Letters to the editor
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I was shocked to read in The Associated Press article "Pa. Allows Dumping of Tainted Water" (Jan. 4) that despite the Marcellus gas industry's best efforts to recycle (see Kathryn Klaber's Jan. 9 letter, "Water Is Recyled"), 6 million barrels of wastewater had to be disposed of last year and 60 percent of it ended up in our waterways, where it's causing carcinogens in our drinking water.
I was even more shocked to read that despite the state Department of Environmental Protection's regulation of this activity (see DEP Secretary John Hanger's Jan. 6 letter, "Pennsylvania Is Meeting Marcellus Challenges"), DEP cannot account for 20 percent of those 6 million barrels. The department doesn't know where it went!
This situation clearly calls for Pennsylvania to enact cradle-to-grave accounting for Marcellus wastewater so that DEP is certain that those 1.28 million barrels didn't end up in our drinking water as well.
Frankly, Pennsylvania is crazy to allow this dangerous disposal method. If we stopped allowing it in our waterways and if we had cradle-to-grave accounting to track it, we'd be able to drink our water without fear.
As it is, we are all unwilling guinea pigs in the giant public health experiment called drilling for Marcellus Shale gas.
KATE ST. JOHN
PLCB is nonsense
The Post-Gazette has been firmly behind the dismantling of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the state store system, and I applaud this stand. The Dec. 27 editorial "Kiosks Corked: Faulty Machines Are No Match for Free Enterprise" once again explained why the PLCB should be dissolved and the function of selling liquor assigned to the private sector as it is in 48 other states.
Recently on a visit to the state store in Squirrel Hill I shopped for 15 minutes looking at red wines for a party that night.
One civil servant stood firmly at the cash register and others walked by numerous times filling shelves, but never once did anyone acknowledge my presence. This experience contrasted drastically with the extraordinary service I received at a small family-owned liquor store in upstate New York in which I shopped while visiting relatives.
The owner asked me how I was and if she could help. I explained what I needed and the price range. She made several recommendations and then offered her own experience with the wines mentioned. It was such a stark reminder as to why the government should not be in the retail wine business.
Friends outside of Pennsylvania ask how the state permits the sale of guns and cigarettes through privately owned stores but that liquor must be sold by the state. I don't have an answer for that.
Please, Gov.-elect Corbett and the Legislature, bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century and destroy the PLCB.
Samuel Hazo ("Paradigm Lost," Jan. 7 Perspectives) correctly identifies the tainted presidential election of 2000 and the packing of the U.S. Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues as key events that set the stage for a dangerous shift away from fundamental principles and practices of American democracy.
The same theory of government that accepts a judicial decision as a surrogate for the sovereign will of the American people led directly to serious abuses of power committed under the administration of George W. Bush. Likewise, when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations enjoy the same rights to political "speech" as citizens, this set the stage for a 2010 midterm election that propelled a new cadre of libertarian ideologues into the U.S. Congress.
As Mr. Hazo points out, actions have significant consequences and represent more than merely a progression of disjointed events. For the American people, the ramifications of the past decade are especially ominous. At a point in history when citizens desperately need their government to actively promote the general welfare, Washington remains firmly in the grip of career politicians of both parties who no longer view voters as their main constituency.
This poses a serious threat to the survival of a democratic society and indicates that the U.S. ship of state will continue to be steered toward wrongheaded "solutions" to challenges that grow more daunting by the day.
Interesting column by Ruth Ann Dailey on redemption ("Take This Quarterback Redemption Test," Jan. 10). What bothers me the most is that after their boorish, selfish, outrageous behavior, these clowns (Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick) get their multimillion-dollar jobs back! There are other talented athletes waiting to take their places.
I'm newly retired from 35 years of teaching and, yes, these sports figures are role models. So bad behavior is redeemable, but role models who choose to embarrass themselves and their representative roles in society should not be placed in the spotlight again!
That is not the teachable moment we want to have.
Our group's goals
We appreciate the insightful way in which the Post-Gazette covered our recent Downtown March and Rally for Peace in Sudan ("Activists Call for Peace in Sudan," Jan. 5) and the trip Sunday of South Sudanese from Pittsburgh to Alexandria, Va., to take part in the historic referendum ("Area Sudanese Travel to Virginia to Vote," Jan. 10). The stories demonstrate that Pittsburghers care about and are impacted by political and social events seemingly so remote.
Permit me, however, to clear away one misimpression that may arise out of the Jan. 10 article. Neither I nor the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition advocates for Darfur independence in the wake of the South Sudan vote. From the beginning we have sought protection for the survivors of a genocide, humanitarian aid and peace with accountability in Darfur. We do not know what shape the future will take for the Darfuris. We are here to support outcomes consistent with justice and humanity. But it is for the people of Darfur in the west of Sudan, as right now for their sisters and brothers in South Sudan, to choose their path forward.
Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition
Our lion in winter
We're writing in response to the photograph taken by the Post-Gazette's Darrell Sapp ("The Lion in Winter," Jan. 8).
What a lovely surprise to open the morning paper to see one of our two lions photographed. Each day coming home, we pass these two lordly looking statues. To see one of them photographed on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is a very special tribute to their many years as a welcome into our home and the smiles they have brought to others as they pass our home.
Thank you, Post-Gazette, from the lions and their keepers.
CAROL L. VICINI
DAVID M. PALMER
Parking assets lease would have been a good bet
I think it's too bad we didn't seize the opportunity to lease the parking garages and meters to private investors for 50 years. Technological changes in car economics and technology are imminent, and there may be unpredicted changes in parking economics of the kind that investment guru John Bogle calls "black swans."
Oil prices are rising even when the U.S. economy is weak, due to global demand. Rare earth metals are crucial to electric car technologies, but much of the supply lies overseas, and the future economics of rare earth metals is not fully understood.
U.S. citizens, only 5 percent of the world's population, are losing ground economically as our businesses go global. More than 87 percent of Coca-Cola employees now live overseas, 72 percent of sales are overseas, and the company just invested $2 billion in China.
Given all that, it's not unreasonable to suspect that economic, and possibly environmental, concerns will gradually force us to rely less on cars and more on public transportation. I think there's at least a 50-50 chance that Downtown Pittsburgh parking revenue isn't going to remain a cash cow for the next 50 years.
SARAH E. FLANDERS
First Published January 14, 2011 12:00 am