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Letters to the editor: 12/29/04
Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Thank Mayor Murphy? He brought down the city
I thought I'd seen everything in the PG's opinion section, but Elsie Hillman's praise of Mayor Tom Murphy on Friday was nothing short of bizarre ("Thank You, Tom Murphy: Despite Some Painful Years, This Mayor Has Served Our City Well," Dec. 24 Perspectives)! Mrs. Hillman (pseudo-Republican that she is) must have had a bit too much Christmas cheer, or she has been secluded for so long (except for appearances in the Seen column) that a primer/re-education is needed regarding Pittsburgh's desperate situation.

My former hometown has gone into freefall mainly due to Mayor Murphy's totally inept leadership. I agree with Mrs. Hillman that Mayor Murphy is an honest man -- but without a clue.

Since a Democrat has the only chance of being mayor for the next 30 years or so, here's my plan: Mrs. Hillman should throw some of her vast fortune into helping bail out Pittsburgh, and Dan Onorato (the only Democrat in Allegheny County government with any sense) deserves a chance to go up against the entrenched policies of the ruling party.

Good luck, Mr. Onorato; you're going to need it!

CAL KANE
Butler


Foster independence
Mayor Tom Murphy's recent announcement that he will not run for re-election ("Murphy Won't Seek 4th Term," Dec. 22) should signal Pittsburgh residents to take a stronger role in local politics.

Pittsburgh is best known for its institutions, and it goes unrecognized that rugged individualism has been obliterated through lost jobs, lost family-owned business and lost representation for the unaffiliated person. The relationships among big business and local politics have resulted in socio-economic disaster.

The best strategy for economic and cultural growth in Pittsburgh is to re-introduce manufacturing to the region in the form of independent tradesmanship.

BRUCE REISNER
North Side


Tasteless cartoon
I found the Dec. 23 editorial cartoon -- showing a man receiving a letter from Donald Rumsfeld saying "You may already be related to a soldier killed in Iraq" -- to be very offensive. As a parent with a soldier who served our country in Iraq, I can't believe you would think there is humor in the death of a loved one.

I can take into consideration that the cartoonist wanted to use humor at Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's expense, but don't, and I strongly repeat, don't make fun of the death of our soldiers. Put yourself in the shoes of a loved one praying endlessly for the safety and the return of all serving abroad.

Rob Rogers' cartoon was tasteless! I hope and pray he never has to go through the anguish of a loved one fighting for our country's finest armed forces.

DANIEL M. FELTER
Robinson


Bush reality check
Enough already! In a front-page article of the Dec. 22 Post-Gazette, I read that President Bush said he hopes that the relatives of those killed in the mess hall attack know that their loved ones died in "a vital mission for peace" ("Mess Hall Attack Leaves 22 Dead," Dec. 22). He is "confident democracy will prevail in Iraq," he said.

I think this president has an overabundance of confidence. He was confident in attacking Iraq with no real reason for doing so. He was confident in proclaiming major hostilities over in Iraq little more than a month after the war started, although they were not. The war goes on ever more vigorously.

This president needs a reality check: I propose that he take a leave from the presidency of this great nation and go serve in the shooting war to see what life is like for those serving in the armed forces. Perhaps he could take his good friend Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with him to see what war really is like. That might also make it easier for Rummy to understand why one doesn't rubber-stamp the signature on letters of sympathy to grieving loved ones!

HELEN C. ROBBINS
Hampton


Freedom of opinion
Regarding Jamie Valeriano's Dec. 23 letter "Treasonous Art," in which she denounces an artist's artistic content as "treasonous slander": Treason is defined by Webster as a "betrayal of trust or an overt act to overthrow the government or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family." So how exactly is this artist a traitor? While the subject matter is not pleasing to all viewers, what art is pleasing to everyone? The artist has an opinion and expressed his opinion as have artists since the beginning of recorded history.

If painting a picture is somehow threatening the stability of the U.S. government, then God help us all, as we must be teetering on a proverbial precipice of perdition. Yet I think this is not the case.

As a nation and a people we have defended the rights of all Americans to voice their opinions and we draw our collective strength from such rights.

Slander is a civil matter, and I am sure that the president is capable of pursuing a civil matter against the offending party if such action is warranted. Perhaps Ms. Valeriano should remember that the freedoms that the United States of America enjoys are not limited to those with whom we agree but encompass the varied viewpoints of all Americans, including offensive viewpoints.

DANIEL MATHEWS
South Side


A good priest, indeed
Her obituary in the Dec. 23 Post-Gazette quotes Sister Diana Taufer as saying, "My life as a Sister of Charity has called for the use of every gift I have, except one, and that is not the fault of the community. I think I would have made a good priest" ("Longtime Teacher, World Traveler, Sister of Charity"). While she might have meant it to be taken in jest, it is at the same time heartbreaking.

I knew Sister Diana. She was the ultimate in professionalism, in taking on and following through with responsibility, and in discovering and seizing great opportunities in life to be of service to others. She would have made an incredible priest.

While her accomplishments are legion, it is my hope, it is my prayer, that Sister Diana's example might serve to hasten the day when the Catholic Church will find it repulsive for anyone's baptism to be marginalized, for anyone to be denied full participation in the sacramental life of the church because of gender.

NORMAN POPE
Crafton Heights


Count me out
In response to the Dec. 24 article "Dems Weigh Softening on Abortion," how dare Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, talk on behalf of all the "women of America, and their health and their lives and their rights," while she pleads for an abortion agenda. I am a "woman of America." I live in a country where women are afforded the right to an education and the right to voice their opinions, not the right to sacrifice innocent lives. Please exclude me from Gloria Feldt's "women of America" list.

NANCY VIEIRA STERNIAK
Harrison City


State reduction to health care would affect everyone
As Bill Toland pointed out in a recent article ("Pa. Budget Warning Is Issued," Dec. 16), it appears likely that "rising Medicaid costs and other welfare- and health-care-related expenses could complicate next year's budgeting process."

State officials are telling health-care providers much the same thing: They expect a medical assistance shortfall of about $1.5 billion.

This possibility should set off warning alarms throughout Pennsylvania. If the state seeks to close this shortfall by reducing Medicaid eligibility, as many other states have done, the ranks of the uninsured will grow. If it chooses to close it by reducing payments to providers, the adequacy of Medicaid payments -- already only about 75 percent of the cost of the care hospitals provide to Medicaid patients -- will further erode. Both would be especially burdensome to Pennsylvania's safety-net hospitals: about 50 hospitals across the state, including a number in southwestern Pennsylvania, that provide most of the care to Medicaid recipients and the uninsured.

Such draconian cuts, if they are made, would pose a major challenge for Pennsylvania hospitals -- and for the communities they serve. The state cannot take $1.5 billion out of the health-care industry without causing major repercussions -- repercussions in the form of jobs lost, selected services curtailed or eliminated, and access reduced. Such consequences would affect all of us -- not just Medicaid recipients, but everyone who uses Pennsylvania's health-care system.

CHARLIE DeBRUNNER
President
Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg

First published on December 29, 2004 at 12:00 am