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Everybody's Column

Deputy was faced with life-or-death decision

As an avid reader of The News, I noticed the Jan. 9 letter regarding the tragic shooting of Roger Duchnik, who died during a confrontation with Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Benjamin Pisa. In this opinion, the author chose to question the character, training and overall decision made by Pisa.

Members of our society demand much of their police officers, as well they should. However, to criticize the actions or character of any police officer without full knowledge of the circumstances surrounding an incident is unwarranted and irresponsible. This type of criticism only inflames an already raw emotional situation and causes unwanted hurt to the families of Duchnik and Pisa.

I am confident that Sheriff Timothy Howard and his staff will conduct a professional, thorough and impartial investigation. Until the complete results of this investigation are revealed to the public, we must support the family of Duchnik as they grieve their loss.

We must also fully appreciate and support the split-second decision of Pisa as he was thrust into a sudden and violent life-or-death situation.

Lawrence Eggert



Medicare drug program is helping many seniors

Contrary to claims in a Jan. 10 story, the Veterans Affairs prescription drug program is no model for getting seniors the medicines they need. Critics calling for government negotiation of Medicare drug prices hope seniors won't notice that the VA drug plan covers far fewer prescription medicines than do Medicare prescription drug plans.

Just as importantly, the VA drug plan includes only 65 percent of the top 300 prescription drugs prescribed to seniors, according to a new study by the Lewin Group. In other words, government "negotiation" has resulted in some veterans losing access to the medicines they need and their doctors prescribe. That is just one of the reasons that as many as 40 percent of veterans with VA benefits have also enrolled in the Medicare drug program, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Simply put, the Medicare prescription drug program is providing better access to medicines for seniors and disabled Americans and costing taxpayers less than anticipated. Just a few years ago, barely half of America's seniors had prescription drug coverage. Today, more than 90 percent do.

Ken Johnson

Senior Vice President Communications and Public Affairs, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America


U.S. must reduce its addiction to oil

Last year, President Bush stated that "America is addicted to oil." Bush is hopefully capable of understanding that increasing the federal gasoline tax would discourage the use of oil and encourage use of the numerous alternatives that are available. He is most certainly aware that discouraging the use of oil will be opposed by Big Oil because it will result in mothballing of crude oil supertankers and shutting down oil refineries.

The 1973 OPEC oil embargo led to steps by the federal government to reduce America's addiction to oil. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter attempted to further reduce this addiction by increasing gasoline taxes, but was turned down by Congress. The 1979 revolution in Iran provided a clear signal that more steps were needed. Yet President Ronald Reagan maintained the level of addiction, and President George H. Bush increased the addiction. President Bill Clinton proposed increasing the federal gasoline tax to 50 cents, but Congress would approve only 4.3 cents per gallon.

The current Bush administration has increased the addiction by refusing to require meaningful improvements in automobile CAFE standards. Most federal government career politicians are addicted to protecting their careers, which is why they have not reduced America's addiction to oil.

Michael Patterson

Clarence Center


Right-to-farm laws ignore homeowners

I found The News article on the Erie County Farm Bureau's urging of towns to enact their own right-to-farm laws ridiculous. In Colden, property located in primarily residential areas has been rezoned from residential to agricultural. The homes were here first. The residents are offered no protection from odors, dust, runoff, well-water contamination or wetland destruction. This is partially the reason for nuisance lawsuits against farms. Colden, unknown to many of its taxpayers, has spent thousands of dollars to defend one such farm.

I fully understand the need to protect our farms and farmland. But we were here first. Who is protecting us? People may be surprised to learn of the properties in their town that receive agricultural tax assessments, even though the land lies fallow and no product is produced.

Here's to all the hard-working farm people out there. But to those of you just looking for a tax break, shame on you.

Deborah Fleck



Label city bus routes so cars aren't ticketed

I moved onto Elmwood Avenue two months ago and suddenly I am finding parking tickets on my car in the morning as I leave for work. It seems that you cannot park on a bus route from 1:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. between Nov. 15 and April 1. I found out that this is so snow plows can get down the street. I got my ticket last week when it was 40 degrees overnight. I never even heard of this law and I have lived in the area all of my life, and I am over 40 years old. There are no signs posted indicating this, of course.

I had to call and find out what my ticket was for. The words on the ticket itself say "bus route." Every big street in Buffalo is a bus route. So this is what the city does to welcome people who choose to live near downtown? At least be fair and post a sign about this before you issue me a $35 ticket. Believe me, I will spread the word. I asked dozens of people about this and only one person out of the bunch had ever heard of such a law.

Brian Snelling



Ordinary citizens given much harsher penalties

Years ago, my mother was obligated to obtain a state tax permit to collect sales tax on craft items her senior group sold. She promptly sent in the quarterly report as required by law. When she had no money to send, she neglected to report this fact. A letter came back that the penalty was fine and/or imprisonment, even if you had no sales tax money to send.

Only after the help of a local official and a personal letter from my mother was the problem solved, with the stipulation that my mother surrender her state sales tax permit. I guess it is who you are that lets you break the laws for so long. It's a shame people like George Holt don't do some jail time.

Robert Couche


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