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I don't think there has ever been a time in our history when we have seen the American spirit come to life on our shores the way it did on Sept. 11. The people who most embodied that spirit were the police officers and firefighters of New York City. They conducted the largest rescue of American civilians that I've ever heard of. More than 350 of them gave their lives to accomplish it. They paid the ultimate price to fulfill their civil service. I am one taxpayer who appreciates the fact that they were public employees.

As the situation in Afghanistan progresses, I know that if called upon, our police and fire departments will answer that same call. While I pray that our city will not fall victim to an act of terrorism, I don't think anybody can guarantee that. Officials are right to heighten security and increase training of employees to handle such a possibility.

What I cannot understand is why Mayor Anthony Masiello, County Executive Joel Giambra and The News think it is a good time to freeze these people's wages. Government must find other ways to cover shortfalls caused by terrorism. To ask our rescuers and protectors to "share the pain" causes me to ask, share the pain with whom? The mayor's advisers or political appointees? The county executive's many administrators? When will politicians start finding other ways to save money, rather than targeting the people who actually provide services to the taxpayer?

In its editorial, The News admitted that it is the union's job to protect its members. I submit that in this case, it is also trying to protect the citizens.

The local police, firefighters and paramedics who went to New York to assist their colleagues made me proud to be from Western New York. They shared the pain. The shortsighted response of local politicians made me wonder if they would wait until after a disaster to appreciate the men and women who work for the people.



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