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"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," a quote from Shakespeare's "Hamlet," came to mind during the public hearing held by state officials this month in Porter Town Hall. Something is rotten in our state government, and the stink was evident as citizens tried and failed to obtain answers to these legitimate questions:

Why have officials been so secretive about details of a 40-year lease to Construction Services of Niagara for four buildings on the grounds of Fort Niagara?

Why is the state privatizing our historic buildings, recreational areas and unique parkland rather than developing them?

Who are the private investors who will not have to pay property, school, water and fire-protection taxes?

How many magnificent oak trees, wildlife habitats and public picnic and recreational areas will vanish forever?

Why were state officials willing to abandon the historic murals in the Officers Club, painted by notable artists such as E.M. Dychkowski, a former president of the Buffalo Society of Artists, and founding president of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo, and H.H. Crawford, an African-American artist who gained national prominence?

Why weren't these historic buildings, which were occupied by the U.S. Army before and during World War II, designated as National Historic Sites?

Why were state announcements published only in the Niagara Falls Gazette and the Buffalo Defender, and not in The Buffalo News or any Erie County suburban newspaper?

Why did our state officials schedule a poorly advertised "public" hearing in a remote setting with inadequate parking, and in a meeting room with insufficient seating?


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