What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 13, 2005

An Open Letter to My Councilman, Gene Ricciardi

Dear Councilman Ricciardi:

I was unable to attend the Pittsburgh City Council meeting on Wednesday, December 7, 2005, and couldn't see a broadcast of that meeting until this week. When I was finally able to view the meeting, I was both surprised and dismayed at the statement that you made before voting against the "Bubble Zone" Ordinance.

You stated that all the emails you received against the ordinance were personally written while the all the emails you received in favor of it were form letters. I notice that you did not refer to any PHONE CALLS that your office received regarding the ordinance. If you had, you would have had to admit to receiving at least one (NON-FORM) phone call from a CONSTITUENT who asked that you vote in favor of the ordinance.

I know this for a fact because I called your office myself on Tuesday, December 6, 2005.

I will note that I got voicemail, but I did leave a very clear message and the message was left well before 5:00 PM (perhaps you/your staff were too busy reading emails from college students in Ohio to pick up the phone). I will also note that when I called Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle's office minutes later on the same subject, I got an actual person on the phone, and ironically enough, the person who answered actually knew me.

But, then again, I doubt that any phone call or email from actual Pittsburghers (constituents or otherwise) in favor of the ordinance would have made a dent in your decision process. You biases showed immediately in your pre-vote statement when you referred to all clinic patients as "Moms," a term that is not only emotionally loaded, but inaccurate as non-pregnant women also go to these clinics for basic health care services.

You further stated that there was a need to communicate effectively to these "Moms" and that the buffer zone ordinance would "seriously damage the free choice to save a life." Your thoroughly patronizing view that there's some sort of necessity for women entering these clinics to hear an opposing view (echoed by Councilman Len Bodak's remarks that the protesters were just trying to "get people to think about what they're doing") is offensive. It presupposes a view that women don't take their choices seriously or that they are somehow incapable of seeking out or considering opposing opinions on their own. As Councilman Doug Shields reminded you at the meeting, Pennsylvania already has restrictive abortion laws including a 24 hour waiting period (because, you know, we girls just can't think on our own without direction from The State).

In your statement, you referred almost exclusively to the thoughts and opinions of a group of out-of-state college students to the exclusion of the thoughts and opinions of the many Pittsburgh women who also addressed Council. You stated that the college students were "caring counselors" and not protesters. You repeated their talking points that were "prayerful and peaceful." You said that these "counselors" must be able to look the women entering the clinics in the eye to see into their "heart and soul" in order to conduct their "ministry."

Well, unlike you (and Bush with Putin), I am not so adept at seeing into the souls of others. I find that I need to rely on people's words and actions. So I will refer to the words of one of the college students: Billy Valentine (resident of Virginia and matriculating in Ohio).

Billy spoke at the meeting. Billy also has a blog ( http://billyvalentine09.blogspot.com ) and is reported to be by Truth Caucus as 'a rumored “rising star” in Virginia' (http://www.truthcaucus.com/index.php?id=839 ).

In his blog ( http://billyvalentine09.blogspot.com/2005/11/operation-yellow-elephant-names-me.html ), Billy writes that he was named by Operation Yellow Elephant as "The Most Cynical Yellow Elephant Yet!" (Operation Yellow Elephant is a group which asks military-age pro Iraq war people -- especially students -- to back their convictions by actually enlisting in the military).

During the Council hearing Billy stated that not only was he "peaceful and prayerful," but that his mission is to "be Jesus Christ to these women."

And, how does Billy talk to women when the adults aren't looking? In responding to a woman in the comments section of the Operation Yellow Elephant post, Billy said the following ( http://operationyellowelephant.blogspot.com/2005/11/most-cynical-yellow-elephant-yet.html):

At 2:23 PM, Billy Valentine said...

You seem to have something against straight men Sadie... Not too much luck in the vast world of dating?
He also commented on gays in the military as follows:

At 2:21 PM, Billy Valentine said...

"And we all know faggots are cowards, right?"


"They're not real men?"

Pretty much.
Doesn't sound too Christlike to me, but then I can't see into the hearts and souls of people like you and the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio) can. I can, however, listen to the pleas of Pittsburgh women to be able to obtain legal medical services in a safe environment, which you seemingly cannot.

And, while I realize that this letter is becoming impossibly long, I do have one more thing to say:

The thought that you, who are about to start serving as a magistrate, are more concerned with your own idea as to what "damages a moral high ground" than what you admit is "Constitutional" is rather frightening to me. I hope your statements in Council do not reflect some sort of "activist" style as a magistrate.


Maria (full name and address appear in the letter)

(emailed to Gene Ricciardi and cc'd to all members of Pittsburgh City Council)

Other posts on this subject:
December 6, 2005: A Matter of Public Safety
December 8, 2005: Some follow-up Info on the "Bubble Zone" Ordinance



Sherry P said...

wonderful letter, i doubt if he read it or if he cares tho. hard to reason with people that think that a higher power commands them to force their views by any means at all.it upsets me, no matter the issue at hand when a government official ignores laws and safety to placate their deity or their religious institution.yes, i do believe in a higher power, no, i don't think that power needs any government official's imput.

Karen said...

Great letter Maria!

Janet said...

Excellent, Maria.

Kara O'Bryon said...

This is fantastic; thank you for sending it.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your passion but would you feel so strongly if they were limiting free speech say, outside an army recruiting office. I'm with you on a safe and available options for reproductive healthcare but we don't need to trample on the 1st amendment to get there.

Maria said...

I guess you missed protesters being tasered outside of the recruiting station in Pittsburgh this summer?

The point is that EVERYWHERE ELSE already has has some limitations. For example, you can get arrested for hasseling someone for a 'donation' at the ATM machine.

The last time that I protested Cheney (and anytime anyone else does) you cannot walk right up to the guy. Nor were we able to (or did anyone try to for that matter) to follow people to the door who were attending that fundraiser.
However, we were allowed to make our noise and wave our signs on the sidewalk -- so will these protesters. They just can't swarm the women all the way from their cars to the clinic door shoving leaflets on to their very persons.

Nor does this ordinance coral protesters to some far off "free speech zone" either. I would be against it if it did.

In fact, I thought long and hard about this ordinance as my initial reaction was to be against it because I am very much for free speech and realize that whatever restrictions would be put onto these protesters could also be used as a justification to use against me in something that I might want to protest in the future.

But the more I learned about it and thought about it and realized that protesters could still be in full sight (and earshot) of the women entering the clinic and the clinic itself, I agreed that it was about PUBLIC SAFETY and the right not to be literally accosted and surrounded in an a atmosphere that was already heated.

As the saying goes:

“Your rights end where my nose begins.”

This just keeps protesters literally out of the faces of women (and the people with them) seeking medical services, but not out of their sightline or earshot.

Protest away!

Billy Valentine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Billy Valentine said...

Maria, I must say that I am quite flattered by your stalkistry. Being the "rising star" that I am, giving me this publicity sure doesn't help my ginormous ego, nor does it help that i'm ridiculously good looking.

I hope you have a Merry CHRISTmas or... err uhhh don't want to offend you again.. Happy Holidays! --BV

Maria said...

I guess this means that it doesn't feel good to know now that when you were speaking to Council the second time they all knew what a gay basher you are.

Glad to have obliged!

Merry Christmas!

Billy Valentine said...

I'm not too worried about that considering your e-mail was buried somewhere in the hundreds my fellow students generated, and the hundreds of petition signatures and addresses we delivered to city council from Pittsburgh residents.

Maria said...

OK, I guess that I'll just need to pretend that I didn't get any email response that same day from anyone on Council.

Face it, Billy. You were OUTED for the anti-Christlike bigot that you are.

A word of advice: Don't put anything out in the public blogoshere that you wouldn't want anyone in the public to read AND QUOTE.

Billy Valentine said...

I've been quoted many a time for many a thing.

And everyone still agrees, I'm quite good looking.

Enough to make straight men go gay.

I must admit, I am not helping my own cause.

Quote me.

dayvoe said...

Oh, we will.