>Americans should question Bush, not follow like sheep
On March 9, China lashed back at the United States for blatant hypocrisy regarding our human rights record. It cited racial inequality in our judicial system and the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. To that list we could also add the inequality of financial and educational resources between the economic classes; racial and class representation in our armed forces; and inequalities in income among the sexes, in medical care and in the tax system.
PBS recently broadcast a documentary of the 1960s. My daughter sat watching in amazement. She was never taught about the Vietnam protests and the truth behind the war. Her reaction to previous documentaries about Watergate was similar. She is in the age group that has the most power to push for change. Why was this never taught?
Without knowledge of the power of the people, we have become a herd of easily led sheep. We question nothing and hold onto the belief that the American Dream still exists. We pompously and self-righteously throw stones at other nations. We have forgotten the old adage about throwing stones. We have forgotten the power that we have to make change and have become blind to the lies our administration feeds us.
To borrow a '60s slogan: We have become the people our parents warned us against.
Elisse Marie Antczak
>School District must negotiate changes to teachers' contract
It appears to me that sometimes people, editors included, lose sight of things when tough choices need to be made. Very few people ascribe to the saying that "the end justifies the means" and yet this is precisely what The News does in its March 7 editorial, "Battle won, while still losing war."
In my mind, it is not right to unilaterally abrogate clauses in a contract. One of the primary tenets of company-union contract negotiations is that once a contract is signed, both parties must mutually agree upon any changes. This is not the case in the health care issue addressed in the editorial. Buffalo School Superintendent James Williams, rather than negotiate changes to the contract, chose to capriciously impose a single health care provider on all employees. I, too, would like the Buffalo School District to save as much money as possible, but only if changed by correct processes. If Williams would lay all the cards on the table, perhaps the end, a single health care provider, would be justified by the means, the normal give and take of contract negotiations.
Mark J. Walter
>Taxpayers should have a say on public employees' wages
Public or civil service union employees are paid with public monies and we ordinary citizens are required by law to pay ever increasing taxes that fund their pay and benefits. Taxpayers are denied our rights to prevent these increasing costs because union members have more rights under arbitration than the average citizen. The political process does not allow taxpayers to intervene in the so-called negotiations.
One could make a strong case that it is unconstitutional to require taxpayers to keep funding increases in pay and benefits for members of a public or civil service union that are already greater than those provided to an average person with similar skills in the private sector. Teachers, firemen, policemen and other "civil servants" are no better than the people they supposedly serve.
We must require a statewide line-item budget for all municipalities and school districts as well as voter referendums that provide a way to say no to uncontrolled spending. If government could become more efficient, there might be something left over for raises. But until I get one, I must continue to say no to theirs.
>Sue-happy mentality drags the area down
Teachers unions, wanting to assure that accountability and fiscal responsibility never enter their world of make-believe, take the only path their dinosaur leadership knows -- they sue.
Public unions, fearing strong political leadership will uncover decades of waste and mismanagement, rely on a tried-and-true method of halting reform in its tracks -- they sue.
Environmentalists, fearful that the least amount of physical progress will alter the earth's path around the sun, think nothing of littering our court system with paperwork to stop shovels from being lifted -- they sue.
Preservationists, intent on saving rat-infested eyesores as they try to impose their arrogant views on how our community should be run, enact their favorite pastime -- they sue.
Let's set up billboards adjacent to every entrance into our community that truly reflect what we stand for. They should read: Welcome To Buffalo And Western New York -- See You In Court.
>Brown's first few months offer hope for the future
I believe Mayor Byron Brown is doing a great job as the new mayor of Buffalo. He has police on the streets. He is working well under the constraints of a control board. He is leading the way in cleaning up the problems in the Municipal Housing Authority. He is a great advocate for the schools. And he is working on bringing help to the neighborhoods.
It seems that all we worry about lately is parking tickets. We should be focusing our efforts on bringing in businesses, so that everyone can make a good living wage. We need to concentrate on resolving the disconnect between local businesses and manufacturers who are looking for good workers and those who are looking for work. We need to focus on the development of the health and high-tech corridor in Buffalo, to position this region to compete in the regional and global marketplace. We need to focus on the renewal of Buffalo -- its neighborhoods, its businesses, its waterfront and its people.
Brown got the support he needed to have the city share in the sales tax revenue generated in Erie County. He has set up systems for efficiency and effectiveness in government employment. He has done a lot for Buffalo in less than three months.
>County needs to cut expenses, not create more high-level jobs
Why does Erie County need a county manager? The elected county executive is supposed to do this job under the watchful eyes of the comptroller and county legislators. It seems like another patronage scheme to have the county executive appoint a manager. Erie County is trying to cut expenses. This looks like another friends and family position.
Elaine E. Davis
>President's actions warrant impeachment proceedings
If we can believe what we read in the newspaper, the past several weeks have provided revelations about how President Bush and his administration are guiding our country to destruction. It seems to me that there is enough evidence to start impeachment proceedings against Bush based on his incompetence and not telling the truth.
The president appears to have contributed to the loss of life during the Katrina debacle. His misuse of intelligence data to invade Iraq resulted in a great loss of lives, and also cost our country billions of dollars in the mishandling of contractors.
Frank R. Mikler