I also received a letter addressed to "you, a taxpayer with known unpaid tax liabilities" from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue ("Amnesty Program Resonates With Tax Repentant; For Some, State Plan 'Ill-Conceived Joke,' " May 1).
I tried for days and days (23 times to be exact) to contact someone at 1-877-34-PAYUP -- only to hear, "please try and call back again later" (and no option to hold). I also tried online by inserting my "amnesty pin" number, which produced a blank table of my liabilities. Then, I sent an e-mail explaining my problem but have not yet received a reply (even though they promise a three-day response time).
Finally, I e-mailed my state senator's office. Within minutes of hitting the submit button my phone was ringing. John Pippy's office was calling to see what my letter said and collected my personal information. In less than 10 minutes, I was told that my name appeared first on the state income tax form for 2009 (evidently, my husband's name had been listed first previously), so now the state's computer assumed that I hadn't paid taxes.
Thanks to Mr. Pippy and his assistant for taking care of this and shame on the governor for instituting a program without preparing an accurate list of names and not having the resources to deal with the fallout.
KAREN M. PEALER
Will we pay again?
In regard to the BP oil spill. The U.S. government indicated that BP will be responsible to compensate whoever is affected by this oil spill.
Will this expense come out of their pockets or will it be shouldered by the public by increasing the price of gasoline to compensate for these expenses? It seems that any time that the big oil companies goof up they always are able to pass these expense on to the consumers.
I hope that this time that our representatives in government will say, this comes out of your pocket and not the consumer.
Don't raze it
I have to disagree with the April 28 article "Study Says Razing Arena Makes Economic Sense." Tearing down Mellon Area is a horrible idea and will be very devastating to me and my family and also to many families in Pittsburgh. The memories I have made in that building, going to my first games with my father and being overwhelmed with the beautiful structure, will not be replaced with the new arena.
Pittsburgh is a very special city that cares very much about its sports teams, and Mellon Arena gives Pittsburgh a big part of its character. I had to watch Three Rivers Stadium get blown up to just become a parking lot. It would be a real shame.
There are many ways to use the arena to benefit our city. Use the money for tearing it down and building anew to just remodel Mellon Arena. Reconstruct the arena into a shopping center/mall. I know this building would bring in way more money than any other building replacing Mellon Arena.
I and at least 20 others I know will be boycotting that area if that does happen. Also with all the history of that structure, even if it were a mall, I would use any excuse to go there.
Pittsburghers, please speak out to save your Mellon Arena, which has done so much for the city!
JOSEPH J. FUGAZZI
Move the arena
I have a solution as far as this controversy on whether to preserve the Mellon Arena or tear it down to allow for development of the property.
The Stadium & Exhibition Authority should put the arena up for sale. Whatever individual or group who buys it will sign an agreement that they will pay to disassemble the building and re-erect it at another location exactly as it was.
The Stadium Authority would have revenue to build its proposed convention center hotel or for any improvements it wished to make to its structures. The arena would be preserved, reused and become an instant tourist attraction. The land would be clear so that it could be developed and bring an immediate improvement in the economic climate of the Hill District by the jobs this project would create and return a viable neighborhood that would return to the tax rolls.
This is a situation with winners all around.
THOMAS A. JOSEPHI
A warm place
As we enjoy the beauty of spring and warmer weather, the harsh realities of this past winter seem a distant memory to some. However, we at Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and Operation Safety Net have not forgotten winter's wrath. We extend heartfelt thanks to the many individuals and organizations that stepped up and so generously gave of their time, talent and financial assistance to individuals served by the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter this past winter.
Sponsored by Operation Safety Net in collaboration with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Smithfield United Church of Christ, the shelter provides a warm and welcoming place where individuals who are homeless receive a warm meal, a kind word and respite from the elements.
The shelter was fully operational for a record 62 nights, irrespective of the weather and road conditions. Between November 2009 and March 2010, the shelter served up to 130 individuals a night. Altogether, there were 3,466 visits.
We recognize that many of our volunteers have other professional and personal obligations. The energy and compassion exuded by shelter volunteers and staff cannot be adequately measured or quantified. They gave so graciously of themselves -- unconditionally and without remuneration -- guided by faith, values and a deep compassion for our fellow humans. For this, we are grateful.
It is our sincere hope and prayer that each of those who entered the shelter will be one step closer toward a life off the streets.
LINDA M. SHEETS
Operation Safety Net
Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
City parking plans
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's plan to lease Pittsburgh's parking assets is a good one on paper. Our financially strapped city could certainly use the one-time cash infusion, and the alternative of new or higher taxes would be a detriment to all.
However, there needs to be a nuanced approach to implementing this plan. First, lease the Parking Authority's 11 garages and two Downtown lots to the highest and most-qualified bidder. Demand in the lease that rates could not increase higher than, say, 8 or 9 percent per year, and ensure that all fines and fees be visibly posted for all drivers.
Next, leave street meters and metered lots out of the deal. This would greatly help neighborhood businesses in the city, since many of the Parking Authority's meters are not enforced after 6 p.m. or on Sundays. The authority's reasonable pricing also helps encourage short-term parking for shoppers.
This would allow Pittsburgh to finally begin real pension reforms, while at the same time preserving the convenience and affordability of doing business in city neighborhoods.
Arizona needed to act on illegal immigrants
In regard to "Your Papers, Please! Arizona Pushes the Bounds of Justice on Immigrants" (April 19). I honestly don't understand why so many people are angry with Arizona for creating such a law. They have a serious problem with illegals, and they needed to act.
If you're allowed to be here, and the police ask to "see your papers" and you have proper documentation, then there is no problem. We all carry our driver's license so if we get pulled over we can prove we are allowed to drive. Why should immigrants get special treatment?
There is nothing wrong with immigration; that's what America is based upon, the idea that you can come here and make a better life for yourself and your family. Most Americans can trace their ancestry back to someplace outside of the United States. However, if they want to come here, they should do it in a legal manner. My ancestors passed through Ellis Island, filling out all the proper documentation. Why should the illegals be any different? The solution to the immigration problem is to set up a way for people who want to come here to be able to come through the front door, and to deport those who have come here illegally.
However, to grant amnesty to illegal aliens would devalue what it means to be an American and would be a slap in the face to those who have waited in line and used the proper channels to come here.