Sounding off: Investing in kids

May 20, 2018 GMT

“State Rep. Frank Dermody advocates for more state funding for pre-school education” was a sharp reminder of Dermody’s continued commitment to making investing in publicly funded pre-K a legislative priority.

According to the Pre-K for PA campaign (prekforpa.org), “Even with recent increases in state funding, there are over 112,900 eligible children who qualify for high-quality, publicly funded pre-K but remain unserved.” Additionally, Pennsylvania ranks 18th of the 30 states investing in pre-K.

If Pennsylvania wants to compete, we must commit to educating our kids. The $40 million investment proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf for the 2018-19 budget will serve 4,400 more kids, which represents forward progress.

We are encouraged by Dermody’s commitment to early-learning expansion, and we hope he will voice his support to fully fund this $40 million investment. It is a relatively small and absolutely necessary step toward reaching more children.

Cheryl Gartley, New Kensington

The writer is owner/director of All Kids Are Special Childcare and Learning Center.

Sad to see Stephen Foster statue go

Stephen Foster wrote beautiful songs. It saddens me to think that the Foster statue had to be removed because a few people were offended by its depiction of a black person sitting at Foster’s feet (“Crews remove controversial Stephen Foster statue in Oakland”). Pittsburghers should be proud of Foster’s accomplishments during his short life. Who is to say that whatever the Pittsburgh Art Commission members decide to install in its place won’t be offensive to another group of people? Aren’t we taking things a little too far?

Dorothea Cremonese, Hempfield

System failed Alex Hribal

I strongly agree with the letter “Give Hribal a chance.” My heart breaks to see Alex Hribal’s life destroyed by a bullying problem that was not addressed. As a result of the bullying, he acted out in anger.

No one died that day. The judge’s harsh 60-year harsh sentence is unbelievable. He should have been tried as a juvenile and afforded mental health treatment. Our justice system failed him. I implore attorneys in the area to offer assistance to his legal team for an appeal.

Judy Wiessbock, Hempfield

Taxpayers deserve free county information

Since 2001, the Allegheny County website has provided property owners with valuable information regarding their properties. The popular site is transparent and has kept the system honest. While not available to the public, the internal county database costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual maintenance and upgrades. The public website contains less information than what county officials and the county appeals board use on a daily basis. It’s time to add some additional features to the free website.

When taxing bodies file appeals on new home-buyers, sales comparables are presented by taxing district attorneys at appeals hearings. The property owner is at a disadvantage because tax dollars provide the county appeal hearing officer and school district attorneys more evidence.

The county must level the playing field in the appeals process and provide taxpayers with more “free” information. For example: Many assessment websites around the country offer a free sales search. This field would assist taxpayers with research for appeal hearings instead of paying someone else to do it. In fact, in 2000, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald wanted the then-home rule government to offer the sales search to the public.

Over 7,300 appeal hearings are being scheduled now. It’s time for Allegheny County to upgrade the free site. It’s the right thing to do.

Mike Suley, Scott

The writer, an assessment consultant, is a former manager of Allegheny County’s Office of Property Assessments.

Simple math: More guns, more killings

In his letter, “Gun-owner facts,” Alan Schultz parrots the usual specious arguments but proposes no solutions. Mental health is indeed an issue, but how do we read people’s minds?

Even if we could take guns from everyone planning a shooting, there would still be many shootings. What about the angry husband who runs out of words with his wife and reaches for that gun which was all too handy? Or the bar fight? Until those moments these shooters were among Schultz’s law-abiding citizens. All criminals were once law-abiding citizens. Children find guns and shoot each other. What about accidents? And suicides, a permanent solution to a temporary problem?

No matter what sophistries the gun lobby might offer to sell more guns, guns are tools for killing, and the more guns we have the more killings there will be. Countries with fewer guns have fewer shootings. Simple math.

The Second Amendment was written for local militias, which were necessary then because there was no centralized army. People needed to hunt for their food because there were no supermarkets. Today there is no reason we need the kinds of modern killing machines that saturate our society, and the framers would never have condoned this situation.

What is this love affair we Americans have with guns? It happens nowhere else in the world. Where do the rights of gun owners end and the rights of others to life, liberty and happiness begin?

Al Duerig, Salem

Mueller probe: Have you no decency?

The Mueller “Russian collusion” investigation should be a warning to all. The investigation is so far removed from its original purpose it should trouble even the most outspoken Trump hater. No right, no relationship, or constitutional protection is sacred.

Almost a year and a half into the Trump administration, and what have we learned? The only collusion seems to be between the Justice Department, its leadership and nefarious sources that provided a false document to begin an investigation for a crime that has no criminal statute. We’ve learned that the former FBI director attempted to clear the deck so there would be no hint of scandal at the start of “President Clinton’s” administration.

The real crime we have discovered is that Donald Trump won the presidential election. This is what troubles the DOJ, which had employees preparing a backup plan, the Democratic party and much of the Republican establishment. For this, we have a DOJ and government willing to destroy the lives of untold citizens, tear the Constitution to pieces and overturn the will of the people.

The Mueller investigation would make the McCarthy hearings seem like a breath of fresh air in the Capitol. How long will Muellerism be allowed to go unchecked? How long before one brave soul steps forward and asks the question Joseph N. Welch asked so many years ago, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

John Gregory Parks, McKeesport

We need Trump

You have to watch the video of President Trump’s speech on Iran. This is what leadership looks like. And I guarantee you China and North Korea are watching.

Trump is willing to use all of America’s economic and military strength to solve the world’s problems. I’m reminded of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who pledged “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.”

Trump didn’t need us. We needed him. And he was there for all of us when history called.

God bless him.

Richard J. Krauland, O’Hara