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Everybody's Column / Letters from our readers

Race for Sardinia supervisor is about democracy, not money

I was sorry to read such shallow coverage in the Sept. 11 News of the primary race in my town. If the reporter had done a bit more investigating, he would have found that the supervisor race was not about money, but about democracy, honesty and integrity.

Kathy Balus' campaign is denying party bosses a chance to manipulate the election and allowing a grass-roots movement of citizens of many affiliations to work together for a team that will not sling mud and use defamation of personal integrity.

I have served on the Sardinia Planning Board for nearly seven years and watched as the process of writing a new comprehensive plan, complete with citizen surveys and focus group hearings, was abused by three of five members of an ad hoc Zoning Committee. Two of those members are now running for supervisor.

Several times I have tried to use the Freedom of Information Laws to find information about the deals to expand Waste Management. Each time I was told no minutes were kept and no notes made. The News failed to report that both Heather Phelps and Douglas Morrell, candidates for councilman, have land adjoining the landfill and could personally benefit from the expansion.

Sheila Vrenna



President's tax cuts have helped the economy

A Sept. 11 editorial in The News showed a lamentable ignorance of economics. It referred to the Bush administration's "foolish" tax cuts when talking about Katrina's aftermath. Would these be the same tax cuts that have led to 4 million new jobs, a jobless rate under 5 percent and a level of disposable income that the Census Bureau terms the highest ever? The tax cuts that have given the median family an additional $1,450 a year in take-home pay?

Not to mention that federal tax revenue has grown $262 billion (a figure that the CBO calls the largest single-year gain ever) and state tax revenue increased an average of 8.1 percent. Nowhere did The News call for spending cuts. One estimate of the highway bill states that cutting pork would save $25 billion. Imagine what waste exists elsewhere. The News also neglected to address the poverty causes it decries. Unwed parents and lack of a high school diploma are among the leading causes of poverty.

Meanwhile, we have spent 40 years and $6.6 trillion fighting the war on poverty. The News should be complaining about the lack of efficacy in anti-poverty spending, not tax cuts that seem to be accomplishing what well-meaning liberals cannot.

Rick Cannon



Partisan appointments lead to inept federal government

In Anne Applebaum's Sept. 15 op-ed, "Whose victory, exactly?" she justifiably lauds the extensive private efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina's victims. The political lesson she draws is that private initiatives are better suited to deal with this kind of disaster than those of "big government." Perhaps a more valid conclusion is that individual efforts may very well be better than those of an inept federal government.

Anyone who has been paying attention for the last five years is aware that this administration is rife with partisan appointments, lack of accountability, policies that favor the haves over the have-nots and disregard for scientific evidence, to name a few. Is it any surprise then that these people were unprepared for and incapable of dealing with destruction of this magnitude?

While it is heartwarming to see the outpouring of individual reactions, can you imagine how even more effective such private efforts would have been if they had occurred in the context of a timely and competent government response?

Eileen Brown



Article about Pataki was good, now News should target Clinton

The Sept. 12 News article, "What happened to Pataki's promise for the Falls?" was good, but predictable. Gov. George Pataki and the Falls' city fathers concentrated only on the casino. Casinos never contribute to an area's development.

Now can we expect a similar article exposing Sen. Hillary Clinton? "What happened to Clinton's promise to create jobs?" In the same article, The News could expose the fact that she has spent much of her time since her election campaigning out of New York State -- at our expense.

George Schmidt



U.S. has plenty of money, but the government wastes it

I am sick to death of liberals trashing the government for the lame response to Hurricane Katrina. What if President Bush nationalized the Gulf Coast and the storm missed? The liberals would have eaten him alive.

How about the fact that all of us love the feds to waste money on silly local projects? The government does not have too little money -- it just wastes most of what it gets. I love federal money for our waterfront, local businesses or highways, but is this where our nation really needs to spend money? Even the politicians of Louisiana siphoned off levee money for local pork, not caring that in the long run they were putting their constituents at risk.

The federal highway bill just passed included money for beautification along the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Los Angeles. This while the levees of New Orleans are crumbling. You get what you pay for, and until we demand our politicians (Republican and Democrat) look out for the country, and not their own re-election, we will see the same disastrous results.

Eric Hillebrand



Roberts lacks experience needed to be chief justice

I was severely disappointed by President Bush's nomination of John Roberts as chief justice. Roberts' testimony did not assuage my concerns. Frankly, he does not have enough judicial experience to be a Supreme Court justice, much less the chief justice.

In his testimony, he argued that his work as a lawyer only reflected the views of his employer, so we should not interpret his stands against civil rights and other underpinnings of American law as his own. We are left with only two years of service as a judge, which is insufficient.

Chris Mullin



Teaching Palestinian literature doesn't make one an anti-Semite

When driven by rage, the essential task -- finding an equitable solution to deal with the endless cycle of violence in Israel -- becomes more unattainable. What is most astounding about the Sept. 14 Another Voice, "Critic wrong about Palestinian literature class," written by UB professor James Holstun, is that it was devoid of the lethal rhetoric used in the attacks leveled at him, wrongfully accusing him of anti-Semitism. Instead of viciously firing back, Holstun simply set the record straight: He is neither anti-Semitic, nor predatory in his teaching, unless those who teach Arab studies -- language, literature, history -- automatically come under suspicion of being anti-Semitic.

It is not anti-Semitism that motivates Holstun to teach Arabic literature. Such a baseless charge is as cruel as it is inaccurate. Acknowledging the suffering of Palestinians and sharing their poetic voice with his students allows them to see a people apart from their vicious and dehumanizing depictions in the media, images that encourage further violence and misunderstanding.

Helen Milliken


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