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Everybody's Column

>Watchdog agencies fail to protect Americans

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the federal agency charged with protecting the public, especially children, from serious injury or death from products. Its current chairwoman, Nancy Nord, and her predecessor, both Bush appointees, have been exposed for accepting nearly $60,000 in all-expense-paid trips to destinations such as golf resorts, Spain and China from the industries they are supposed to regulate.

This country has been inundated with more than 20 million toys containing excessive lead, which causes brain damage in children. Just recalled are millions of sets of children's beads in which the manufacturer replaced glue with a cheaper chemical that converts into a powerful date-rape drug when ingested.

Incredibly, the commission, now half its former size, has only one overwhelmed toy inspector for the entire country. What has happened at the commission is indicative of health and safety agencies under the Bush administration. It has pursued an unprecedented campaign to weaken the federal agencies by appointing industry loyalists to head them. Watchdog agencies must protect American citizens and not shield powerful corporations.

John Feroleto


>Clinton is neglecting her duties in Senate

Hillary Rodham Clinton is ramping up her campaign with a fever. Iowa, California, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina. The senator is traveling the nation in order to rally her troops for the 2008 elections. As a resident and voter in Western New York, I have two questions. 1.) How many times has the good senator been to Buffalo? 2.) Are the citizens of New York still paying her salary while she is campaigning?

It seems to me that if our senator is tending to her personal ambitions, and not to those of the taxpayer, she should relinquish her taxpayer-paid salary. If I don't show up for work, and don't accomplish the tasks my employer assigns me, I either get fired or I don't get paid.

We need a full-time representative in the Senate to help our region address its full-time problems. We need a full-time senator working for the people of New York. We need a candidate for president who has worked for the people, and not a career politician working for her own personal gain.

Paul J. Demeter
Orchard Park


>Have some empathy for the less fortunate

I think The Buffalo News did an excellent job on its articles on poverty. While I believe that people are entitled to their opinions, it seems many believe that poverty is brought on by one's actions. My mother, who also grew up in poverty, became pregnant as a teenager. My grandmother raised me on her Social Security check in a trailer court in Brant, which was closed down by the Board of Health because we had no water.

Most people who know me don't realize the circumstances that I was raised in, or would ever consider me a burden to society. In fact, I believe that growing up in poverty has helped me to have insight into the plight of others. The old adage "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" truly represents what anyone who judges another human being should do.

Kudos to The News for bringing the plight of children in poverty to the forefront of society. I have dedicated 11 years of my life to working with inner-city children, volunteering at the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center, teaching First Communion classes and being a Eucharistic Minister at my church. I'm sure most of society is grateful my mother didn't choose birth control.

Angela Banaszak


>Decrease in traffic means fewer repairs

With the Thruway Authority stating that usage is down throughout the state, maybe we should see a toll decrease. This would only seem to make sense, because if we are seeing less traffic, then the wear and tear on the roads must also be down, making the cost of maintenance less expensive. Wouldn't it be nice to have some agency take that position for a change?

William A. Doll Jr.


>Euthanasia ends suffering and reduces medical costs

There is no doubt that Medicare and Medicaid are critically needed safety-net programs and that they're in grave danger of being slashed. There is a giant step that could be easily taken to keep them much more solvent. That is to reject the inhumane and baseless myth that natural death is the only moral way out. Oregon and Holland already have successful euthanasia programs.

Think about millions of our countrymen who are living with severe pain or in great distress while praying to die. Others are in a vegetative state, all too often with painful bed sores, being fed and hydrated through a hole in their stomach wall, completely out of it, with no quality of life, while being cared for 2 4/7 by loved ones giving too much of themselves for no real gain. Often these poor victims are people we love, and yet our society tolerates these cruel fates for them.

Why even consider some fictitious "slippery slope" down the road when we have these horrible consequences right here and right now?

Charles W. Lewis


>Returning cars to Main St. won't improve downtown

The reconstruction of Fuhrmann Boulevard isn't the only major road project that needs a second look by the New York State Department of Transportation. Spending $50 million to return cars to downtown's Main Street needs to be re-examined both in its scope and relevance.

The birth of suburban shopping malls occurred within the same time frame as traffic ceased on Main Street to accommodate an under-used light rail transit system. Both contributed to the near extinction of a once vibrant retail corridor.

Four decades later, much has changed. As a community, we need to ask ourselves how a project that adds one lane of traffic in either direction will impact downtown.

We first need to examine current trends with respect to housing and retail. The emergence of a substantial downtown residential community and current plans to concentrate major retail outlets by Canal Place should render this project as outdated and irrelevant.

Let's imagine living in a more progressive city where our urban planners, in conjunction with the University at Buffalo, redesign our drab pedestrian mall to actually attract pedestrians. Install decorative lighting, flower beds, trees, park benches, and appropriate retail venues will follow.

Michael J. Smith

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