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Everybody's Column

>State's safeguards ensure fair election

A recent Douglas Turner column praised eight states that allow registration with immediate voting. Widespread voter fraud is now suspected. Are we now one of those Third World countries that needs outside observers from the United Nations to ensure an honest election?

As an election inspector, I have been impressed by New York's electoral safeguards. Turner would do well to sit in on our yearly training sessions or at least read an Election Inspectors Handbook to note the procedures to ensure an honest and fair election. Citizens prove our worth to vote by abiding by law, which should include showing proof of citizenship, identity at time of registration and residence, with time for election boards to check the data.

Perhaps it is time for the federal government to set minimum standards by which all the states would have to adhere. Quick and easy was not how this republic was formed; quick and easy was not how sacrifice and dedication led to needed reforms. One obligation might entail an effort to educate ourselves and give careful consideration of what we believe to be in our nation's best interests and endeavoring to understand the positions and policies of our chosen candidates.

The media could give reminders of the last date on which individuals must register, for both the primary and general elections, as a vital public service.

Norma Ward


>Crisis should serve as a warning to all

Once upon a time, in never-never land, there lived a group of people who were very hard-working, compassionate and naive. They lived within their means, and bought only what they felt they needed. They cared for their less-fortunate neighbors and shared their meager wealth.

There also existed, in their midst, many greedy individuals who cared only for themselves and lived in luxury, far beyond their affordability.

One day a tremendous tornado zeroed in on the community and destroyed many of the stately mansions of the selfish people. Miraculously, the homes of the well-meaning were spared. A call for help was sent out and, as expected, the call was answered. Assistance was provided by the generous members of the community, allowing the greedy people to continue living in the manner in which they had become accustomed.

Many years later a huge flood spread over the land and everybody lost all their possessions. Seeing the helpless plight of the people, a marauding band of outlaws swept in and conquered them. This couldn't happen in America, could it?

Joseph A. Gehl


>Putting missiles in Poland makes no strategic sense

The analysis in Douglas Turner's recent column on Eastern Europe and Barack Obama is highly questionable. First, the missile system being deployed by the United States in Poland and the Czech Republic is a Bush administration boondoggle and makes no strategic sense. It is ostensibly aimed at Iran and other unnamed Middle Eastern countries, but Iran knows that launching missiles at anybody would lead to its annihilation and Iran's most likely target, Israel, cannot be readily defended from Poland.

Second, Turner expresses concern for the security of Poland and Eastern Europe. Poland is a NATO ally and the United States is obligated to come to its defense if attacked by an outside power, i.e. Russia. But the presence of these missiles, practically on Russia's frontier, significantly increases the chance of a confrontation between these two states.

Third, our foreign policy should have as its primary obligation the pursuit of American self-interest and the enhancement of our national security. Provoking the Russians for no good reason has the opposite effect. Recognizing that Russia has legitimate strategic interests is not "playing footsie" with that country, as Turner would have it. A simplistic black-and-white foreign policy is not the way to deal with a country like Russia or anyone else for that matter.

David R. Costello


>Grab a life jacket, this ship is sinking

As a voter in New York State, Election Day is an excursion back into history as the same politicians are returned to office every year. We all know that history repeats itself, and watching election returns is like being a passenger on the Titanic just after it struck the same iceberg -- repeatedly. Seemingly every year on election night, we watch in disbelief as the captain turns the ship around and repeatedly hits the same iceberg again and again. When the captain is finally asked why he keeps hitting the same iceberg, he responds, "The passengers voted to send me back to the iceberg to continue my good work."

I fear that after the election, when the same politicians are sent back to office to continue their good work, slamming into the iceberg of lobbyists and special interests, they'll ultimately sink the ship. Even Gov. David Paterson warned that this may happen. So now is the time to grab a life-jacket and find a lifeboat. Don't wait for more political rhetoric. The iceberg is dead ahead, again and again.

Matthew R. Powenski


>Community banks stable amid financial meltdown

The spotlight on the banking and financial services industries is obviously getting brighter, and hotter. As our political leaders attempt to revive our global financial supermarkets, consumer confidence is dwindling. Consumers are rightly concerned about the safety of their deposits and the future of the financial industry. However, readers can take comfort in the fact that most community banks in upstate New York have steered clear of the current mess.

For example, our $9.1 billion asset bank is strong, growing profitably and very well capitalized. While Buffalo and our other upstate New York markets are not immune to this economic environment, we have proven to be relatively stable and very resilient. And they are actively lending money to consumers and businesses, and taking advantage of new business opportunities made available by bigger, out-of-town banks that are otherwise distracted.

Like many of our local competitors, our bank and our 114 branches are open for business, we have not altered their lending strategies and standards, and we have the financial resources to help our customers grow.

John R. Koelmel
President and Chief Executive Officer
First Niagara Financial Group


>Use a gong to keep candidates in line

It would be refreshing to see a new format for a presidential debate -- gong show. If a candidate strays from the question, the moderator bangs the gong.
Michael P. Santa Maria

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