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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

It's politics as usual with Hevesi plea deal

It's business as usual in Albany. What a joke! Alan Hevesi resigns from office so he can take a plea deal. Boy, that's convenient. Hevesi can stay out of jail, and the Democratic-controlled State Legislature can appoint one of its buddies as comptroller.

Gov.-elect Eliot Spitzer should be ashamed. What about his political ads where he said his accomplishments as attorney general were based on "doing what was right, not what was popular." There doesn't seem to be an "Integrity Boulevard" in New York State today.

His office should have prosecuted Hevesi aggressively before the November election, and Spitzer should have demanded that Hevesi withdraw. Instead, Spitzer was very quiet for several weeks, and then withdrew support a few days before the election. This just in: That's not doing what is right!

However, the biggest joke and the biggest offender is the electorate. Given the facts before the election, these idiotic voters still elected Hevesi, a criminal and a hypocrite, by an overwhelming majority of the votes. It is no wonder that New York State is politically insignificant during presidential elections.

Gregory J. Turner

Orchard Park

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Felon shouldn't collect government pensions

Why is it that I cannot cry for Alan Hevesi? Three years ago, I was injured on the job. I subsequently went to physical therapy and tried everything except surgery to be able to return to work. I was finally termed 100 percent disabled by Social Security and workers' compensation.

Because I had been in the New York State pension system, I applied for my pension only after I realized I would never be able to return to work. My application and a subsequent hearing for my pension were denied. I have come to find out that all that time, Hevesi was using part of my money to take care of his ailing wife.

I feel sorry for her, but where was the compassion for me while I was pinching pennies to make ends meet? Because I was never informed that you must file for your disability pension within three months, I was turned down. Every attorney I have spoken to wants at least $3,000 for an appeal. Please, public employees, be aware.

Poor Hevesi! He commits a felony, does no jail time and still can collect all of his government pensions.

Linda A. Benns

Grand Island

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Democrats show their true colors

New Yorkers again are embarrassed by a corrupt politician. Those who voted the Democratic line because they think all Republicans are corrupt should take a good look at what message they sent. Alan Hevesi and Eliot Spitzer lied. We have now a convicted thief who got off easy because Spitzer lied about doing what is "right."

Democrats call for investigation on everything from Gitmo to Rep. Mark Foley, but when it is their own party that screws up, they sit silent. Where were the IRS, the FBI and the New York State Department of Taxation? Where was the state attorney general's office pressing charges, and who said that one of his goals was to go after public corruption?

The Democrats showed their true selves again. They talk the talk, but when it is one of their own, they can't walk the walk. They allowed a thief not only to steal money from us, but allowed him to keep three pensions, which you and I pay for, because they were blinded by ignorance at the polls in November.

So don't yell and scream about Republicans. Both parties have their share of crooks. At least the Republicans get rid of their crooks; Democrats vote them back into office.

Ray Guagliardi

Derby

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If Bass Pro wanted store it would already be open

If Bass Pro really wanted to build in Buffalo, it would have been up and running a year ago without financial aid from us. I say forget it. Build a family water theme park with slides, sand, surfing, swimming and dining -- a Taste of Buffalo all year round. It would provide waterfront recreation all year round.

Gloria Bowser

Buffalo

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We'll be better off if Bass Pro declines

Donn Esmonde captured the folly of any single-threaded, silver-bullet strategy to revitalize our waterfront. We are given to wildly optimistic prognostications of the value of a Bass Pro "anchor" store. Figures of 5 million shoppers have been suggested.

Let's do the math. If the store were to be open 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, that translates to, on average, 1,142 visitors per hour, or one customer entering the store every three seconds. Note that there already exists established competition. Their prices are typically on par with other major sporting goods stores.

From what geographic locations do we anticipate drawing the customer base? We have 1.2 million residents in our metropolitan area. Bass Pro has locations in Auburn, Detroit, Toronto and Harrisburg, and Cabela's has a store in Hamburg, Pa. Residents of Rochester and Syracuse will shop in Auburn. The majority of Pennsylvanians will shop in Pennsylvania. The Golden Horseshoe of Ontario will shop in Toronto. From how far west will one travel for fishing tackle?

Remember, Bass Pro offers a very robust catalog, and Internet sales channels. Consumers can access the same array of products from the comfort of home. Let's guard our gold for other, more comprehensive projects. Be careful not to allow any Trojan Horse inside of our gates.

Stuart H. Angert

Amherst

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ECMC trauma center is in a league of its own

I'm sure for most people, news reports about hospital closings and budget cuts are just another tedious reminder of our decrepit economy and the bureaucratic stranglehold of local politics. Although most of us don't dwell on the next visit to the trauma center or think about scheduling some physical therapy, I can assure you things can change quickly. I was the last person who ever expected to need someone to bring me back from near death, or teach me how to walk again.

I would like to tell everyone involved in making decisions to close or change Erie County Medical Center to think about the level of care provided there. I hope that if you or your family ever need it, you will still have the same care available.

If you measure the need for ECMC in our community, and the incredible people working there who provide such superlative care for all patients in all departments, there should be no doubt we have an irreplaceable resource. The care and compassion I received as a patient there made both my own pain and my family's anguish bearable. I urge our leadership to keep this available to everyone.

Michael Andrzejewski

Kenmore

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St. Joseph Hospital offers vital services

Keep St. Joseph Hospital open. I can't think of one good reason to warrant its closing. Why, after spending $12 million to modernize the emergency department, would the commission appointed by Gov. George Pataki even consider closing this facility? It doesn't make sense, and if it doesn't make sense, then it's wrong.

As for reasons to keep St. Joe's open, I can give you several hundred thousand -- the people who live within a 10-mile radius of the hospital and beyond. People need care. St. Joseph Hospital cares, and it needs to remain open 2 4/7 , all year.

Ray Schwartz

Depew

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Create sculpture park along the waterfront

After decades of planning, the rebirth of the waterfront is finally becoming a reality. The air is filled with great optimism, realistic plans, commitment of local and state leaders and most importantly, private and public funding. Lots of it.

Plans for the new waterfront include shops, museums, housing and public green spaces among other developments. Green spaces along any waterfront are always a natural magnet for people. And the presence of people will eventually make this huge development come alive. To make the green spaces more attractive, why not develop a sculpture park along the waterfront?

Recently, Buffalo has been named the most popular arts destination among the nation's midsize cities. Let's tap into this vast community of artists and develop a contest to create art pieces for the waterfront. Bronze, stone, concrete, steel, wood, plastic and other materials could be transformed by local artists for a world-class sculpture park. These large-scale artworks will enhance the natural beauty of the waterfront and attract more visitors to Buffalo.

W. John Kozinski

West Seneca

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Esmonde column was off the mark

The ramblings that comprised the Donn Esmonde column of Dec. 20 should cause concern not only for Buffalo's future but for its present. For anyone to equate the Erie Canal Terminus with Boston's Old North Church or Philadelphia's Independence Hall bespeaks rank delusion.

Perhaps, though, it represents the normal rather than the aberrant in an age when thought and language have degenerated to the point where means, methods and instruments are described as "tools," and the services of companies dealing in insurance, banking, brokerage and the law are now called "products."

Those who have not been taken in by deception would, in the case of Buffalo's riverfront, consider themselves well-served by present attractions merely by walking along that strand and viewing the historical marker commemorating the once terminus of the Erie Canal, being motivated thereby to hope that at some near time they would be able to witness a resurgence of shipping along the waterway, representing in turn an industrial regeneration of some degree, in preference to another Potemkin village.

Paul Egan

Amherst

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Let U.N. divide Iraq into separate nations

To solve the overwhelming problems in Iraq, the country should be divided up and farmed out to established governments that have a truly welcome authority and the power to maintain order.

To achieve this the Kurds deserve to have a separate country. The part of Iraq closely adjoining Saudi Arabia should become part of that country. Ditto for Jordan, Syria, Iran and Kuwait. Baghdad would become an open city similar to Jerusalem. The United Nations, with guidance from those countries, would determine where the new borders would be. Iraq, which became a republic as recently as 1958, and then a virtual dictatorship, would cease to exist as such.

All the Iraqi oil fields would be operated by a contractor answering to the five enlarged nations involved, the city government of Baghdad and the Kurd's national government. The profits would be divided in proportion with the way the former population of Iraq was affected by the new borders.

Generally speaking, Kurds would be living with Kurds, Shia with Shia and Sunni with Sunni. Peace should then be restored with greater ease. Except for some reparations, America's involvement would end.

Charles W. Lewis

Buffalo

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Sending more troops to Iraq is pure insanity

It has been said that continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result is a definition of insanity. This pretty much describes our "stay the course" policy in Iraq. So now we are contemplating a surge, sending more troops to increase what we are doing, which can only be called intense insanity. We send more troops and lose more lives -- for what?

Carl Jacobs

Tonawanda

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Phillips' family members should have been punished

Each time I read another article about Ralph Phillips, there are references to the concessions made in return for his guilty plea. His family members who harbored him will not be charged, and he will be allowed to be visited by his family. I'm confused -- why are any concessions being made to this arrogant cop killer?

The members of his family who harbored him after his escape are as guilty as Phillips of killing Trooper Joseph Longobardo and wounding Trooper Donald Baker Jr. Had family members turned him in, the shootings never would have happened. The fact that they were allowed to walk away without punishment is insulting.

And by the way, enough with the "Bucky" stuff. Nicknames are given and used by friends. Why is his continually used by The News when referencing him?

Timothy S. McGuire

Getzville

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