Righting a wrong - Let's help the Heinz family!!! sign now

Righting a wrong


I have been considering relocation to the Pittsburgh area. From all I have read, the region seems to be composed of many hardworking, family-oriented people with values, ingenuity, and integrity. I know that many good and admirable individuals and public servants have come from the region - among them, the late Senator John Heinz - a truly good man full of hope, compassion, courage, and honor.
A story I have been following of late, however, has deeply disappointed me in the ethical fiber of the region's press. In July 2004, The Los Angeles Times and The Morning Call of Allentown asked that the estate records of Senator John Heinz be unsealed and made public, stating that the records were of public interest as Senator Heinz's widow, Teresa, was now the wife of presidential candidate Senator John Kerry. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Philadelphia newspapers later joined as plaintiffs. After Senator Kerry lost the presidential election, all plaintiffs dropped the case - except for the Tribune-Review & Post-Gazette. And it is this action, or lack thereof, that is troubling to me. Attorneys for the papers argued that "centuries of legal opinions give the media the right to view all court records." Fine, I'm sure that's the case - but just because you "have the right" to do something, doesn't make it the right thing to do. One of the newspaper's attorneys stated: "The burden is on the Heinz estate to explain why the records should be sealed." With all due respect, sir, not necessarily. It can also be duly argued that the burden is rather on the press to explain, with honest and justifiable cause and necessity, why the records should be unsealed. The press has argued that the reason they want the records unsealed is that: "Opening the records could shed light on the charitable activities of the senator's widow, Teresa Heinz, and whether she was using the Heinz family assets she inherited to bolster the presidential campaign of her current husband, U.S. Sen. John Kerry." In all honesty, so what if she was? Teresa Heinz is the heir to Senator Heinz's estate. This is not government money or some form of public entitlement. This is a private financial entity that concerns Mrs. Heinz and her family - and their decisions, whereof, are in actuality no one's business but their own. What exactly has Mrs. Heinz done to earn this treatment anyway? She's taken her financial attributes and given back to the city of Pittsburgh in ways that are immeasurable, lasting, and terrifically substantial. Further more, through her work and support, causes, individuals, and organizations which aid in improving health care, cultivating community arts programs, and fostering educational leadership have prospered, thrived, and effected positive change in Pennsylvania and across the country. Teresa Heinz is a woman of courage, strength, substance, spirit and conviction, with a caring heart and generous nature. She has been blessed with much, yet never failed to give more. She gives of her time and finances to numerous individuals and organizations that, in turn, continue the chain of love by giving assistance, support, revitalization, and renewal to citizens and communities. She's a woman of great compassion and genuine sincerity who realizes the importance and impact of helping others. During the hard-fought, bitter, and often malicious presidential campaign of 2004, many cruel, unkind, and untrue things were said and written about Mrs. Heinz and her philanthropic work. Whatever your political views, she deserves your consideration with an open mind. She's a woman who turned profound loss and grief into an extraordinary force of good - and be you Democrat or Republican, in agreement or not with anything she has said, one must admit, in all honesty, that this alone is an act and element of courage, heart, and goodness. Haven't Mrs. Heinz and her family been through enough? Fourteen years ago, after Senator Heinz's death, no one demanded that these records be made public. And after the outcome of 2004's presidential election, the majority of the involved plaintiffs also realized and respected that these records were no longer of public interest. Yet the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review are trying to have a private grief and profound tragedy made public - after 14 years - and for what? So that they can sell a few more newspapers? To these two newspapers: Senator John Heinz would have never exploited anyone for his gain, so don't exploit his family for yours.
The "Vision Statement" of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette states:
"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is dedicated to the economic vitality of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the well-being of the region's people." Well, unsealing these estate records is in no plausible way going to help or protect the citizens of the region - but it will infringe on the privacy and well-being of one of the finest and most respected families in the region - which I certainly don't think is congruent to this aspect of their Vision Statement. They go on to state that one of their "Corporate Values" is: "Integrity - Having high ethical standards". This is an honorable value and attribute - however, I cannot see where invading someone's privacy and making public the records resulting from a profound and personal grief and tragedy from 14 years ago, purely for facile reasons, is anywhere in the neighborhood of "high ethical standards" or "integrity". If the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review wish to embody and exude high ethical standards and integrity, then they will do the honorable, admirable, respectable, and right thing and drop this case. Allow the private matters of this estate and this family to remain as they should - private - and allow Senator John Heinz to rest in peace, as his legacy continues to inspire others and his family continues to give back to their community in a way that should be an inspiration to all of us.

---By Michelle Lindsey, age 23
Oxford, Mississippi
[email protected]


***Please sign this petition that will be sent to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review asking them to do the right, honorable, and just thing and drop their case which seeks to unseal the private estate records of the Heinz family.*** Thank you!

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Eunice VelasquezBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
Petition target:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette & Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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