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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

We should help, not judge children living in poverty

What does it say about us as a nation that we can sit by while so many of our citizens are truly destitute? Maybe we tell ourselves that those less fortunate are to blame for their own trials. This "disclaimer" keeps us comfortably disengaged, relatively free of guilt and accountability. Or maybe we just don't realize what is going on in our own back yard.

In 1968, the brilliant photographer Gordon Parks did a piece on a deeply impoverished family living in Harlem. It appeared in the March 8, 1968, issue of Life Magazine. Parks' work was so compelling and eye-opening that it inspired many across this country to take a long, hard look at poverty, its victims and its repercussions.

As a person who works in the nonprofit world, I am grateful to The News for producing the series, "Children in Poverty." Any time a light is shed on a troubled area of our society, an opportunity is presented to right a wrong. May we put aside our differences and reach out to these young casualties of an unequal system.

After all, there is truth in the old saying, "A nation is only as rich as its poorest citizen."

Polla Milligan



Policy change is key to eliminating poverty

In Rod Watson's column, "System fails those who need it most," Henry L. Taylor Jr. hits the nail on the head when stating that, in Buffalo, "the problem is not poverty, it's policy." The local government obviously understands the need for economic development, but in practice proves continually shortsighted. Luring businesses into the region by offering them tax breaks and subsidies sounds simple enough, but who is responsible for following up and ensuring that the projects work?

The existence of new business alone is not the definition of success; the actual impact and community benefit of such development must be gauged. Our industrial development agencies and Empire Zones far too often subsidize the creation of low-income jobs in the suburbs, despite the great need for good jobs in our urban core.

Further, there are no requirements attached to such deals. Businesses are not required to pay living wages, hire local labor or build in environmentally friendly ways. Most surprisingly, they don't lose their tax breaks even if they fail to meet their job creation or retention goals. The Senate and Assembly have an opportunity to rectify such inconsistencies by passing IDA reform. If policy is the problem, the solution could be as simple as the willingness to make a change.

Carolyn Miller



Stop having children if you can't afford them

I take exception to the recent News articles about poverty and the children it involves in the Buffalo area. Does anybody have a brain out there? Why would people who cannot afford to care for themselves bring children into this world, who they also cannot take care of, thus condemning all involved to a miserable life of poverty?

How can I possibly feel sorry for these children when their own parents obviously do not care enough to think about the life they offer these kids? I am also sick of society being burdened by someone else's irresponsible choice. Birth control is available; use it.

Robin F. Blersch



'Raging teenagers' were never an issue

The most astonishing aspect of The News article about Rushford Lake's "war on the shore" is that it purports to be about "raging teenagers" despoiling another man's property. Nothing could be further from the truth. The issue is not and never was about teenagers carousing, drinking, campfires, etc.

Such slanderous untruths were merely a tactic by a multimillionaire who, at his girlfriend's request, bought a cottage and then decided he wanted the entire peninsula on which it stood for his own. I defy you to find any member of the Smith family doing anything that resembles the disparaging behavior portrayed in the article.

The real issue has always been about a property line. In an age of GPS, it remains unresolved since 2002. Why? Because unscrupulous lawyers are busy racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars. There's lots of money to be made. James Kay has it. The lawyers and the town love it.

With prison-like fencing, Kay barred the Smiths from their docks. So they made a sign: "We pay taxes too." Kay ordered it seized. The Smiths called the state troopers who said: "I hate to tell you this, but in my experience, the guy with the most money wins." Since 1947, several families, including the Smiths, enjoyed and maintained the property, co-existing peacefully. Sixty years later, a "problem" emerged. Kay had arrived.

Maureen Cancilla

East Aurora


Justice system favors those with most money

I must respond to the Rushford Lake nightmare that I have been living for almost four years. The last 20 years, I have been raising my two sons, now 17 and 19. They have enjoyed Cub Scouts, Stockade, weekly Mass and CCD classes, snow skiing and water skiing. They hosted kids from Japan, Spain, Ireland and New York City for 10 summers in a row in Rushford. They maintained honor roll status throughout high school. To have someone refer to them as "raging teenagers" is laughable. Ask any coach, teacher or neighbor who knows them. My oldest son is studying business at RIT, and I am certain he will sit up and listen in the ethics class. He has learned a lot from one man on what not to be like when you become successful.

The man who ripped their summer home out from underneath them is everything they have been taught not to be. This man used his money to destroy many lives. The money he has wasted in legal fees and suing innocent people could feed a small country. And someday he will have to explain this to a greater power.

I knocked on the door of every branch of government looking for help to no avail. I am so disappointed in our justice system. I work in school and when we say the pledge, I mutter under my breath "with liberty and justice for some of us."

Eileen Tomaka

Orchard Park


Seneca casino will spur development downtown

I have hope for Buffalo yet. Last week a local developer announced significantly upgraded plans for a development project in the Cobblestone District, giving the proposed casino as a factor in the decision. Multiple letters in The News have called for progress and implored the elitists trying to stop the project to get out of the way, and columnists Murray Light and Doug Turner have echoed that sentiment in recent columns. It's about time!

The Seneca Nation wants to invest its own money in Buffalo -- not our tax dollars. One trip to either of its existing casinos will show that the Senecas do everything first class and they put people to work.

Cornelius Murray detailed the lengths to which some people will go to stop progress here. Even though the Senecas got the federal approval asked by a federal judge, Murray's bands of preservers of nondevelopment filed a new lawsuit. Most Buffalonians don't have the luxury of sitting back and spending other people's money to try to stop projects from coming here. Most of us want to see projects like the casino happen so that our city is able to survive and succeed.

Mary Ann Nestor



Casino won't create economic development

It is interesting to note the purported outpouring of support for the casino. Most of these letter writers say that the casino will create jobs and that the Senecas have followed the law. Oneida County Attorney John Campanie pointed out that in the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Draft Environmental Impact Statement relating to Turning Stone Casino that 75 percent of Turning Stone's business comes from within a one-and-one-quarter hour drive.

He stated that "The vast majority of the projected lost weddings and events in fact are business taken from other, independent, tax-paying central New York businesses." It should be noted that Oneida County has the highest sales tax rate in New York State at 9.75 percent. So one must ask: Does a casino actually create jobs and economic development and reduce taxes?

Legally, there is disagreement regarding whether the land for the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is gaming-eligible or if the compact the state has entered into with various Indian nations is valid and in effect for purposes of federal law. The Senecas are free to build whatever they desire. The courts will determine what activities may be conducted in these structures.

Daniel T. Warren

West Seneca


Waterfront roadways can't be done piecemeal

Attempting to change the roads and bridges of the waterfront in a piecemeal fashion is ludicrous! Imagine if the Erie Canal were done by putting one section in Syracuse, one in Lockport and then hoping that the rest could be completed later. What's needed is a comprehensive plan for the entire waterfront infrastructure that is agreed upon by all the appropriate public agencies and private interests.

This plan should start with the premise of eventually removing the Skyway and focus on creating alternative routes for the 40,000 vehicles per day that currently use the roadway.

Many of these alternatives have already been examined. Once these were constructed, demolish the Skyway. This plan would not require 16 years in the making as the deeply flawed DOT Southtowns Connector project did.

While Rep. Brian Higgins' efforts to date have been good, I would much rather rely on a consensus plan than one individual's instincts. The waterfront redevelopment will be the most important thing we do in the next 50 years. Let's stop the bickering and get this done right.

Jim Rudnicki

Lake View


We've studied enough; let's build the road now

The News got it just right in supporting the call to proceed with the 3.3-mile long, two-way Olmsted-like waterfront parkway to replace the confusing, complicated and underutilized Fuhrmann Boulevard.

As the mayor of Angola, I support this project because it will finally deliver on the decades of demand for public access to the waterfront while recognizing that the needs and concerns of the daily commuters from the Southtowns must be addressed in moving forward in creating one waterfront.

With this fully funded project under construction, the design and development of the best bridge connection between the inner and outer harbor will begin to smartly plan for the eventual removal of the Skyway.

This community cannot afford to do everything at once, and has paid too high a price for doing nothing at all. As The News editorial stated, "let the work begin." Build the road now.

Howard "Hub" Frawley

Mayor, Village of Angola


Don't put Clintons back in White House

Hillary Clinton left her senatorial duties to campaign for the presidency. She wants to alter the political culture and normal American culture as we know it, change the economy and lessen individual freedoms. She receives her Senate pay while campaigning.

If elected, she would bring with her Bill Clinton, intending to send him around the world to improve our image. Think of what that could do to our image; a womanizer traveling worldwide at taxpayer expense. He receives an annual pension of $216,000 plus $1.16 million for transitional expenses from the U.S. Treasury. He has also received $40 million in speaking fees since leaving office. Two-thirds of the money came from foreign sources.

If Hillary is elected, I am sure she will manage to increase her monetary benefits. In addition to the above perks, the Clinton family has round-the-clock Secret Service protection.

It would be an outrage for Hillary to return to Washington with the impeached former president who tainted the office with his endless trail of corruption. Crime scene tape should have been put around the White House when they left. I weep for my country should they succeed in their unethical, insatiable quest for power.

Thelma C. Jenkins



Clinton has betrayed trust of constituents

Regarding the Oct. 29 News article stating that Sen. Hillary Clinton has slipped in Senate attendance, why would I vote for someone in whom trust has been placed for assistance and then had that trust betrayed?

I am referring to her failure to attend the hearing on the compensation program for nuclear workers from Bethlehem Steel Corp. and other facilities. The advocate group for this program has fought for seven years, headed by Ed Walker and his supporters.

Clinton has made empty promises to these people. Does anyone see a pattern here? Where is her concern for her constituents in New York State? Does anyone think she will change her spots if elected? Don't count on it.

Joan Mathews


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