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...He also commented on gays in the military as follows:
You seem to have something against straight men Sadie... Not too much luck in the vast world of dating?
At 2:21 PM, Billy Valentine said...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 we all know faggots are cowards, right?"
"They're not real men?"
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
tags: pittsburgh city council ravenstahl peduto twanda carlisle doug shields ricciardi len bodack sala udin dan deasy jim motznik