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The greedy Port Authority again wants more for less

We are once again hearing in the news that the employees of the Port Authority are threatening to strike ("Businesses Gearing Up for Possible Transit Strike," Aug. 7). When is this insanity and greed, at the taxpayers' expense, going to end? When are our elected officials going to say enough is enough?

We now have one of the highest-paid authorities in the country, one of the best at providing the worst service with the best mismanagement of taxpayers' money. In the real world when a business cannot pay its employees and creditors, it either files for bankruptcy to reorganize or it closes its doors. However, the Port Authority sits back and threatens more cuts with more bad service with ruder and greedier employees who feel the taxpayers of Allegheny County owe them everything.

Remember, these are our fellow Pittsburghers who say and feel this way and are now threatening to add to our financial hardships. I for one say the Port Authority's time has come. Far too many times it has cried for money and far too many times it has been given more only to provide the taxpayers with less.

If the Port Authority is unwilling to clean up its own house by taking pay and benefits cuts so that services maybe improved and routes saved, then like a real business, it needs to close its doors and let a private concern operate a service that will provide the citizens of Allegheny County with the service and respect they deserve.

RON BENEDEK
Collier




Create other options

I recently moved back to Pittsburgh after living in Ohio for the past six years but remained current on local news and politics while away. Having been a former Port Authority bus rider myself, I appreciate the need to raise appropriate funds to serve as many people as possible. Pittsburgh has one of the finest mass transit systems in the country, and it should remain that way. In my opinion, the use of tax money to support mass transit is not only appropriate but also necessary.

My wife and I enjoy dining at the wonderful restaurants in Pittsburgh and like to enjoy a glass of wine or beer with our meal. The extra drink tax is a nuisance but not enough to force us to change our dining or drinking habits.

While I understand the need to find revenue for various government-funded projects through taxation, I am absolutely appalled that the only possible solution, according to certain members of our local government, appears to be continuation of the drink tax or to raise property taxes.

I recall the public outcry that occurred during the last effort to reassess property values and am also aware of the current dismay regarding the drink tax. I find it insulting that a referendum will be placed on the November ballot forcing Allegheny county residents to choose between the drink tax and raising property taxes, as if there are no other options ("Make It a Double: 2 Drink Tax Referenda Likely," Aug. 5).

Surely, our intelligent members of government can find another way to satisfy both demands, that of a need for funds and of their constituents. Otherwise, I am sorry to say, they may not find themselves members of our local government much longer.

DAVID STUKUS
Regent Square




You ride, you pay

I am frustrated, disappointed and confused. The whining being done by the elected county officials is getting progressively worse. It is time to stand up and act like leaders.

To try and say that the only options available for funding the additional money needed for the Port Authority are either the drink tax or raising real estate taxes is totally incorrect. Stop this socialization of our government. It is time for the actual users of the buses to pay for using them. Raise the fare 50 cents. In doing so, $54 million will be raised.

Enough about the riders not being able to afford the increase. If that is true, then find an alternative. You choose to ride the bus, then pay the fare.

Gas has risen 25 percent to 33 percent! Please, County Council, please, find a new tax to lower my gas cost. Isn't that silly? So is my paying for the riders of the bus when I never have and never will ride the bus.

I do not mind paying for roads, bridges and the cost of maintenance for them and other needed infrastructure projects. But paying for other people's bus rides is socialism and not fair to the voters who never ride. Time for the riders to pay their own way, and for county leaders to show some real guts and tell the riders it is time to pay for their rides themselves.

JOHN VARGO
West Mifflin




Poker possibilities

It seems to me that someone, somewhere has to have thought of this before me. The solution to the drink tax problem could be to legalize poker machines that are already in place at most drinking spots. They could then be taxed.

If we are going to have a casino with legalized gambling, why can't the little guys have a chance to make some money and keep their bar business out of the red? Additionally, think of the savings that could be had by not paying undercover police to sit in these bars to try to catch payouts on these machines. I think this is a win-win situation.

To decide on a ballot if we should have a drink tax or raise property taxes is just plain nuts! Everyone who drinks at bars and rents will definitely choose property taxes over the drink tax, and where does that leave the homeowners, especially the ones trying to keep their houses with all the foreclosures going on right now?

I truly hope that property taxes could be lowered, not raised, to help the plight of homeowners at this time of impending foreclosures. Everything from gas to groceries is going up -- everything that is, except our paychecks.

MARIA COULEHAN
Dormont




Wacky outrage

Have people gone crazy? We are dealing with record-high gas prices, food costs and home foreclosures. We have a war, job losses and all of these major issues for millions of people. Yet, I saw a gentleman on the news who would rather pay higher property tax than a few cents for alcohol.

So people who have worked hard all of their lives and are on Social Security or have been downsized at their jobs and could lose their homes because they no longer can make ends meet on their income. This just so drinking people don't have to pay what? A few cents more?

How outrageous! Exxon cleared more than $11 billion this quarter alone. But that's not important enough to argue about at "happy hour." People should not have to pay 10 cents more for a beer! That's important! This goes beyond crazy.

DONNA MEDVAN
Brackenridge
Corpus Christi, Texas




The threat of nuclear war is greater than other problems

As we observe the 63rd anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this month, we should remind ourselves of the great danger such weapons pose to us all.

The distinguished public servants Sens. Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn and Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger have called for elimination of nuclear weapons. Retired military officers from 17 nations joined Gen. Lee Butler in concluding that nuclear disarmament is possible and should happen soon.

Admittedly, we live in a dangerous world. Absolute security is an impossibility. We must weigh the danger of a likely spread of nuclear weapons to still more nations, with the increasing risk that fissionable materials will fall into the hands of terrorists, against the danger that a rogue nation would violate an international treaty and evade inspections to build a nuclear arsenal. I believe the spread of nuclear weapons to be the greater danger.

It is encouraging that both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama have advocated nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, the subject of nuclear disarmament has taken a back seat in the present campaign to the economy and the cost of gasoline. The threat of nuclear weapons is far more serious. It is understandable that the threats of inflation and job loss should weigh more heavily on the public than the threat of nuclear war.

This should not be so for presidential candidates. They aspire to lead.

Part of leadership is to see the big picture and to assign correct priorities to problems.

JOHN H. ANDERSON
Forest Hills



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