Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 31, 2004 · Page 8
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August 31, 2004

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 8

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
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C M K Y P G C M K Y P G C M K Y P G C M K Y P G Aug 31 2004 9:21:46:863AM PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE TUESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2004 A-8 The Munhall resident was near the store’s front door at the head of a line that snaked around the side of the building in several loops by noon. The first 1,000 received wristbands guaranteeing them an autograph. “I love the guy,” said Chris Menges, explaining why he showed up at 5:30 a.m. “The country was so much better off with him as president than it is now, and I wanted the chance to shake his hand.” Menges graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in history from Duquesne University and is now applying to law school. The bookstore was closed in late morning and the area around it roped off for security. The crowd, some with lawn chairs, many with Kerry-Edwards T-shirts, was in a partisan mood. “Clinton was a president with intelligence and compassion, something we don’t have right now,” said Ruth Duerstein, a retired teacher. She had listened to the former president’s autobiography on CD, but had the book for his signature. Uncharacteristically, Clinton was early for his book signing. His arrival, flanked by Secret Service agents and staff, drew an audible gasp from the crowd. In a dark blue suit brightened by a pink tie and checkered blue shirt, he held an impromptu and brief news conference before the signing. While giving strong support to the Democratic presidential nominee, John F. Kerry, Clinton criticized the Massachusetts senator’s response to attacks on his record in the Vietnam War as too slow. “He’s got the bit in his mouth now, but maybe he was a little late in fighting back,” the former president said. “But, the other side can take you by surprise. My integrity was never questioned before I ran for president, but after I lost $40,000 in the Whitewater deal, the Republicans turned it into a $70 million investigation.” Clinton praised Kerry’s position on dealing with post-war Iraq as “realistic and respon- sible” and said the Bush administration “rushed into Iraq and diverted resources” from the war on terrorism. He also accused the administration of “pushing this country way too far to the right.” Clinton wrapped up the question-and-answer session by defending his role as a Democratic campaigner in 2004. “I’ve done everything the Kerry campaign has asked me to do,” Clinton said before grabbing a pen and heading off to his signing area, walled off by black curtains, behind the health and fitness section. Post-Gazette Book Editor Bob Hoover can be reached at bhoover@post-gazette.com or 412263-1634. 1,000 fans turn out for Clinton book-signing CLINTON, FROM PAGE A-1 Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette photos Former President Bill Clinton greets Kim Cagni and her daughter, Marley Young, 2, of Mt. Lebanon, during his book signing at the Barnes & Nobel store at The Waterfront. four leaders represent large concentrations of US Airways pilots in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, they wield considerable power and can control any vote taken by the union’s 12-member Master Executive Council. All four reflect the demographics of their membership, representing older pilots who have gone through two concessionary rounds in the last two years and want to preserve what is left of their retirement plan, which the company now wants to cut further. Critics within the pilots union claim the four Pennsylvania representatives are ignoring the company’s larger financial problems and are blocking any real bargaining with the company, which is seeking $295 million in new annual concessions. No progress was made over the weekend when negotiations resumed after a week of inaction. The two sides traded proposals that differed little from prior offers. Eight other pilot leaders from Charlotte, Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York took out their frustration on the four Pennsylvania representatives yesterday, blaming them for the lack of momentum. “The politics of delay, obstruction, hindrance and thwarting of the process can only be viewed as obstructionism,” the letter from the eight members of the Master Execu- cutive Council said. Don Hollerbach, one of the union’s contract negotiators, made the same point in a closed door meeting Friday night. The four Pennsylvania representatives set too many restrictions on the new talks, Hollerbach said in an outburst recalled by several pilots yesterday. “Sending us in shackled sets us up for failure,” Hollerbach said, as quoted by the eight pilots on the Master Executive Council. “Give us the weapons to do our job — to get an agreement. Don’t cut my leg off and ask me to go in to kick somebody’s ass.” But the four pilot leaders from Pennsylvania maintain they are doing what is best for all pilots and their motives are being misrepresented. In fact, they pushed for a resumption of the negotiations with the company on Friday. They told negotiators that they would authorize no further cuts in the retirement plan. They did give negotiators the authority to discuss changes in work rules that they say could close the gap between the two sides and result in savings of $295 million. But Sunday night, when the union tried to give negotiators more leeway to negotiate the “best [agreement] that is achievable,” the four Pennsylvania representatives slowed the process, asking for three recesses and eventually toughened the language. They crafted an amended resolution that passed unanimously yesterday, asking negotiators to resume talks but warning that if the company’s proposal deviates much from the union’s most recent offer, the chance of it failing “increases exponentially.” The four Pennsylvania representatives argue that the language needed to be stronger for the union to look less desperate, giving it more leverage for an eventual deal. After almost three months of nearly nonstop negotiations, that delay was, for some, the last straw. Emotions spilled out into the hallway of the Key Bridge Marriott in suburban Washington D.C. yesterday morning, with one pilot confronting Von Bargen, calling his decisions a “travesty” and saying to him sarcastically, “Thanks for serving us.” “You know we’re short of time, don’t you Dan?” the pilot said to Von Bargen. Another pilot suggested that Von Bargen wants the company to declare bankruptcy again. Von Bargen expressed his anger at the suggestion, saying “I don’t like people putting words in my mouth.” In a private meeting with union negotiators Sunday afternoon, US Airways CEO Bruce Lakefield acknowledged the rift within the union and said, according to Pollock, that he is “preparing for the worst.” The airline has said it needs $800 million in cuts from all unions, and $295 million from the pilots, to avoid its second bankruptcy in two years this fall. Dan Fitzpatrick can be reached at dfitzpatrick@post- gazette.com or 412-263-1752. US Airways pilots union sharply split PILOTS, FROM PAGE A-1 Nader’s attorney, Samuel Stretton, admitted as much last week, saying his own cursory analysis of petition signatures found that up to three-quarters could have been contested, meaning Nader would fall short of the 25,697 signatures needed to get his name on the ballot. Yesterday’s ruling made a line-by-line audit of Nader’s signatures unnecessary. Just a week after Nader submitted nominating papers, Democrats filed suit in Pennsylvania, worried that Nader could siphon votes from Kerry. Some Democrats still blame Nader for then-Vice President Al Gore’s loss to Bush in 2000, saying Nader sucked away vital votes in Florida and elsewhere that otherwise would have gone to Gore. Nader’s candidacy did not appear to be a factor in Pennsylvania in 2000. He tallied just over 103,000 votes, and Gore won the state by more than 200,000 votes over Bush. The Commonwealth Court ruling isn’t technically the end of the road for Nader and his running mate, Peter Camejo. Nader’s attorney can appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said an appeal is likely “because this decision is wrong.” Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell, said, “Although the governor’s office had no direct involvement in the controversy, we respect the Commonwealth Court decision, and believe it to be the right one.” The three-judge Commonwealth Court panel also ruled that Camejo was disqualified because, in an attempt to get on the ballot as an independent, he signed an affidavit saying he was not an enrolled member of a political party, when in fact he was a registered Green Party member in California. That law, called the “disaffiliation rule,” dates to 1980, after former Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri, a registered Democrat, got on the general election ballot as an independent after skipping the Democratic primary. “[Nader’s attorney] tried to argue that because Ralph Nader is so righteous, the ordinary rules don’t apply to him,” said Gregory M. Harvey, a Philadelphia lawyer who assisted Reed Smith attorney Efrem Grail in arguing the case against Nader. “But the Commonwealth Court said the ordinary rules on being an independent are applicable.” Actually, Nader’s attorneys argued not on the basis of his virtue, but of his residency, saying the state’s third-party election laws apply only to Pennsylvania residents, and not Nader or his running mate. Nader’s group also argued that the candidates’ First and 14th Amendment rights would be violated if Nader is not permitted on the state ballot. The court panel disregarded those claims. “The law in this commonwealth is that statutes must be interpreted in a common-sense and rational manner, and in such a way as to avoid absurd or unreasonable results,” Smith-Ribner’s opinion read. State Rep. Mike Veon, D- Beaver Falls, the House minority whip, said in a statement that “it’s time to put an end to this farce so the voters of Pennsylvania can focus on the real choices they have to make in the nine weeks that remain before the election.” The Associated Press contributed to this report. Bill Toland can be reached at btoland@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141. Commonwealth Court bars Nader from ballot NADER, FROM PAGE A-1 U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Swissvale, watches as former President Bill Clinton shakes hands with Joe Hoeffel, right, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, at a fund-raising dinner at Omni William Penn, Downtown. Big boost for Hoeffel By Jeffrey Cohan Pittsburgh Post-Gazette U.S. Senate challenger Joe Hoeffel needed to do something to get himself noticed in Western Pennsylvania, where he is running well behind Republican Arlen Specter. The Democrat’s meet-and-greets at coffeehouses and news conferences on sidewalks were having little effect. So, last night, Hoeffel tried an altogether different approach: He held a campaign fund-raiser featuring the Democratic Party’s biggest star. “It’s unbelievable to be here with President Bill Clinton,” Hoeffel said, introducing the former chief of state to a throng of 250 in an Omni William Penn ballroom. Drawing roof-raising applause as he reached the dais, Clinton told the Democratic faithful, “You’ll need to calm down a little. You’ll have me thinking I’m still president.” Clinton spoke only briefly about the Senate race, saying, “I had a decent relationship with [Specter], who would vote from time to time with us, until [the Republican Party] got the White House.” Almost his entire 30-minute speech was devoted to criticizing President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress, blaming them for the sluggishness of the economy. “They have forgotten Ronald Reagan’s favorite question: ‘Are you better off today than you were four years ago?’ The answer almost always comes out wrong for them,” Clinton said. He saved some of his sharpest barbs for the Bush tax cuts, admitting that he has benefitted from them, now that he is a millionaire author of a best-selling book. “It never occurred to me that once I got rich I wasn’t supposed to pay taxes,” Clinton said. “I got these two huge tax cuts, and it didn’t make a lick of sense. “If [Republicans] are doing what they think is right, they ought not to be ashamed to talk about it,” he added. “Why don’t they say, ‘We think it’s more important for Bill Clinton to have a tax cut than for 300,000 kids to stay in their after-school program.’” Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Swissvale, and former Steelers great Franco Harris also spoke at last night’s fund-raiser. For Hoeffel, the event addressed three of the main deficiencies of his campaign. It drew media attention to a candidate who is struggling to boost his name recognition in Western Pennsylvania. It pumped an estimated $250,000 into his campaign account, which is considerably smaller than Specter’s. And it conferred credibility to a candidate who is trying to persuade people that he can beat a four-term incumbent. The event capped an 18-day campaign swing during which Hoeffel visited all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties. While last night could only help, the Democrat from Montgomery County views his television commercials, which have yet to air, as the key to overcoming a 20-point deficit in the polls. “I won’t get the name recognition I need until I get on TV,” he said before last night’s event. Specter, for his part, is preparing for a major fund-raising event of his own. Tomorrow night in Manhattan, Donald Trump will entertain donors to the senator’s campaign at the Trump Tower, as the Republican National Convention unfolds nearby. Jeffrey Cohan can be reached at jcohan@post- gazette.com or 412-263-3573. Clinton gives Senate hopeful needed exposure Experts say it’s too early for judgment on motorcycle helmet law By The Associated Press ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Jamie Lee Hregician was paralyzed from the chest down July 5 when his motorcycle hit a stone wall. But the 19-year-old did not suffer a head injury, and for that he credits his helmet. “I have no idea what happened,” said Hregician, of Alburtis. “The helmet was smashed in the front, but I had no head injuries. Wearing a helmet saved my life.” Nearly a year after Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet law was repealed, experts say it is too soon to tell definitively whether the repeal has caused a spike in motorcycle injuries and deaths. In the first four months that helmets became optional for riders 21 and older, deaths among helmet- less riders more than doubled, from six to 15, compared with the year-ago period. Fatalities among riders wearing helmets dropped 28 percent, from 25 to 18. But state and federal transportation officials say it’s still too early to tie repeal of the law to deaths caused by a lack of head protection. “No one here will be able to draw any conclusions,” said Ed Myslewicz, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. State Sen. John Wozniak, a Cambria County Democrat and motorcyclist who helped shepherd the bill through the Legislature, said he expected a “small spike” in injuries among helmetless riders, but predicts it will be temporary as riders adjust to their new freedom. Studies to collect more data are in the works. Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown and St. Luke’s Hospital near Bethlehem are keeping track of the bikers who pass through their trauma centers and emergency rooms. Of the 123 motorcyclists taken to LVH since the repeal, the death rate was higher among patients who did not wear helmets. Four of 31 helmetless riders died; two of the 92 helmeted patients died. Bare-headed riders spent an extra day in the hospital on average. Conemaugh Medical Center in Western Pennsylvania is planning a statewide study that would track motorcycle injuries through community hospitals, coroner and police reports, and trauma centers. Highway safety and physicians argue that helmets save lives and prevent brain injury.

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