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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Amherst should go slowly when removing any trees

The Amherst Town Board needs to give most of our trees a chance to recover. The decision to remove the trees prematurely seems driven by the availability of federal funds with an arbitrary deadline attached. Trees are resilient, and the final bill will likely be far less than the current estimate to remove them, as many may recover.

Regarding the trees slated for removal, I have observed that many of their crowns have leafed out at 50 percent or more -- the percentage given as necessary for a tree to have a chance to survive.

Even damaged, these trees are providing significant shade, taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, harboring birds and small animals, blocking noise and adding beauty and real estate value to our neighborhoods.

The Town Board will face a hornet's nest of anger if it becomes evident that the same species of trees in similar condition have recovered on our private property, while those by the curb have already been cut. The safety issue is overblown, because most trees will die before they become dangerous. When, and if, that happens taxpayer anger will dissipate, as the inevitability of the trees' removal will then become apparent.

Moira Gallagher Schorr



Selective tree planting could avoid problems

I read the June 18 News article, "From tree-lined to tree-torn," and was inspired to share a thought regarding our collective sense of loss and the lessons we can learn from the October Storm.

Many of the trees described as too damaged to salvage were of a "softer" assortment, such as silver and Norway maples. The destruction of so many majestic and graceful trees has saddened us all and left many neighborhoods feeling empty.

I believe it is important to understand the reasons behind this tragedy. In an effort to prevent such devastation from happening again, city planners and park engineers might consider planting only hardwoods, such as oak, sugar maple, beech and cherry trees throughout the city landscape. The likelihood of such stronger trees toppling over is significantly reduced and has a direct impact on the cost to taxpayers, homeowners and our communal property values, not to mention the overall splendor of the city.

It may take longer to replace these trees with slower-growing hardwoods, but the rewards are worth the time. We may need to wait a generation, but future Buffalonians would be grateful for our foresight, patience and wisdom in preventing this kind of destruction from ever happening again.

Sean Kelley



Buffalo should listen to residents' outcry

Aside from the obvious reasons of why thousands of trees shouldn't be cut down in Buffalo, specifically their natural beauty and impact on our quality of life, there is nothing wrong with a majority of them. The desire to cut down trees is probably motivated by funds from FEMA, but what about the role the trees play in impacting and improving our air quality, especially since we live in the industrial northeast?

Trees improve air quality, help to control temperatures, keep moisture in the air and also play an important part in storm drainage. The loss of our trees will not only be a horrible mistake resulting in a bleak landscape never to be seen in our lives again, but will also hinder air quality for years to come.

Obviously there are still some trees beyond repair that need cutting, but many that I have seen slated for cutting have blossomed forth in the spring, bringing back at least 50 percent of their canopy and not having any splits in their trunks. Why are these trees being cut down? Who and where are the guardians of our urban forest?

Buffalo officials, take your lead from Town of Amherst officials who are listening to and respecting the residents, giving the trees a chance to thrive.

Cathy Skora



Constant taxing threat seems never-ending

Recently I renewed my auto registration and there was an extra $20 for a use tax. For what, to use my car? What's next, a sidewalk use tax? A breathing tax? New York missed the boater's use tax if they don't already have one.

People ought to be charging the politicians for using us as patsies for paying their salaries, perks and pensions. It'll never end, folks. Like it or not, we'll have to get used to it.

John B Guzzi



Bad youthful behavior portends a bleak future

This past weekend the Brighton Volunteer Fire Co. held it's annual field days. In the 30 years that I have been running a business in Tonawanda I did not realize how wild the 14- to 17-year-olds had become.

The Tonawanda Police did an outstanding job,and should be commended, trying to keep these youths under control. There was a lot of fighting, swearing, obscene gestures, drinking, groping and general unacceptable behavior. The lack of respect for all authority was everywhere.

I blame the parents more than I blame the youths. It would seem to me that a parent should have some control over their child and wonder where they are after 10 p.m., 11 p.m., midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and later.

It is hard to believe that there will be any future with the prospect of these youths taking over the reins in 10 years.

At some point in the future the youth of today and their parents should take responsibility for their actions, instead of ignoring them. The sooner the better off we'll all be.

Tom C. Toy Jr.



A plethora of billboards reveals a litigious society

Returning from a visit to my daughter's home in Ohio, I could not help but notice the injury attorney billboards that start appearing well before I got to Buffalo. And, of course, in Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs we are flooded with them.

It was said that Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer and president, in notes he prepared for a law lecture on July 1, 1850, discouraged litigation. He said to persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Wouldn't it be nice if we followed his advice?

Dick Bockhahn



Kopp's actions belie his stated intentions

The murder of Dr. Barnett A. Slepian may be the latest attack on an abortion clinic, but statements in a June 20 News article, "Gun Adds To Term," from "pacifist" Joan Andrews Bell reveal just how dangerous the pro-life movement still is.

She claims that James Kopp took steps to avoid killing anyone. A serious list of such steps should have included leaving his gun at home. Ignoring this obvious point makes Bell not a pacifist but an apologist for murder.

More irritating, though, is the prideful assertion that pro-life terrorism ended not as a result of steps taken by law enforcement, but because of a decree from within the pro-life movement itself. The implication here is that the laws that protect you and me do not apply to Bell or to anyone else who wishes to impose theocracy in this country. Those of us who wish to live peacefully in a rational, secular society live only because the pro-lifers allow us to live.

Perhaps Bell is looking for a thank you card, but she will not get one from me. Shame on her and shame on anyone else taken in by such sinister, arrogant nonsense.

Patrick Sheldon



Misconceptions abound about Wal-Mart policy

A June 14 letter, "It's no wonder so many are fighting Wal-Mart," claims new hires are referred by Wal-Mart's human resources department to county social services to apply for food stamps and HEAP. This is simply a patently false statement. The letter goes on to state that our associates cannot qualify for company health insurance. The truth is that all associates, whether full or part-time, can qualify for Wal-Mart's health plan. For full-time associates, the waiting period is six months, while for part-time associates the wait is one year. Also, Wal-Mart's Value Plan, which costs $23 per month for the premium, allows up to three visits to the doctor before any deductible kicks in.

The letter also falsely claims that we require communities to pay for things like driveways, lighting and storm sewers. The exact opposite is true: not only do we pay for all the municipal infrastructure improvements directly associated with our projects, but we are often mandated by local governments to pay for additional improvements that are unrelated.

Regarding our project in North Tonawanda, a recent poll revealed that 71 percent of residents either somewhat or strongly support the proposal. That's because they know the truth about Wal-Mart: we are a company that saves people money so they can live better and we provide a competitive wage, with benefits.

Philip H. Serghini

Senior Manager

Wal-Mart Public Affairs


Academic achievers should be left alone

The June 22 letter, "Spread top students around the district," suggested that distributing the "elite" students at City Honors High School to other city schools might "pull the good, average and not-so-good students up toward their level of excellence."

Why is academic achievement suddenly equated with elitism? Smart, motivated teens who attend City Honors have worked to achieve their goals, one of which is to attend an institution that caters to their desire to learn with others like-minded.

What makes more sense educationally? A gifted student who craves accelerated courses in an academic atmosphere? Or a student who is frustrated in a school that is populated with students who don't want to be there, or whose priority is to cause disruption?

These students' first obligation is being met: They are "pulling" themselves; they should not be obliged to "pull" others. Sometimes, the best and the brightest should be allowed -- daresay encouraged -- to pursue their academic goals and be shown that their efforts deserve priority, instead of being sacrificed as vague "role models" in a society that is obsessed with political correctness, constantly catering to the lowest common denominator.

Christine Bronson



School problems revolve around a constant cycle

I believe the problem with our schools is because they seem to operate this way: Teachers are afraid of principals. Principals are afraid of the superintendent. The superintendent is afraid of the Board of Education. The board is afraid of the parents. The parents are afraid of the children. And the children are afraid of nothing.

Timothy Payne

Niagara Falls

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