Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Readers' Views

Neighborhoods, downtown linked


City Council passed a deal to keep Convergys in downtown. That is terrific. I first reported to council on the need to keep Convergys more than a year ago. The city manager and I have been working on it for that long. It is good for Cincinnati.

What is not good is the negativity some injected into the "Downtown vs. Neighborhood" debate. In fact, David Pepper is quoted as saying he wants a wall between downtown and neighborhoods when it comes to money. The implication is that we take from neighborhoods for downtown.

If we build a wall, our neighborhoods are the big losers. Tens of millions of dollars are generated each year from our downtown and poured into neighborhoods. The need for a strong and vibrant downtown is driven, primarily, by our desire to fund services for neighborhoods like police, fire, health, parks, recreation and others.

The Convergys debate, mostly constructive, proves one thing above others: The future of downtown and the health of neighborhoods are tied at the hip. We have turned some important corners in our city over the past six months. By my count, we have begun projects that will bring about one thousand new homes to Cincinnati neighborhoods.

Let's keep our momentum going. No walls needed.

Charlie Luken, Mayor of Cincinnati


Air travelers tired of paying high fares

Again the powers at the airport should be proud we rank No. 2 in the highest airfares in the country. The Delta argument that is we are higher for the convenience of being a hub, but 56 percent higher seems a little excessive. We will hear the airport board say we have tried to get a low-cost carrier, but anyone with an ounce on intelligence will know that the board will do nothing to aggravate Delta.

Those of us who travel on business and pay our own way travel to Dayton, Columbus, Louisville and Indianapolis and save thousands of dollars a year. Sure, I would like to fly out of Cincinnati, but to pay double, triple or even higher fares is insane. This argument falls on deaf ears, and we have lived with this fact for years, and I am sure nothing will happen to change the stranglehold Delta has at our airport.

Gene Hendel, West Chester


We must raise graduation rates

Recently, The New York Times reported the dropout problem in the Houston public schools. The article mentioned a study of 1998 graduation rates by the Manhattan Institute. A review of this study revealed shocking statistics. The overall national graduation rate is only 71 percent. Further a breakdown by race illustrates an alarming disparity: white, 78 percent; African-American, 54 percent.

The study provided rankings by state and the 50 largest school districts. Ohio, with a 77 percent graduation rate ranked 16th overall but dropped to 34th when ranking only African-American students with a 49 percent rate. Sadly, Cleveland and Columbus were in the bottom five of the 50 districts. Cleveland had the worse graduation rate in the nation at 28 percent. On a local note the Cincinnati Public Schools reported an increase in the graduation rate in 2003 to 60 percent from 49 percent in 1999.

Clearly the graduation rates are unacceptable. Fixing public education must be at the top of our national agenda. The status quo cannot be an alternative.

Louis Buschle, Downtown


Feds shouldn't tinker with Head Start

Thanks, Linda Cagnetti, for an informative article ("Everybody wins when children do well," July 27). It is important to attempt to involve the whole community to improve the education of our children. In addition to the ideas being generated by the national movement of "Success by 6," please consider the Head Start program.

At this moment, Congress is debating what to do with Head Start. For nearly 40 years it has been an effective program geared to pre-schoolers and their families. One unique aspect of Head Start is that the federal funding goes directly to the community schools without filtering money through the states. Head Start can be improved especially in two areas: Making certain all teachers and staff are fully trained and making certain that all families with eligible children are aware of the program. I believe concentrating on those areas could strengthen the program.

The funding should not be changed to go through the states. We need to urge our legislators to make Head Start more effective, not to tinker with the funding channels.

Donna Dansker, Wyoming


Late Bengal Dillon has no good excuse

For all the money the three-time Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon makes a year, one would think he would be on time for the team's mandatory meeting ("Dillon a late arrival after missing flight," July 28). The excuse of missed flight from the West Coast is not acceptable.

Dillon should have been here days before preparing for the 2003 season. No doubt he would be on time to pick up his multimillion dollar payroll check.

Coach Lewis should fine Dillon the $5,000 (drop in the bucket) for his unexcused absence. Dillon is sending the wrong message to Coach Lewis, the team and fans of the Bengals by his tardiness.

A new head coach and staff, new players and a new attitude is exactly what the Bengals need. I have tremendous faith in Coach Lewis. I believe the Bengals will make it to the playoffs this year because of his strengths and work ethic. Let's hope Dillon's cavalier attitude doesn't diminish our dreams, again.

Victor P. Fabro, East Price Hill


For success, read to your children

After a child's basic emotional and physical needs are met, the single greatest thing you can do to help a child is to read to them. Surround them with books and language. Let part of the daily routine include reading. Turn off the TV and turn on Dr. Seuss. Exposing children to language at a young age is extremely stimulating to their minds. Young children have a natural love of language, and when an adult they love reads to them it's like magic.

Reading forges synapses; it makes them think; it teaches them about the world; it makes them wonder. It's practically free, you can do it anywhere, and it is life changing.

Alisa Fisher, Anderson Township


Lynch's rescuers are indeed heroes

I read retired Col. Dave Francis' letter on July 27 stating that Pvt. Jessica Lynch did not earn the title of hero. While I'm sure we all appreciate Col. Francis' service to his country, he could not be more wrong.

Private Lynch left her home to do her duty in war. She followed the orders of her commander (the wisdom of which bears no reflection on her). She survived serious injuries until brave soldiers rescued her. She returned home to rehabilitate and through it all maintained a smile and positive attitude. I think she earned her title.

Contrary to Col. Francis' assertion, the soldiers who rescued her and their actions have been celebrated. We don't know all their names, but they are elite forces still in the theater of operations. In my mind, anyone who volunteers to step into harm's way in service of his or her country is a hero. Fortunately, we are free to choose our own heroes regardless of the opinions of others.

Rob Lewis, Price Hill


Music is just part church atmosphere

The letter writer's complaining about rock 'n' roll music in the church are missing the meaning of what the church is all about ("Modern worship like rock concert," July 27). The mission of the Christian church is for people to understand that God loves them, that sin separates us from God, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for forgiveness of sin, and we are to spread this good news to all we meet.

The mission of the church is the same whether you like hymns, contemporary Christian music or no music at all.

Bob Evans, Loveland

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