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Everybody's Column

>Shame on Freudenheim for his negative words

I am writing in response to Tom Freudenheim's recent columns in the Wall Street Journal, which have frequently been cited in The News. At the special meeting of the gallery on March 12, members from the audience were welcomed to share their opinions from the floor.

Freudenheim congratulated the gallery on an excellent meeting. I appreciated his positive tone. How shocked and naive I was to believe this. While he spoke graciously in Buffalo -- perhaps he was concerned that he might damage his family's ability to sell contemporary art to the very people he was blasting in the Journal -- he returned to New York and wrote a second column that can only be described as poison. It was full of untruths and distortions about the Albright-Knox and its leadership.

Many of us have worked hard through our time and philanthropy to develop cultural tourism in our region. Shame on Freudenheim for portraying his hometown so falsely in the national press. I moved here 20 years ago and am proud to call myself a Buffalonian. Freudenheim must have cast off that label when he left here long ago.

Leslie Zemsky
Rockspring Designs, LLC
Buffalo

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>Bush has no business honoring war heroes

Last week, the Tuskegee Airmen from World War II were honored in a ceremony in Washington. It was very moving to finally see these heroes receiving the recognition they so well deserved, especially when one takes into account that their government and many of their fellow Americans discriminated against them, and all African-Americans in general.

But I cringed when the "commander in chief" saluted their heroism. This man would not do his duty when he was called to serve our country. This man took America into war under false pretenses and is now responsible for the deaths of more than 3,200 of our service personnel and the maiming of thousands more. Then there are thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children killed, wounded and displaced.

Our commander in chief, in my opinion, is a war criminal and should be tried for crimes against humanity.

James F. Gruber
Williamsville

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>Students would benefit from community support

I am working as a substitute teacher through an agency, and I visit several different types of schools. I go to a private school and charter schools in Buffalo. I wonder if the general public knows how much work the charter school teachers do. It is a great challenge on both the elementary and high school level. I never hear the teachers complain, and I know they are compensated much less than those in district schools.

My wish list for these students includes the following: one-to-one mentoring, free tutors in the schools for the core subjects, job opportunities, business people setting up internships for juniors and seniors, volunteer activities directors, more donated school supplies throughout the year, dictionaries, pencils and erasers for elementary schools, volunteer presentations from small business owners, presentations from the art and music community and local literary talents. We have to stop the blame game and help our children.

Marsha Mann
Kenmore

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>Radical change needed if region is to survive

Upstate New York is falling behind the rest of the country. Services are being cut, taxes continue to increase and people are leaving the area. It's time for radical change. Governmental structure has not changed significantly since the 19th century. The 2006 Annual Report on Local Governments by the state comptroller states: "It may be time to focus attention on the basic structure of local government." Look at the number of village and town governments in various counties. For example, Cattaraugus County, with only 85,000 residents, has more towns than any other county in the state.

The New York State Rural Visions Project states: "Rural schools occupy an integral position as centers of the community." If many of the towns were dissolved and replaced by new ones along the geographic lines of each school district, this alone would eliminate approximately 20 town governments in Cattaraugus County.

Do even the counties need to operate as full general governmental units? In reality, they need only to function as administrative districts of the state. In business, we consider doing the same things the same way but expecting different results a definition of insanity. Does the same not apply in government?

Rodney Rogers
Forestville

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>Area's first responders are well-trained, ready

I had the opportunity to witness the field exercise that was conducted on March 28 at the Central Terminal in Buffalo. My interest was from that of an assistant professor of fire protection and emergency management at a local community college. This exercise included many disciplines of first responders, who will be called upon to work as an integrated team to mitigate an incident of this type. The exercise tested the abilities of agencies from the city, county, state and federal government, and their ability to obtain as safe and positive an outcome as possible for the citizens of the region.

The emergency medical services system, law enforcement and Buffalo Fire Department all performed rather well together, from my vantage point. My interest and observation was mainly on the operations of the Fire Department and its ability to set up, maintain and operate its hazardous materials team.

The firefighters, company officers and command staff I met and observed setting up, operating and managing the equipment for this exercise left me with a tremendous sense of confidence. The Fire Department is truly an asset that the region can be proud of and confident in, if called upon to perform.

Kevin Hodgson
North Tonawanda

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>Dollar coin will succeed if paper bill is removed

Here we go again. As if the last two times didn't count, we now have yet another dollar coin. Coins are great -- they last practically forever, but unless the government removes the bill from circulation, no one will use them. There will be no place for the coins in the cash register trays, either.

Let's take a lesson from Canada. It removed the paper bill from circulation and replaced it with the loonie. Of course, it is slightly larger and has an identifiable shape, too. Can't we do at least as well? Let's get rid of the paper dollar bill, which wears out as fast as a pair of shoes from China.

Violet Nelson
Newfane

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