Towns should enact plan to clear snowy sidewalks
Now that snow is falling, there are sidewalks in need of clearing. I am fortunate to live in Arcade, where the village plows the sidewalks, and I commend the workers for the fine job they do. I'm sure there are additional costs that are added to my taxes to do this, but it is well worth it to know that the sidewalks are open and usable.
When I hear of towns and villages forcing residents to shovel or pay fines, I get upset. These residents didn't put these sidewalks in, so why should they have to maintain them in the winter? Amherst has considered maintaining its sidewalks and I hope it goes forward with it. This is not something that is going to happen overnight, and it needs to be budgeted and staffed for the next year.
There are residents who cannot physically do this manual labor and others who aren't home or go south for the winter. Towns and villages need to take responsibility for the safety of their residents using these walkways. This would cause a slight increase in taxes, but when split between all residents, it is acceptable and less than what a fine would be for not clearing the sidewalk.
Whether contracted out or done as a duty of the streets department, it needs to be the responsibility of the village and town fathers to make sure it gets done. It is the only fair and safe way to conclude this issue.
Senate must change rules on filibusters
The rules governing how business is done in the U.S. Senate need to change. The filibuster isn't in the Constitution. It's just a Senate rule that allows rampant obstruction. It takes only 41 senators to completely obstruct or prevent debate and block an up-or-down vote. The filibuster essentially gives senators representing as little as 12 percent of the population a minority veto.
Sen. Tom Udall and 24 of his colleagues have proposed a strong package to change the Senate rules. The new rules would end filibusters on motions to begin debate and would force senators waging a filibuster to actually stay on the floor and engage in debate. That would protect the right of the minority to be heard, but also allow the Senate to conduct its business without endless, senseless delays.
The Senate should approve this package when it reconvenes on Monday. I want to see the filibuster rules fixed so that our senators can do their jobs -- debate and vote on bills.
It's GOP, not liberals using gun metaphors
Besides the obvious tragedy of the Tucson shootings, what is also upsetting to me is the way the Sunday morning talk shows, and many of the opinions summarized in a Jan. 10 article, seem to be saying that both sides (left and right, liberal and conservative) are equally to blame for the climate of rancor and hostility that exists in American politics today.
This is ludicrous. It is not a 50-50 situation; it's more like 90-10. National conservative broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage, as well as local talk show hosts, and politicians like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, constantly foment anti-government and anti-Obama hatred with their diatribes, allusions to the Second Amendment and gun metaphors.
I'd like to challenge anyone to identify which liberals/progressives have, in the past couple of years, gone on anti-government tirades or have made statements that encourage violence, used violent imagery, talked about "reloading," etc. If the investigation shows that the shooter was at all influenced by this violent climate, it is clear to me who is responsible for creating that climate; to equate Olbermann and Maddow to Limbaugh & Co. is ridiculous. Both sides are not equally responsible for this situation.
Liver cleanses have no place in medicine
Dietary supplement manufacturers have done a spectacular and highly profitable job of convincing people, including Paulette Millis ("Love your liver," Jan. 11 News), that our organs are like helpless children who must be protected from a cold, cruel world. Your liver is not defenseless against toxins. Metabolizing and excreting toxins are its major functions, and it takes more than junk food, pollution or even moderate alcohol intake to cause significant damage.
"Liver cleanses" have no place in medicine, even for people with liver failure, and thanks to the industry's lobbying efforts, supplements may not even contain the herbs listed on the label, nor must they be proven effective for anything except cleansing your bank account. With enough fruits and vegetables (raw or cooked), even vitamin supplements are unnecessary. Regular checkups with simple blood tests will determine if your liver is in shape, and a balanced diet, limited alcohol and following the directions on prescribed and over-the-counter medications are usually all that's needed to keep it healthy.
Our country rejected mass transit long ago
Let's not change the winning transportation game plan for Buffalo as the new NFTA director and The News suggest. With one of the best road networks, Buffalo's congestion is ranked by the Texas Transportation Institute near the bottom of 28 large metro areas. The mistake of a smart-growth, transit-oriented downtown has not been proliferated.
San Diego (my wife and I are refugees) is ranked most congested. For 20 years, roads there have lost out to mass transit, wasting one-third of the transportation budget. Mass transit has absorbed less than 2 percent of travel. Let's not import that mistake here.
Most people want and need the on-demand personal transportation that autos provide. Productivity and social flexibility can't put up with mass transit's inconvenience and doubled travel time. Already autos use less fuel per passenger-mile than buses. With mass transit's wasteful performance, why should travel revert to highly subsidized mass transit, which was rejected decades ago? With 90 percent of travel by car, isn't "the most good for the greatest number" to encourage use of increasingly more efficient low-emission cars and improve our roads? That's real smart growth.
Media should spotlight injured, slain soldiers
Though it's tragic what happened to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the media are feeding on her shooting a bit much. Do the soldiers in Afghanistan who are getting wounded and killed daily get that much coverage? They put their lives on the line every day and are the real heroes. Let's have some respect for them also.