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Everybody's Column

Proposed tax lien sale was openly discussed

A June 2 letter misrepresented key facts in the Erie County Legislature's role in the proposed tax lien sale. The administration proposed the item to the Legislature, and only the administration can conduct the requests for proposals. Before approving the item by a 12-3 vote, the Legislature held an open and transparent process in the Finance and Management Committee, which sought input from all affected parties, including housing advocates and municipalities. Those meetings were open to the public.

The letter implied that Xspand, the winning bidder, would be purchasing foreclosed homes. The proposed agreement would not transfer ownership of the property, but instead merely transfers ownership of the tax lien imposed on that particular property.

My Democratic colleagues were concerned what implications this sale would have on vacant housing. That is why we demanded that Erie County retain the right to purchase back-tax liens and will be exploring strategies to combat vacant housing, such as land banking.

It should be noted that municipal governments still have their taxes covered from the county. The contract remains bogged down between the administration and the control board. If the process moves forward, the county also receives substantial funding to replenish its fund balance. The alternative appears to be reinstating employees and expenses to the county's Real Property Tax Services office at a reported cost of $600,000.

Lynn M. Marinelli

11th District County Legislator

Chairwoman, Erie County Legislature


Chinese products pose safety hazard

The latest story about the tainted toothpaste in the June 2 issue of The News made me decide to never purchase any products made in China. Not only does the Chinese government exploit its labor force by paying people low wages and making them work under unsafe conditions, now its food product safety is in question.

The pet food that killed some pets and the counterfeit drugs that have entered our pharmacy system are dangers we face as we continue to import these cheap Chinese products. China is a government that is lacking in ethics and we should avoid buying its exports until it plays by fair international trade rules.

The Chinese have been found guilty of counterfeiting the UL label, which is our safety standard that we rely on to make products that are inspected for safety. I think they may be laughing at the stupidity of Americans, who purchase their dangerous goods because they are artificially cheap.

Frank R. Mikler



Why not put condos in Central Terminal?

Here's a crazy thought -- instead of building the 23-story condo tower at Gates Circle, where the neighbors are less than happy at the prospect, why not put the money into the old Central Terminal on the East Side? Here is an existing building that is tailor-made for condos, especially the upper floors.

Why not build in an area where the people would welcome some development or, more properly, redevelopment and at the same time help bring back a historic building and neighborhood? It seems like a win-win situation.

John Pauly

Lake View


Teachers deserve more recognition

My husband and son are educators. I value education greatly and, although I am a senior citizen and my children are grown up, I always vote "yes" for the school budget. Consequently, I read with great interest and satisfaction The News articles about the success of City Honors and the progress of Buffalo students in general. Although glad for the mentioned success, I was upset by some remarks.

Superintendent James Williams said the success of students is due to the "efforts of the staff" of named schools. "Staff" means all of the people on the payroll, including receptionists, secretaries and janitors. They accomplish the important task of the smooth running of the school.

But when it comes to the students' progress, it is the teachers who deserve all of our praise and recognition, and not the impersonal "staff." The teachers are the ones who work with the students day by day and who transmit knowledge and provide encouragement and motivation to the students.

Finally, the fact that Williams received an extension of the contract two years before its expiration seems quite strange, not to mention unfair, considering that Buffalo teachers have been working for three years without a contract.

Velina Ruckenstein



Dads are true heroes in children's lives

On this Father's Day, let us all give thanks to our fathers, both those who are with us and those who have passed on. So much is said and given to our mothers for the work, love, struggles and stresses they go through to make a house a home, and a man and children a family. But we also need to give some credit to the fathers.

Fathers -- the bread-winners, the disciplinarians, the big guy, the tough guy. These are words used to describe him. But words that are missing are best friend, a good listener, someone who loves and cares for you unconditionally, a coach in sports and in life, the man.

Today when I think of my dad, whom I lost several years ago, I remember a good man and thank him for all that he gave to make me successful in this life. When I think of him, I also think of the many other men -- grandfathers, godfathers, uncles, older brothers, teachers, coaches -- who have influenced me and guided me along the way. They are the true heroes in our lives.

Tony D. Williams



Priests should set a better example

There are many articles printed telling Catholics to contribute more as a way of helping out during this Journey in Faith and Grace. I will make this short and sweet -- as soon as I stop seeing the faces of the priests I know (dressed in secular clothes) at the Niagara Falls casinos and Fairgrounds Gaming, I will double or triple my contributions to the parish.

But if they are not concerned enough about the current financial situation, and have enough to sit around with handfuls of money at the slot machines and craps tables, then the church has a lot of nerve asking me to increase my financial support. And I know, I know, they do not take a vow of poverty and their money is their money. But it is still bad public relations to see these guys squandering when the church is in this financial mess. Maybe if they considered donating their "excess," we might be able to keep a few of those struggling parishes open.

Barb Brader


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