What was the surest sign that a Pittsburgh mayoral election was just around the corner? Political signs embarrassingly plastered all over abandoned houses? Frenetic "Redd-Up" crew activity? Substance-free, feel-good press conferences?
No, it was the barrage of letters in the Post-Gazette from non-Pittsburgh residents complaining about whom we vote for. The latest was one from a Sewickley Heights resident who is a member of something called the "Citizens for Political Responsibility in the Greater Pittsburgh Region."
Here's my recipe for Political Responsibility in the Greater Pittsburgh Region. It starts with a base of common sense: without a strong urban core, the "Greater Pittsburgh Region" would be about as great as a hilly Detroit. Next, mix in a willingness to help make the urban core strong by living there and paying taxes to sustain it. Top it off with the responsibility to either help with the cooking or stop complaining about the meal.
There's more to being "from Pittsburgh" than owning a Steelers game jersey.
The body beautiful
In the Oct. 29 article "Point Park Denies Existence of 'Fat List' for Dancers," Assistant Professor Peter Merz is attributed with noting two issues related to this list, "physical conditioning and aesthetics." The two issues are not related.
Proper physical conditioning is a given. Ballet is an incredibly demanding athletic endeavor which requires constant strength, aerobic and flexibility training. Aesthetics, however, is in the eye of the beholder. Much too commonly, and with often devastating health repercussions, ballerinas try to attain a body "aesthetic" that is simply too thin.
I'm pleased that our city is host to a talented professional ballet company that values the aesthetic of the dance technique over the aesthetic of individual dancers' bodies. Rather than presenting a homogeneous corps de ballet, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet aims to present uplifting ballet enlightened by the physicality, style and passion of each unique company member.
Under the directorship of Maria Caruso, Bodiography and its associated dance conservatory, Bodiography Center for Movement in Squirrel Hill, are trying to revolutionize the way the dance world and the public view and learn ballet, not as an art form for over-thin dancers, but as an artistic outlet for educated and physically conditioned athletes creating beauty together.
It is past time for the ballet world to stop encouraging young girls toward eating disorders in order for them to pursue a passion for dance. Bodiography provides a beautiful alternative.
Chair, Board of Directors
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet
Several issues have converged in my daily read of the Post-Gazette which merit discussion.
Twenty years ago, my legislation would have forbidden insurance companies from using DNA information regarding pre-existing conditions. This issue still needs attention. In 1994, I authored the Organ Donor Act, which has been adopted across the world. While the measure has saved thousands of lives, it is time to take additional life-saving steps on this issue. Some 50 million Americans have no health insurance yet we dither over a solution.
Last month Bob Cranmer wrote a laudatory piece about former Mayor Tom Murphy's many accomplishments ("Pittsburgh's Debt to Tom Murphy," Oct. 13).
What these issues have in common is our difficulty in solving our problems. Both parties and the media have a role in these failures and a stake in the solutions. My simple suggestion is that we do what America is great at. Recognize that life is full of risk and requires individual and community effort -- and that sometimes we fail before winning.
Be it health care or economic development, Americans have always taken chances challenging the status quo for the betterment of the people.
At our birth we challenged the accepted world order and gave it the best concept of living free. America is hard-charging, open-minded, risk-taking and ultimately responsibility-facing while reaching for liberty and unleashing unprecedented human potential!
MICHAEL M. DAWIDA
The writer, a lawyer and assistant professor at California University of Pennsylvania, is a former state representative, state senator and Allegheny County commissioner.
The Post-Gazette reported on the White House's contention that the stimulus "saved or created more than 1 million jobs" ("White House: Stimulus Saved Jobs," Oct. 31). While job creation is a customary government statistic, I don't recall prior administrations citing "jobs saved."
I certainly hope the stimulus allowed some to retain their jobs -- it was nearly $800 billion. But how does the president know how many jobs were saved? What's the basis for the claim?
Instead of reading about the effect of the stimulus, in the future I'd prefer to read an article in which the White House was forced to defend its dubious claims regarding "jobs saved."
Sarah Palin is still at it, prattling on and on about rationed health care and the government "death panels" that Democratic proposals threaten. Those of us who have studied the issue know that it is all nonsense, of course.
That fact is, we have death panels already. We've had them for years.
They are the insurance industry, deciding who lives and dies based not on some hypothetical value to society but according to profitability.
Your treatment too expensive? Denied! Not on our list of approved drugs? Denied! Your physician or hospital doesn't play ball with us? Denied!
Birth defect? Denied! Internal bleeding because your boyfriend beat you? Well, domestic violence is now a pre-existing condition. Denied!
The insurance companies are rationing health care already -- to those who can afford to pay costly premiums and least likely to require services. It is those very death-panel abuses that health-care reform is being introduced to correct. Health care should be about making people well, not about making a select few rich.
If Sarah Palin wants to rant about death panels, let her. But she should at least properly name the guilty parties and not blame the ones trying to fix the problem.
DUANE A. COUCHOT-VORE
Why the fright?
For the second time in three days I have read a story in the Post-Gazette regarding the flu outbreak. Included with these stories were pictures of small children, one getting a flu shot (Oct. 25, front page) and screaming in agony and today (Oct. 28) where the young child was being held against his will by his father receiving the nasal flu vaccine. Both of these appear to be children terrified.
I have seen the same representation in both the print and TV media where a young child is used to highlight a flu story. I can't imagine how this might appear to the general public and young children about getting vaccinated. Why does the media, both TV and print, continually use pictures of young children being held against their will or screaming in agony to promote a story about the flu? C'mon, PG, you should have better things to fill the paper.
Red-light cameras spur rear-end accidents
I read with interest the Nov. 1 story "Cameras That Catch Red-Light Runners May Come to Pittsburgh."
I am a former northwestern Pennsylvania resident now living in the outskirts of Houston, Texas. Houston and many of the smaller locales here have installed red-light cameras in the interest of "safety."
Drinking and driving, speeding and red-light running are all problems here. I thought the red-light cameras would be a good solution to that issue.
However, it has created a new problem -- rear-end accidents. When the light is changing from green to yellow, a lot of folks here are stopping short to avoid possibly running the light. Unless one is paying close attention, you may be offered the opportunity to exchange insurance information with your fellow drivers.
Don't be too quick to allow these cameras into your city. However, the revenues from $75 per fine plus costs (fines locally in Texas) may be too attractive to your public officials to ignore.