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Letters to the editor: 2/10/05
Thursday, February 10, 2005

This move highlights the school board's incompetence

What could the school board have been thinking when its members decided to have Andrew King as the interim superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools ("King OK'd as Interim School Chief," Feb. 9)? It is a prime example of the lack of quality that exists on this board.

Andrew King committed a crime five years ago. We are not talking about a crime committed when he was in his teens. We are talking about a man who committed a crime as an adult five years ago. It is a disgusting crime, and he should have been fired immediately. Instead, he takes a demotion and continues working for the school district. Now, this incompetent board gives him the highest-ranking position while it searches for a new superintendent.

The citizens of the city of Pittsburgh need to look at whom they are electing to the board. The board members should have doctoral degrees in education and finance so that our children are getting the best education at the best price. The era of electing people based on a popularity contest and not on qualifications should be over!

I am disgusted! I lived in the city for all but the last year-and-a-half. I paid school taxes but chose to educate both of my children in Catholic schools because I was disillusioned with the city public schools. That disillusionment continues.

MICHELE JANOSKO
Robinson


Untrue assumptions

Although I do not live in Penn Hills, I was thoroughly disgusted while reading the Feb. 3 letter by Anthony Catania of Penn Hills ("Ridiculous Charge"). The only fact that Mr. Catania included is that Dr. John Thompson was let go and that his contract was bought out five months early.

He uses such lines as, "Of course, Thompson's supporters use the race card -- carrying on about discrimination." He seems to assume that all of Dr. Thompson's supporters are African American. I support Dr. Thompson and I'm white. Mr. Catania says he personally doesn't know anyone who would want to teach in the city. He assumes that the Pittsburgh Public Schools are unsafe, have a negative atmosphere and are filled with unruly, poorly behaved children.

Why does Mr. Catania have this perception? He freely admits that he doesn't live in the city, so he has no firsthand knowledge. Why does Mr. Catania agree with the majority white board decision to dismiss Dr. Thompson -- a board which then adds insult to injury by buying out his contract? Mr. Catania isn't a member of the board, nor is he privy to the details of Dr. Thompson's departure. Perhaps Mr. Catania should examine his ridiculous charges about people and schools in the city.

I do live in the city. I choose to live in a diverse, tolerant neighborhood. I do teach in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I choose to work with wonderful, creative, diverse, tolerant children. I do support Dr. Thompson and not the board. I choose to support an administrator whose first priority is our children, not a board whose priority is to protect its own.

TRACY TUCHIN
Stanton Heights


We are Democrats

With Michael Diven's recent move to the Republican Party, he has in effect decided for me and thousands of other devoted Democrats who voted him into office that our vote should have instead gone to boost the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania House and Senate ("Brookline Democrat Diven Switches to GOP," Jan. 30). What? As once said by Helen Keller: "Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee." But in voting for Michael Diven, I in fact voted for both Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and now see that I did in fact choose a real and avowed autocrat.

Apparently it does not matter to Michael Diven that we who elected him are loyal Democrats, committed to the ideals for which the party stands, and that to us, the designation of "Democrat" is far more than a name. Mr. Diven is an ingrate to believe himself to be bigger than the vote of the little folk who elected him. He is a fool to believe himself above the values for which the Democratic Party stands, and for which I faithfully place my vote.

He has no concept that he was elected to a public service position and has showed his complete disregard for the will of the voters.

When my street is not paved in the summer or cleaned in the winter, when our local businesses and schools are shutting down, when my neighborhood is overrun with crime, when I cannot afford my public transportation or when I cannot sell my house because my property value is decreasing, I am certain that the Republican majority will stand up and fight for me, since the avowed autocrat-elect, Michael "Tweedledee-Tweedledum" Diven, upon his personal volition, has decided that I and my fellow lifelong Democrats would be better served by Republicans.

KAREN WAIGHT
Democratic Committeewoman
22nd Legislative District
Beechview


No transit subsidies

During the presidential campaigns, I thought I heard every conspiracy theory there was -- that is, until I read the letter "City of Racists" (Feb. 5). The writer claims that more than 90 percent of the white people he has met and worked with in Pittsburgh are racist. As there are all sorts of racism, I am assuming that he means they do not like black people. I suggest that he find a better group of people to be around.

The writer would also have us believe that the problems with the transit system are caused by white people who drive their cars instead of taking the bus. His solution is to have these vehicle owners subsidize the transit system. News flash! The white middle class is already paying most of the taxes! The transit system is broken because it is run by a government agency. In fact, it should be privatized and not subsidized at all.

As to the writer's environmental complaint regarding driving our SUVs instead of riding the bus, every one in this city has been behind a smoking, mostly empty bus at one time or another. They put out more pollution than 20 cars. If they doubled the bus fare, it would still be cheaper than buying, insuring and parking your car. So I say: Quit your complaining, suck it up, pay whatever the fare is and stop burdening the middle class with your Marxist wealth redistribution philosophy.

MIKE KARDELL
Penn Hills


Transit crisis

Some of the area's most frail and vulnerable may become "collateral damage" in the impasse over Port Authority funding and the attendant fare hikes and service cutbacks ("State Officials Still Idling on Transit Funding Fix," Feb. 9). One of our members, Reformed Presbyterian Homes, reports virtually all of its front-line, direct care workers ride the bus. Many nursing homes, assisted living centers and hospitals in the area are in the same boat.

We cannot curtail our services or close "off hours" or weekends. If direct care workers cannot reach those facilities, people will not get the care they need and deserve. As the governor and legislators hold their meetings in Pittsburgh, we hope they understand we are not interested in who gets credit or blame -- we just need the buses to run.

EARL ASH EVENS
President and CEO
Faith-Based Network
Pine


Beyond tragic

Recently, I watched a History Channel documentary on the barbaric experiments performed at Auschwitz by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele.

I later obtained a book from a doctor friend that detailed various abortion procedures.

I found most of the abortion procedures more appalling than most of Dr. Mengele's experiments as well as one notable difference. Dr. Mengele's victims were in the hundreds whereas the number of abortions in America (my country) has reached the tens of millions.

I was reminded of Josef Stalin's observation: "One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic." I was also reminded of a more frightening quote by Pope John Paul II: "A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope."

HARVEY BOWER
Mt. Lebanon


Our respect for human dignity is what makes the U.S. great

I am saddened and a bit horrified to have read the letters regarding the Feb. 3 editorial "Delaying Action: Democrats Stand for Principle on Gonzales." The letters published disagreed with the editorial and stated basically that torture was OK because of 9/11 ("The Perils of Terrorism Suspects Do Not Bother Me," Feb. 7, and "The Context of War," Feb. 8). These misguided souls appear to have bought into all the hype of the president.

Our society is based on human dignity and our respect for rights. Even when we have been stricken with a great tragedy, it is with great restraint that we must preserve these rights or fail to be the nation that made us great. To sweep aside the Geneva Conventions and torture prisoners because they are not citizens of the United States or because we feel that we are in danger is to give in to the fear that terrorists want us to feel. We should stand tall and say that even though we have been wronged, we will not waver from our basic human principles. To do less would make us like our enemy and violate the principles that have sustained this great nation.

I hope that anyone who feels torture is a necessary tool will educate themselves on how torture is not a viable means of interrogation, will learn respect for all life and will realize what principles we, as a nation, must protect no matter what happens to us.

JOHN CIROLI
Highland Park

First published on February 10, 2005 at 12:00 am