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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

>City keeps shooting itself in the foot

Most cities across the country spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in marketing campaigns that promote the benefits of their city. These campaigns serve as a feel-good reinforcement to residents and as an enticement to outsiders to consider a visit.

In Buffalo, we take a different approach. It seems we go out of our way to reinforce every negative stereotype the world may have about us. The ticket blitzkrieg is a perfect example. It clearly illustrates to the outside world the things that have kept this city stagnant while other cities with much less have prospered. It showcases petty, small-minded self-interests, a squandering of resources and a universal lack of leadership.

The ticket blitz could be explained away as simply "enforcing the law," but clearly it is much more. A referee in a football game can call a penalty on every play, but understands that this action would destroy the game that is being played. We are a city that has been at war with itself for over 50 years. We have blamed the national media and everyone else for our bad image.

The ticket blitz shows that, in the battle for national respect, we have met the enemy and once again -- it is ourselves.

James Gillan
Buffalo

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>It's about time police obey parking rules, too

As a public servant working in the Rath Building, I trudged back and forth from where I parked for free on Fourth Street for many years. Not a day went by, however, that I didn't steam over the private vehicles of city and county law enforcement personnel illegally parked in front of hydrants, crosswalks, expired meters and in clearly marked "No Standing" zones. There was not merely a lack of enforcement here, however, because any car illegally parked but not bearing LAW plates or sporting a PBA or sheriff's union sticker was ticketed by noon.

Now the police commissioner and the mayor appear to be trying to end this abuse, although perhaps reluctantly. Why? Clearly because the practice cannot withstand the degree of public exposure that The Buffalo News has given it.

Why did The News do it? Clearly it's because the police have decided to further insult the public by mercilessly ticketing everything they can.

It might just be that because of their ill-advised and misdirected recrimination, the law enforcers might actually have to abide by the rules they are so vigorously enforcing. Oh, the irony of it all makes me tingle all over!

Alden Harwood
Kenmore

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>Fine drivers abusing handicapped spots

In regard to the ticket blitz, I agree that if you're parked illegally, you deserve a ticket. However, that should be for everyone -- even police and city officials.

My pet peeve is the spots reserved for the handicapped. Violators can be found on any given day at the post office on Grant Street and Bird Avenue. I can't tell you how many times I've had to walk a distance, with packages, because someone who doesn't have a tag is in the spot. So take a ride through there and ticket those cars. Those of us who can't get around very well will thank you.

Olivia Gugino
Buffalo

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>All who break the law deserve to be ticketed

I don't understand the problem everyone seems to be having with the zero tolerance parking policy. If you go to Toronto, Boston or New York City, do you park wherever you want because you're going to dinner, the theater or a sporting event? If you do, you get towed away. Yet everyone seems to come back to those cities. Many people take public transport so they do not have the hassle of looking for legal parking.

Are you getting ticketed in an area where you never got a ticket before? Consider yourself lucky that you got away with it so many times, and count the money you saved by not paying to park.

It's about time we have some respect for ourselves and obey the laws of our city. Then other laws may be enforced, and respect for our city may grow. I don't see anyone complaining when they park illegally in the suburbs and get a ticket. They usually find legal parking because they know the laws are worth something in those areas.

Jannice M. Swinnich
Buffalo

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>Parking meters have got to go

As a lifelong suburbanite, I tried living in the City of Buffalo for a few months to see what it was like, and that was the one time I got a parking ticket, because I forgot to move my car to the other side of the street one snowy winter day. That, and waking up to the sound of gunshots, precipitated my move back to the safer and more sensible suburbs.

If Buffalo's new leaders want to do something to really effect positive change and help encourage suburbanites like me to come to the city more often, they should eliminate the city's parking meters. I don't pay to park when I shop at suburban stores or malls or when I eat at suburban restaurants. And I don't pay to park at my suburban apartment complex. So, Buffalo, get rid of the parking meters. Show the citizens you want to help make their life easier and better.

Mark Weber
East Amherst

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>'Us versus them' mentality is a black eye for Buffalo

Under the direction of the police union, Buffalo's finest have been reduced to "meter maids." What a shame it has to be a mentality of "them against us." This is another black eye for Buffalo. Who really runs the city?

Chris Nasca
Kenmore

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>Officers need to focus on more serious crimes

It's a shame the Buffalo Police Department won't initiate a zero-tolerance policy on crack houses as quickly as it punishes illegal parkers. There are a couple of crack houses on Herkimer Street that everyone knows about -- but doing something about that might be dangerous.

By the way, while you guys were ticketing the criminals, did you see who busted my car window on Lower Terrace the other night? I didn't think so.

Mark Morris
Buffalo

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>Wage freeze affects all city employees

Everyone is saying that Buffalo police officers are doing this ticket blitz because they did not get their raise. Some are comparing them with Buffalo teachers. What about all the rest of the employees who work for the city and provide services for the citizens? None of them has received any raises.

City of Buffalo employees have to pay for services like utilities, gasoline, rent and food along with everyone else, and those costs are constantly going up. But their salary is not. We never hear about those employees doing anything drastic to advertise their frustration. I'm tired of hearing about the plight of the police. At least they got a $5,000 lump sum before the control board came into effect -- no other city employee received that.

Nora M. O'Brien
Buffalo

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>Why can't a U.S. firm control our seaports?

I can't believe President Bush wants to allow the United Arab Emirates to control our American seaports. I don't like the things he's done with our young people in the military in Iraq. But to allow a UAE-owned company to run a business here is un-American. Don't we have enough problems without having the threat of the United Arab Emirates, which has colluded with Iraq, Iran and the Taliban, in our own country?

What is Bush thinking? It's like he's saying: Come on over because we don't want to discriminate. Maybe it's time he started to discriminate for our safety. How dare he treat my liberty and my safety in such a blase way. I live on the West Side, and my safety is never a sure thing here, but I can take steps to stay safe. However, if this deal goes through, there is nothing I can do to have any sense of safety.

Patricia Starks
Buffalo

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>Homeland security must be top priority

Am I missing the boat? I thought that since 9/1 1, we were supposed to increase our national security and make it harder for terrorists to infiltrate our country and cause us harm. Yet President Bush has decreased money for border security, allowing more illegal aliens to cross over the border daily. He even wants to give them amnesty and provide them with jobs and driver's licenses.

Another blunder is the selling of our ports security to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates. Supposedly Bush had no knowledge of this. Yet he is willing to accept it as a done deal. Is his administration that out of touch with what's going on in the world that it is feeling safe again?

Instead of securing our borders and monitoring our ports with our own people, Bush has opened the door for future attacks. This smells too much like big business and big money taking precedent over everything else, including homeland security.

I hope the powers that be can squelch this deal and let the president know he can't always get his way. Let's not wait until another 9/1 1 happens to wake up.

Salvatore C. Scozzaro Jr.
Lake View

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>Bush's plans for Iraq are doomed to defeat

I wish to applaud Jerome Slater, who wrote the Feb. 26 Viewpoints article, "U.S. needs a little dose of isolationism." He spelled out, in black and white, why our current administration's ideals for Iraq are doomed to defeat.

Recent polls show a growing distaste for President Bush's policies, but alas, he admits not paying attention to public opinion polls. Why should he? He might just get an idea of what the people in this country actually want.

The Republican Party better wake up and start doing some damage control, or it will be facing a couple of decades of non-support. Americans are intelligent, and quite fickle. We don't appreciate arrogance and we don't like being ignored.

Republicans and Democrats must stand together and let this administration know that it is not running a one-man show. Our government was created with various checks and balances for particular reasons. The constant attempts by the president and his entourage to circumvent these checks and balances should be ample evidence that something is amiss.

Lee Salisbury
Hamburg

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>Mom who left toddler was crying out for help

I was deeply disappointed with the media coverage of the 19-year-old mom who abandoned her 2-year-old daughter in a restroom at Sisters Hospital. The police later located and arrested the mother at home caring for an older child.

This mother has been dealing with the demands of parenting since her early adolescence. Although I will admit that leaving a child unattended in a public restroom posed an incredible safety risk, this was clearly not the act of a rational or mature person. We should not judge, for few or us will ever really know her situation, her mental status, her coping skills or the quality of her support systems.

On a more positive note, in the midst of whatever trials she endured that day, she did not physically harm her child. As a pediatric nurse, I have cared for many children who weren't as lucky as that little girl. The note attached to the child expressed the mother's love and an admission of her inability to care for her.

Perhaps the way she went about surrendering her child was impulsive and improper, but this young woman is not necessarily a criminal. Leaving her child in a warm place where she was certain to be found speaks to me of a mother who is not devoid of compassion.

Between the lines of the note are the desperate cries of a young mother who needs the resources and support systems to care for her own little girl.

Lynette Grandits, R.N.
Town of Tonawanda

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>Wal-Mart mailing was insulting, outrageous

Wal-Mart's recent mailing to Amherst residents revealed that if greed were a commodity, Wal-Mart would have cornered it. It has the nerve to ask residents to sign up to "write a letter, attend a meeting or become involved in local pro Wal-Mart efforts."

The idea of the world's largest company pretending to be a worthwhile cause for civic commitment is laughable. Charitable causes are efforts worthy of our time and devotion -- not going to bat for a gigantic retailer with known questionable business practices.

Maryland and other states have begun legislation to force Wal-Mart to pay more for its employees' health care because of the large number of its workers who appear on Medicaid roles. The family of Sam Walton (the founder of Wal-Mart) is the richest in the nation. And yet it has the nerve to ask us to give up our valuable time to help it build another store.

The message of Wal-Mart's brazen mailing is clear: The pursuit of more stores is so sacred, we should take up the cause like it was our own. This idea, like the mailing, is insulting to those who received it and outrageous.

James F. Waack
East Amherst

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