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Everybody's Column

Construction workers need proper training

I feel the need to address the inaccuracies of the March 14 News editorial on the construction training law. Requiring county work to be performed by journeymen certified by the State Department of Labor will not make construction work in Erie County more expensive, but will require all bidders to play on a more level field.

The question should be asked: Why wouldn't we want projects built with county funding to be completed by people trained to do so properly?

As for the "skilled lifelong workers whose experience trumps any apprenticeships," I have had the experience of trying to slot "skilled" workers with 10 to 15 years of experience into a certified program. By placing them beyond the second year of a five-year program, they will more often than not struggle through apprenticeship. While they may excel in specific areas, they are lacking in many others.

It is costly to train a construction worker properly. But it would be a relief to know Erie County projects were built by workers trained in proper construction standards, not as cheap as possible.

Jack Cantie

Sheet Metal Workers Local #71 Apprenticeship Training Coordinator

Clarence Center


Increased vehicle fees cause an undue burden

The state has several billion dollars in surplus money. Gov. George Pataki and our state legislators are trying to find a way to return the money to the taxpayers after deciding to raise the registration fees on vehicles. The fees increased 25 percent for standard vehicles, 50 percent for SUVs and 75 percent for vans. The latter creates an undue hardship on handicapped people who require a handicapped-accessible van. These vans are very expensive, and adding another expense is uncalled for.

Joseph Ciancio

West Seneca


Steel plant workers deserve truthful answers

It has been nearly six years since the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Act became law. Many hundreds of victims and survivors of radiation-caused cancer from the former Bethlehem Steel Lackawanna Plant and other facilities in Western New York are still awaiting compensation.

They have been met with nothing but arrogance, indifference, lies, kangaroo court appeal hearings, bad science and a confrontational attitude from the very people entrusted by the government to help them.

Now our U.S. senators and representatives have appealed directly to President Bush to correct the nightmare this program has become. The treatment of these claimants has been nothing but shameful. How long will this be allowed to go on?

Frank J. Panasuk

Chairman, Bethlehem Steel Radiation Victims and Survivors



Light ought to shine on records year-round

This is a response to the March 15 Another Voice on open meetings and freedom of information. Sunshine Week is over, but the issue can't be forgotten. All 50 states have sunshine laws that generally declare that all records and meetings are open unless certain exemptions apply.

These access laws are only as good as we demand that they be. Since the 9/1 1 attacks, federal spending has increased for withholding, rather than disclosing, information that is clearly in the public interest.

The League of Women Voters has worked for years to promote open government at all levels. We encourage what we call "sunshine in action" where citizens successfully use sunshine laws to secure public information to expose flaws in systems, seek information about dangers in the environment, become informed on new requirements and monitor quality of government decision-making. It's up to all of us to observe, monitor, advocate and write on behalf of access, to ensure the continuation and expansion of open government.

Marian Deutschman

President, League of Women Voters of Buffalo Niagara



Obituaries provide a window to view lives

Thanks to The News for showing pictures with the obituaries. It has opened my eyes to the varied lives in our black community. In a recent obituary, one dear lady of 101 years had a remarkable active career, another had devoted her life to her family and a third died young but was recognized for his church work. Our city has been enriched, often by those who moved here from the South in that great migration of the '60s.

Josephine Michaud



UB students should get a free ride on Metro

A March 19 letter suggested that Buffalo businesses offer regulated Metro passes "similar to those now offered to the city's college students." Readers should be aware that only four Buffalo area colleges offer free Metro passes to their students, as stated on the NFTA Web site. Ironically, while the northernmost stop on the rail is the University Station, students attending the University at Buffalo are not offered these passes.

Many different bus lines connect with the University Station, including the Lockport 44 bus, which also has stops on the University at Buffalo's North Campus. There have been suggestions of creating parking ramps on the North Campus to lessen parking difficulties. However, providing Metro passes to UB students such as myself would be appreciated, and would probably free up many parking spaces.

Claire L. Hojnacki



Turner's column missed the mark on Bush actions

As a liberal Democrat, I firmly reject Douglas Turner's analysis in the March 20 News. Under the Bush administration's subterfuge, ineptitude and misplaced priorities, the American people find themselves inextricably headed for the dumpster.

While all this was happening, the Democrats not only did not object to the president's actions, they actually rubber-stamped many of them. It will take generations to dig our country out of the morass of debt, theocracy, unemployment and loss of individual freedoms in favor of corporate interests.

This is why I find it difficult to accept Turner's thesis that individual, courageous Democrats should continue to play possum. Surely, President Bush's actions warrant censure, if not impeachment. By extension, I assume that Turner castigates Sandra Day O'Connor for her recent remarks about the judiciary being threatened by pressure from the other branches of government.

Hallie Morrison Block



Babies in the womb also need protection

I read the March 3 letter, "Stricter regulations needed to protect innocent animals," relating the cruel mutilation of a bunny that had its paws cut off and was left to bleed to death. I fully agree that such an irresponsible act should never have happened. Pets should be enjoyed, well cared for and never abused.

Yet how much outcry and anger is voiced about abortion -- the dismemberment of innocent babies in the womb, the spilling of their blood? We need regulations to protect our babies in the womb. The Supreme Court should never have legitimized abortion. We should work to overturn Roe v. Wade. Too much innocent human blood has been spilled.

Stella L. Ryndak

North Tonawanda

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