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Thursday, July 17, 2003

Readers' Views


Convergys-type deals hurt us all

TO THE EDITOR:

In regards to the city's Convergys tax deal and all the similar deals done in every state, I think there should be a federal law making them illegal. That is the only way to be fair to all the existing businesses and startup small businesses that get left out of these sweet deals. They turn city against city and state against state. Soon every big company will want a tax deal and the poor homeowner will be left holding the bag. Everybody pays taxes or nobody pays taxes.

Jeff Monroe, West Chester Township

Homeless people could evoke sympathy

I knew when Richard Witherspoon's tent went up at the Third Street exit off Interstate 71 that its presence there on that concrete ledge would lead to the eviction of everyone on the ledge. It doesn't seem to matter that everyone on the ledge is also on the edge - on the edge of poverty but generally just down on his or her luck.

It wasn't a bad residence either, providing some protection not from the cold but at least from rain and snow. Moreover it kept Witherspoon's family together; isn't there something to be said for that? The real issue of having a homeless shelter under the interstate ramp is image, isn't it? People must think Cincinnati has a problem dealing with homelessness.

I'm sorry the Witherspoon's family tent annoyed Mayor Luken. As for the encampment being a distraction to drivers? Balderdash. We're supposed to be going 25-miles an hour anyway as we round that curve.

Many of us are fortunate enough to own cars, buy gas to fuel them, and drive through the tunnel heading home, to work, to a ball game, a restaurant, or another pleasurable place which isn't free.

Perhaps realizing by seeing homeless people there on the edge on the ledge might evoke sympathy and even a desire to help do something about it, not annoyance.

Jane Ruhmkorff, Downtown

Advocates should open homes to homeless

I have a suggestion to alleviate the homeless problem. Let the advocates and demonstrators each take a homeless person home and camp in their back yards. That way the bleeding hearts could keep an eye on them so their rights wouldn't get violated, and they could have them in for meals. They could store all their belongings in their homes until they get a place of their own.

Michael Bootes, Colerain Township

Killing AmeriCorps would be too drastic

A nearly invisible but demonstrably effective work force is in danger of being drastically reduced, and I am afraid people may only recognize its importance when it is no longer there. That work force is the thousands of AmeriCorps members nationwide who tutor, rehab homes and help provide basic medical care and other social services in poor neighborhoods. In exchange, they receive a yearly stipend under $10,000 and an education award under $5,000. Many are young adults with college educations; some are established professionals who have put aside their careers for a year or two. Where else could you get so much for so little?

I do not understand all of the ins and outs of AmeriCorps' accountability problems. However, it seems as if less drastic measures could be taken to correct them, measures that will not end up punishing the already vulnerable populations AmeriCorps members serve. It will be much harder to replace the services provided than to correct whatever must be corrected to put AmeriCorps on sound financial footing. Register your support at www.saveamericorps.org.

Therese Shuler, Independence

Head Start program must be maintained

Head Start cuts are shortsighted. Not too long ago the separate budget for the food program in Head Start was reduced and the remainder listed as an increase in the general Head Start budget. Today we need a genuine increase in money for children - not federal and state cuts and more camouflage. The question printed in the Enquirer was, "Are disadvantaged children served by Head Start doing as well as middle-income children?"

The proposed answer and question are unfair. Repeated research from several studies has shown a very positive "yes" to improvement through preschool programs for disadvantaged children. (See Weikart, Gordon etc., 1997). The question should be, "Are the children doing better than a comparable disadvantaged group without preschool?" My favorite study that answered this question was Weikart's study of preschool effect. The study stretches from the '60s to the present. Initially for every $1,000 invested, $4,000 was returned. Later results were that "for $1 invested, $7.16 was returned."

Improvements for the children are:

• Fewer children in preschool repeat grades later.

• More children from those who attended preschool graduate.

• More children who had preschool get jobs.

• General literacy is higher for those who attend preschool. Even grandchildren show these differences, and smaller changes support big ones.

For example, more of the grandchildren use the library regularly. With preschool we not only have improved adults, we save public money.

Please do not continue to cut money for Head Start, but do help support our children's Head Start program.

Margaret Cantrell, Professor emeritus, Northern Kentucky University

Other schools' athletes have book trouble

How can the editorial ("Ohio State/Student athletes: Clarify Clarett issue" July 18) be so critical of Ohio State when the exact same academic ineptitude is occurring right here at the University of Cincinnati? The reputation of the academics of the athletic program at UC is dismal at best, and looked down upon by nearly everyone outside of Cincinnati for a variety of reasons.

UC has demonstrated a proven record of terrible graduation rates, repeated legal troubles, and inexcusable sideline antics by their basketball coach (getting ejected from an NCAA tournament game), as well as being placed on NCAA probation. Yet the Enquirer questions one alleged, and to this point unfounded, incident involving an Ohio State player. An old saying probably would be most appropriate in this situation, "Don't throw stones if you live in a glass house."

Stephen Smith, Clifton

Until city rights self, people will leave

This is in response to both the reorganization of Ohio schools and the movement of Convergys. Perhaps if not for the ridiculousness of Cincinnati, the city would not be in these kinds of trouble. In place are sclerotic institutions such as our "strong mayor" and paralytic City Council.

Cincinnatians, while secure in their conservatism, readily engage in contradictory fiscal policies that continually see businesses and entertainers avoid and flee this area. The so-called improvements to the urban areas send more of the underclass to the suburbs and force the middle class of Cincinnati to Butler and Warren Counties. So until Cincinnatians wake up and begin to take responsibility for the state of this community as a whole, the industrial and social hollowing of this once fine city will continue.

Jessie Beyrer, Oxford

We won Iraq war; have faith in freedom

I disagree with columnist DeWayne Wickham ("Iraq could be Bush quagmire," July 14). America lost Vietnam but won Iraq. For some Iraqis, the war is not over because they think Saddam Hussein is alive. Muslims like myself pray our troops will come home soon, and we have faith the Iraqi people will continue to embrace their newly won freedom.

Harold Johnson Jr., Bond Hill

Education system short-changes men

This Tuesday the Tempo section included an article, "Test preparation expert sees gender gap in SAT." The article summarized the opinions expressed by Alexandra Freer who works for the Princeton Review, in her book, "Girls guide to the SAT: tips and techniques for closing the gender gap."Freer tells us that females tend to score about 40 points lower than males on the important standardized test.

Freer surmises that this gap means the SAT are biased against female test takers. She says, "The test fails in its purpose" because, while girls tend to score lower on the SAT their overall scholastic performance is actually better than that of male students. The inference is that because girls achieve generally superior scholastic results the test must be discriminatory towards females.

However, it is likely our system of education is biased against males. In fact, while tests like the SAT are a completely objective measuring stick for knowledge, our school system relies on teachers who can be subjective and fickle. These results disturb me not because they indicate that standardized tests short-change young women, but because they indicate our system of education short-changes young men.

Perhaps the SAT isn't sexist; perhaps the young men that took the test had prepared for it better, or (dare I say), were simply more intelligent than their female counterparts.

Brad Vance, Bridgetown

It's unfair to tax alarm systems

While the city is busy negotiating deals with corporations to stay in the city, they are charging homeowners with alarm systems $50 biannually, and there's an actual paid alarm commissioner's position. If the city would keep crime under control, there wouldn't be a need for alarm systems.

So do I sock money into improving my property in the city or do I move out? What if a coalition of homeowners threatens to move out of the city? Would council be giving us over tax law-abiding citizens a sweet deal? I love my house, but it is disheartening to drive three or four streets down and see East Berlin all over again.

My family's decision to stay or go is a tough one, because I know many in this community are working hard to get the open-air drug trafficking, prostitution, and litter, overgrown weeds and slumlords out.

Judi Houchens, Northside



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