>Law passed to amend statute of limitations
A recent letter writer cited my bill, "Anthony's Law," as just one of several reforms needed to prevent the innocent from being wrongfully convicted. I couldn't agree more, which is why I am continuing to work with the Innocence Project to introduce a number of bills designed to address this issue and to ensure more justice in our justice system.
However, the writer calls for a significant change that has already been enacted. I was proud to co-sponsor a bill that eliminated the statute of limitations on rape and a variety of other sexual crimes last year, which was signed into law last June. This change applies to all offenses committed on or after the effective date and to offenses committed prior to the effective date provided that the current statute of limitations for such offenses had not yet expired.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that laws cannot be imposed retroactively, which unfortunately, in the case of the Bike Path Rapist, does mean that he cannot be prosecuted for his earliest crimes. However, this change in the law represents a huge step forward in protecting the rights of rape victims and ensuring that offenders will not be able to evade prosecution for their heinous acts simply because of the passage of time.
>Teens need information in order to stay healthy
In her April 17 letter, Judith Vogtli of Catholic Charities states that 40,000 teens across Western New York have been exposed to the abstinence-only sex education program called ProjecTruth. Using this column to promote her organization's sex education program, she reveals her capacity for the truth by downplaying the benefits of Gardisil, which she describes not as "life-saving" or "preventing cancer" but as a vaccine against the HPV warts virus.
We know that of the 40,000 Western New York students who have graduated from ProjecTruth, 20,000 will have had sexual intercourse by age 17. About 2,500 of those will have contracted a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV-AIDS, herpes, syphilis or chlamydia. About 840 of the 10,000 girls benefiting from this abstinence-only training will have had at least one pregnancy by age 19.
Our young people need medically based, age-appropriate sex education for their health and safety. Toward achieving that goal, New York State should become the eighth of a growing number of states that are rejecting federal funding for abstinence-only programs.
James C. Hufnagel
>Lower flag to half-staff for fallen soldiers, too
It is not my intent to take away from the respect paid the victims at Virginia Tech, but I think the honor of flying the flag at half-staff should also be shown for every one of our service people killed in the line of duty. It may mean the flag will fly at half-staff for long periods. So be it.
>Why must craft shows charge shoppers a fee?
Just imagine if you went to a store and were told it would cost you $7 to come in to look at the products before you decide whether you want to buy anything. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Yet there are times when you're asked to do this. The last craft show my wife and I went to cost $7 each just to enter the building to buy something. My question is why? I'm sure each one of those vendors had to pay a fee for his space at the show. It would seem to me that those fees would pay for the use of the building. So why are shoppers paying to look at the products?
Is this supposed to be some sort of entertainment? To me it looks more like shopping. Fees for the space to exhibit the vendors' products should be taken care of by the people running these craft shows. If people don't make many sales while exhibiting their product, that's the gamble they take. Please don't ask me to make up the difference.
>Report all who violate pesticide notification
Residents of Western New York should be made aware that they must be notified 48 hours in advance prior to the application of any pesticide applied to any lawn within 150 feet of their property. This law is enforced by the Erie County Pesticide Notification Department and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
However, the law will be enforced only if the affected homeowner contacts the Department of Environmental Conservation at 851-7220. First-time violators will face a fine of $1,000 with multiple violations going as high as $10,000.
Pesticides affect everyone, especially our children, pets and our feathered friends when they are exposed to the 70 million pounds of pesticides that are applied annually to our lawns, shrubs and trees. This chemical cocktail eventually enters our water table through run-off and then travels to our streams and rivers that are the source of our drinking water. For more information on this issue, visit www.erie.gov/pesticidenotification.
>Special interests wield much power in Amherst
Satish Mohan's greatest mistake, if you can call it such, is incorrectly believing that the town supervisor of Amherst actually runs the town. Mohan probably has gone further than most "reformers," but has shown us once again that many unelected interest groups have great power over public spending.
>Construction workers need proper training
The construction industry is extremely dangerous, and there have been some unfortunate accidents in Buffalo. There are many precautions that can be instituted to improve workers' safety, and training is the key.
I have been a member of the carpenters union for 20 years. The carpenters union has stepped up its efforts on safety. This has been a joint effort, with the union and the contractors working together. Our members are required to take OSHA training. We also have scaffold, confined space and respirator training.
Most union jobs have a steward who will be there for you if you are told to do something unsafe. The stewards make sure that no one is put into harm's way. With these efforts, we have drastically reduced job site injuries. On a non-union site the workers, in most cases, don't have anyone to stick up for them, and there is not mandatory safety training. This is where the problem begins. Profit should not come at the cost of someone's well-being. Employers, union or non-union, should keep safety first. We come to work for employers, not to die for them.