollars in labor fees.

We were required to rent equipment at high prices that we could have brought to the convention for free or rented more cheaply elsewhere. Dealing with that convention center involved more aggravation than I have seen in 25 years of working on conferences across the country.

The article makes one erroneous point: "The center runs the risk of attracting only military, educational, religious and social organizations."

The Philadelphia center may not even attract many of these types of organizations in the future. I worked on a conference for a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, and, as far as I can tell, we were charged as much as any corporation would have been.

On paper, the Philadelphia center is a convention-ideal site. When prospective convention planners visit the site, it looks perfect from the street. The convention center has great facilities, is adjacent to Reading Terminal Market and Chinatown and has many hotels within three blocks. But I know many of us who have dealt with the center would rather not do so in the future, no matter how great the site looks.

The Pittsburgh convention center can learn some valuable lessons from the problems in Philadelphia. Although the Pittsburgh center has a lot of potential, it has an additional problem: the location of the convention center. The city needs to understand that the area around the convention center must be redeveloped to help attract more convention business.

While our new convention center will look terrific from the river, visitors look for street appeal. They look for nearby restaurants and hotels.

With the exception of the Westin Convention Center hotel (which is a wonderful hotel with one of the best restaurants in town), there isn't another hotel for at least three blocks.

People doing planning for Downtown Pittsburgh should quit ignoring the area around the convention center and start thinking about how to attract conventions to the city.

Unfortunately, the city of Pittsburgh has done little to make potential convention attendees want to stay in the convention center area.

Mt. Lebanon

I sat for my beliefs

As a 2001 graduate of public high school, I have to applaud the atheist who brought the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance and its reference to "under God" into the limelight. I, too, am an atheist, and while I was still in high school I would refuse to stand for the pledge.

Although students are not required to stand for the pledge, it goes without question that the majority do. The majority also recite it constantly without realizing anything about it. Some teachers do find it offensive not to stand for the pledge and will make quite a large deal out of a student who refuses to.

I never stood for the pledge not because I hated America, as students or teachers would say every once in a while, but because I am an atheist.

By doing nothing at all, politicians who may have conflicting beliefs with the pledge demonstrate that they are more worried about being re-elected and about their sponsors and their polls than about their beliefs. Perhaps this is the ultimate statement of America's failure.

Patriotism is a trend now, not an expression of love of your country. Perhaps the United States and its citizens should take a step back and maybe realize that what they have been doing is wrong, although there is seemingly a better chance of Pakistan and India getting along than for this to happen.


Another infamous day

As if we don't have enough to worry about, some narrow-minded patriots want to take "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I don't care what your religious beliefs are, they all profess to have a supreme being. To paraphrase one of our best-known presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt: I say June 26, 2002, will live in infamy in the hearts of all Americans.

"Under God" was inserted in the pledge in 1954 after the conflict in Korea, probably giving our servicemen and women a boost in their morale after a conflict that cost us thousands of American lives and injuries.

Now what do we want to do? We say, "Get out of our lives, God, we don't want you around anymore." The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of the words "under God" sends a message to all our adversaries that we can jiggle our Constitution to suit the situation.

The United States is the most lenient country in the world regarding tolerance of citizens' religious beliefs. I'm sure all that Michael Newdow, who brought the suit, or any other nonbeliever would have to do is send a handwritten note to his child's teachers stating that he did't want his child to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance and his wishes would be granted. Why take this right away from all our children?

If you want to know about God, ask any combat veteran. God is at his side when he wakes up in the morning. God follows him into combat and God accompanies his remains to his gravesite.

I am an 84-year-old World War II veteran and a former Boy Scout leader and nothing gives me more pride than to stand alongside all our young children and adults and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag with the words "under God" as part of it.

Let us all renew our faith in God, our country and our flag. God bless America!

Americanism Chairman
Veterans of Foreign Wars
District 29

Bush should drop the common-guy routine

Kudos to columnist Maureen Dowd for exposing the truth about President Bush's attempt to portray himself as a populist ("Bush's Populist Pose," July 11).

My son has lived in Texas for 15 years, and I have visited the state more than 30 times. I have been in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio and in many of the small towns. I have spoken with many ordinary Texans and find that the majority of them find President Bush's facade to be laughable.

Unlike President John F. Kennedy, who never did try to portray himself as just a "good ol' boy" from Massachusetts, Mr. Bush is constantly using every method at his disposal to convince the American people that he is one of us.

President Abraham Lincoln said: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

President Bush would do well to heed these words.


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