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Everybody's Column

>State should approve Great Lakes Compact

I'm writing in regard to the Great Lakes Compact that is being proposed here in New York and throughout the basin. The lakes basin houses 20 percent of the world's fresh water and 95 percent of North America's. Besides the obvious recreational and economical benefits of the basin, the United States generates massive amounts of hydroelectric power that is replenishable, clean and cost-effective. Hydropower decreases our dependence on foreign oil and creates jobs here.

Unfortunately, because each state in the basin has a different standard for the amount of water that can be removed, our lakes are imperiled. In the last few years, there has been increasing pressure to sell this water to Southern states and other nations. We cannot afford to let corporations sell our water -- which is truly a public trust, belonging to us all -- since only 1 percent of the basin's supply will replenish each year.

With the reconvening of the State Senate on Wednesday, it is crucial that our senators vote to pass the Great Lakes Compact, just as the Assembly has already done. The fate of our region and our economy depends on this vital water supply. How can we possibly protect the quality of our water if we can't protect the quantity?

Barbu Panaitescu
Buffalo

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>Closing local hospitals won't improve health care

If Montana is Big Sky country, Western New York is Big Pie in the Sky country. We believe that building a hunting and fishing store in downtown Buffalo will lead to a new springtime of economic growth for the region. At the same time, we delay for years building a new bridge to Canada that would spur trade and increased commerce in the area.

Apparently this aggressive foolishness is catchy, because a commission from Albany just recommended closing three of the area's hospitals that are running in the black. Meanwhile, decrepit, financially failing hospitals are left to go on their financially losing ways -- and this will help cut costs and deliver health care to our region.

Dana M. McCarthy
East Aurora

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>Many would welcome a Wal-Mart in Angola

What is it about Wal-Mart that stirs such outcry from some people? In response to the Dec. 4 News article, why don't the residence and business owners look at the plus side of building a Wal-Mart at the Grandview Drive-In site? We could surely use the jobs, and the increase of Derby and Lake View residents to this end of town would not hurt Angola businesses at all.

I have lived in the Town of Evans, Angola on the Lake, for 24 years. We have seen Save-Rite knocked down and a new Rite-Aid go up, and the Block Hotel closed only to open and close again. A brand-new Evans Bank and Evans Town Hall were built on Route 5. Recently, the Shamrock bar came down and up went a Tim Hortons.

None of those projects scared anyone, so why the uproar over Wal-Mart? It is because between the village and town, we have way too many politicians, and friends-and-family goings-on. Everyone needs to get his piece of the pie.

It would be nice to see all these little cliques come together for a change and do something for the good of the town and village by bringing in new business and jobs.

Anthony Montoro Jr.
Angola

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>Regionalism is best way to ensure area's survival

I was shocked and outraged by the information brought to light in the Viewpoints article, "How 439 politicians cost us effective government." I always felt that the local bureaucracies were bloated, but I never knew how bloated! What is the matter with us?

I was born and raised in Buffalo and its suburbs. I moved to Florida for work in the late '70s and have been back in Western New York since the early '80s. I'm a small business owner and have experienced firsthand the hidden costs of mismanagement by our elected officials. If I was not connected here by my business and friends, I would probably move like so many others already have.

I strongly believe that the only hope for Western New York is to embrace the concept of regionalism. Unfortunately, because our politicians are only interested in protecting their little fiefdoms, I'm not hopeful for our future.

I think many of these people do not deserve the title "public servant." A true public servant leads by putting the needs of the constituency first, and doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people -- even if that means your position is no longer necessary. Hopefully this report will galvanize people to find out more about how we can generate these necessary changes.

Ken O'Connell
Appleton

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>Student loan program is working very well

An article in the Nov. 28 News, "College loan industry wary of shift," overlooks important advantages of the federal student loan program. Since 1965, it has helped 50 million Americans go to college. This year, $52 billion in loans will be made, without adding to the national debt. The program serves 6 million students at 6,000 schools, including about 370 in New York.

So the claim that the program doesn't serve students, that lenders are "money changers" or "are going to take a bullet," or that students should borrow directly from the government is unfair.

The truth is the program works well. Students with no income or credit history have a way to pay for college. They can get lower-cost loans than are offered by the government. Many receive financial aid, debt management and default avoidance counseling for free. And schools enjoy better service. The federal student loan program deserves our support.

Kevin Bruns
Executive Director
America's Student Loan Providers

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>Gallery should display art before auctioning it off

I read recently in The News about the extensive collection of beautiful art that is stored out of sight at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Understandably, this art is going to be sold because it does not complement the style of art that is typically on exhibit at the gallery. The proceeds should be available to purchase additional and important modern art to underscore the collections on display, and that have made the Albright-Knox one of the world's finest modern art museums.

Still, prior to its sale, the museum should, as an important artistic gesture to the community, exhibit these works at the gallery. In view of Buffalo being an immensely vital arts and cultural populace, I am certain that with a fitting advertising and communications campaign, this "Storage Art" presentation would prove to be a substantial success.

Sharon R. Schwedt
Depew

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