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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Problem of drunken drivers needs a community solution

Donn Esmonde's Sept. 2 column, "Judges failed us on repeat DWI offender" was a promo for personal responsibility -- the "every person for him/herself society." He may be willing to let social responsibility go the way of corporate responsibility. However, there are many of us who will fight for it.

Our prisons are now heavily populated with people who have never hurt a person in their lives, who come out of jail with their progressive disease progressed and their options, chances of recovery, diminished.

Limit the promotion of alcohol on billboards and in the media. Eliminate casinos pumping alcohol to the most vulnerable. Demand that insurance plans provide treatment in our communities for as much time as taxpayers pay for jail; two to seven years if it takes that long. Support family education programs.

Stop blaming judges who have little discretion anymore. Stop expecting the person with the disease of denial to stop denying. Stop relying on prisons to cure all our social ills. Start being honest about what needs to change and work together as a society to responsibly address the problem or drunk driving will persist, the prison industry will flourish and more lives will be destroyed. We have a choice.

Dianne Benge
Families Fighting Back
Buffalo

Swanick's boldness is late in the game

I find it very ironic that lame duck Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick is now urging his colleagues to have the "courage" to vote to increase the county sales tax to help solve the county's financial woes. On both Sept. 8 and Sept. 14, Swanick questioned the courage of his constituents. If Swanick had been doing his job for the past 20-plus years, maybe this problem would not exist today.

I cannot recall one incident where Swanick was willing to jeopardize his county seat, as a Democrat or Republican, in any previous crisis situation. It's so easy to be courageous when you have nothing to lose.

Lou Fabiano
Williamsville

Wingfest has its placeamid society's troubles

In response to the Sept. 13 letter concerning the chicken wing eating contest at Wingfest, lighten up! Wingfest offered people an opportunity to participate and sample wings from all over. What better place to have this event, than where wings originated?

Eating contests may not be for everyone, but "vile, obscene and sacrilegious" seems a bit extreme. Yes, people were starving in New Orleans -- people have been starving all over the world for years -- but I doubt whether many people view the contest as an affront to those in need. The victims of Katrina were not ignored, since collection booths were set up at the festival.

As for "libraries closing, jobs being lost and government budgets eroding," I think this event offered a pleasant diversion from the problems of our city. Buffalo needs all the events possible to stimulate some kind of spending here. Long live the Wingfest. I can't wait til next year.

James J. Kalinowski
Snyder

Develop waterfront for everyone to enjoy

The area where land and sea meet has always been regarded as a special place, with special value. This is no less true for Buffalo's waterfront. The vacant portion of it, which runs parallel with Fuhrmann Boulevard, has exciting potential. But the promise of this land belongs to everyone, not an exclusive few. Waterfront development should be woven with a common thread that has meaning to most people. Beaches, gardens, museums, parks, amusements and bike paths are popular pastimes. Our lakefront can comfortably be used five months of the year, making these activities possible. Structures placed sparingly near the water will allow more room to enjoy the lake's beauty, peacefulness and refreshing breeze on hot days.

The proposed office buildings for this area would drastically reduce public space. Enthusiasts for such development should look at the city. There are highly visible structures that badly need refurbishing or removing. They are a disgrace and reflect poorly on the city. Let's keep our buildings located downtown and our lakefront for pleasure.

Judy Catalano
Williamsville

Helfer's denials are not credible

I find it laughable that Buffalo mayoral candidate Kevin Helfer is trying to distance himself from County Executive Joel Giambra. When Giambra came to County Hall, he brought with him many friends and family (the friends and family plan). One of them was Helfer, who received well-paid patronage jobs. After over four years and over a half a million dollars in salary and benefits at the expense of the taxpayers, Helfer bailed out when the mess created by Giambra and friends was becoming public. Helfer stated he didn't realize what was going on and when he did he left. He had to be pretty incompetent not to realize what was going on, especially at his job level.

Helfer has long been a member of the "political machine" he now claims to disdain and a friend of Giambra who he is now trying to distance himself from to save his political career.

Shirley Smith
Lancaster

Casino gambling equals monumental problems

I am writing in regard to the Sept. 12 News article, "What happened to Pataki's promise for Falls?" Unfortunately, the information on Seneca buildings and enterprises in Niagara Falls failed to tell that 35 to 50 percent of the profit used to build this gambling industry and amenities comes from 4 percent of the gamblers -- the addicted -- rich and poor. Only 200 or so workers have full-time jobs in the casino, the rest are part time with few benefits.

As expected, Seneca Gaming isn't about to publicize hidden information. No citizen of Buffalo wants the worth of our city to deteriorate economically or spiritually, as it will if a casino opens here.

Research shows that the proximity of a downtown casino will increase the number of addicts in the area by thousands. Our government has forced this monster on us, never asking for a referendum, never listening to economic reason or human suffering. At least mayoral candidate Sen. Byron Brown suggests that funds are needed for treatment of gambling problems. That would be a promise worth keeping.

Robert J. Schulman, M.D.
Buffalo

Closing churches is not the answer

Speaking as one who was a member of a parish, St. Vincent de Paul/Buffalo, that was closed and sold back in 1993, I would like to comment on the latest talk about further "realigning" some parishes in the Buffalo Diocese.

Now, as then, is the statement repeated: "after all, they are only buildings." I beg to differ. These are houses of God. Just because a certain church no longer has sufficient members of a particular ethnic group to support it doesn't mean that it must be closed; whether it was at one time a German or Polish parish on the East Side, or an Italian or Hispanic parish on the West Side.

Those neighborhoods are still populated, even though its population may be non-Catholic. They just need to be evangelized, as the late Pope John Paul II said. Faith is needed to save these parishes.

Albert Huntz
President, Una Voce-Buffalo

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