>Councilman's personal finances shouldn't be public's concern
Failure to pay taxes and misuse of public funds by elected officials deserve coverage in the media. But a Common Council member's personal financial difficulties relating to several thousand dollars over a 17-year period certainly did not warrant a story on the front page of the Jan. 29 local news section. We need to judge politicians by how well they fulfill the responsibilities of the office, meet the needs of their constituents and improve the quality of life in our community, along with their knowledge of the issues.
Ellen T. Kennedy
>Soaring property taxes cause family members to leave area
My entire family has reason to celebrate this year. We all have our health, and my grandfather turns 100 years old in March. He was part of the early immigration of Europeans to this area, and our family name is engraved on the monument at Ellis Island.
My grandfather grew up in Buffalo, worked here, raised a family here and still resides in the same East Side home he bought some 60 years ago. All of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grew up here, went to school here and support the local economy.
Unfortunately, a dark cloud has cast a sad shadow over our jubilation. The dark cloud came in the form of our county tax bill. The 12 percent tax increase, along with a $53,000 increase in my assessment, has dashed my joy. This tax increase is clearly the result of mismanagement, lack of accountability and poor leadership. It has me, a fourth-generation Buffalonian, looking to leave the area.
It represents as close to "taxation without representation" as I can stand.
Peter J. Spyche
>Obtaining peace in Iraq is an unrealistic objective
Surely, it is sensible to agree that to achieve peace in Iraq is not a short-term realistic goal, contrary to what President Bush and his administration would like us to believe. The British objective of training Iraqi forces to replace the coalition troops is far more realistic as an achievable goal -- the point being that peace in the foreseeble future is not an option. (Jan. 22 Viewpoints.)
This has always been Prime Minister Tony Blair's way of thinking, and it is about time that Bush and his cronies come down from Cloud 9, put things into perspective and stop talking about peace being an objective. Peacefulness in that area should not be used as a measure of success.
>Church of Scientology aided Main Street revival
How can The News comment on the rebirth of Main Street without mentioning the Church of Scientology at 836 Main St.?
We purchased a moldy, boarded-up building and, with volunteer labor and some great Western New York businesses, returned this gem to its former glory. We recognized the beauty of the building and the potential of the area.
I believe we were the start of the resurrection, and it is a shame that The News does not recognize a truly remarkable undertaking by the church, its parishioners and our neighbors.
>Things would be far different if Gore were in White House
After watching Al Gore's speech blasting the pathetic Bush administration, I realized what an intelligent, moral and passionate man he is -- a complete contrast to President Bush. We can only imagine how different the world would be today if Gore were president.
>Plenty of Democrats have ties to Abramoff
In his "Behind the headlines" article on the front page of the Jan. 30 News, Douglas Turner stated that Jack Abramoff had "powerful connections at the White House and among Republicans in the House." Why was no mention made of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.? What about Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.? Is the Washington Bureau chief being forgetful or trying to be deceitful in telling a half-truth? Stand on the corner and tell what happened. Let the readers decide why it happened.
>News photographers are doing a great job
Congratulations to News photographer John Hickey for his absolutely fantastic photo on the Jan. 28 Picture Page. It showed a bleacher full of Niagara basketball fans and their reactions just as opponent Iona dunked the winning basket in overtime. Hickey beautifully captured "the agony of defeat" in the spectators' facial expressions and body language, and I spent quite a while looking at the details in the photo.
Photographers' names aren't usually water-cooler or talk-radio fodder, as are those of many News columnists and reporters, but the photos in the daily newspaper add greatly to our enjoyment of the paper and our understanding of many stories. A newspaper without photos would be dull indeed. Hats off to Hickey and all News photographers for a job well done.
>Parents are struggling to pay for essentials, not Disney trips
While I understand the Buffalo Catholic Diocese's plight to keep Catholic schools open and affordable, I take offense at a statement made by Denise McKenzie, secretary of education for the diocese, in the Jan. 28 News. She said, "We're fighting a value system these days where $1,500 cash can buy a trip to Disney. How do you fight with that?"
To make such a blanket statement, I think, is insulting. I do not believe that parents forgo sending their children to Catholic schools in lieu of a trip to Disneyland. Many parents are working and struggling just to make ends meet due to increasing heating and utility costs, taxes, food, clothing, etc. The list goes on and on.
While my husband and I both work hard to continue to afford Catholic education for our daughter, I do not feel it is morally correct to question the "moral values" of those who cannot.
>Government is working hard to solve Medicare problems
The new prescription drug benefit is the largest change in Medicare in 40 years, and it is happening all at once with 24 million people now enrolled. For most of them, the system is working. Pharmacists across the country are filling 1 million prescriptions a day, and people who previously had no drug coverage are now saving money.
Despite careful planning, some people are experiencing problems getting their prescriptions filled, especially the first time they go to the pharmacy. We are concerned about every individual who has experienced a problem, and we are working with pharmacists, health plans and states to get their prescriptions filled as quickly as possible.
We have backup systems at the pharmacy to help, including a new computer system and a toll-free pharmacy helpline. Pharmacists can also fill prescriptions for people with Medicare and Medicaid through a default plan. Finally, if issues cannot be resolved at the counter, the pharmacists or beneficiaries can call 1-800-MEDICARE to request a caseworker to help them.
Region IV Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services