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Super Bowl seat fiasco demands a big penalty

It seems incredible that the NFL would have created such a blunder of selling tickets for some extra seating at the Super Bowl and not have it ready in time for the game.

This must have been in the planning stage for months since the Cowboys Stadium had been chosen for the venue more than a year in advance.

Bill Brink's story on Page One ("All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Sit," Feb. 8) puts it very well; the NFL had 49 days between the last Cowboys game at the stadium and the day of the Super Bowl. Design for the extra seats should have been accomplished months in advance. Construction and setup should have been complete at least a week in advance of the game.

The NFL's efficiency in getting tickets out to interested buyers was superb. Why wasn't the NFL as efficient in overseeing the addition of the extra seats?

Instead, hundreds of fans spent thousands of dollars to watch the game on TV at the stadium just as I did in my Bethel Park family room for just the cost of my cable hookup.

The NFL has had no problem handing out penalties for actions on and off the field that it does not approve of. What's good for the goose is sauce for the gander. In my opinion the head honcho bears the responsibility for this fiasco. So, perhaps Roger Goodell should be fined $100,000 and be suspended from any NFL contact for the first four games of the regular 2011 NFL season!

Bethel Park

Fan treatment

I was one of the "Fightin' 400" fans who had their seats pulled out from under them. I have set up the website www.displacedfans45.com to serve as a "home base" for these fans. Please visit and join the Twitter feed.

Business school textbooks will be written someday about how this Super Bowl ticket fiasco is a classic example of the worst customer service. We have launched the Professional Football Union of Fans to promote the voice of the fan in professional sports. It is our hope that the NFL will begin to include the fans in its plans for Super Bowls and other events.


The writer is a native of Crafton Heights.

Ticket woes here

I have been reading the recent articles about the frustrated Super Bowl ticket holders. I feel it is necessary to point out the same frustration I had with the Steelers at the AFC Championship game against the New York Jets. As a season-ticket waiting list member, I was given the opportunity to buy playoff tickets.

I decided to gamble and buy tickets for the championship game, even though it wasn't a guaranteed home game. I purchased the tickets through Ticketmaster, via a link with a special password, provided to me by the Steelers. I bought the "best available," which were sold and described to me as "North Club Seats." I have never sat in the area, but these seats were to have separate restroom facilities, concessions and also a heated area to escape the elements, which was especially appealing due to the extremely cold weather.

When I got to the stadium and tried to use the club entrance, I was told that my tickets were not valid for that area and that they knew all about it, since they had the same problem at the Baltimore game. I was told to take it up with Ticketmaster and that they were sorry for the inconvenience. Not a very good response, but what do you expect when they have a captive audience?

Lebanon, Pa.

Sing it straight

Considering all the money and hype that is spent on the Super Bowl, one would think that the sponsors could find someone who could actually sing the national anthem the way it is supposed to be sung without jazzing it up. A bellowing cow in labor or a person suffering from acute pains of constipation would have done more justice to the national song than Christina Aguilera's painful rendition.


Anthem butchery

This must be the only country in the world where it seems to be necessary to hire a celebrity to screw up the national anthem at a major event.And why do people applaud and cheer this desecration?


Unaffordable benefit

After reading the Feb. 7 Perspectives article "Fake Pension Reform Won't Do," my question to George E. Hale is, why not just ditch a "pension plan" altogether and switch over completely to a 401(k)-style retirement fund for all new hires?

I certainly don't have the numbers to do the math, but maybe Mr. Hale could supply this computation in a future article. Surely this would save a bundle and become a reasonable and, what I (and many others) consider to be, an appropriate template for the future.

I understand that in the private sector, the number of companies providing a "pension plan" is decreasing every year (I think less than 30 percent now) because the companies cannot afford it! And why can't they afford it? Because the private sector cannot go to the taxpayer and raise their taxes to fund a pension plan. They either have to make more profit, or they have to drop the pension plan concept (if they even had one at all) and the employee has to fund his or her own retirement fund with a 401(k) plan.

It is time for our commonwealth to evaluate, plan and execute like a business. Mr. Hale, please explain why private sector workers must continue to fund the retirement income of government workers. But I am sure that one of the biggest blocks to reform is ... once a taxpayer becomes a government worker, then his or her perspective changes. So I guess the change in the government pension plan concept that I am suggesting will continue to be elusive.


What our research showed regarding CYF referrals

The articles on Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Family and racial disproportionality ("CYF Uses 'Cultural Consultants' to Bridge Gaps" and "Racial Disproportionality Remains Subject of Controversy," Jan. 23) highlighted an important issue in our community. The articles referred to a 2010 study written by the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work for Allegheny County. To clarify, the findings of this study are the result of utilizing Allegheny County child welfare data from all children referred to CYF in 2006.

We sampled 544 cases and then determined the reasons for referral and investigation by looking at individual referral and risk assessments. We concluded that disproportionality was the most pronounced at the referral stage, with African-American families being referred to CYF at three times the rate as white families, and biracial families at four times the rate. There was no evidence in these data of a funneling effect for African-American children, where disproportionality increases at each decision point.

Rather, disproportionality in Allegheny County for African-American and biracial children and youth appears related to disparate rates of referrals and for African-Americans, more frequent re-referrals that involve a greater number of children compared with other families.

That is why programs, such as Inua Ubuntu, which address some of the underlying causes that bring African-American families to the attention of these referral systems, may provide one solution to front-end disproportionality for African-American youth. However, disproportionality is a complex issue, and it will take multiple system approaches to adequately address it.

The other clarification is that as part of the study we interviewed entrees to the CYF service pathway: caseworkers, supervisors and CYF office directors. The child welfare personnel whom we spoke with are very aware of how cultural misunderstanding and "cognitive shortcuts" can bias their decision making. Workers described many strategies for de-biasing such as structured group discussions, reflective supervision and structured assessments of safety and risk to help them to reflect on these unconscious processes.

The findings suggested that as a community we should focus our attention and efforts on the broader societal issues including reducing poverty and eliminating the structural and racial barriers that contribute to the neglect and maltreatment of children.

Research Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work

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 website readers.

The wrong message on what to value

I am not from Pittsburgh and not a Steelers fan. My son attends a private school in a school district I will not name. Monday, after the Super Bowl, the school district called for a two-hour delay. The weather was fine and the roads dry. Tuesday, however, there was no delay after we received a considerable amount of snow and the roads appeared a bit hazardous. On Wednesday morning it was bitter cold with temperatures in the single digits. Still there was no delay.

Can someone please explain this? Aren't delays for the safety of the children? After that, please explain why Steelers news replaces much more important international, national and local headlines in the newscasts. I'm trying to teach my child which things are truly important so he carries those values into adulthood. If I understand what causes the above problems, I might be able to guide my child away from it and help him grow up.


Remember, Earth is the only home we have

In "The True Inconvenient Truth" (Jan. 31 Perspectives), J. Brett Harvey recommends an American future not much different from our past, with abundant energy from fossil fuels. During the past century, however, burning of coal and other fossil fuels has been identified as the principal cause of severe and possibly irreversible damage to the Earth's life-giving atmosphere.

During the past 50 years alone, concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has climbed by approximately 24 percent. At the current rate of increase, CO2 levels by 2100 would reach levels not seen on this planet since the Jurassic age. Speaking of this phenomenon, Dr. Jeffrey Kiehl, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., recently said, "If we don't start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced."

The truth is that Mr. Harvey's dark vision of a diminished future is precisely the outcome that climate scientists predict surely will occur if current modes of energy usage persist. A changing atmosphere already is causing catastrophic weather events around the globe, unprecedented loss of ice at the poles and rising sea levels. Crop yields are declining in many nations around the globe due to persistent drought, while the altered climate adversely impacts various animal populations.

A leading climate scientist has described the explosive growth of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere as "an uncontrolled experiment on the only home we have." Contrary to what Mr. Harvey suggests, increasing use of energy from burning coal cannot represent a responsible course for securing the future of humanity.

Jefferson Hills

The 'original intent' crowd's snake oil

Regarding "The Far Right Is Stealing the Constitution" (Jan. 30 Forum): I thoroughly enjoyed, and agree with, the views expressed by professor Garrett Epps in his piece, but I was surprised that he didn't mention the most direct and easiest means of exposing "original intent" demagogues for what they are: con-men/women and flim-flam artists. Article 1, Section 2, of this sacred document originally included the following:

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

Taking their cues from the folks who brought you the new and improved, "nigger"-less "Huckleberry Finn," members of Congress tellingly did not read aloud this pesky and inconvenient portion of the original sacred document during the House of Representative's kabuki-like production on Jan. 6 of this year.

Once an intellectually honest and rational individual acknowledges the fact that the original sacred document did not allow for the participation of blacks and women in this nation's political life, then he/she must either condemn the 14th, 15th and 19th amendments as abominations or acknowledge the fact that the Constitution is a living document and "original intent" is the political equivalent of snake oil.

North Side

When individual rights occur

Letter writers Christine Caprio ("Life as Disposable") and Gail L. Campbell ("Abortion In and Of Itself Is a Horror," both Jan. 27), like many anti-abortion advocates, have opportunistically used Dr. Kermit Gosnell to smear abortion providers who have nothing - fundamentally - in common with him.

While abortion is violent and dismembers a live fetus it does not matter, for a fetus has no rights as long as it is physiologically housed within a woman. It is only upon birth - i.e., individuation - that rights enter the picture.


Priests shouldn't hunt, which involves killing

I'm responding to the article "Father, Son and Solitude" (Dec. 12), about a priest who hunts. As a Catholic, I couldn't believe my eyes: a priest killing animals! What happened to the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" or the Scripture, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy?" What kind of mercy does a priest show an innocent animal by stalking, terrorizing, maiming and killing it?

As a person educated and working in the psychological field, I find it unconscionable for anyone to teach children to wound and kill animals, especially a priest. Children need positive religious role models to teach them compassion and mercy - the life Jesus exemplified in the New Testament. Religious values call upon us all to act in a kind and merciful way toward all creatures.

Father Mike Zavage expressed that hunting is a way for men who find it difficult to tell one another how much they care to demonstrate it. One can go hiking, jogging or spend time in the woods taking photos of animals and nature with a loved one. Why do they have to kill an animal to prove their love for one another?

Father Zavage brings new controversy to the Catholic Church, which already has enough public image problems. One can only wonder why Bishop David Zubik and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh saw no moral or role model conflicts with promoting Father Zavage's recreational killing activities.

Chinchilla, Lackawanna County

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