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Everybody's Column

We must consolidate before it's too late

Are we ready to embrace regionalism yet? The residents of Erie County are feeling the pinch of declining population and wealth. How much longer will we be resistant to reducing superfluous government?

As reported in December 2006, we have more elected officials in Erie County than in the House of Representatives at a cost of more than $32 million annually. Although the judges are necessary, the 341 politicians for a county of 941,000 are not. Their argument is that they help improve the quality of life. The 30 percent of the population that moved away, in addition to every business that has either closed shop or refused to locate here, would argue against the so-called quality of life these elected officials provide.

Also, in a shrinking population and declining enrollment, is it necessary to have the number of redundant school districts paying salaries to numerous superintendents and support staffs? Is it not more economically sound to have one school district with one superintendent and support staff?

The attitude in Erie County needed to change 10 years ago. It is becoming more difficult to change and reverse course. It is only a matter of time until another 30 percent of our residents leave, along with the Bills, Sabres and any meaningful employment.

Joe Klein

West Seneca

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New housing is not needed in North Buffalo

Why does it seem as though the City of Buffalo usually gets it wrong? This time it is the sale of a parcel of land in North Buffalo by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency for a residential housing development. As a longtime North Buffalo homeowner, I can assure you that new housing in North Buffalo is not necessary. New housing will likely decrease the value of the older housing stock, increase traffic and congestion and change the character of the neighborhood.

In my neighborhood, several homes are regularly up for sale at any given time and, thankfully, these homes all sell within a very reasonable time frame and for a reasonable price. Anyone interested in moving to North Buffalo has the opportunity to do so now.

Plus, I am not interested in living in or near a suburban housing project. If I wanted to live in the suburbs, with all the traffic and cookie-cutter homes, I would move. I chose to live in the city in part because of the character of the neighborhood. I see this project as nothing more than an attempt to make a quick buck at the expense of current North Buffalo homeowners. It is shameful.

Susan McMahon

Buffalo

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Colden judge's behavior certainly is suspicious

How is it that Colden Town Justice Carolyn A. Siegel does not recall if she informed the authorities that her neighbor, Robert Henchen, had access to her storage barn? She is a judge and she does not remember what she told people? That's just the way it is, she says. This is scary.

The New York State Police and the Sheriff's Department have been investigating Henchen since the beginning, when Geraldine Jackson and Nancy Phelps were reported missing, and Siegel does not recall telling them about Henchen? I would think that Siegel should not be in office.

Vic Casullo

Lancaster

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Museum should focus on our wintry weather

I was very interested to read The News editorial, "Make the weather work," endorsing a weather museum in Buffalo. About four years ago, Kathleen Hochul and Dave Swarts were kind enough to invite me to Swarts's office to get my input on this concept. My particular take was to focus on the marketability of a museum of winter, rather than general weather.

While the elements mentioned in the editorial would be present, including a lake-effect storm room with museum-supplied parkas and gloves, I envision a particularly strong tourist focus during our most pleasant months of summer, when so many people flock to our region to see Niagara Falls.

One can envision the psychological appeal in ads in the steamy Sun Belt. Come to Buffalo and really cool off! Tens of millions have to endure the sweltering climate of the deep South and the searing heat of Phoenix and Tucson. Such an attraction could bring many who are considering a visit to the falls to come to our waterfront and experience the sort of cooling relief impossible in those parts of the country and the natural phenomena never to be seen where they live.

My feeling is a more clearly focused museum is easier to market. Winter is what we're best known for, and when these tourists show up, they'll experience Buffalo's awesome summer and autumn weather firsthand.

Don Paul

Chief Meteorologist, WIVB-TV

Williamsville

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Presidential candidates ought to resign posts

As a civil servant, I am bound by rules and laws that prohibit my running for elected office on my employer's time, or using my employer's equipment, vehicles or office space. That would restrict my political activities to evenings and weekends, should I desire to seek elected office.

Federal employees are further guided by the Hatch Act, which prohibits them from engaging in political activity "while on duty" or on "federal premises." At last count, there are seven U.S. senators and four congressmen running for president in 2008. When is a senator or congressmen not on duty?

I would default to my general understanding that these individuals are on duty all the time, representing the constituents who elected them. Our junior senator has "represented" us from California to Iraq in her quest for president. How has this been done without her being on duty, and using resources paid for by the taxpayers?

These individuals should be compelled to resign their offices if it is their desire to be president. This would give us, the taxpayers, an opportunity to be represented by individuals who are giving their constituents their undivided attention.

Dan Peters

Amherst

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If ECMC closes, where will DNA be stored?

Anthony Capozzi, wrongfully imprisoned for almost 22 years, is a case in point against the closing of certain Western New York hospitals. I must ask: What would have been the outcome in this instance if Erie County Medical Center had been closed, as has been proposed in previous years? Where are such records as DNA going to be stored if these institutions are closed? Such a happening could prove to be far more tragic than just "penny-wise and pound foolish."

Gwendolyn Mac Ewan

Blasdell

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