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Letters to the editor, 03/20/03

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Many hate Bush for his adherence to moral standards

I heard a local radio talk show host recently say on the air that many of the media folks claim to be against President Bush because of the war. He then went on to say they are really against the war because they can't stand Bush.

I am convinced that if Bill Clinton were pursuing this war these same folks would be supporting him 100 percent. Then why do so many hate President Bush?

The primary reason many loathe the president is a reaction to what he stands for: a man who believes in, prays to and honors God. He is a moral man who honors the Lord. That makes them uncomfortable, because they refuse to do the same. Clinton didn't, was blatant about it and he made many people "feel comfortable" with their own immoral behavior. Many people believe God doesn't exist, there are no rules, do whatever you want, there are no consequences.

President Bush, on the other hand, comes along with his many references to God, reminding these folks that God does exist, His rules are still relevant and there are consequences for those who do not recognize this. (That still-small voice in everyone indicates what is right and what is wrong.)

Our society is dividing into these two camps, not so much along political or ideological lines of "liberal' and "conservative," but those who are at odds over the authority of God and the traditional standards in our society that define "morality" and "immorality." Clinton was the ultimate symbol for the one group, and President Bush is the ultimate symbol for the other group.

That's why they hate Bush, and it's becoming a clearer division today in our nation and society.


Editor's note: The writer is a former Allegheny County commissioner.

Call vandals 'vandals'

It is time that the term "graffiti artists" be changed to what these people really are. They are not artists, they are vandals. If they are referred to as "graffiti vandals," the seriousness of their crimes would be properly described. Please start to use the term "graffiti vandals" in the newspaper.

Stanton Heights

Wear them out

Why do we refer to graffiti vandals as "artists"? We do not refer to burglars in the same manner even though it takes a certain skill to be able to pick a lock. I suggest that all future references to these people be anything but "artist."

I would also like to propose the following punishment: They would have to clean a certain amount of graffiti whether they are directly linked to that site or not. This would be regardless of the location. Yes, this means scaling the 10th Street Bridge.

Then, I would put them to work painting houses for the elderly and others in need. Of course, all supplies needed to clean and paint would come out of their own pockets or those of their parents. It would make them so tired that when they go home in the evening (with their electronic monitoring devices on, of course) they would be too tired to go out in the middle of the night to cause any more property damage.


Consider upscale housing

A Feb. 12 letter from a young professional advocated using the vacant hilltop above East Carson Street and Beck's Run Road as parkland instead of the proposed racetrack/entertainment complex ("A Horse Track Will Not Draw Young Professionals"). I agree that a racetrack is not exactly the best use of a wooded hilltop with good views of the Monongahela Valley and access via steep, narrow roads.

There has been a lot a discussion lately about the need for different areas of the region to stop competing with each other for economic development. The city has an excellent opportunity here to do its part for regionalism by opposing this development in favor of the proposed racetrack out by the airport, which has much better highway access anyway.

The parkland idea is nice but would probably require a financial miracle on the order of an early Resurrection Day for Andrew Carnegie, Helen Clay Frick and Mary Schenley (or, equally unlikely, for a few present-day CEOs to donate their obscene golden parachute compensation packages).

I personally like the housing idea that was floated for this site a couple years ago. Specifically, an upscale, low-density development similar to Thornburg or Fox Chapel would be unique in the city. If the houses at "Summerset at Frick Park Slag Heap" can sell like hot cakes, maybe the city also could attract a demographic of home buyer who now almost always chooses the suburbs.

These new residents would help support the retail and entertainment venues starting to go up at the South Side Works; I would hope this would prevent that development and The Waterfront in Homestead from clawing each other to death.

The timing of our misadventure in Iraq may even be helpful, as $3-a-gallon gasoline may convince some people that the 3 percent city wage tax is not so bad after all. I'd much rather the city settle for smaller tax revenues from new affluent homeowners than prostitute itself to the gambling -- oops, I mean gaming -- industry, which would just encourage more city residents to spend their money in relatively unproductive ways.

Spring Hill

A necessary fee system

Regarding the Feb. 26 letter by Dr. Ronald Hrebinko of Mt. Lebanon ("Put Cap on Lawyers' Fees"): Although I can understand Dr. Hrebinko's disillusionment with the medical malpractice insurance system, I was somewhat surprised by his lack of knowledge as to the contingency fee system, and how it operates to ensure fair and adequate representation to those who do not have sufficient income and funds to hire a lawyer.

Without the contingency fee system, which allows patients to pay their lawyers with a percentage of their recovery, most individuals would not have the opportunity to secure competent legal counsel.

Dr. Hrebinko also fails to realize that the lawyers provide the finances to secure experts to review cases to determine whether there is an actual medical malpractice claim available. Dr. Hrebinko fails to realize also that lawyers involved in medical malpractice cases reject close to 95 percent of all inquiries made. This rejection process requires expenditures of thousands of dollars to have nurses and doctors review these records before a determination is made about the claim's validity, thus eliminating meritless claims.

The recent requirement that certificates of merit be provided in the filing of medical malpractice claims has only formalized what had been an informal procedure for numerous years for most lawyers involved in this type of practice -- that is, to have an expert physician review the claim before it is presented.

I would think Dr. Hrebinko should try and make a true investigation of the causes of medical malpractice insurance rates, that being the insurance industry and its practices, rather than attacking lawyers, who represent the victims, and their charges.

Brighton Heights

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer.

It's all about money

As I prepared to watch the local news one day, I was treated to a lawyer's commercial that went something like, "If you are a woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer and think your diagnosis may have been delayed . . . ."

We have spent the better part of the past few months listening to lawyers blame doctors and doctors blame insurance companies, etc. I bristled and realized that ads like this, as well as stumping in front of cameras on courthouse steps and parading malpractice "victims" in front of House subcommittees, distract us from the crux of the malpractice reform debate: this is big business and it's all about the money.

Heaven help us when we start caring more about the almighty dollar than we do about each other. Or are we too late?

Regent Square

This cut will only add to the state's problems

I add my voice to those who urge restoration of funding for addiction treatment in the Pennsylvania state budget.

The effects of the recession in Pennsylvania are doubtlessly extremely painful. Nonetheless, any reductions in support of the treatment of addictive diseases will surely accelerate health-care costs and crime across the commonwealth. Both research and experience have taught us that addiction treatment is a wise investment. The research is overwhelming: every dollar spent on treatment saves a minimum of $7 in other health care as well as in the reduction of crime.

As director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, I became convinced that no serious national or state effort to reduce drug abuse will succeed without addiction treatment as a major component. Without access to treatment of sufficient intensity and duration, our best efforts to reduce supply will certainly fall short.

For this reason, we worked tirelessly at ONDCP to increase funding for addiction treatment. After leaving ONDCP, I continued this interest by joining the board of directors for CRC Health Corp., an addiction treatment corporation with superb facilities in your state (White Deer Run/Cove Forge).

Review of Pennsylvania's proposed spending plan for treatment compels me to write. The budget would eliminate more than $68 million -- a 40 percent cut -- for treatment, impacting an estimated 17,000 of the commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens and will further devastate their desperate, frightened families. Some anti-drug programs will be cut out entirely.

This is our most important domestic struggle. With one in four families facing addiction and chronic substance abuse, it is the battle we wage in our homes and hearts. It is a struggle for the lives of our nation's children.

I urge Gov. Ed Rendell and state legislative leaders to restore treatment dollars in the budget.

Alexandria, Va.

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