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Kudos to the mayor for independent thinking

Last week, the Post-Gazette ran an article about how Mayor Luke Ravenstahl had the unmitigated nerve to support Anthony Coghill, a Democratic candidate unendorsed by the party for City Council ("Mayor's Support of Unendorsed Coghill Irks Some Democrats," May 8).

I greatly admire Mayor Ravenstahl for any number of reasons, but one of them is that he is not a blind follower of what the party bigwigs dictate. If he feels that Mr. Coghill is the best man for the job, as I do, I am glad that he has the courage of his convictions and will stand up for the things he thinks are right.

This may be heresy to Karen Waight, a county Democratic Committee member for many years, but it is good -- nay great -- news for Mayor Ravenstahl's, and what will be Mr. Coghill's, constituents. Instead of "business as usual" for us enlightened Democrats, we will have sentient, committed representatives looking out for our interests. After all, isn't the primary's purpose to express the will of the committed party members, not merely to echo the long-term committee members' opinions?

Finally, the implied threat of "reprisals" is disturbing, but it rings a little hollow. Isn't Mr. Ravenstahl enjoying a projected lead of 10 to 1, even after his grievous slight to the party?


Yes, good for him

Regarding the May 8 article "Mayor's Support of Unendorsed Coghill Irks Some Democrats": If party loyalty means endorsing the committee-preferred candidate over the person you believe is best for the job -- well, I for one would like to see less "loyalty" and more personal integrity. Good for Mr. Ravenstahl, who clearly believes in the latter!

Squirrel Hill

Necessary agenda

Kim Stolfer, in his letter "The PG Has Failed to Be Objective About Gun Ownership" (April 29), refers to reasonable gun-control laws as "so-called."

They are so-called because renewing the ban on assault weapons is reasonable. As the editorial board wrote, "Mr. Rendell stated the obvious -- weapons like AK-47s have no legitimate use in civil society. They are not used for hunting; their sole purpose is to kill people with more efficiency. Congress has ample reason to pass a new assault-weapons bill, just as the governor recommends" ("Fitting Tribute," April 21 editorial).

What understanding could possibly elude us here? This is a necessary "agenda," Mr. Stolfer, one of the all-time best. You might have a valid point with your view of "assault weapons come in many forms" if the three slain police officers were taken from their families and colleagues with "the ones that shoot ink." As it is, I wonder about your common sense; your analogy shoots blanks.

It seems that you have identified your own agenda -- "Second Amendment, Second to None." May you or a loved one never suffer in such a manner the tragic loss of the right to life -- second to none.


Guns and truth

Tom Dougherty ("No Blame for Guns," May 4 letters) is absolutely correct. Richard Poplawski is 100 percent to blame for killing the three police officers; the gun could not have committed this dastardly deed without him. This is probably why the gun will not be charged with any crime.

This truth should not be allowed to screen the absolute truth. Without a rifle to load, cock and aim and a trigger to pull, the three policemen would still be alive.

How long is it going to take for the Tom Doughertys of this country to realize --no guns, no gunshot deaths.

Right now, I would settle forfewer guns, fewer gunshot deaths.

Franklin Park

Driving standards

Our state legislators have decided not to pass legislation that would prohibit or limit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving ("Cell Phone Ban for Drivers Rejected," April 23). While I disagree with this decision, there are other alternatives to keep our roads safe.

The next best course of action is to revise the licensing test procedure for new drivers. The driver road test simply needs to make sure new drivers can adequately master the skills required to drive in today's world. First, the student driver must demonstrate the ability to parallel park while carrying on a meaningless conversation on a hand-held cell phone.

Then on the highway, satisfactorily show the ability to safely change lanes while texting your friend about the latest sale at the mall. Finally, show you can still manage to stop at a red light while dialing your buddy who is on vacation in Europe (country codes are a particular challenge) to relay the latest Penguins score.

Probably not too many drivers can master these skills. So much the better. Only the 5 percent or so who show they have the multitasking skills of a fighter pilot would be licensed to drive. That would make the roads safer for those of us who actually "drive" while behind the wheel. Port Authority ridership would go up and our reliance on imported oil would go down.

Seems like a good alternative until our legislators stop voting the wishes of the cellular phone lobbyists.

Upper St. Clair

A better way

As a property owner in a Pittsburgh suburb, I watch the news coverage of the Allegheny County property assessment with great interest.

County Executive Dan Onorato states that it is clear that a reassessment raises taxes. This is simply not true. I also own property in Brewster, Mass., where reassessments are done yearly. Yes, my assessed value has risen from approximately $140,000 in 1997 to a current assessment of $392,500. However, the tax rate has decreased from $11.08/$1,000 of assessed value in 2001 to $5.55/$1,000. The homes are reassessed to reflect market value, but tax rates (millage) are also adjusted to reflect the current needs of the town. This way, all owners pay their fair share.

In Allegheny County the sale of a property precipitates a reassessment while the surrounding neighbors are permitted to maintain their old, low assessment, which results in new homeowners paying their share plus some of their neighbors' share. There is a better way!

Brewster, Mass.

Tainted tuition?

In reference to the predicament John Gechter has gotten himself into with Grove City College ("Grove City Takes a Dim View of Student Porn Star," May 8): I am wondering if Grove City will return the "dirty money" earned by Mr. Gechter's adult films that was used to pay for his education?

Its moral standards, I believe, dictate that it should either give him his degree that he earned academically or return his money. In moral beliefs as well as religious contemplation, I believe, one cannot have it both ways.


The Governor's Schools deserve future funding

I am responding to Tony Norman's column "Dreams Die as Governor's Schools Go Dark" (April 21). As a ninth-grader at the Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts, I am directly affected by this. When I learned about the schools, I was set on applying when my age would permit. So once I heard the rumors that they were closing I was extremely saddened. How was it possible that there was no funding for such an amazing opportunity?

I know it's an opportunity to pursue a career and will look good on a college application, but I believe that it is more than that. The Governor's Schools provide a chance to see differences, build on your knowledge and confidence, and meet people with a passion for something similar to yourself. Where else would Mr. Norman have met the guitarist with the "original" songs? Or his oboe-playing roommate?

I understand that although the schools are closing there are summer camps for the arts and sciences. But how much do they cost? Those summer camps are extremely expensive, and the fact is, most people cannot afford them. I'm not sure what the solution is, but it is evident we need to come up with the money so we can reinstitute these schools. I, along with many other students, would cherish an opportunity like this one. I hope we will be able to fulfill that dream.

Point Breeze

We receive more letters than we can fit into the limited space on the editorial page, so we'd like to share some additional letters with our Post-Gazette Web site readers.

Fear serves the GOP well

Fear is all the modern Republican Party has and has had since the McCarthy era. In the PG editorial "Fear Campaign: Republicans Up to Their Old Tricks on Gitmo Move" (May 10), the PG wrote: "It is the kind of mindless fear-mongering in which the Republican Party has long specialized." How true, and why not? Fear works.

First the whisper went around about FDR: "He would have become a dictator had he lived longer." Then it was the turn of the Reds coming to take over America. That worked from the end of World War II till 1990. I have always wondered why America went nuts to destroy a system that didn't work and was going to fail on its own anyway. A little honest recent historical review proves me correct. Then there was nothing left for the GOP, except fear! This wouldn't do, because the people just might gain real self-confidence in their being, and not fear.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the Republicans found a new fear to put on Americans. Shamelessly the GOP used that most tragic event and day to control the body politic, the news and the nation, to keep Americans in a constant state of alarm, to lie to the public and to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq -- costing the lives of more than 4,000 military men and women. All they have is fear, which is to the Republican Party a means to an end. That end is political power, which serves the GOP and not the nation.


Politicians' animal instincts

After watching Sen. Arlen Specter switch parties ("Specter Stuns Senate by Switching Parties," April 29), it brought back a good memory of my grandfather, who was a union coal miner and a staunch Democrat.

I said to him once when I was old enough to vote, "Granddad, how do you tell a good politician from a bad politician?" His reply was, "Son, just remember that a politician is just like a dog; he's just anybody's dog that'll pet him!"


He didn't belong in the GOP

Many are crying over the loss of "The Specter." Why? This man is a career politician (I'll give you a moment to clear your throat as you choke) who has never represented the citizens of Pennsylvania or America.

He knew the people finally had enough of him as he trailed in the polls by more than 20 points. If you are any kind of conservative or Republican, you will think the day he changed parties was a good day. Only pray a few like him will jump also. He belongs over there.

Now the Dems will have to spend millions getting him elected. Do they really need this baggage on their side? This election can tell a great story if we as Americans begin to clean house and throw these bums out no matter what party they are with.


Mothers' important lifelong role

This Sunday, the country celebrated Mother's Day. This may not be news to anyone in the strictest sense, but it is every as bit as important as the continuing economic woes of the nation or the latest political tumult brewing in Washington. As I went about buying flowers, choosing the right card and planning the drive out to see her, my thoughts were inclined to focus on just how important a role that mothers play in our lives from infancy to adulthood.

We start as a part of them, protected from the harsh world in our most fragile state. As we pass through childhood, they provide us with love and material comforts. Eventually, we grow strong enough to face the world on our own. Yet even here, while distant in physical presence, mothers continue to provide for us in ways less tangible, but equally as integral. They are our beacons of hope when times are trying and our spirits are laid low. They are our anchors of humbleness when we allow good fortune to foster in us a sense that we are invincible. Our mothers are forever our moral compass, pointing the way true north for every troubling situation across which we stumble. They are our reminders of what is good and pure in this world in the face of seemingly unending horror and sorrow.

I have a great mom, and I will attempt every day to earn all the gifts that she has bestowed upon me.

State College, Pa.

The writer is formerly of Evans City.

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