Sounding off: Let’s trade Billionaire Bob

February 11, 2018 GMT

I applaud the editorial “Pirates owner ignores fans’ anger at his peril” and Kevin Gorman’s excellent “Pirates owner Bob Nutting now face of franchise,” about “Bottom-line Bob.” Each piece highlights fan disappointment and concludes that fans have few recourses in getting Billionaire Bob to improve fan and taxpayer return on investment with PNC Park.

The articles and 50,000-signature petition will do little to change the business approach, as evidenced by Pirates President Frank Coonelly’s recent “speech” on a local radio station. Fans are wasting their time directing their ire toward Nutting. Instead, they should take to task nonelected Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) officials to amend the PNC Park lease to include performance incentives similar to many other business arrangements.

Why do we have the SEA? Because Pittsburgh taxpayers contributed $176 million of the $216 million — almost 82 percent — to construct PNC Park. This is a massive public subsidy to the 10th richest owner in baseball — money that could have been spent educating our youth, housing our homeless or plowing our snow-covered streets.

The SEA has a fiduciary duty to oversee the use of taxpayer money. If that doesn’t work, maybe the fans can trade Billionaire Bob to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Cuban and “future considerations.”

Kevin White, Murrysville

Thursday, Feb. 8

A solution to our divisions

We always seem to be fighting a war, justifiably or stupidly.

Lyndon B. Johnson started the war on poverty; we are losing. Gov. Tom Wolf declared a war on drugs; we will not win.

Liberals are at war against our national anthem, and a teenage girls basketball team has joined them; disgraceful. Young people are at war against authority; no discipline at home or in school.

It was not always like this. The solution is simple yet quite unlikely to be revitalized. We must put prayer back into our children’s lives by, heaven forbid, praying in school; allowing teachers to “punish” misbehaving students; allowing parents to “punish” their own children; teaching “respect” for all in authority. History has proven that when they took God out of our schools, all hell broke loose.

As a country, we must turn back to God or it will only get worse. The parents of this new generation have to look back in time to see what it used to be. It was happier, safer, healthier, politer and Godlier. If you can’t see, open your heart.

God, please bless America again.

The Rev. Tony Joseph, Johnstown

The writer is pastor of St. Stephen Orthodox Church, Unity, and St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church, Ligonier Township.

Sunday, Feb. 4

Pipeline reversal is bad for consumers

As leaders of companies that serve countless Pennsylvanians each day, we couldn’t disagree more with the column “Going with the flow: Energy policies that benefit consumers.”

If the Laurel Pipeline is reversed, the exact opposite will occur: Consumers will lose because of higher prices and fewer choices. The only winners will be Buckeye Partners and the Midwestern refiners that would gain a captive market in Western Pennsylvania — not Pennsylvania families, businesses and workers.

There is little upside but plenty of downside to the proposed reversal. Midwest refiners already have access to Pennsylvania markets and currently compete with supply from the East Coast. For eight months per year, East Coast supply is actually cheaper.

The reversal would eliminate competition from the East Coast — which, in turn, would leave Western Pennsylvania solely dependent on Midwest refiners. Less competition means higher at-the-pump prices for consumers.

The reversal also threatens the jobs of thousands of employees at the Philadelphia-area refineries that have served Pennsylvania for over a half-century.

Eliminating East Coast supply would leave Western Pennsylvania vulnerable to supply shortages and price spikes if and when there are disruptions at Midwest refineries or on Midwest pipelines. In fact, Midwest refiners already struggle to meet Midwestern demand today.

There is no rational argument supporting Buckeye’s claim of lower prices for consumers. If the reversal were truly a win for consumers, we would be the first to support it.

Mike Lorenz, Altoona

Polly Flinn, O’Hara

Lorenz is executive vice president of Sheetz Inc.; Flinn is senior vice president and general manager of Giant Eagle-GetGo.

Monday, Feb. 5

Peduto’s skills outdated

Regarding “Peduto says Pittsburgh ‘clearly needs to do a much better job’ removing snow”: While the mayor wishes to appear as if he is doing something (similar to his liberal progressive puppetmasters), all he is doing is stating the obvious. His problem-solving skills with regard to clearing snow are as outdated and stinky as three-day-old fish.

Perhaps he should think outside the snow shovel a little. Our brothers to the north are: Some Canadian municipalities are using beet juice to keep their roads free of ice.

G. McMarlin, Shaler

Tuesday, Feb. 6

We can’t afford MAWC

Regarding the article “Westmoreland authority raises water rates, says no need for auditor general oversight”: The citizens of Westmoreland County can’t continue to take the one-two punches dealt to us. We need Senate Bill 597, which would give the state auditor general the power to audit municipal authorities.

The paying public can’t afford how the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County is spending money. The 39-percent increase over the last three years is out of line, and the board should be made to account for such increases. County residents are lucky if their income receives a 1- or 2-percent increase.

Citizens cut their spending to pay for living expenses, but this board doesn’t care, as members’ thoughts are, “Just pass this on to the paying public, and they will adjust.” We can’t adjust much more. Deciding whether to buy food so we are not hungry, pay utility bills so we can stay warm, buy medicine so we stay healthy or buy gas for the car so we can go to work— wow, isn’t it great to be in a situation where it is one or the other? Very disheartening.

Jo Ann Valetti, Unity

Wednesday, Feb. 7

Teaching kids or enriching educators?

What we tolerate from the public education system and teachers unions’ strike-threat extortion tactics is ridiculous and defies logic.

The Deer Lakes School District has a stellar C+ rating and is 54th of 74 in the Pittsburgh metro area in a 2018 ranking — the height of mediocrity. So, we reward that performance with huge raises, far and above the cost of living and further burdening taxpayers, especially those on fixed incomes (“Deer Lakes teachers get 5-year contract, annual pay hike of 4%”). Performance means nothing and accountability is nonexistent; contract parity with other districts alone dictates salaries.

The hours per day and days per year teachers work could almost qualify as part time. Yet we pay salaries commensurate with those of responsible executives who work long hours and days and who are constantly under pressure to perform. With all the sick days, personal days and whatever other days off, educators barely work half of the year. And so, we have now knocked another four days off of that.

Mail-order degrees demand huge salary increases while having no effect on classroom performance.

The priority of educating children appears to have long since been supplanted by the goal of making educators wealthy with the least amount of effort.

They say you get what you pay for. Not in this case. Great respect for public education has turned into great resentment.

Bob McBride, West Deer

Friday, Feb. 9

No more silence for abuse victims

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have heard the constant, horrific stories of sexual abuse by people of all ages, from all walks of life and socioeconomic levels.

There is shock and disbelief when someone accused of sexual abuse is an authority figure or has been lauded within the community. This reaction, I believe, has less to do with the crime itself and more with our shaken trust in such a person and our systems: “How could this happen? He/she comes from such a good background and has achieved so much, it must be a mistake. No way could this have happened that many years ago; someone would have known before now.”

We are seeing a change in how sexual-abuse crimes are handled. While many people are still reluctant to come forward to share their stories, there is an ever-growing number of women and men who are choosing to no longer be victims. Their voices are shattering the silence surrounding sexual abuse. The sheer number of victims is much greater than most of us could have ever imagined or wanted to imagine.

Our trust has been shaken, and that is a good thing. We must be constantly aware that sexual abuse — in all its forms — is commonplace. Instead of doubting its victims, we must focus on better and ever-evolving methods of prevention, education and awareness. Any victim’s silence needs to become a relic of past generations.

George F. Aul, Belle Vernon

Saturday, Feb. 10