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Everybody's Column

Poll of soldiers serving in Iraq should have been disqualified

On March 1, The News published a story citing a Zogby poll supposedly gauging the opinion of military personnel serving in Iraq. Even though the overwhelming majority of veterans and active duty personnel continue to support the mission, a fact backed up by the continual re-enlistment rates of those "in-theater," the story led with the claim that of those in Iraq, 72 percent of U.S. troops want to leave "within a year." Oddly, another key finding that was buried showed that more than 70 percent of U.S. troops are opposed to an immediate pullout.

Polls such as these are what those of us in the military might call "greased." It brought about a predetermined "finding" for the unnamed, wealthy war opponent who financed the poll to trumpet to a willing media that would readily report it. More alarming, the pollster refused to release the internal specifics of the poll or its methodology. While this should have disqualified the validity of the poll, the media simply embraced the hype.

From our standpoint, it has become quite evident that the opinions of those who have fought the battles fail to make front-line news stories unless they can offer some sort of a negative viewpoint. As a result, the American public is provided a one-dimensional, politically motivated perspective. This is both irresponsible and shameful.

David Bellavia

Co-founder of Vets for Freedom Iraq War veteran

Batavia

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People of Delaware District should choose replacement

It is with amazement that I read in the March 4 News that Council members of other districts think they know better who should represent the people of the Delaware District. They are showing no respect to the people or the committee people who represent the district in absence of a sitting Council member. It is clearly a decision to be made by the people of the Delaware District.

In the past, when a representative has been chosen, only the people of that district had anything to say about it. If the choice was not in agreement to all, then it was decided in a primary election. That is the system and it works. Each district chooses its own representative. Why should the people of the Delaware District have to settle for anything less?

James V. Bagarozzo

Zone Chairman, 20th Delaware District

Buffalo

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Residents simply want responsible development

In response to a March 4 letter, I don't think people oppose all development in Western New York. I have perspective on two sides of the issue, as a North Amherst resident and as a part-owner of long-vacant investment property that can't seem to find a use acceptable to its neighbors.

Residents want responsible development that respects the character of their neighborhood. It seems to me the opposition to Wal-Mart and the Elmwood-Forest hotel are due to the huge scale of the proposals, not a knee-jerk reaction to all commercial ventures. There is a bit of "Not In My Back Yard" in the opposition, but let's be honest about the PR campaign -- companies and land owners want to make a profit, not a charitable contribution.

Marie Evans

Amherst

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Progress has been made, but much work remains

Judith Einach's fine article in the March 5 Viewpoints made me think back to a time when idealism wasn't a dead, empty work. She mentioned her father, Victor Einach, a leading civil rights figure in Western New York, who, she said, would have been proud of her courage and tenacity in her recent uphill run for mayor of Buffalo.

She was right. I was honored to be a member of his board of directors when Victor was executive director of the old New York State Commission Against Discrimination. In those days, discrimination meant injustice toward blacks, immigrants, minority religions, women, the poor, the elderly and the disenfranchised of every walk of life.

We've come a long way since then, but we still fall short of the goals Victor devoted his life to. Some of us still believe humanity is capable of reaching further than we have toward those goals. Keep up the good work, Judith. I'm just sorry Victor isn't still around to cheer you on.

Helen W. Newman

Buffalo

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Nation needs to launch math, science initiative

It's not the Mexicans we should worry about -- or the Guatemalans, Colombians or Salvadorians. Laborers, legal and illegal, from south of the border don't constitute the grave threat to our national security or economic stability that the anti-immigrant mania suggests.

If you want to worry about the future, look to China and India. They are producing millions of well-educated young people who are already taking jobs from American workers. China does not just want to get rich, it wants to get powerful. China does not just want to learn how to make cars; it wants to put General Motors out of business.

Congress is too busy with meaningless bills about our southern borders. President Bush and Congress should be pouring billions of dollars into a brand-new science and math initiative and launching a campaign to get Americans behind a plan to produce more mathematicians, scientists, computer experts and so on.

Michael A. Castelli

Buffalo

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Brown must communicate with citizens of Buffalo

Election campaigns focus upon the hot-button issues in the community and propose solutions to handle them. The most important function of any campaign is communication -- people vote for candidates based on knowledge of their political platform. The problem, however, is that once a politician is elected, his zealous communication efforts often become obsolete.

If the City of Buffalo is going to take a "zero tolerance" stance on illegal traffic and parking violations, it has every right to. An increase in law enforcement vigilance offers many benefits. A safer city should attract more business and many suburbanites. Brown has the ability to take what might have begun as a union vendetta and turn it into a genuine positive movement for the city. But this can only be achieved through proper communication.

I knew Byron Brown had firm convictions when he ran for mayor. He sold me by demonstrating the intent and intelligence to replace the tragic mistakes of the Queen City's past with smart decisions and a hands-on approach. I don't expect him to establish seminal policies in the first few months of his administration. However, Brown should occasionally interrupt his political chess match to let the public know his intentions.

Matthew Batt

Buffalo

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Let's forget petty issues, look at the big picture

It is amazing how people in this area fight over petty items and forget about the big picture. We are worried about 75-cent Thruway tolls and police enforcing legitimate parking laws. Meanwhile we have the following problems: An inner city that is mostly boarded up and full of trash. A lack of jobs for college graduates who want to stay in this area. One of the highest real estate rates per 1,000 in the country. One of the highest sales tax rates in the country. An area that has to pay a company like GEICO $100 million in incentives to get it to move here.

Come on, guys, let's look at our big problems and stop looking at the small stuff.

Kenneth Weinstein

East Amherst