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Everybody's Column

Police should understand why citizens are so angry

Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson should understand the outrage Western New York residents are dealing with after the arrest of the alleged Bike Path Rapist, when it was revealed one of his first victims identified and reported this man at the Boulevard Mall in 1981, three days after she was raped in Delaware Park. Why was this identification not pursued and followed up on with the tenacity such a crime deserves?

Amherst police should also feel this outrage knowing a co-worker of the accused killer identified him as being in the University at Buffalo area around the time Linda Yalem was killed, only to let him go free and continue his crimes.

All of us are relieved this suspect is behind bars, but we have to wonder why he wasn't stopped in 1981 or again in 1991? This serial rapist and killer would very likely still be among us today had not a remorseful uncle finally given up the suspect's name when contacted some 25 years after lying to police.

Many of us thought this was some kind of criminal mastermind, eluding police for decades, when in fact he had been identified twice, interviewed, fingerprinted and allowed to continue on his way.

Aaron Walker



Stop making excuses for shooting suspect

Here is something for Rod Watson and Theresa Moore to ponder: Varner Harris is a violent thug. He is charged with pulling out a handgun and shooting two Buffalo police officers. The blame cannot be placed on the mental health community, the medical community, a school for troubled youth or medicine. Watson put the typical disclaimer in his column: "None of that excuses Harris' actions." Yet these are nothing but excuses.

This "mildly retarded, slow learner" certainly had the cognitive skill to acquire a handgun, load it, conceal it and pull the trigger all by himself. If Harris' mother really feels the need to place blame somewhere, she should start in her own back yard; her convictions, demands and regrets shouldn't go beyond her front door.

It was a nice try to make someone or something else responsible for her son's violent acts. As the University at Buffalo professor said, "There are a ton of people . . . on the streets who need to take medications who aren't taking them." Maybe, but they are not gunning down Buffalo cops two at a time just for doing their job.

Jim Kaska

Buffalo Police Officer

C District


Tax deduction benefits people who earn most

The tax deduction proposed by President Bush will not benefit the poor and will hardly benefit the middle class. People need to understand that this is a tax deduction, not a tax credit. The amount you will receive from the government -- up to $15,000 for a family or $7,500 for a single person -- is based on your gross income for that year. People living below the poverty line do not pay much in taxes, or none at all, which means they will receive no deduction.

If you are making around $50,000 a year, you will receive a bit over $2,000, which offers little relief from the $12,000 that the average family pays a year for health coverage. The kicker is that the upper class still receives the greatest tax break. The more money you make, the more you get back.

Sean Mikula



Firefighters' courage, skills are impressive

As I write this letter, I have just returned to my house after witnessing a tragedy. My wife and I live in the Parkside neighborhood. Two blocks down the street, a major fire has engulfed a neighborhood home. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks involved in this terrible loss. No one can replace the comfort of one's home, the personal belongings, the pride of ownership and identity. The only positive aspect of this loss is the professionalism of the Buffalo Fire Department and related agencies.

Too often we criticize public servants because it is easy to do so. They are all in the public eye; their salaries and benefits are analyzed ad nauseam. That is until there is an emergency or a crisis. What I witnessed was a great example of men and women who were organized, proficient and dedicated. In freezing weather, they strove to put out a dangerous fire and protect a part of their city.

It is often said that the age of heroes is long gone. The next time you are ready to complain about the city's settlements with the firemen or police, just remember that they serve above and beyond. They are real heroes every day and they risk their lives for our safety.

John J. Pilato Sr.



Hospital workers are fighting to save jobs

I know that the Bike Path Rapist and the Iraq War have been the top news stories in the last few weeks, but I hope someone remembers the brave union hospital workers who walked from Buffalo to Albany to save our hospitals.

God must be pro-union because he gave them very good weather for the 19 days and 320 miles they walked. Hopefully Gov. Eliot Spitzer found the time to hear their plea about why it is a bad idea to close our hospitals. These walkers deserve a lot of credit for "fighting the fight" to save the few good jobs left in this city.

Gerald Stefanacci

West Seneca


Many of today's immigrants have no desire to assimilate

I feel compelled to respond to the letter "Embracing differences makes our nation strong." The writer stated that she cannot understand the opposition building against immigration, since it was immigrants who have helped to make our nation great.

She must not have been paying attention in American history class, because if she had, she would have learned that early immigrants who settled here tried to assimilate in their new culture. They did not make demands on their host government to adopt their ideology. They did not demonstrate to have their language recognized as an official language. They did not, for the most part, enter illegally and then demand social services to take care of them. They did not allow their religious ideology to ferment hatred of the very government that allowed them to stay here. While celebrating their diversity, they were Americans first, and that is what has made our nation great.

Today, divisiveness generated by illegal aliens and radical Islam groups is dividing our nation. We, as a nation, are losing our identity. We are surrendering our heritage in the interest of political correctness. If we stay on this course, we will politically correct ourselves right out of existence. I feel well qualified to address this topic since I am a naturalized citizen, having emigrated from Europe after World War II.

Frank S. Pasztor


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