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Letters to the editor: 10/28/00

Saturday, October 28, 2000

Helen Clay Frick had substantial connections to New York

As a native of Pittsburgh and as the Andrew W. Mellon chief librarian of the Frick Art Reference Library in New York, I was astonished to read in your Oct. 13 article "Frick Foundation, Relatives Dispute Location of Archives," the unfounded quotation asserting Helen Clay Frick's lack of connection to New York.

I wish to clarify for the Post-Gazette's readers that such an absurd statement ignores the well-established truth about Miss Frick's long life in this city. Indeed, to allege that Helen Clay Frick, founder, director and, during her life, the sole financial supporter of the Frick Art Reference Library, had "no use for New York," as Arabella Dane, the dissenting grandniece of Miss Frick, is quoted as saying, stands in direct contradiction to the fact that she ran the library, located in the heart of Manhattan, from its inception in the 1920s until 1984, when she was 94. Moreover, Miss Frick had maintained her primary residence in Bedford, N.Y., since the 1920s.

Additionally, the contents of the archives, which the Helen Clay Frick Foundation trustees voted 10-1 to send to New York, have been characterized by Dane's sister, Martha Sanger, inaccurately in terms of their composition. The archives, rather than having "nothing to do with New York," contain substantial amounts of material that pertain to this remarkable woman's long life in New York, to her work at the institution she elected to establish in this city and to the great museum founded by her father.

Andrew W. Mellon
Chief Librarian
Frick Art Reference Library
New York, N.Y.

Why fry WTI?

Two weeks ago when the Environmental Protection Agency's federal ombudsman office called me to ask questions about Waste Technologies Industries and temperature inversions in the East Liverpool, Ohio, area, my first thought was "Why is anyone still worried about WTI?"

But after reading the 32-page preliminary national ombudsman report, I think I know why: WTI's loyal opposition once again got the attention of politicians ("Report Urges Shutdown, Tests for WTI Incinerator," Oct. 22 and "Waste Incinerator Staying Open," Oct. 24).

While continued investigations into the operation of WTI help to justify the existence of opponent organizations, these studies frequently serve only to confuse and frighten the downwind population and waste taxpayer money. WTI has been researched ad nauseam and taken to court many times, only to be found operating properly.

Credible scientific and technical evaluations of this incinerator in the past have discovered it to be state-of-the-art and its environmental impact to be well within standards established by the federal government to protect public health and the environment.

The ombudsman report claims problems with air testing at the plant. Inconsequential mistakes may have been made, but you can be sure with politics in the debate, bigger mistakes are to follow.

Let's face it. Commercial incineration of hazardous waste is not technically, environmentally, legally or even morally incorrect -- it's politically incorrect.

West View

Editor's note: The writer is an environmental scientist and author of the book "Environmental Risk Communication: Principles and Practices for Industry," part of which discusses the controversy over this plant.

Keep the whistles blowing

I've lived within a few blocks of South Side train crossings for almost 10 years, and I love the train whistles. Not only are they therapeutic, but they also help to make the South Side what it is (and has been for 100 years or more).

But I would not choose to live right next to the tracks, either. That's right: People chose to develop homes and live in homes adjacent to the tracks ("Train Whistles Annoy New South Siders," Oct. 16).

The common-sense questions are: Why was development permitted so close to the trains and how could anyone planning to live in the area not have known about the frequency or volume of the whistles?

Keep the train whistles!

South Side

Exceptional bus service

I would like to offer another point of view in answer to Paul Miller's Oct. 20 letter, "Pay More for Poor Service?" I am sorry his wife had a poor experience trying to board a Port Authority bus beyond the marked stop. I wonder if this sort of thing happens on busy corridors when the driver knows another bus is only a minute or two behind.

I ride the 41G in the afternoon, which runs only twice an hour, and my experience is the opposite. To elderly or handicapped passengers, drivers go far beyond courtesy. They are so friendly and helpful that sometimes I sigh, as we sit through light after light on Smithfield Street, and hope the Port Authority is being reimbursed even a fraction of the cost of this kid-glove service.

Bus drivers exhibit superhuman patience as they navigate crowded Downtown streets and cope with poorly timed lights, ignorant drivers and occasionally clueless passengers. I always appreciate their pleasant good humor. If transit fares rise, the blame lies solely with the state Legislature in Harrisburg, which cut funding drastically. Perhaps Gov. Tom Ridge has extended his antipathy for public education to a dislike of any publicly owned entity.

We seem to have become a society that is quick to complain about lack of perfection, reluctant to pay for any public service and slow to praise those whose efforts make a difference in our quality of life. I hope Mr. Miller and his family will have better experiences in the future.

Mt. Lebanon

Hurried memorial service

Debbie Barry of Upper St. Clair wrote a sensitive and angry letter after having watched the memorial service for the sailors who died in Yemen ("USS Cole Tragedy," Oct. 21). I agreed with her until I read the last paragraph praising President Clinton for "such beautiful and compassionate words."

The timing of the service was incredibly cynical. If the president truly grieved for the dead, the memorial service would have been held after all the bodies had been recovered and brought home. I believe the service was rushed because the president wanted the memory of the tragedy to be out of sight and out of mind as soon as possible before the elections.

The hurried service was an expedient action taken to help people more quickly forget, before too many would continue to wonder why the Cole had to refuel at a dangerous port instead of being refueled at sea.


Serious business

OK, let's get this straight: In a presidential election where education is a top issue, one candidate is said to be turning off voters because he is "too smart." How oxymoronic is that?

Wake up, people. This is not an election for national mascot, where "likability" is the key qualification. We are voting for president of the United States of America. The educated choice is Al Gore.


The many faces of Gore

Before you vote on Nov. 7, you might want to consider which Al Gore will turn up at the White House on any given day if he is elected president.

So much has been said about his many personalities, do we really want someone with multiple personalities serving in the highest position in our country?

I see George W. Bush as a "what you see is what you get" kind of guy. Think about it.

Mt. Lebanon

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