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Everybody's column

Executive pay and incentives haven't benefited companies

Executive compensation has become a prominent topic. Top executives, by any measure, receive generous salaries and ancillary benefits. Additionally, they may be offered incentives in the form of bonuses and stock options that can greatly exceed their basic compensation. It is the latter that can create a conflict of interest and work to the detriment of stockholders and employees.

Most incentives are tied to the bottom line. To earn the incentive may cause an executive to take undue risks, neglect research and development and delay plant modernization, although the latter may be of great potential benefit to the stockholders and workers. Also, attaining a specified level of profitability may be unrelated to executive decisions. Does anyone believe that oil companies' record profits were the result of brilliant management? Yet many executives received extravagant bonuses as a result of events over which they had no control.

The extant compensation procedure tends to be a win-win for executives. Meet the bottom line and receive multimillion-dollar rewards. Experience failure and bail out with a golden parachute, leaving others to suffer the consequences. We must find a better way.

Hans G. Reif

Buffalo

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Suburbanites beware of parking downtown

Be careful where you park in downtown Buffalo because it may cost you. Recently, I attended an event at Shea's and parked in a Standard Parking lot nearby. In absence of attendants, I put $5 in the automated machine, but it provided no receipt. When I returned after the event, I discovered that all of the cars had been ticketed and mine had been towed and impounded.

This was only the beginning of a nightmare, which convinced me that downtown Buffalo is a good place to avoid. The auto shop gave me the runaround and charged me a $25 daily storage fee while doing so. I was finally able to pick up my car at the cost of $244, including $150 for the tow. After contacting Shea's, the person said he wasn't surprised but was unable to help. Shea's suggested I complain to the city's licensing department and then the mayor's office. All I got was a juiceless suggestion that I take Standard Parking to small claims court.

No wonder so many suburbanites avoid downtown, where highway robbery seems to flourish and officials are too impotent to help.

Sam Lantzas

Williamsville

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Political business as usual still governs judge selection

In November 2005, I wrote a letter to the editor expressing my incredulity that candidates for election to the New York State Supreme Court are not selected by the electorate. Rather, to my dismay, I learned that they are selected by hand-picked political puppets completely under the control of Democratic and Republican Party chairmen.

My dismay turned to relief when the highest federal court in New York determined that this 86-year-old practice violates the First Amendment guarantee of citizen political participation. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review this decision by the lower courts. In the meantime, the political bosses plan to carry on business as usual, selecting candidates in the back rooms -- let's hope at least that smoking will not be allowed.

More importantly, let's hope that truly qualified and experienced candidates, including Lynn Clarke this time around, are selected rather than those who merely bought a copious number of tickets to party fundraisers. After all, we entrust justice to the elected judges for a minimum of 12 years.

Richard P. Leonard

Orchard Park

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Leader's religious virtue holds no wartime sway

In a recent letter to this column, the writer contends that religion itself inspires violence. He also finds it amazing that so few Americans would seem to be willing to trust their government to a nonbeliever candidate with a secular mind. Is it possible that the history of the last century might help account for this reluctance?

Adolf Hitler was said to be responsible for the slaughter of 10 million people; Joseph Stalin, 20 million; Mao Tse-tung, 40 million; and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, 2 million. All of these leaders and their regimes were rather clearly nonreligious in their world views. So it would seem that religions and religionists have no exclusive corner on violent fanaticism.

Dan Mattimore

West Seneca

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Invest in technology and save our future

I am appalled and disgusted by people like Alan J. Steinberg, author of the April 3 Another Voice "Bush climate-change policy based on sound science," and gullible federal, state and local politicians who support the "clean coal" folly.

Carbon dioxide sequestering is just a fancy name for "capture and landfilling." Haven't we all learned yet that we can't just bury our pollution problems? It will literally come back and haunt us. Just look at the mess at Love Canal, West Valley and at landfills around the country.

The only way to get rid of carbon dioxide is to convert it back to oxygen via photosynthesis -- a job better left to green plants. The better solution is to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions by improving efficiency, producing bio-fuels from organic waste, developing co-generation and electric vehicle systems and using nonpolluting alternative energy such as solar and wind power.

Let's stop supporting "clean coal." It's a 100-year-old dinosaur on expensive life support. Pull the plug and let it become extinct. Let's invest in more promising and less destructive technologies.

Timothy A. Clawson

North Tonawanda

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Hudkins will be missed and fondly remembered

With much regret I read the obituary of Lonnie Hudkins in the April 6 News. I am going to miss him and his work as the "Olaf Fub" columnist.

It was September 2003 when I offered another one of my poems for his column. I had not put a title on my poem and he called to ask me what title I desired. We had a wonderful conversation. I remember when he spoke about Texas and of knowing Tex Ritter. He also knew his son, John Ritter, when he was a little boy. It was wonderful knowing that Hudkins was willing to call me and question my poem, "The Clock of Life."

Life has its ups and downs, and I believe Hudkins went with the flow. I'm going to miss him. I share my sympathy with his wife, Mary Alice, and his children. He will be missed by many workers along with those who appreciated his publishing their appointments, birthdays, poetry and such.

Doris V. Neumann

Town of Tonawanda

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