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Everybody's Column

Lack of government planning will cost taxpayers billions

I look at the images of devastation in New Orleans and become more and more furious. Government at all levels knew that New Orleans would not survive a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. A disaster drill about a year ago practiced only for a Category 3 storm. Budget requests for money to strengthen the levees were repeatedly cut. The city was left to fend for itself.

Three or four years ago, the organization for which I worked submitted a grant proposal to Washington aimed at preventing terrorism. When the proposal arrived in D.C., the bureaucrats had no clue. They were working from a definition of homeland security that did not include any idea of prevention of terrorism or any other disaster.

In Washington officials talk a lot about homeland security, but the emphasis is on disaster response, not prevention. My parents' generation used to have an expression, "Penny wise and pound foolish." The lack of foresight by government leaders will stick my children and grandchildren with a bill for billions of dollars.

Jack Norton

Tonawanda

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Poor response to hurricane doesn't inspire confidence

Somewhere, Osama bin Laden is smiling. It is now four years since 9/1 1, four years during which the government has supposedly been preparing to respond to a terrorist attack on a major city.

"We didn't have enough warning" just doesn't cut it as an excuse for the too-little, too-late response to the devastation in the Gulf Coast. There was far more warning from Katrina than there would have been from al-Qaida. In addition, President Bush's assertion that no one could have foreseen the bursting of the levees is unbelievable.

Finally, the blase way in which Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went on with their vacations until days after the magnitude of the disaster became obvious speaks volumes about the amount of compassion in "compassionate conservatism."

Leslie Jaszczak

Buffalo

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Barbara Bush's comments reveal incredible arrogance

"Let them eat cake," said Marie Antoinette, generating the cynosure of arrogance. And for more than 200 years, we have had to borrow these juicy words from the French. No more. America, with the strength of democracy and the courage of the faithful, has finally managed to put the French where they belong. "They're underprivileged anyway," said Barbara Bush.

Frederick Sachs

Eden

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Post office is right to charge snowbirds for forwarded mail

I am writing in regard to the Sept. 6 News article on postal fees. There is no inherent right for citizens of New York who decide to move to Florida or any other state for the winter to have all of their mail forwarded to that address for six months at no charge. Since most postal users do not use this service, let the ones who do pay for it. I can't believe an extra $260 a year will dramatically change their lifestyle. This is the way many government services will be in the future, with the cost to be paid by those who use it.

Mark Muchowski

Orchard Park

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American consumers have power to lower gas prices

I applaud the Sept. 4 News article advising readers on how to make their gasoline go farther, but I disagree with two of its points. First, filling your tires with nitrogen instead of air is purely a marketing gimmick. Nitrogen is both lighter and smaller than oxygen, but even if it miraculously stayed in the tire longer than oxygen, replacing the lost oxygen in your tire with air -- which is 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen -- would soon leave your tire filled with pure nitrogen. Second, we can lower the price of gasoline. Prices will rise until our consumption is low enough to match our reduced production capacity. Whether they match at $2 per gallon or $5 per gallon is entirely up to us.

Chris Mullin

Amherst

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All who enlisted in military did so of their own free will

A Sept. 6 letter writer said: Only when President Bush can tell us why our young men and women have been sacrificed will Cindy Sheehan rest. It is my understanding that joining the military is a personal choice. While my heart goes out to the parents who have lost children, this is a job that they chose. No one forced them to enlist in the military, they did so of their own free will.

These men and women are paid to perform certain tasks as set forth by their boss, just like any other job. While years may pass where they are required only to perform light duty, there may come a time when the duty is war and, unfortunately, the risk is death. As parents, it is our responsibility to sit our children down and make sure that they understand that the price for "free" tuition and trade skills may be their lives.

Afrika Richardson

Buffalo

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Old railroad terminal is ideal location for downtown casino

The old DL&W railroad terminal is an awesome choice for a downtown casino. Think of the spin-offs. The flat-lined Cobblestone District could come back to life, and the old, rusty grain elevator across the way could be offered as part of the casino package and retrofitted into a hotel/restaurant.

Luring the Bills into that part of the city, along with the redevelopment plan created by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, could mean a bright future for that area. Imagine the possibilities! When I read the Sept. 7 News story, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

Vision, that's all one needs. We all know what the lack of vision and second guessing have done for the city -- nothing. Old school politics is out, forget the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and all the other groups that pat themselves on the back for doing nothing. The time to do something is now, the time for change is now. But our leaders lack the vision and the guts to change things.

Chris Kociski

Blasdell

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Renaming nuclear waste won't make it any safer

The author of an Aug. 16 Another Voice suggested sending all radioactive waste at West Valley to Yucca Mountain. Citing the threat of terrorism, the writer was right about the dangers of radioactive material close to our water supply, but his solution was unrealistic.

The canisters destined for Yucca are above ground and monitored constantly, therefore relatively safe. A great deal of other waste, much of it in ground, is classified "high-level" under present law, but the Department of Energy wants to rename it "waste incidental to reprocessing," as it has done in other places. The name change avoids the necessity of compliance with the law meant to isolate dangerous waste for centuries to avoid contact with the populace.

The Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes recently filed a lawsuit to prevent the DOE from reclassifying the waste here. According to an article in the Aug. 27 News, a DOE official denied plans to use that process here, but earlier this year he warned people at a public meeting that he needed that option, implying that the lesser classification will enable shipment off-site. It will also allow the DOE to avoid digging up high-level waste in the ground.

Poison by any other name is still poison.

Leonore S. Lambert

East Aurora

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