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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

>Bush is driving us further into Middle East turmoil

While Paul Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of the Iraq War hides out at the World Bank, his foremost puppet, President Bush, drives us further into Middle East turmoil. A callous and unconscionable man, Bush continues to communicate a total disregard for the lives of American troops and innocent Iraqi civilians. His "Bring 'em on!" taunted Iraqi resistance, which provoked further violence.

Earlier in the conflict, at a time when we had lost more than 500 soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians had died needlessly, the president maliciously played the fool at an American media dinner with a slide show presentation that showed him looking under tables for weapons of mass destruction.

I remain deeply troubled by this president's recklessness, his blatant indifference to human suffering and despair. And so, when I envision the inevitable dark future of young Americans, dying in what will become an incessant gratuitous war as it moves into Iran and Syria, I long for a truly authentic American patriotism, one that will encourage and promote a stand against this dishonorable government rather than a mindless appeal for its support.

Tom Weise
U.S. Navy, Retired
Hamburg

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>It's high time we start impeachment process

This is the first president to admit to an impeachable offense. He has admitted to approving 35 warrantless wiretaps of Americans, not to mention the manipulation and deception he used to invade Iraq. This despotism does not allow President Bush to protect our liberties. In fact, we've lost more rights under this president than any other.

The impeachment clause in the Constitution is a solution given to us by the framers. They knew that misuse of power could be a real issue, given the nature of man. As it stands now, we have a prima facie case against the president. He has lied to us, stripped away our liberties, ignored the Geneva Conventions and continues to condone the torture of detainees around the globe.

When will Americans wake up and realize that the time for impeachment has come? We owe it to ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and even the founding fathers. They provided us with a remedy to our situation. Let's embrace the solution and start the impeachment process.

Sandra J. Conta
Hamburg

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>It will take years to undo damage that's been done

Alas, the game is over and the neocons have won. While we were all asleep, in clever and wily fashion, they took control of school boards, city governments, state legislatures and governorships. And now, with the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito, they have finally gotten all three branches of the federal government in their hands. You have got to give them credit for persistence and effectiveness. We might well ask ourselves: How could this zealous minority take over all levels of government in our country?

My friends, we are in for a lot of very dark days. It may take 50 years or more to undo the damage that will be done. Our economy, our social network, our environment, our civil rights and our right of choice are all in dire and real danger.

It might be a little easier for us liberals to stomach this turn of events if the neocons were not so almighty arrogant. Night is falling over our country and the Democrats are nowhere to be seen. I long to see an honest, intelligent and articulate person, of whatever party, in the White House and not one who embarrasses me.

Joseph Spina
Eggertsville

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>Democracy in Iraq is doomed to failure

Our government leaders say that they are creating democracy in Iraq. They point to what are, in their opinion, all the essential things: elections, a constitution, a parliament, a president, an army and a police force. They are wrong. They forgot that none of these things will work without a well-informed people and a free, diligent press. Iraq does not have an informed people and it does not have a free press. Someone is controlling the flow of information.

Why should we worry about this? Perhaps we are getting the same sort of sickness. Our executives are attempting to control the flow of information to our people. High officials are either putting out press releases that are often a pale shadow of the real situation, or are putting the veil of secrecy over the facts. Congress is completely failing in its oversight mission, and when it tries to seek the truth, the executive branch stonewalls Congress. Things look hopeless.

Our only hope is the free press. We depend on it to get the story out. Even here, where the press digs into the workings of the government, we are in trouble. When the press finds out something, the government calls it a "leak." It wants to file criminal charges against reporters who dig up the facts. Newspapers are our last hope for freedom and democracy. They must not fail us.

Philip Kintner
Colden

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>Even Republicans are losing faith in president

The bumper stickers are becoming downright, shall we say, to the point. The latest: "Don't blame me, I didn't vote for Bush." And that was on a car driven by a Republican. Another bumper sticker read, "Ah, er, no thanks Mr. President, I've got this fund-raiser covered." Apparently a fast-diminishing number of Americans, even on the far right, still see the honesty, humility and sundry other "values" of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld.

And now the bitter news from Iraq -- when our fighting men are polled individually, 72 percent think our commander-in-chief has no clue and believe that we should vacate Iraq within a year. This Republican thinks they are right. Let's rediscover Rove's ridiculous banner and find someplace to hang it. Mission Accomplished?

Philip L. Wiggle
Amherst

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>Ticket blitz shows truth is stranger than fiction

From what I gather, once the Buffalo police get what they want contractually, they will be less aggressive with parking enforcement. That mere concept, coupled with the fact that certain factions in Amherst are troubled by Supervisor Satish Mohan's admirable efforts to uncover questionable procedures and stupefying abuses of government, begs the simple question: Are we truly in the Twilight Zone? From my perspective, I'm filing it all under the heading of "truth is stranger than fiction."

Audrey M. Mangan
Buffalo

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>'Zero tolerance' throws judgment out the window

Several letters have appeared in The News from readers defending the Buffalo police parking ticket blitz. These supporters echo the same themes -- "obey the laws and you won't get a ticket" or "the police should be applauded for doing their job." I disagree. The parking blitz is nothing but harassment by the police.

Certainly if a car is in a clearly marked "No Parking" zone or overtime at a meter it should be ticketed. The argument is when "zero tolerance" is applied to situations where signs are not clear or judgment is called for. Does parking at 3:55 p.m. in a spot designated "No Parking Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m." warrant a ticket? Is parking within nine feet of a fire hydrant too close, or must it be precisely 10 feet away? Should the guy delivering a pizza get a ticket for leaving his car in a "No Parking" zone for one minute? Parking at meters has always been free on weekday evenings and weekends. Why is it now necessary to feed the meters on Saturday?

Furthermore, it appears that zero tolerance is selectively enforced. A minor infraction in the city's more affluent neighborhoods or the Elmwood, Hertel or downtown business districts will be met with a ticket. But zero tolerance doesn't appear to extend to other neighborhoods or Franklin Street in front of police headquarters.

Michael J. Neff
Buffalo

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>Lawbreakers finally get what's coming to them

Listening to all the whiners complain about getting parking tickets is really getting annoying. Most of these people use the same line: "I've been parking there for a long time and never got a ticket." Stop and think: You walk out of a store every day for a year with a candy bar that you didn't pay for and never get caught.

One day, you walk out with that unpaid candy bar and the store alarm goes off and the clerk calls the police on you for shoplifting. Are you going to admit that you've done it before and got away with it? And does that make all the other times right?

I even heard someone on the radio admit that he's been parking on a bus route for a long time and now he's whining because he got a ticket. I'll bet that man never had to try to board a bus that couldn't get up to the curb because someone was parked there.

I think these people are really angry with themselves for getting caught for doing something illegal. They just don't want to take the blame.

Deborah Hughes
Cheektowaga

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>Better public transportation is one solution to problem

The recent parking ticket campaign has elements of the surreal. Only in this insane asylum would the police feel aggrieved and decide that doing a better job was a form of protest. Two solutions to this "problem" immediately suggest themselves. The first is obvious and sensible: improve public transportation. The automobile infestation that now plagues Buffalo could be eradicated with transit pass programs for downtown businesses similar to those now offered to the city's college students. Each improvement in the NFTA's service could result in the removal of an eyesore surface lot or parking ramp; the land could be put to more productive use that beautifies the landscape.

The other solution, being idiotic, is probably more appropriate for this cuckoo land: Buffalo motorists should park on the sidewalk. In my North Buffalo neighborhood, people routinely park across the sidewalk with impunity. I long ago ceased calling either Parking Enforcement or the police to beg them to ticket these violators. Why should I have to call in the first place? Free-range parking would make everyone happy, except of course, Buffalo's beleaguered pedestrians, who have never mattered and in any case gave up long ago.

Bill Durfee
Buffalo

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>Downtown would benefit if tolls were eliminated

In response to Donn Esmonde's March 12 column, "Thruway messes with the wrong guy," I'd like to add my 2 cents (not 75 cents for the toll). Carl Paladino has my thanks for fighting the tolls to enter downtown Buffalo. Downtown needs its champions.

As a child in the '60s, it was a treat to meet my mother downtown. We would walk along Main Street, see the decorated AM&A's window, shop and have dinner. When I worked downtown in the mid-'70s, lunch-hour shopping was an art form. Find the bargains, make sure they fit, eat and get back to the office on time. Now there's nowhere to shop.

I would like my children to appreciate downtown Buffalo, and I'm excited about its development. They've been to Shea's, HSBC Arena and the Theater of Youth. Recently, my teenage daughter and her friends decided to ice skate at Fountain Plaza. They discovered the toll and parking costs of "free" skating and will probably never go again.

The unfortunate moral is: Don't go downtown unless you are willing to pay and pay and pay. I like Paladino's framed message: "Romans didn't build a great empire by holding meetings. They did it by killing everyone who stood in their way." It's deplorable that it should cost 75 cents to enter downtown, and I hope Paladino makes the Thruway Authority get out of the way.

Eileen M. Wrzos
West Seneca

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>Three cheers for Paladino for fighting Thruway tolls

Anyone who reads The News with regularity will undoubtedly recognize the name of Carl Paladino. His name is mentioned often in various articles dealing with politics, new construction and the preservation of buildings. But if you read the March 12 column written by Donn Esmonde, profiling Paladino and his effort to eliminate the Thruway tolls for downtown, you have a better perspective of Paladino's personality.

If there were more people like him in Buffalo, this city would be on its way to being known as the rising star of New York State, rather than the arm pit.

Raymond V. Crinzi
Hamburg

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>Commuter tax is unfair to Western New Yorkers

After reading the March 7 News story about members of the Thruway Authority laughing as they walked out of a meeting with Town of Hamburg representatives, I'm writing to express my anger. The authority members forget who they work for. Such arrogant and disrespectful behavior deserves a strong reprimand from their superiors, or better yet dismissal.

The unfairness of the tolls is very apparent considering that Western New Yorkers are the only ones in the state subjected to these local daily taxes for our commuters. I encourage all Western New Yorkers to write to their state representatives and the governor to object. I encourage all city, town and village officials in the area to join the lawsuit currently under way to remove the toll barriers. Perhaps that is the only way we will obtain a just settlement of this issue.

Patricia Ford
Hamburg

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>Hotel on Elmwood would do more harm than good

When the plan for the Elmwood Village Hotel was proposed, many people reacted positively, much the same as if a starving person were to be offered a slice of pie. He would jump at it. But if he could choose between dessert and a full gourmet meal, he would pass on the dessert and choose the entire meal.

I think the hotel proposal sets up the same dynamic. It shows the Elmwood community is starved for something good to happen at the gateway to the Elmwood commercial corridor at Forest. It shows that people think the area could support a hotel, with the investment and marketing of the new Burchfield-Penney museum plan and the Albright-Knox just down the street.

But I think a hotel at that corner takes away more than it gives to the community. The green space and openness should be preserved, even developed with terraces, street furniture and lighting. Preserve it as public domain, and retain the intangible and invaluable quality of life than only green can provide.

I think the Planning Board and Common Council should table this item. Forever Elmwood should consider a plan for the site that rehabilitates and develops the buildings while preserving their character. Don't sell out so cheap.

Nancy Pollina
Owner, Don Apparel
Former Board Member
Forever Elmwood

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>Let's all work together to make hotel a reality

As a possible solution for the placement of a small, five-story boutique hotel on the Elmwood strip, why can't the first floor of the hotel that faces Elmwood and Forest avenues be designed as a storefront? This could be a win-win situation.

At street level, the building could be set back with small shops, patio bars or cafes that face a pedestrian-friendly urban sidewalk. At the margins of the hotel, the upper levels could cantilever above the first floor with overhanging balconies. Any such design would avoid the undesirable impact of having a sterile, imposing brick wall along the sidewalk at street level. If we stop fighting and work together, we can embrace progress and bring about innovative improvements in our city.

John Stefanick
Amherst

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>Tough questions unanswered regarding waterfront plans

While I am excited about the fact that millions of dollars in funding will soon come to the Buffalo waterfront, it is a shame that we cannot rely on our local paper to provide in-depth analysis of the issues. The parochialism of the waterfront cover story in the March 9 News was shown in the map displaying the proposed development.

The two areas essential to a real waterfront revitalization -- the inner and outer harbor -- were cut right out of the map. Success on the waterfront depends on the public access that will draw out-of-town residents into the city.

The article simply sidestepped a discussion of how a "historic Erie Canal site" would fit in with the existing marina. Glossed over as well was the development on the outer harbor proposed by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, a public benefit corporation. Much of the site is slated for residential condominiums, not spaces for the public to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake.

This project was rushed through without much public debate, and tough questions need to be asked about how the NFTA's plan will really help the city. Unfortunately, The News seems mired in the "any-growth-is-good" mentality, unable to ask these vital questions.

Felix Gottdiener
Buffalo

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