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Saturday, April 19, 2003

Readers' Views


Choices, not service make America great

TO THE EDITOR: I commend Local Voices columnists Kurt Borne's service to our country ("Serve first, then protest" April 16) in the military and the peace corpse. But, the paths of service that he chose were just that - choices. And, that is one of the great things about this country of ours that citizens of many other counties don't enjoy.

Every American has the right to choose, feel, think and say whatever we want as long as our thoughts feelings, words and actions don't hurt anyone else. I happen to think that it's okay for a person to dislike another person or group for whatever reason. It's okay to think that this religion is better than that one. It would even be okay if you thought that you were more of an American than someone who hadn't made the patriotic choices that you had made.

Protesters have the right to express their thoughts or feelings and you have the right to turn a deaf ear or change the channel or skip their interview. You also have the right to take your feelings and or opinions to a higher level and express yourself by turning and walking away. Borne didn't say that the war protesters should serve their country before they protest, but he sure made it sound as though serving their country would give them as much right as he to have an opinion. Maybe he's right; that doesn't make me wrong. Maybe I'm right: that doesn't make him wrong. That in and of itself is the beauty of what America is all about.

James Smith, Colerain Township

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Local Voices columnist wrong about protesters

In his Local Voices column ("Serve first, then protest" April 16), Kurt Borne puts forward the spooky notion that only those who have served in the military should be taken seriously in the debate over invading Iraq. Does Mr. Borne extend his reasoning to the Bush administration's most outspoken hawks, few of whom ever served a day of military service?

Since Mr. Borne gives so much weight to the views of those who served, I'll identify myself as a veteran who served proudly with the First Marine Division. I rooted for the division's safety as it rolled into Baghdad, even as I realized that President Bush had brushed off alternatives that might have made the invasion unnecessary.

Saddam is gone, and gone riddance. But isn't it strange that a tyrant, under siege because he supposedly possessed weapons of mass destruction, had to rely on paramilitaries and suicide bombers - not that elusive arsenal - to defend his dying regime?

Had the administration provided full support to the UN inspectors instead of ridiculing their efforts and ordering them aside, we might have determined whether Saddam possessed such weapons before we launched a war that has alienated most of the world, weakened our economy and torn our nation into polarized factions.

Don Bedwell, Madeira

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'New' slogan won't solve old problems

Some thoughts and possible associations about Cincinnati's new slogan:

New York, New Orleans, New Cincinnati

The Big Apple, The Big Easy, The Big Loser

Richard Kaufman

"New" Bridgetown

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Increasing secrecy in U.S. undercuts freedom

Increasing secrecy in government is inconsistent with principles of democracy and free enterprise. Even before 9-11, increased secrecy characterized the Bush White House. Vice President Dick Cheney's energy policy was an early example of decision-making under wraps. More recent examples include negotiations of contracts for defense and postwar rebuilding of Iraq (Enquirer editorial, April 7).

Homeland security legislation grants the government greater access to our personal lives while the government seeks to hide more of its actions; this is a very bad balance.

Free citizens in a democracy can select their best government only if they have free access to information about the actions of candidates and current officeholders. When government leaders seek to hide information about current or even past actions, citizens cannot judge their actions. Leaders are humans, and like the rest of us, our leaders usually keep secrets because their actions may be embarrassing at best, self-serving or illegal at worse.

We expect our government to honestly use our economic system to our advantage. With few exceptions, an open process will provide our country, including our military, with the highest quality materials and expertise at the lowest cost.

America has terrific economic and political systems. Increasing secrecy in government will undercut our strength in the market place and the battlefield. Increasing secrecy will undercut our credibility as a country. Increasing secrecy will undercut our freedom.

David Rice, Blue Ash

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Protect Shawnee forest, ban logging

Shawnee State Forest, near Portsmouth, is in desperate need of help. For decades the forest has been managed primarily for the purpose of logging. The forest uses buffers of trees to hide the raped land. As well, loggers use the bridle trails for access. However, it is obvious behind the buffers that Shawnee is becoming a desolate land. State forests are only three percent of Ohio's woodlands - consequently logging should not be allowed in our forests.

Recently an ice storm hit parts of Shawnee. Now, more than 20,000 acres will be opened up to loggers. New logging roads will be built in an already plagued forest. The forest roadways and bridle trails should be cleaned up. New logging roads should not be built. Furthermore, House Bill 87 gave the Division of Forestry 20 percent of the proceeds from the salvaging for next two years, therefore giving them an incentive to log.

Please sign and mail this letter to your representative and senator immediately. Tell them to stop the building of additional logging roads in Shawnee and to end any future logging in our forests. And ask them to vote no on upcoming legislation that will permanently give monies from every timber sale to the division.

Cheryl Carpenter, Lucasville

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Reds ballpark needs to tap local brews

I have to agree with the architects' comments concerning Great American Ball Park. I wanted to love it but what's with the ugly tin shack in left-center field? It looks cheap and out of place. It's true that there isn't a bad seat in the place but the park just doesn't offer anything breathtaking or uniquely Cincinnati.

Compared to Camden Yards, Comerica Park or the Ballpark at Arlington, which celebrate their unique local heritage in the architecture and food, Reds fans were shortchanged with a bland, bare-basics park that falls short of the pack.

Finally, out of the hundreds of beer taps at the park, would it kill them to offer a few flavorful local beers? There are at least eight wonderful styles of BarrelHouse beer and four types of Christian Moerlein available in this city. Even a couple of those fine beers would make up for a lot and would contribute to the uniqueness factor. The Reds have the worst beer selection in either league.

Paul Abrams, Mainville

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How can schools afford buyout deal?

In the next few weeks, Cincinnatians will be asked to approve a bond issue that provides monies for building renovations of the Cincinnati Public Schools. There is no doubt that the need exists. CPS officials claim that if Cincinnati doesn't have all its local money in hand by August, it will have lost its place in the eligibility line for matching funds. Fair enough. But if money is being so carefully accounted for, how is it that Jan Leslie was able to strike a mother lode of cash in her six-figure severance package? ("School employee leaves with $120K-plus severance," April 17). Add approximately $19,000 to that for 54 days of vacation plus the cost of 16 months of health coverage. We should all be so lucky.

So perhaps the bag o' money earmarked for the construction is different from the one used to pay Ms. Leslie's jackpot winnings. But from an appearances standpoint, I imagine many people are wondering, Who is handling the budget at the Board of Education? And do I want to endorse more of my money being spent in such a frivolous manner when May 6 arrives?

I'd be more inclined to support a bond issue if I felt those in charge were handling the purse strings in a more responsible fashion.

Paul R. Anson, Mount Lookout

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Celebrate Earth Day with universal prayer

How wonderful it would be if we celebrated Earth Day by saying the prayer "Please God, bless this Earth and all who inhabit it, and bring peace and love to everyone, not just to Americans.

Colleen Ernst, Loveland

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Bush's budget plan far from compassionate

Recent articles highlight the Bush administration's claim that its domestic agenda is based on compassionate conservatism. As I look at the president's proposed budget for 2004, I wonder where to find the compassion. The administration says that its funding levels are a 4 percent increase from the previous years. However, when you remove the increases for defense and homeland security, the new funding levels do not even account for inflation.

I believe that true compassion means providing security for the most vulnerable in society. A compassionate budget would fully fund our nation's human needs programs, such as health care, affordable housing, social safety net programs, and unemployment insurance.

Instead, the president's budget proposes restructuring some of the most effective domestic programs, such as Medicare and Section 8 housing vouchers. The president also proposes enormous tax cuts that would mainly benefit the richest Americans. For the price of these tax cuts, the nation could provide health care for 35 million people who could otherwise not afford it.

I believe the budget is a moral document that reflects our nation's priorities. We must not forget those among us who are vulnerable.

Catherine Holtkamp, Office of Peace and Justice, Congregation of the Sisters Of Divine Providence, Melbourne, Ky.

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Good idea on patient privacy goes too far

Congress has taken a good idea about patient privacy and worked it to death. Patient privacy is to be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act according to the April 6 article "Health-care workers brace for new privacy rules"). Don't worry says the government, a small practice can comply for under $10,000. Remember those privacy statements you got from the bank, stockbrokers and insurance companies? If you're like the rest of us, they get thrown out unread.

As of April 14, every health care provider has to create a customized privacy document several pages long, full of scary and complicated legal jargon. Even nursing home patients will get these complex agreements. Every patient will have to sign a receipt. Why didn't Congress come up with a simple universal statement of privacy covering all physicians? Millions of contracts are also being written for billing services, computer geeks, typists, nursing homes and others to get a pledge they won't abuse information they might come across. Was this a problem? Will a contract help? The regulations are 1,700 pages, a bonanza for lawyers and a pain for medical providers.

Douglas Katchen, Clifton

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Gov. Taft: Gimme tax break, not penalty

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read Gov. Taft's letter to the editor ("Governor responds to Enquirer story," April 3) refuting a report that he supposedly has plans to expand state government.

The idea of repealing the state income tax agreements with Kentucky is a horrible one. Obviously, your bored bean counters in Columbus have persuaded you to punish the Cincinnati area for working across the state line and living in Ohio. Certainly you realize that this would penalize our part of the state in hopes that the revenue would jumpstart Ohio's economy. What an unfair burden you propose to hand to the working citizens in the Cincinnati metro area. Gimme a tax break.

Joy Schwartz, Mount Washington

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Downtown worth money spent to park

While many of the comments seem valid in Paul Daugherty's April 6 column ("Phony dollar parking another downtown eyesore"), some provoke controversy.

For instance, Daugherty alleges you can't shop in an hour. He struck out on his pitch for reasons that people avoid downtown. Obviously, he underestimates the determination of a shopper.

I always use metered parking spaces. From those spaces on Fifth Street near the entrance to Lazarus, I have an hour to shop in Lazarus or walk across the street to other shops. You'd be surprised what you can accomplish in an hour if you have a goal.

Even from a half-hour metered space on Walnut Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, there's time to go to one of my favorite places - the Reds Dugout Shop.

Besides shopping, who can dispute the value of an hour spent at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County? Plenty of metered spaces surround the library.

Downtown is worth an hour, and more.

Marilyn Shaver, Fort Thomas

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CCV mailing is an attack on values

The Citizens for Community Values recent mailing to Covington residents not only insults the intelligence of Covington residents and city commissioners, it is laughable in its desperation to demonize our gay neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, parishioners, and fellow citizens.

Instead of appearing at the public hearings, the special-interest group CCV chose a cowardly, last-minute mailing that attempts to raise old, disproven myths about gay people and tries to convince us that gay people somehow deserve less rights than the rest of us.

In poll after poll, 75 percent of America say gay people should not be discriminated against at their job or where they live, that they should have the same rights as everyone else. Sadly, too often gay citizens do not have the same rights as everyone else.

I would remind the CCV that discrimination is definitely not a christian or Catholic value, and that the America our troops are protecting from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction is not a country that discriminates against people just because of who they are.

Michael Noyola-Izquierdo, Covington




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