The verdict is just, but there's no reason for joy
Although I agree that Richard Poplawski's death sentence fits his crimes, I cannot find it in myself to be "happy" about the outcome of this long-awaited trial. I was listening to local talk radio Tuesday evening and there were callers excited at the notion of watching his execution -- some even mentioned throwing a party!
How tragic that a 24-year-old man will never have a life; how tragic that three fallen officers will never have their lives; how tragic that this young man was born into a family full of so much hatred and violence -- everything about this story is tragic.
A baby is not born a monster -- a baby is born a "clean slate" and his family should rot in hell for their part in raising an innocent child to be a monster.
Shame on those who see his potential execution as just another reason to throw a party. Do they not realize the enormity of the events that led to this? Perhaps they should take the enthusiasm they are feeling and think about how they might help to prevent a tragedy like this from happening in our community again. Surely there were adults who were in contact with Richard Poplawski throughout his childhood who realized that something "wasn't quite right" with him. Just imagine, if someone, anyone, had reached out to him and shown him love and guidance, how different things could be today.
Shame on all of us who can't find it in our hearts to "get involved." Let this be a lesson to everyone in our community: Pay attention to our children and the children of others, and if you suspect there is something terribly wrong in a child's life, step up and do something!
His three killings
Early Wednesday morning I watched a news clip from WTAE getting a comment from Richard Poplawski's great-aunt, Joanne Duffy, as she was leaving the courthouse after his sentencing. She mentioned the commandment "Thou shall not kill" to the reporter.
To his great-aunt: Did your nephew obey the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shall not kill?" No! He disobeyed this commandment not once or twice but three times!
Accolades to the prosecutors and the jurors for justice. My prayers go to the slain officers' families and friends and also to all law enforcement officers.
First day to apply
The June 24 article "Aid for Private School Students Can Cut Companies' Pa. Taxes" lets businesses know about a terrific opportunity for them to support education here. Low-income preschoolers served by the nonprofit for which I raise funds, Angels' Place Inc., have benefited tremendously from scholarships contributed by companies under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program. Our participating business partners have also benefited, since they receive state tax credits for 100 percent of their approved contributions up to $10,000 to the Angels' Place Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship program.
However, as the old saying goes, "timing is everything." The one-page EITC applications are considered by the Department of Community and Economic Development in Harrisburg on a first-come, first-served basis but cannot be submitted until Friday, July 1. While the article stated that the deadline is today, in actuality the first day applications are accepted is July 1, and the last day is prior to whenever the tax credits will have been exhausted.
Anyone interested in learning more about the effect on business taxes of making an approved EITC contribution can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be glad to fax some sample calculations and the application. July 1, which is also the date that the list is made available of organizations eligible to receive contributions under EITC, is the first day to apply.
Director of Development
Angels' Place Inc.
Worthy school events
Having taught for 20-some years in the Pittsburgh Public Schools before retiring, I was delighted to learn of the Take Your Father to School Day described in Brian O'Neill's June 12 column ("Fathers Deserve Some Extra Credit From City Schools").
Delight turned to disappointment as I read on to discover that the superintendent and board are considering not only denying the addition of a Take Your Mother to School Day but are discussing elimination of Take Your Father to School Day. It seems that some children whose fathers are absent that day become angry and upset. Classes, routines and schedules are disrupted. But change in routine can be a spark to education.
Two suggestions that may improve these days are:
1. Welcome mothers to their day in October and keep inviting fathers in May.
2. At the outset of each of these days, request the parents who are present to "adopt" for the day an extra child or two so all can share in the love, joy and pride of caring parents.
Congratulations to school board member Mark Brentley for getting parents to participate; to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles and others for supporting learning; and to the teachers who support parent involvement. Teaching doesn't succeed without it.
MARY LEO ELD
Voter suppression through the voter ID laws being considered and implemented across the country is a significant issue -- one could argue that it compromises the foundations of our democracy. It is clearly a conservative Republican initiative to prevent poor, minority and young people from voting, and to report otherwise is completely irresponsible.
It is your duty to report facts: Conservative Republicans are behind all these voter ID laws in every state! That is because these laws create additional barriers to voting for traditional Democratic constituencies. This is because conservative Republicans know that the policies they advocate are not popular among these Americans. These are cold, hard facts.
We're proud of WDUQ and we thank its many supporters
On the eve of the programming transfer of WDUQ, Duquesne University would like to thank the dedicated people who made WDUQ one of the region's most trusted radio stations. Duquesne is proud of the generations of students and then professional staff who brought the community award-winning programming. We are grateful for the listeners and donors who faithfully gave their support for decades.
We appreciate the concern that has been expressed about the change. WDUQ has been a daily "companion" to many of us for years, and change is never easy. However, we know that we've entrusted this community resource to an organization that is committed to serving the public for the long term. We look forward to hearing the new format it has chosen and wish it every success.
Deciding to sell the station was not easy. We knew that WDUQ not only served the community, but had become an integral part of it. However, WDUQ faced financial difficulties not uncommon in the public radio sector. For years, Duquesne provided significant financial subsidies to the station, drawing resources away from our students, faculty and core academic programs. The situation was simply not sustainable. Now, however, the revenue from the sale will enable us to focus resources on key initiatives that will greatly benefit our students and our faculty: new endowed chairs, graduate fellowships, diversity scholarships and internships in the new radio journalism effort.
When we began the sale process, we desired to find a buyer who would maintain the station's commitment to NPR and would have the financial backing to ensure a viable operation for the future. No doubt, many of you have heard the claim that the university did not accept the highest bid for the station. On the contrary, our choice was also determined by our own fiduciary responsibility: to secure the greatest possible return for Duquesne. I can assure you that the university accepted the highest financially credible bid for the station.
As Pittsburgh embarks on this new era of public radio, Duquesne remains proud of its role in founding and supporting the city's first public radio station. We're also very appreciative of the professionalism that WDUQ's current staff demonstrated throughout this trying public process.
Thank you, Pittsburgh, for tuning in and for your continued support of public radio.
CHARLES J. DOUGHERTY
Filmmakers head has no room to talk
On Tuesday Charlie Humphrey made his argument why jazz is not culturally important, does not have a large enough audience and can't compete with the other radio stations in our area and how few clubs feature jazz ("Sorry, Jazz Lovers: But I'm Looking Forward to More News on the Former WDUQ," June 28 Perspectives). This coming from the executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
His organization runs films almost no one wants to see, certainly cannot compete with commercial theaters and depends on grants and subsidies for the very small audience for its films; I am one of those. And it is now the only game in town after Carnegie Museum closed its film section, which was a jewel in our "cultural" life.
I see film as one of our very real cultural innovations and remind him how many universities gladly support film societies as their contributions to their communities. Such support is traditionally part of every university's mission. Will Mr. Humphrey approve, then, closing his organization and sending people to Netflix instead?
DAVID N. CAMPBELL
He's not an objective observer
The arrogant oped piece by Charlie Humphrey ("Sorry, Jazz Lovers," June 28) sarcastically argues why jazz is a waste of resources and an all-talk/news 90.5 isn't. When this all began Mr. Humphrey made it clear he had no use (or appreciation for) jazz. He's certainly entitled to his opinion, but the PG identified Charlie Humphrey only as the "executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts." You failed to mention that he will directly benefit from the new all-news 90.5 by virtue of his news endeavor, PublicSource. The following is from your newspaper on May 29:
"At Pittsburgh Filmmakers, executive director Charlie Humphrey is launching a community journalism initiative with substantial funding from The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Knight Foundation.
"Mr. Oliphant hopes the Filmmakers initiative and the staff of the new station will collaborate on news coverage."
Bottom line is that Charlie Humphrey isn't just a cultural observer; he's deeply involved and stands to benefit from this venture if it succeeds. Why didn't you identify that? And why always give oped pieces to anti-jazz writers? Probably because the PG is also in bed on this one. Sally Kalson wrote in the PG on June 26 ("The End of WDUQ"):
"For one thing, there's a lot of good public radio programming out there that is not currently airing in Pittsburgh. But more important, the station will form a news partnership with PublicSource, a new Web-based investigative journalism initiative that is being launched by The Pittsburgh Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
"PublicSource will be based at Pittsburgh Filmmakers but will partner with the Post-Gazette and other sources, with the goal of expanding coverage in an age of shrinking newspaper staffing and revenue."
Why continue to support public radio?
As the days of WDUQ dwindle down, I have a few remaining questions:
If the HD solution is such a great alternative for broadcasting the jazz programming, why wasn't it chosen for the expanded news programming? This would have left the established jazz listeners undisturbed while creating a new channel for the 24-hour news format.
Perhaps, despite the new management's claims, it actually isn't such a great alternative after all.
Why not devote some of the daily programming on WYEP to jazz, where, as the station's motto claims, "the music matters." I guess not all music matters, especially if the music is jazz. WYEP has long had the reputation of being the "anti-jazz" station, and these decisions confirm that.
Finally, why should I continue to support public radio? As Sally Kalson pointed out in her recent column ("The End of WDUQ," June 26), enticing supporters with the idea that they are members, with some sort of voice, is just a fundraising ploy by the stations. Yet, where was the public voice in this transaction? As a longtime supporter of both WYEP and WDUQ, my input was not solicited from the perspective of either station.
Indeed, in an email exchange with Lee Ferraro, WYEP general manager (and I do credit him with responding to my messages), it seems that the people involved in these decisions felt that they knew best what the public needed and didn't need to hear from anyone. This is the behavior you might expect from a commercial station, but not a public station. I no longer see a reason to support these public stations.
In closing, I would like to thank the staff and management of WDUQ for many years of great music and public service. You will be missed.
What future generations will miss
As the last day for WDUQ is upon us, it seems especially apropos that a segment featuring Wynton Marsalis aired on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday.
While Essential Public Media may dismiss the thousands of Pittsburghers who believe in the importance of promoting and preserving the history of a truly American art form, it would be hard to argue with Mr. Marsalis who articulated very well his fears that future generations will never even know about, much less appreciate, the contributions of Dizzy, The Count or Duke.
How very sad for all of us.
Those who don't love jazz don't get it
When asked, most will say, "I like all kinds of music", but as a musician, I (more often than not) find the statement to be an unconscious admission that music does not stir their interest or passion and, in fact, is not very important to them. There is no way for these people to appreciate the quality of music, performance and artistry that is fundamental to jazz, and expected by its audience.
I love both classical music and jazz because they most often represent a level of human expression (and quality) that is unattainable in most other music genres, although most would interpret my remarks as being a demeaning slap in the face concerning their particular choice of music genre.
I accept the fact that I am in the minority of music listeners, just as I accept the fact that explaining to the average listener just how I feel about my musical tastes is as fruitless as trying to describe the colors of a painting to someone who is colorblind. They can never understand or appreciate my feelings on the subject.
My point in all this is that only WDUQ carried the jazz music that I like, and I am infuriated to read the many comments reported in the PG editorial pages by people happy with the changing of its format, changes that starkly minimize the time allotted to jazz.
My question to them is: With literally hundreds of other AM and FM stations available (some are all-news or have the music genre that you really like), why are you even listening to WDUQ in the first place?
Fair tax policy
I recently saw a commercial on TV to rally political support for the imposition of the sales tax on purchases made on the Internet. As states scramble for more revenues, legislatures around the country are considering similar measures to tax Internet sales. No one wants to pay more taxes, but assessing the sales tax on Internet purchases made by Pennsylvania residents is fair, not only collecting fairly owed taxes but also reducing the unfair advantage that Internet retailers have over local businesses that assess the tax.
But where are these advocates of fair tax policy when it comes to the state corporate net income tax? Millions of dollars of potential tax revenues are lost in Pennsylvania every year when companies in the state establish shell corporations in Delaware to avoid the state corporate net income tax. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center estimates that 71 percent of the corporations in the state avoid corporate net income tax with this loophole.
I support the fair collection of taxes in Pennsylvania. However, this cannot be limited to the collection of a regressive sales tax that falls most on the poor and lower middle class, who from necessity have to spend all they earn, while ignoring the corporate net income tax. Fair tax collection must start with fair tax policy.
Standard care for all
I think it's great that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is making such tremendous progress recovering from her gunshot wound to the head. But that good news makes me stop and think about a few things. Would she be making the same great progress if she did not have access to one of the best health care plans around? How are the other people who were injured in the same shooting doing? Did they receive the same level of care since they were there to see her?
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone who was a victim of a tragedy could get the care they needed to recover as well as Rep. Giffords has? I understand that a good job and money will afford you extras that others can only dream about, but I do think it would be fair if there were a basic standard of care that everyone was entitled to.
JANET L. HASER
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 email@example.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.