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Reader feedback 2.9.05 

Sports’ women, AIDS funding, SUV rant


When I saw the headline "Get Schooled" on the cover of City (January 12), I hoped to read about why I should care about my local hoops teams. As I read the article, however, I became increasingly discouraged and disappointed by Mike Doser's lack of respect for and failure to mention any local women's basketball teams.

            Is he aware that St. John Fisher's women's basketball team won the JP Morgan Chase Tournament? Is he aware that women's basketball teams at the University of Rochester, RIT, Nazareth, Brockport, Geneseo, Roberts Wesleyan, and Keuka participated in the tournament as well? There is not one word about any of these great women's teams in his article. There is no schedule for the women, either.

            Do I care? Damn right I care.

            Ramona Santorelli, Girton Place, Rochester


Here we go again. Governor Pataki's executive budget proposal for the new fiscal year is another slap in the face to all New Yorkers who are living with HIV/AIDS. According the World Health Organization, in one 24-hour period, 14,000 people around the globe will contract HIV. Two thousand will be children. To combat this astonishing rate of infection here and around the world, more attention and resources must be paid to the social and economic conditions that allow the spread of this disease, not less.

               Everyone realizes that every level of government has a fiscal crunch. Medicaid costs to county governments are totally out of whack. Tough decisions have to be made. And after all, we are paying for a war. However, to make health care less of a priority is not only unthinkable, it's plain stupidity.

               If Pataki's plan is implemented, the budget cuts, when combined with other proposed health-care cuts, will restrict access to life-saving medicine, create extraordinary barriers to health care, increase co-payments for prescription drugs (which, it has been shown, will make those on Medicaid less likely to fill their prescriptions), and eliminate benefits for the working poor, who need these services to stay healthy.

               Approximately 65,000 New Yorkers who are presently living with HIV/AIDS depend on Medicaid for their health coverage. AIDS Rochester, an agency that relies on state funding, served nearly 700 clients from the local community during September and October 2004. Global patterns linking poverty and abuse of women's rights to the spread of the disease also appear in Rochester.

               Additionally, the Rochester Area Taskforce on AIDS reports that local women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse are much more likely to contract HIV. This is a clear sign that more should be done to protect the vulnerable.

               Albany should take the lead in helping fight this disease, but sadly, Pataki continues to disenfranchise by doing less.

               The governor's budget proposal also omits funding that was promised in previous years by the State Legislature. By imposing a preferred-drug program without adequate consumer protection, Pataki is once again marginalizing the poor, people of color, and other at-risk communities.

               I urge readers ask Governor George Pataki to restore $10 million to the budget for HIV/AIDS services, to reflect legislative additions made in previous years. Health care to the sick should not be a luxury item. These proposed cuts will devastate all recent advancements we have made in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

               We are still losing people in the prime of life, right here in Rochester. They are your neighbors, co-workers, and family. We must all urge our local officials to understand that health care in Rochester and Monroe County is still a priority.

               There is a 30-day period for budget amendments. Time is critical. The quality of life for your brothers and sisters depends on it.

               Ove Overmyer, East Main Street, Rochester


I've read Jennifer Loviglio's "Baby, You Can Drive My Tank" column several times (XX Files, February 2), hoping to see some indication that she was kidding. So far, nothing. In web-based discussions, the author of such an article is called a "troll," and I suspect she'll be very successful in catching other fish besides me.

            The outcome of her accident seems to be as good as could be expected, regardless of the type of vehicle she owned. She was driving a Volvo, her airbags worked, and she and her son are still alive. What more could she want? To have a pig of a vehicle so the other driver would've been killed? Granted, I believe lousy drivers should be thrown into cages with hungry tigers, but realistically, there are better ways to make the other driver's life miserable.

            A company just south of Rochester teaches radical accident-avoidance techniques. It's done using your own car. It's not one of those lame defensive-driving classes where people sit around complaining about their last three speeding tickets. I have no idea if there's anything Loviglio could've done, even if she were a Hollywood stunt driver, but such a course might give her the sense of power she wants right now. She's welcome to contact me for the name of the company.

            Surely Loviglio knows that the vast majority of SUVs are owned by people who will never use them in ways that utilize their special mechanical features (off-road travel, towing, etc). She also knows that they are of little or no advantage on very slippery roads. The nature of their design is precisely why they get such awful gas mileage, and why it's just plain stupid to own one unless you truly need their special abilities. Why would she want to join a club whose membership is largely stupid?

            I'd suggest she rent a car for a month until she regains her senses. It won't cost much more than the first month's worth of fuel for the hog-mobile she's dreaming of.

            Douglas Kanter, Irondequoit

Does Loviglio want to teach her children that the illusion of safety is more important than taking responsibility for real safety? It turns out that SUVs are more dangerous, use more fuel, and are made of more raw materials than other vehicles. Everyone knows this. The only reason there are so many of them on the road is good marketing of fear. Oh, yeah; there are phallic reasons, but they can be ignored in this situation.

            As a bike rider, I see up close how the combination of perceived safety, poor handling, and large size add up to an immediate danger to me. It certainly warms my heart that Loviglio "feels safe" up there and feels me as a mere bump under her wheels.      I've never owned a car in my life. I'm saving my money for a highly modified, street-legal Sherman tank. It will come equipped with flashing lights, a warning Klaxon, a cell-phone scrambler, and hermetically sealed, Buckminster Fuller-designed ejectable escape-spheres for my children.

            America is getting safer and safer....

            Arthur Ratnik, Rosedale Street, Rochester

Jennifer Loviglio is reaching for the wrong answer when she thinks that the larger and heavier SUVs will protect her. Vehicles that properly crush to absorb impact, while keeping the passenger compartment safe to protect the occupants, as did hers, are vastly superior to vehicles that either crush into the passenger compartment or resist crushing and thereby transfer the force of impact to the passengers. Essentially what you want is for the vehicle to give up its life for the life of the passengers.

            Further, giving a "tank" to an inexperienced (teen-aged or otherwise) driver may not be signing their death certificates, but may very well be signing the death certificates of the folks they run into or over. Statistically, the first two years for any new driver are the most accident prone.

            Far better to consider vehicles that pass the impact tests with the best ratings, including the side-impact tests; to always wear your seatbelts; to drive with both hands on the steering wheel; to minimize distractions; to pay attention, and to avoid being in a rush.

            John Lukes, Ivory Way, Henrietta

Nice, Jennifer Loviglio! True Americans everywhere applaud you. Family values apparently means my family is most valuable. Oh, and forget about future generations. It feels good to be up there above the fray, and that's what counts.

            But haven't you heard? The Hummer no longer rules the road. Ashton Kutcher and others are driving International CXTs. This 7-ton vehicle makes a Hummer look pony. Since bigger is obviously better, how can you imagine putting your family in anything else? So mortgage your house and sell everything else you have, 'cause these things aren't cheap ($115,000 with all options).

            But wait! We share the road with commercial trucks and buses weighing many multiples of even the CXT. What to do? Your house is probably even bigger than the heaviest vehicles. Better just stay home!

            Dennis Lee, Rochester

Great writing, Jennifer, and I love your symbolism! You and your son represent the front-line troops in Iraq; your husband is playing Rumsfeld, not wanting to give you enough armor (ya go to Wal-Mart with the car ya got); the teenage driver (although I am concerned about the age discrimination) represents an insurgent, and the holier-than-thou environmentalist little brother symbolizes the congressional Democrats, completely ignoring the fact that it's a war out there, instead only carping about the price of gas and the chicken-little global-warming "threat."

            Oh, you really were in a crash? Well, let me help you. Even Ralph Nader himself admits that the average car gets only 24 mpg. Find an SUV you like with comparable mileage rating, and everyone can be happy; you'll be no worse than the average non-mass-transit-using soccer mom. Is the soccer field on the bus route? If a bus goes from Rochester to Penfield with only five passengers, does it have any worse mpg per person than a mom and one kid in a Humvee? A bus gets about 4 mpg.

            Online, I found a great article by Marianne Jennings about safety versus mpg. Why, she wonders, is all the fuss about SUVs when they don't get any worse mpg than a big Cadillac or Lincoln Town Car? And can you believe the article was from 1990?

            For 15 years the environmentalists have been griping about SUVs, and the debate isn't settled yet. The enviros should have all pooled their money and bought Nissan when it was on the verge of bankruptcy a few years back. They could have designed the perfect car, mass produced it, stamped it with their mark of approval, and it would have sold millions. Nobody wants to feel like they're personally ruining the atmosphere every time they hop in their car.

            You're a good liberal, and you and your family should be safe. Good luck with your cognitive dissonance.

            Joe St. Martin, Penfield

Editor's note: Jennifer Loviglio's column on SUV ownership was satirical.


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