Western New York benefits from low-cost hydropower
Hallelujah! Among the misconceptions in the March 19 letter, "Give local residents a say on Power Authority board," the writer rightly concludes that to change the way the Niagara Power Project is run, "Please contact your state and federal representatives and tell them to make this happen." Finally someone understands that change comes from the lawmakers who craft the laws directing New York Power Authority operations.
As for the misconceptions: The Power Authority met with representatives of eastern Niagara County and Buffalo's northern suburbs. These areas will benefit from recreational and environmental projects under the new license. Additional funding they sought would increase the rates for Niagara customers, eroding the hydropower savings.
State and federal laws require the Power Authority to keep almost 50 percent of Niagara hydropower in Western New York and determine how the remaining output is divided.
If the laws were changed, Niagara hydropower might further benefit local municipalities and residents, but at the cost of the benefits of 43,000 jobs for Western New York families and billions in capital for business growth at companies that count on this power. Does that benefit Western New York?
Director, Media Relations
New York Power Authority
Kaleida's decision to drop health plan hurts patients
Thanks to The News for the March 20 article about Kaleida Health dropping out of United Healthcare's network. My husband is a subscriber to United Healthcare through his employer based out of Pennsylvania. The letter that UHC sent informing us of the pending contract termination was not addressed to him, but to me because I had recently received services at Millard Fillmore Hospital.
As parents of a 5-month-old baby, it is very upsetting to know that we will no longer be able to rely on Children's Hospital. The plan that we have with UHC does not provide reimbursement if we use any out-of-network provider or facility. If we were to switch to a plan that would allow 80 percent reimbursement for out-of-network providers, we would only be able to do so after Jan. 1, 2008, and we would have to pay 30 percent more for premiums than we are now.
In my opinion, neither Kaleida Health nor United Healthcare is working in the best interest of patients. Kaleida should be notifying members about the change and explaining why it decided to terminate the agreement, and UHC should have to contact the 33,000 subscribers as well, not just the individuals who have used Kaleida facilities recently. Also, subscribers should have been given more than two weeks notice of the change.
Volker's remarks show he just doesn't get it
I think it's a little early to be crowing about defeating portions of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's budget. Sen. Dale Volker forgets that the institution was "dissed" on the day Spitzer was elected governor. He ran on a platform of change, which elected state officials should remember sometime before the next election. Bowing yet again to pressure from wealthy lobbying groups is not change. It is business as usual for "the institution," as is defeating an environmental plan to put a deposit on all beverage containers.
Private-sector employees cannot afford to support the continued benefits for public employees. Just as the Social Security dilemma poses a threat to retirement benefits for a large population of aging Americans, so does the sense of entitlement that public employees have to be supported by a shrinking number of private-sector jobs. Do the math.
Voters like me -- who do not have pensions and whose health coverage will cease upon retirement -- have some power, too. We voted out incumbents in Depew, and voted in Democratic Party senators. I will remind everyone at the next election that we can continue to support change by using our voting power yet again. Working people are tired of burdensome taxes and a sense of no representation at all government levels.
Rebecca J. Arcese
How can anyone deny religion fuels violence?
In his April 1 Viewpoints story, the Rev. Scott Thomas claims that religion can merely feed the impulse to create enemies. The Rev. Britt Minshall claims that this occurs when religious leaders "bring people away from God and back to the secular brain." Steven Waldman writes that "in most of the world's religious traditions, all the sacred texts involve righteous fights against enemies."
First, religion does not merely feed the impulse to create enemies. It often creates it. Second, there is no good reason whatsoever to conclude that the "secular brain" is necessarily the cause of the problem. Indeed, Waldman is incorrect to imply that all the sacred religious texts simply condone "righteous" wars against the alleged enemies of God. In fact, the Bible condones genocide against theCanaanites and other peoples.
It is amazing that, in light of all the religiously inspired violence making the news today -- 9/1 1, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, etc. -- many people still insist that religion is never a major cause of it. Yet, ironically, there are so many people willing to blame it on the "secular brain." With this kind of negativity, it is no wonder that so few Americans are willing to elect a nonbeliever to public office.
Norm R. Allen Jr.
Assistant Director, Council for Secular Humanism, Amherst
More needs to be done to eliminate graffiti
By now, the city should be through congratulating itself that no major disasters occurred during the men's NCAA basketball tournament and the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Maybe now officials can turn their attention to something that should have been taken care of long before the March festivities began -- the eyesore of graffiti that continues to mar the beautiful built environment of the downtown area. It is so glaring that it cannot go unnoticed.
Last summer, a "graffiti czar" was appointed by Mayor Byron Brown. The only change I have observed in the past nine months is more graffiti -- on the Aud, the old Woolworth's store and the AM&A's building, not to mention the wooden construction scaffolding next to the Guaranty Building. The historic Delaware Court building and the Hotel Touraine have also been the victim of graffiti vandals.
How can we hope to attract new businesses, more residents and interested tourists to our city if we continue to tolerate the people responsible for the graffiti? Procedures should be in place to hold the owners responsible for removing it ASAP and to implement a system to track the sales of spray paint. Lastly, maybe a graffiti hotline, similar to the pothole hotline, could be implemented.