Sprinkler systems must be mandatory
Nine firefighters recently died in a tragic fire in Charleston, S.C. According to news accounts, the furniture store and warehouse where the fire took place was the "big box" type -- large square footage and few internal walls that would have helped contain the blaze. Sadly, there were no sprinklers.
While the investigation into the cause of the fatal fire continues, one thing is clear: a properly installed sprinkler system would have likely stopped, or at least helped to contain, the flames from spreading. News reports also say the commercial building might have had sprinklers had it not been "grandfathered" -- that is, exempted from current building codes that require sprinkler systems.
Thankfully, most modern-day stores are equipped with sprinkler systems. We firmly believe that all commercial buildings, whether newly built or existing, should have these lifesaving systems installed, and urge local and state governments to adopt requirements for sprinklers in their building codes. We owe it to our firefighters, who put their lives at risk every day to protect others, to do everything possible to protect them.
Paul R. Oehmler
Board Member, Firemen's Association of the State of New York
We can't force Iraqis to feel national unity
We've read recently, as we have for several years, that a little more time is needed for training and equipping the army in Iraq. In 1941, I was barely a teenager when the United States entered World War II. I watched as the United States recruited, trained and equipped an Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force that became the world's most powerful and effective military.
Remembering that causes me to ask: Why is it, with all the help our country has been giving Iraq over a time period longer than U.S. involvement in World War II, that the Iraqis still need more time, help, training and equipment to put a reliable national army in place?
The answer seems clear. The Iraqi people don't support that happening, and in that case it won't happen. We can't force the Iraqis to feel national unity. Until, if ever, they come to feel that on their own, there are only two possibilities -- disunity with partisan militias with sectarian/tribal/ethnic loyalties or an authoritarian dictatorship. Either one is a sad outcome for our misadventure in Iraq.
Paul H. Reitan
Who reaped benefits of fight against casino?
In January 2006, The News published an article reporting that the Wendt Foundation had decided to be "proactive" and pay what would amount to more than a million dollars in lawyer fees to fight casino gambling in Buffalo. Call me cynical, but I can't help but question the motives behind the decision to provide direct funding to the anti-casino initiative.
Now that the casino is open, I ask: Who benefited from those million dollars? Anyone addicted to gambling? How many new jobs were created? Is Citizens for a Better Buffalo concerned for the people of Buffalo, or is it really concerned for the businessmen of Buffalo?
Casino opponents' use of hearsay and innuendo is misleading. Their assertion that service and entertainment-sector jobs created by the casino are inferior is false. There's no difference between the tourism-related jobs they would create and jobs created by the casino. The difference is whose pockets the profits would fill. To say that the Wendt Foundation is not sincere in its stated goals would be ludicrous. Buffalo, its institutions and community have benefited greatly from its generosity. I just question its decision, which clearly didn't benefit anyone who needed it.
PSC must nix rate hike sought by National Fuel
I could not help but notice the huge contrast in the July 12 News business section stories about pay cuts at a Buffalo TV station and a rate increase request by National Fuel Gas. A Buffalo TV station did the normal business response to a loss of viewership and revenues by cutting costs and salaries. National Fuel complained that customers are conserving on gas use and plans to increase its customer charges by 6.4 percent to maintain its profit and, no doubt, executive salaries.
That should tell you anything you need to know about how monopolies work. Every National Fuel customer needs to call the New York State Public Service Commission at 518-474-7080 to protest this customer gouging by National Fuel. I seem to remember a few years back that the Erie County Water Authority used a similar excuse for raising water rates. Maybe when the last business and resident of Western New York leaves, the local monopolies and politicians will figure out how they wrecked the place. By then it will be too late.
Why would the pope encourage divisiveness?
When I took a look at the front page headlines in the July 12 News, I was struck dumbfounded by Pope Benedict XVI's comments claiming that Catholicism is the only "true" faith and that only Catholics have any chance of going to heaven.
And this coming from the head of a Church that in recent times has paid millions of dollars in damages for covering up sexual abuse! Do you think this could be one reason why attendance is down and churches are closing all over America? Talk about people in glass houses throwing stones! This takes the cake.
Encouraging divisiveness where there is none has no place in my humble world view. For a minute or so, I thought President Bush and Pope Benedict had swapped brains, but then I realized that perhaps they have much in common.
Buffalo Diocese needs to get back to basics
The universal Catholic Church has missions and priests on every continent of the world. I am sure that all of these missions cannot be described as "viable, vibrant or dynamic" -- words the officials of the Buffalo Diocese like to use when referring to their closing of schools and churches. They seem to forget that most of the homes surrounding these beautiful buildings have human beings living in them, be they Catholic or non-Catholic.
If the religious orders who staff these missions used the criteria of the Buffalo diocese, there probably would be precious few missions left. I would suggest that the faith these missionaries obviously have isn't present in the leadership of this diocese. If the faith were there, there would be some serious evangelization going on instead of closing parishes and retreating to the suburbs. Who knows, it might even produce priestly vocations.