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Everybody's Column / Letters from our readers

Charter schools receive short end of funding stick

I'm not sure by his Sept. 11 column, "Charter schools raising the ante," that Murray Light understands charter schools aretuition-free public schools. The difference is charters operate with greater independence than traditional public schools and are held to a higher level of accountability.

Here in Buffalo, charter schools are providing new hope to historically underserved families. Yet charter schools get the short end of the funding stick. A child who attends my charter school, for instance, receives only two-thirds of the money for classroom instruction that is received by a child who attends the district-run public school down the street. There is no justification for this.

There is a fundamental issue here: Do educational dollars belong to the system, or to the children? If the answer is children, then those dollars should be in the backpack of every child who moves from a traditional public school to a charter school.

I invite Light and readers to visit our school to see how public charter schools are a win-win for parents, teachers, students and public education.

Uchenna Cissoko

KIPP Sankofa Charter School

Buffalo

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Don't let special interests derail BlueCross headquarters

I would like to offer some advice to BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, which is attempting to build a new corporate headquarters downtown: Get started quickly. Dig that foundation. Move in under cover of night if that's what it takes, but begin work as soon as possible.

It has a chance to get something done around here before special-interest groups, preservationists, various politicians and perfectionists of all types slow the project down to a dead stop because the building doesn't meet their high standards of approval. By the way, is everyone enjoying the beautiful "signature" bridge on their way to Canada?

Terrence Henry

Buffalo

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Why is there no accountability for disastrous fiscal decisions?

We usually do not mind paying taxes to support the services we expect. We also vote for increases in taxes that are for education. These expenses, we believe, help assure a better future for all people.

Now we are having second thoughts about paying our taxes, at least when those taxes would be the proposed increase in Erie County property taxes. We know that there will be no choice; county property taxes will have to be paid. However, it is unfair and demeaning for taxpayers to have to pay for fiscally irresponsible decisions: the recent closings of income-generating motor vehicle offices and the layoffs of county prison and election personnel.

Elma citizens had to mark their paper ballots within the confines of cardboard boxes. These votes then had to be counted by hand at additional expense to the county.

And now the county wants to borrow large sums of money to "give" to Bass Pro. Why is accountability for these disastrous fiscal decisions not being demanded?

Patricia M. Costanzo

Ross Giese

Elma

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Media played a key role in gas price increases

We all have heard about the body bags that are required now that the flood waters are receding in the South. We also have heard the projected amount of time to get the power turned back on, and about gas prices that will ruin an already fragile economy. Once again, the media have gone to extreme limits.

Media is big business and, therefore, we must learn not to take at face value what we see or hear on TV. What type of media coverage have we been getting from Iraq and Afghanistan?

Television and print media have been sensationalizing news for years without being held accountable. In the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the media played an essential role in the immediate gas price increase by reporting exaggerations. Media outlets need to return to basic reporting. Forget the editorializing and prognosticating.

David Occhipinti

North Tonawanda

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Services provided by ECMC are invaluable, must be saved

I am proud to serve as an occupational therapist in the acute rehab unit in Erie County Medical Center. We work with patients who have suffered life-altering injuries from motor vehicle accidents, brain injuries, multiple traumas, spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders. We assist patients with their functional recovery as well as re-entry into the community. We give people hope for the future and provide them with life skills.

Many patients face the reality of their insurance "running out." These patients then have to apply for Medicaid. ECMC provides services for everyone, regardless of a patient's insurance provider.

It is County Executive Joel Giambra's "recommendation" that ECMC not be given a subsidy for the 2006 fiscal year. ECMC is still waiting for the 2005 subsidy that was also promised and never delivered.

Why does the media forget to mention the fact that Kaleida Health also gets a subsidy? Kaleida receives it from New York State instead of Erie County.

I am asking that this community join me in standing up for ECMC. Great things happen at this hospital every day.

Erika Julyan

West Seneca

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Perhaps Bush will be known as Super Teflon President

Have you had enough yet? President Bush has stumbled and bumbled around now for years. He has surrounded himself with toadies and sycophants who are afraid to stand up and tell him when he is making a great mistake. He has appointed incompetent cronies to positions of authority that require intelligence and skills beyond their comprehension -- FEMA's Michael Brown.

Bush has attempted to outdo his father by thrusting us into a war that is draining the life blood of our country, both in the lives of young people and the finances needed for the welfare of our country. We are pouring billions of dollars into the quagmire of Iraq where victory is nowhere in sight and may not even be possible. Bush continues to gut our social network and rob from the poor while giving to the rich. What is so remarkable to me is that even with his poll numbers falling, millions of Americans continue to support him. Ronald Reagan was known as the Teflon President but Bush can assume the title of the Super Teflon President.

Joseph Spina

Amherst

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Reunification of Ireland would be a positive step

Ireland must have a new future. The country should be reunified. Reunification would be a good thing for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It would end the years of strife and ill-will between Catholics and Protestants. I favor a united Ireland with four small assembles, one each for the four Irish provinces, under the Irish Parliament in Dublin.

I propose a joint British-Irish referendum. If the percentage of pro-unity votes cast on the British island combined with the percentage of pro-unity votes cast on the Irish island is 50 percent or greater, the result would be a vote for reunification.

This uses the democratic principle of self-determination and a proportionately weighted vote. A pro-unity referendum result would be binding on the British and Irish governments to negotiate a new Anglo-Irish treaty and the reunification of Ireland.

John W. O'Day

Forestville

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