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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Criminal justice system has some serious flaws

My stomach soured as I read the headlines and subsequent article regarding the innocence of Anthony J. Capozzi. To begin to imagine what he or his family are feeling would only diminish the tragedy of this situation. Yet what has happened here and in so many other facets of our lives is the application of the great capitalist system.

It is the system where value is measured in terms of profits and loss. The bottom line is all that matters. The criminal justice system is not measured by justice, it is measured by how many people we put behind bars. To borrow a line from a great capitalist, "mission accomplished," our country has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. One less now that Capozzi has been released.

Our schools are not measured by their ability to inspire and instill ethics; test scores measure them. Our health care system is not measured by health; it is measured in the profits of HMOs. If a system's value cannot be expressed in terms of profit and loss, it is changed so it can be measured that way.

In the end we have a society that jails the innocent, incarcerates the flunkies and drugs the healthy. When principles of capitalism are applied to determine the value of our justice, education and health care systems, the result is a bottom line of a net loss.

Patrick Braunscheidel

West Seneca

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Capozzi should be given generous compensation

Anthony Capozzi has been an innocent convict for 22 years. Now that he is out of prison, our society will deliberate how to compensate him for the wrongful loss of his freedom and the irreplaceable loss of his middle years.

Here's a baseline: Since he was in the total control of the government, pay him as if he were an employee of the government, perhaps as a guard instead of an inmate. He was there 2 4/7 for 22 years. Assuming a 40-hour work week, then Capozzi put in 128 overtime hours each week.

For each $10 per hour a guard would make, Capozzi would pull in $120,640 per year, with time and a half for overtime. Total pay for 22 years -- if the $10 per hour were a constant -- would yield $2,654,080, plus the pension he earned on that pay. Of course, guards earn more than $10 per hour. And Capozzi has clearly earned more than $2.6 million.

Bob Anderson

Certified Compensation Professional, Buffalo

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Police don't deserve accolades in this case

Recently, I was astounded to read in The News that people would express gratitude to the Buffalo Police Department for its performance in the bike path rapist case.

A few days after a young woman was raped in 1986, she mustered enough courage to go to the Boulevard Mall with some friends. Miraculously, she came face to face with Altemio Sanchez. Her friend followed him to the parking lot and obtained the plate number. The police met with Sanchez's uncle, who assured them no one drove the car. Case closed!

Not long after, a mentally ill man from a wonderful family was acting "suspiciously" near the site where the rape occurred. He served nearly 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Three women are dead. While it may be true that police have a very difficult job, and everyone makes mistakes every day, the police deserve no accolades in this case.

Robert G. Peterson

Hamburg

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Capital punishment is viewed in new light

Sen. Dale Volker is a staunch supporter of capital punishment. Perhaps the Anthony Capozzi experience may give him cause to reconsider his position. Although Capozzi was not on death row, there may be others awaiting execution who, if given time, may be proven innocent.

Vince Collins

Snyder

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Why must Esmonde always be so negative?

It is unfortunate that a certain commentary about the Bass Pro mixed-use development in the April 1 News had such a negative view of the project. If Donn Esmonde had any experience with planning, architecture or civil engineering, this column would not have been written or printed.

Planning projects of this scale and proportion utilize immense amounts of criteria for processing and implementation. Planning and architectural history of the Buffalo waterfront is just one such criterion for development.

Please, please, Mr. Esmonde, be positive. Buffalo will be a great urban center once again.

Tim Tundo

East Bethany

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Esmonde is right; this is a travesty

Wonderful! Our myopic "leaders" have done it again, selling our unique claim to fame, our most important historic treasure -- the Erie Canal terminus -- to retailers and strip-mall developers.

I guess it was too much to hope for that the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. would actually do the right thing and keep that one small area true to its history. And to top it off, for the honor of having a sporting goods store and other retailers on this sacred ground, we get to pay them!

You really can't make this stuff up. Thanks to Donn Esmonde for his April 1 column exposing this deal for what it is: a shameful travesty.

Jim Koelmel

Hamburg

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Commercialism will ruin historic district

Buffalo is an exciting city and has a potential for further improvement. Of course, it has suffered from many past blunders. Must we repeat them?

The waterfront is a tremendous resource. Must crass commercialism of the nature of Bass Pro destroy our opportunity to develop a truly appealing historic district in that area? Such a district would have lasting appeal and attraction for tourists. Bass Pro's appeal would be short-lived and fade very fast.

Let Bass Pro use the Aud, or have a youth center in the Aud and forget about Bass Pro altogether.

John J. Hoffman

Williamsville

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Ground-level access is the key to success

OK! Now that the Bass Pro hurdle has been passed, let's get on with development of the outer harbor by taking a tangible first step. To me, the obvious first step entails establishing ground-level access to the area. Let's start by building a bridge over the ship canal at the foot of Michigan Avenue. This well-paved, direct route would channel ground-level traffic into the area at minimum cost.

If ground-level access is provided, people will come and developers with reasonable and attainable proposals will be right behind them.

Marvin F. DeBoy

Derby

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Many have been fooled by president's rhetoric

The ignorance of many of our citizens is astounding. The March 30 letter titled, "Bush and Cheney did what had to be done," points to a disturbing number of Americans who believe the self-serving rhetoric from President Bush, Vice President Cheney and politicians whose first priority in being elected to Congress is to get re-elected to Congress.

The fact is, neither the war in Iraq nor Afghanistan is about the events of Sept. 11, 2001. They both purport to "spread democracy," a uniquely American ideal and not a world view. The war in Iraq is about oil, plain and simple. This truth was tragically brought to life when the reason given for invading Iraq kept changing -- weapons of mass destruction, toppling a ruthless dictator, bringing democracy to Iraq, etc.

The cries of "support our troops" and "fight the terrorists there instead of here" serve to mask a harsh reality: Instead of going after Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/1 1, Bush got the United States into a quagmire in Iraq that he has no idea how to get out of. For the record, the way to "support our troops" is to get them out of this ill-conceived war and out of harm's way.

Jerry Johnson Sr.

Buffalo

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The 'fringe' view has become mainstream

Four years ago, those who dared to suggest that our president would mislead us into the horror of war were labeled war protesters on the fringe. Today we find numerous polls and surveys indicating that the "fringe" has become the mainstream view.

The belief that the surge will turn things around is reminiscent of the "light at the end of the tunnel" that was never found in Vietnam. And once again it is those who have protested our involvement in war who have, in time, become the mainstream.

Louis DeFiore

Buffalo

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Money wasted on war could be better spent

Casualties in Bush's war in Iraq aren't just limited to dead and injured combat personnel and civilians. The Bush administration is proposing to cut $78 million in funding for cancer research. Funding has remained essentially flat since 2003, at a time when promising new methods of treatment could benefit greatly from additional research dollars. It is ironic that the administration's own press secretary, Tony Snow, will be fighting for his life from cancer that has spread to vital organs.

Financing this ugly war is costing $6 billion a month, and that is only the direct costs. What about continuing treatment for wounded and mentally affected veterans? The costs to society resulting from destroyed families? Military hospitals are already stretched to the limit and the wounded keep coming and will keep coming until Congress has the guts to put an end to it.

What other important programs will be cut in a vain attempt to save the Bush administration from total collapse ? Continuing to pour money and waste lives in this stupid war is morally reprehensible.

Louis J. Brehm

Lake View

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Circuit City firings are reprehensible

I read in dismay the March 29 News article, "Circuit City fires 3,500 in bid to reduce wages." The company said the workers being laid off were earning "well above the market-based salary range for their role." They were given severance packages based on their length of service and can reapply after 10 weeks.

How low can a company stoop? Were their packages the same as those offered by Ford or General Motors? I think not. I think I see through this one. The greedy CEOs have devised another plan to get more for themselves. I, for one, will never ever buy anything from Circuit City.

Tommy Ford

Hamburg

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Union would have saved workers' jobs

Retail giant Circuit City has announced that it is firing 3,500 workers in an attempt to reduce wages. Locally, workers in Amherst, Hamburg and Cheektowaga have lost their jobs. Circuit City intends to replace them with newly hired, lower-paid people.

Management claims that the sales staff positions were occupied by people who were paid much more than similar workers in the market. In addition to hiring new replacements off of the street, the company has agreed to let those fired employees reapply for their own jobs, at a lesser rate of pay.

When reporting layoffs and job cuts, The News usually mentions the union that represents the affected members. I think it is important to note that these deep cuts affect 3,500 individuals who had no union representation.

Had the workers of Circuit City been unionized, they would have been protected from a unilateral pay cut and firings.

It is common to read that "no response was available from the union." Well, as a Teamster, I would like to respond by saying that a union contract would have never permitted this terrible situation to happen.

M. Scott Chismar

Lake View

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Declining Mass attendance linked to contraception ban

A recent letter writer claimed that the reason attendance at Catholic Masses was declining was because of Vatican II.

Although there are certainly other reasons for fewer people attending Mass, Andrew Greeley, the Catholic sociologist, did some research on this phenomenon some 20 years ago. He assumed that the decrease in attendance at Mass was because of dissatisfaction with the liturgical changes from Vatican II.

To his surprise, most people appreciated the changes but avoided Mass because of the Vatican's prohibition against using contraception. Since most Catholic women practiced birth control, they did not want to subject themselves to being criticized when they went to confession.

Rev. John A. Buerk

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Buffalo

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