Letters to the editor
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Residents' NID investment will yield big benefits
In response to the "Bar This Tax" editorial (Feb. 27): I am disappointed that the Post-Gazette feels shouting and trading insults were appropriate behavior at the Feb. 14 public meeting of the South Side Planning Forum where the proposed South Side Neighborhood Improvement District was being presented. Where are we going to find ourselves if we are unable to have intelligent and, more important, respectful conversations about the future of our neighborhood?
As a 15-year-plus resident, seven-year-plus business owner and active volunteer in the South Side, I'm in support of the South Side NID. While the majority of the money collected from the district (85 percent, as reported in the South Side Pittsburgh Reporter, Feb. 21) will come from commercial and rental properties (which realistically cause many of the neighborhood's current woes), according to the bylaws residents will have an equal voice on the South Side NID board of directors. Residents will surely benefit from the quality-of-life issues that the South Side NID will address for their 15 percent investment.
It's time to bring balance to the neighborhood and come together in a respectful and organized way to ensure its sustainability. I urge everyone with a connection to the South Side to educate themselves on the process, the investment and the benefits of the proposed South Side NID (www.ssimprovementdistrict.com) and, please, no more shouting matches.
Unfair NID process
As two property owners who are involved in collecting signatures to stop the Neighborhood Improvement District in the South Side, we were relieved to see the Feb. 27 editorial in the Post-Gazette ("Bar This Tax"). We oppose the tax, not so much because of the money involved but because of the smarmy process being used to push it through.
What was not mentioned in your editorial is that 40 percent of property owners must vote against the measure in order to avoid having foisted upon them the expense of cleaning up the sewer that Carson Street has become. Have you ever heard of an election where those who do not show up to vote can be declared the winners? This defies common sense and the basic principle of one person, one vote.
We are working hard to collect signatures from property owners to assure that they have a say in this matter. But this is an uphill battle when one considers that about half of properties in the South Side are no longer owner-occupied. So to get that 40 percent we have to reach 80 percent of those who live here. Those who support the measure will argue that this is the law governing NIDs. Well that may be so. But what is legal is not always moral.
MARY ANN SEVICK
As Canada chuckles
I am beginning to believe the Republican Party as exemplified by Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich wants to go back to the misogynistic idea of keeping women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. For a bunch of men who espouse the idea of reducing the role of government in our lives they have a strange notion that it is OK for government to dictate to half our population what they can and can't do.
I have friends in Canada. According to them they are laughing their tails off at how inane, stupid and antediluvian the Republican candidates appear to them.
With luck and effort on the part of those of us who really do believe in a government of the people, for the people and by the people maybe we can join our Canadian friends after the November election and laugh at the roundly defeated small-government Republicans who so desperately wanted to control the lives of half our population.
Unkind state cuts
It has now been several weeks since the saintly Gov. Tom Corbett announced severe cuts in state aid to those in need of medical assistance. And not a word spoken on these cuts by Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops.
Yet they speak ad nauseam about sex and women's reproductive matters. Is sexophobia and the Gospel according to Santorum what the Catholic Church is about today?
Is this Christianity? Or am I missing something here?
The mindless media, as expected, have been parroting the Planned Parenthood mantra. However, the Obama health coverage order is not about whether 95 percent of Catholic women have used birth control or about "women's rights." It is about the Obama administration trying again to trample the Constitution's freedom of religion. That fact was clearly seen by the Southern Baptists (never accused of papist sympathies), Lutherans, Orthodox and some Jews (see Charles Krauthammer's Feb. 11 column, "The Gospel According to Obama Boils Down to Politics").
Now, in typical "administrative" double-speak, Mr. Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have solved the problem -- a problem that they created! The churches will not have to pay for abortifacients or sterilization, or abortions, etc. The health providers will provide it for free! Wow! Mr. Obama cleverly gets what he wants, i.e., recognition that pregnancy is "pathological" and so to be avoided at all costs (the Planned Parenthood position) with the "cost" being borne by the providers -- not the church or you and me!
So the insurers will gladly pay for these troublesome "women's health benefits." And the church is off the hook. Do you still wonder why Bishop David Zubik "has reservations"? It sounds almost too good to be true!
Does the administration really believe this contorted linguistic manipulation either? I doubt it. But it gets what it wanted: "women's health care for all" and a better chance to be elected in November. Brilliant!
Rein in Pentagon
Last August Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which required $1 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon budget over the next 10 years. President Barack Obama's budget for FY 2013, however, calls for only a $487 billion reduction.
Most of these proposed reductions in the military budget over time are not even real cuts, but only rollbacks from what the Pentagon had originally planned to spend before the wave of austerity washed over Congress. The president's budget proposal actually allows Pentagon spending to continue to grow in nine of the next 10 years.
The core U.S. military budget has ballooned by 50 percent (over inflation) since 2000, and that doesn't even count spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are under a separate budget account. Our country cannot afford to continue to pour billions of dollars into the Pentagon while our bridges crumble, public transit collapses, and more and more people sink into poverty.
At a minimum, Congress -- Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey in particular -- needs to resist pressure from the administration and military contractors and stick to the $1 trillion in cuts it already approved (which would take the Pentagon budget back only to 2007 -- at the height of the Iraq War).
Lin's success helps to erode Asian-American stereotypes
During the past few weeks, Jeremy Lin has become a household name. As the first American-born Chinese player in the NBA, he has taken the league by storm and his Knicks won seven straight. Undrafted out of college, this 2010 Harvard University graduate had been cut twice before joining the Knicks as a backup.
Why did Mr. Lin become a hero overnight? For Asian-Americans, who are assumed to be gifted in math and science, quiet and shy, basketball -- an intensely physical sport -- is not their game. Rather, it is common to see tiger moms and dads push their children to get all "A"s and into Ivy League colleges.
Asian-Americans seem out of the fights between racism and anti-racism; they are treated as the model minority myth -- hard-working and servile -- a myth against other marginalized groups. But they have long been overlooked, marginalized and stereotyped. As seen from Mr. Lin's experience, he was first underestimated and unrecognized, and then offended and taunted by the media.
But his talents, skills and spirituality hold him up and win game after another impossible game. For many people, Jeremy Lin is much more than a mere point guard. He has provided an excellent example for Asian-Americans, inspiring them to pursue and fulfill their dreams. Mr. Lin's success breaks down Asian-American stereotypes and gives them a glimpse of hope, i.e., how to merge into the U.S. mainstream society of the sports world.
The writer is an associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.
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First Published March 1, 2012 12:00 am