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Everybody's column

Dishonest consumers capitalize on storm

I have been following with amusement the various newspaper articles and talk radio shows concerning "price gouging" during the October storm. In general, they depict businesses as taking undue advantage of consumers. Consumers feel that businesses have jacked up their prices on necessities such as snow blowers, generators and chain saws to take advantage of the storm. Nothing, however, has been said about consumers taking advantage of businesses, especially the insurance companies.

I have been in the construction and home improvement business for more than 30 years. Never in my time have I encountered such greedy and fraudulent people as I have during this past storm.

On a recent talk show, one consumer decried a certain business for not allowing her to return a generator. After all, she only used it for a week. Why should she have to keep this machine when she no longer needed it?

Another consumer was getting two estimates to repair his fence. He wanted the expensive estimate for the insurance company, and the cheap one for himself. I have heard numerous customers declare that they have to get their piece of theFEMA pie. So a $455 repair suddenly turns into a request for a $2,250 estimate to "cover their deductible."

David J. Bernosky

Tonawanda

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Disrespect for law hitting new heights

I am not a police officer, or related to one. I'm just a resident of the City of Buffalo who is totally grateful to all of our law enforcement officers who keep this city a great place to raise my family.

I just can't believe how disrespectful some of today's criminals are toward the law and those who enforce it. First was Ralph Phillips, who admitted he shot two state troopers, even killing one, with no remorse. Next we have Varner Harris who, while on probation, confessed that he shot two Buffalo police officers.

Sure, the suspects and their families have excuses, but the bottom line is you don't shoot at people, especially police officers. If convicted, I feel a just punishment for these low-life criminals would be the death penalty, or at the very least life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Michael Cheman

Buffalo

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Writer could use a geography lesson

As a New Zealander -- "Kiwi" to the cute-afflicted -- living in Western New York for the past eight years, I am constantly correcting the assumption by some that Australia and New Zealand are one and the same country. I sometimes let comments from the geographically challenged slide. We Kiwis are notoriously laid back. What's the big deal, right? Well, yeah. Except when it's just wrong.

In the Associated Pres review of "The Nativity Story" in the Dec. 3 News, David Germain asserted that the "Australian actress Keisha Castle-Hughes . . . had to overcome her thick Kiwi accent to play the Virgin Mary." I was absolutely gob-smacked (flabbergasted). Please refer to your Atlas, David, and you'll see that New Zealand is to the right and down a tad from Australia, and the reason Hughes has a "thick" Kiwi accent is because she is a New Zealander -- a Maori, in fact. Streuth mate -- talk about thick.

David Heisch

East Aurora

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Masiello promoted downtown housing

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello's efforts to develop downtown housing hardly were "lukewarm," as stated in a Dec. 6 News editorial.

Masiello, and Mayor James D. Griffin before him, were tireless in their efforts to develop downtown and near-downtown housing. The Griffin administration laid the original plans and developed Theater Place, City Centre and the Waterfront Village. The Masiello administration, building on the legacy, delivered the national-award-winning Queen City Hub downtown plan and developed more Theater District, Flower District, Medical Campus and ArtSpace housing. Masiello was known to spend weekends leading Western New Yorkers personally on tours of downtown housing.

Now that the previous administrations -- and some talented developers -- have taken the necessary risks to establish a downtown housing market, it is admirable that Mayor Byron Brown and Economic Development Department Commissioner Richard M. Tobe are continuing to care about downtown housing. Adding another 100 or so units of housing -- of different types, styles and price points -- a year will help re-establish the vitality of downtown.

Richard T. Reinhard

Former executive director of Buffalo Place

Former chief of staff to Masiello

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Hevesi belongs in a prison cell

I'm having trouble understanding why State Comptroller Alan Hevesi is not in jail. The man is a thief. If any one of the 57 percent of idiots who voted for him did the same thing, they would be in jail. The Dec. 10 News article, "Hevesi defense could cite poll victory," basically said he should be exonerated because he was still found to be popular. Does that make the king and queen of the prom exempt from any prosecution?

I do understand what Sen. Michael Balboni is saying. If the general public had all the information and still voted him back in, he should keep his job -- if he can do it from prison.

I do not care what job anyone has. If one does something illegal, he should be arrested and prosecuted just like any other person in the country would be. Who has jurisdiction in this matter? Where is the attorney general? Where is the Ethics Committee? Where is the FBI?

Allen Eich

Angola

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The odds are good Clinton will run

Of course, Sen. Hillary Clinton is going to run for president. I knew this with certainty six years ago. She wants her place in history as the first woman president and the first husband-wife team to be elected.

The upcoming 2008 presidential election may be her best hope of winning. It is difficult to defeat an incumbent, as was the case in 2004, and may be the case in 2012. 2016 is too long to wait and she will be too old by then. So the time is right, the field is wide open and she has a competitive edge. Clinton knows the job from the inside as the wife of a former president.

In all practicality, we will probably have a woman president before an African-American, so we can discount Sen. Barack Obama, at least this time around. But a really interesting match would be between Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Anthony C. Borgese

Lewiston

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