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Everybody's Column

>Backers of downtown casino have kept public in the dark

Alarm bells should be ringing in the corridors of power for the political leaders who have been pushing the downtown casino.

A News-commissioned poll released Feb. 26 reveals that, among city respondents, since the last survey in 2004, support for the casino has stagnated or fallen, while the percentage of voters who feel they have been frozen out of the decision has skyrocketed from 60 percent to 72 percent.

This no-gain situation has to be an eye-opener for casino backers because it persists despite the fact that for several years our leaders have used their bully pulpits to tout this project as a "done deal," while the Senecas bombarded the community with pro-casino publicity.

Citizens for a Better Buffalo has been involved in opposing the casino for only a few months. One of its messages has been that our political leaders have been dealing from the bottom of the deck by making false claims for the casino while ignoring laws that require public input and study.

Our leaders should heed the alarm and open the process. If they do, we believe an educated public will reject the "done deal." We bet that's exactly what the political leaders fear will happen, and that is why they continue to keep people in the deep freeze.

Dianne Bennett
President, Citizens for a Better Buffalo

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>Tonawanda Town Board is setting a good example

I want to commend the Tonawanda Town Board members for setting the pace for tax savings and reduced government in Western New York. They are also keeping their campaign promises. During their first board meeting of the year, they eliminated health care insurance for themselves as part-time elected officials. On Feb. 27, they took steps toward reducing the size of the board from six to four members, for a tax saving of some $50,000. While everyone talks about term limits, this board had the political will to limit elected officials to three terms.

Every year, local budgets get tighter as federal and state support diminishes. I am glad my town officials are taking the sort of positive action that is needed. Perhaps their actions will embolden our elected county officials.

Denis J. Uminski
Kenmore

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>Buffalo students lose again due to arbitrator's ruling

I am writing in response to the March 4 News article, "Schools lose insurance battle." Buffalo public school children have suffered another body blow to their education by an arbitrator's ruling. The $12 million health insurance savings from using one provider for the district was voided because the white-collar union didn't choose to have a single health care provider. The $12 million savings would have brought back teachers who were laid-off and provided some aid to educating our children.

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore predicted a similar ruling would follow for his union. The administrators and teachers enjoy full health care coverage, whether from one provider or three. In contrast, many students have no medical coverage. Knowing this, it would seem that some sense of shame would have come over this educated class of adults.

Roy St. Clair
Depew

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>Strict enforcement of laws benefits citizens of Buffalo

So "it seems to" the editors of The News that people would not tolerate living in a city where police enforce quality-of-life laws. It seems they feel people would rather live in a city where they have to wait in traffic because of illegally parked cars and walk on sidewalks littered with pet feces next to walls scrawled with obscenities. I would much prefer to live in a city with free-flowing traffic, clean sidewalks and clean buildings.

Merchants say their business is worse because of the enforcement of parking laws -- debatable, since it's compared to last year with a different economic climate -- and that the laws should not be so vigorously enforced. I wonder how they would feel if the police chose to not so vigorously enforce the shoplifting laws?

One of the reasons for major urban crime and blight is the fact that quality-of-life laws stopped being enforced. These laws were created for a reason. If the laws referenced earlier, as well as property codes, loitering, jaywalking, littering, snow removal and noise ordinances, were all enforced consistently, it would be more difficult for the criminal element to operate, thus bringing more law-abiding people back to the city.

John Marschke
Niagara Falls

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>Lots of city employees would like a pay raise

First, I would like to say that I am the son of a retired Buffalo police officer and an employee of the Streets Department. The parking blitz is a great service for us. If the public would follow the parking laws, it would make our job easier to do. Then when it snows, the public can't complain about the snow plowing not getting done.

But I feel that the police officers are being too greedy in wanting the money that's owed to them. They all got a $5,000 raise when they went to one-officer cars. Not one city blue-collar employee has received a pay raise for the past four and a half years. I do the same work, if not more difficult, as suburban highway workers and I make much less than they do. I must work two jobs, along with my wife, to support our family.

Buffalo police officers are among the highest-paid officers in this area. I feel that they deserve every penny they get because of where they work. But I say to the officers: Let other city employees get a raise first.

Jeffrey C. Tamsen
Buffalo

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>Include City Honors in reconstruction plans

As someone who has recently relocated to Buffalo, I am concerned about the fact that City Honors is being left out of the third phase of the Joint Schools Reconstruction Project. I plan to buy a home and stay in Buffalo. My daughter is in City Honors and my son will take the test in the fall.

I grew up in Tonawanda and have argued against people who suggest I would be better off sending my kids there. But I have grave concerns about leaving City Honors out of the reconstruction plans. The plans that were supposed to be implemented would have rounded out an excellent experience that will be the foundation of the strong future I hope to provide for my children.

As a widow raising my children alone, I need the help of an exceptional school, as do many other parents in the city. When will our so-called leaders wake up and realize that the children are the future for all of us? If we don't do everything we can for them, what do we expect our future to look like? I am particularly appalled by the leadership of the teachers union, which clearly is not concerned about the impact its so-called negotiations have on our kids.

Suzanne Montalalou
Buffalo

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>Stop trying to blame everything on Bush

President Bush lied about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush knew all about Hurricane Katrina and didn't do anything about it. Bush is really dumb, and doesn't know what is happening around him. Bush is only in the Middle East for the oil, and to take vengeance on those who "beat" his father. Bush is torturing prisoners, and listening in on my private conversations. Bush stole my lunch money. Don't people see how silly they look? This, coming out of our little, dysfunctional, overtaxed, economically depressed, liberal part of the world.

Patrick McLaughlin
Town of Tonawanda

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