letters to the editor
NCAA didn’t have jurisdiction in Sandusky case

I didn’t know that I was a member of a cult and the 175,000 members world-wide of the Penn State Alumni Association probably didn’t know it, either, but The Almanac said so (It’s Not About Football, Jan. 21).

This “cultist” hopes he is smart enough to know that the Sandusky case was a criminal matter; the man was tried, convicted and sentenced for the most heinous of crimes against young boys.

In reversing its original decision, the NCAA, presumably on the advice of competent legal counsel this time, realized that it really didn’t have jurisdiction in this criminal matter, and would probably lose in a law suit that is pending.

We have year to hear courtroom testimony from Messrs. Spanier, Curley and Schultz. If it turns out that there was a massive and years-long cover-up, this cultist will be one of the first to say, “Throw the book at ‘em.”

Penn State was founded in 1855; it will be around long after we are all gone – cult or no cult.

Ross A. Matlack Jr.

Mt. Lebanon

Bar Marco setting a precedent with no-tipping policy

The dining scene in Pittsburgh has been heating up for quite some time, thanks to cutting-edge restaurants, award-winning chefs and innovative menus, available at establishments like Salt of the Earth, Meat and Potatoes and Bar Marco. It’s the latter that has been in the news recently for following a national trend – eliminating tipping in favor of salaried servers, complete with health benefits and profit shares of the restaurant.

The first time a restaurant made waves with such a policy was more than a decade ago, when famed chef Thomas Keller replaced tipping in his New York City eatery Per Se with a 20 percent service charge. The restaurant is still in operation, and the policy still exists.

Beginning this spring, servers at Bar Marco in Pittsburgh’s Strip District will make $35,000 per year for a 40-hour work week. Prices will surely rise on some of the dishes to account for transferring the responsibility of payment from the diner to the establishment. In Pennsylvania, the minimum wage for servers is $2.83 per hour – the rest of the server’s pay comes from tips. Servers at Bar Marco will average $12 an hour with the salary.

Those who wait tables play a guessing game when it comes to how much they will make in a week. Variables include which shifts they are scheduled for, how busy the restaurant is, how good their service is, and how good the food is. There are a lot of factors out of the server’s control that, unfortunately, can hinder how much they take home at the end of a shift.

By not only offering their staff salaries, but benefits and profit shares, the owners of Bar Marco are investing in their employees. Those opposed to the change may argue that servers won’t be as attentive or provide good service if they aren’t working for a tip, but the reality is that a server could do everything absolutely perfect and still get stiffed on a tip. And, really, the servers will still be working to earn their paychecks – poor service can surely translate to termination.

Bar Marco’s plan puts consistency into an inconsistent field, and provides coveted – not to mention necessary – benefits to boot.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the change plays out, and if other area restaurants follow suit.