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The Port Authority board makes poor decisions

That the Port Authority wants an additional $1.1 million to buy a fare collection system during a time of a global financial crisis is proof this board hasn't got a clue ("Transit 'Smart' Cards Wait on County," Nov. 20). It built a $500 million light-rail parallel track that does nothing to increase ridership; it merely made riding more convenient for those already riding the system. They are in the middle of building a tunnel all the way to the North Shore for lord knows how much that even those inside the system say will never pay for itself.

Now they want a foolproof collection system, stating that some people are getting to ride for free. I believe that if it is true that people are riding for free, it is a lack of management oversight. I can't tell you how many people I know with an expired Pitt pass who continue to ride for free years after the ID has expired. How can they let that loophole exist? I'm sure I'm not the only person in the 'Burgh who knows of the loophole.

This Port Authority board has given away too many rights and privileges to the workers and lower management staff. It has no concern for where the money comes from or it would have been more steadfast in its negotiations. I don't know of any Port Authority board decision that was actually intelligent. Time to get rid of this board, as well as the losing company.

TOM TOMKINS
Bethel Park


Parkinson's services

In response to Linda J. Conn's letter ("Mr. Obama, Please Help Find a Cure for My Brother," Nov. 20): As development director of the Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and a person who has a father living with Parkinson's for the last 29 years, I understand the urgency for the government to loosen the restrictions on stem-cell research.

President-elect Obama has every intention of rescinding a directive that limits federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research. Let's just hope that they don't spin their wheels. While the Parkinson Foundation can't physically help in the area of stem-cell research, we are the largest regional provider of nonmedical support services and education to people with Parkinson's, their caregivers and their families. Services we offer include:

• programming for support groups;

• a Parkinson Wellness Program, providing exercise and cognitive and social stimulation tailored to the needs of people with Parkinson's;

• referrals to Parkinson's specialists;

• staff training at hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities that care for people with Parkinson's;

• an annual weekend retreat, Living Well with Parkinson Disease, for people with Parkinson's and their families.

The general public may not know that 8,000 to 10,000 people in Western Pennsylvania suffer from the disease, as do 1.5 million Americans. The average age of onset is 57, but 10 percent of newly diagnosed patients are 50 or younger (my father was 39). Within one year of diagnosis, 31 percent lose their employment. Parkinson's costs Americans over $25 billion per year.

Ms. Conn, thank you for bringing stem-cell research to the forefront. Not only will it help to find a cure for Parkinson's, but also for other neurological diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer's.

CAREY KNAPP
Director of Development
Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania
Squirrel Hill


Destroys donors

I read Linda Conn's touching Nov. 20 letter. She told a story with which I'm familiar. She watches her brother suffer from Parkinson's disease, and I watched my grandfather suffer and die of it. It robbed him of everything. It stole his mind, his dignity and eventually his life. Parkinson's isn't just a disease, it's a thief. We must do everything we ethically can to stop it.

Where I disagree with proponents of embryonic stem-cell research is in the determination of what is ethical and what is unethical. I find calls for "ethical" embryonic stem-cell research to be ironic, as if destroying human beings for research is ever ethical. Shall we permit the exploitation and destruction of human beings for research simply because they're in the embryonic stage of development? We were all once embryos.

While adult stem-cell research is ethical, using tissue from unharmed donors, embryonic stem-cell research destroys the donors, who are in the embryonic stage of development. While adult stem-cell research is being used worldwide to treat Parkinson's and more than 70 other diseases and disorders, embryonic stem-cell research has proven useless.

Because of its failure, private funding for embryonic stem-cell research is disappearing. No one wants to waste their money on research that produces no results. That's why tax dollars are desperately sought for it. Since we won't voluntarily pay for embryonic stem-cell research, its proponents want our government to force us to pay for it.

Unlike the ethical and successful nature of adult stem-cell research, whether considering embryonic stem-cell research from an ethical, financial or scientific perspective, there's nothing promising about it.

BRYCE C. McMINN
Bethel Park


Who left whom

The members of the 54 parishes that Edith M. Humphrey, in her Nov. 15 letter ("Not Breakaway"), said were not "breakaway Episcopalians" actually did vote to leave the Episcopal Church. However, before the vote to leave, Bishop Robert Duncan registered the nonprofit corporation "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh," taking advantage of the unincorporated status of the Episcopal Church diocese.

Despite being deposed by the bishops of the Episcopal Church for abandonment of the church, Robert Duncan is now, seemingly, once again bishop of the "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh," abetted by the primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. If this is confusing, it is because it is intended to be and arguments will fly on both sides of the issues until matters are settled.

The (legitimate) Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is busy reorganizing itself after the departure of the "orthodox," as there are leadership vacancies within the diocese to be filled.

JANE C. LITTLE
Mt. Lebanon


We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.



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