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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Let's give our trees a chance at survival

It seems the problem with the trees damaged in the October Storm is that no one knows if a specific tree will survive or not, and we won't know for at least another year -- a year past the October deadline the federal government has given us.

The leaves that were on the trees last fall gave them enough strength to survive this year, but arborists tell us many, though not all, will not survive the next year.

The federal government has put a gun to our heads and told us it will pay to remove trees if done by October. If we want to wait the year needed to see which trees will survive, we will have to foot the bill for those that must be removed after that date. So, of course, we'll take prudent measure and have them all taken down, just in case.

What's the rush? Why can't the federal government give us one more year to see which trees will make it and which will not? Why do we have to commit mass murder on all of our trees, many of which would survive, because the federal government has set a much-too-soon deadline? It is the government's very own arborists who tell us we need another year to know for sure. Please give our beautiful trees that chance.

Marge McMillen

East Amherst

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Nature has a way of repairing itself

The October Storm definitely changed the landscape of many Western New York neighborhoods, however, it still continues to alter our streets almost nine months later. Is it possible that we are being a little too ambitious to cut down our once-lush, green friends?

Nature has an incredible way of repairing itself, after all, disasters like ours have been occurring for thousands of years before us and will continue long after we're gone.

I am seeing way too many agencies and homeowners cutting down damaged trees that appear "less than perfect." Aside from the trees that are dead, dying or pose immediate danger to the population, leave the rest alone. We may be happily surprised with what nature has in store for us.

Kevin M. Nowak

Cheektowaga

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While others are cut, this tree still stands

I have witnessed three huge trees being cut down on Wyandotte Avenue over the past several weeks. Yet a tree 50 feet away on Rosedale Street, which was scheduled to be cut down in 2006, is still standing. According to a letter from the mayor's office dated Sept. 26, 2006, the silver maple, 22 inches in diameter, was scheduled to be removed this year.

Since then, limbs from that tree have fallen on the roof of my home. Because I am a 90-year-old widow, I have to pay for someone to go on the roof and remove the tree limbs. I called the mayor's office three times during May and June. Each time I was instructed to leave a message, which I did. It appears no one is receiving calls in the mayor's office, because there has been no response.

We are currently enjoying beautiful summer weather. This will change with the rain and winds that accompany the fall and winter seasons. My question is: What will the mayor's response be if someone is hurt by these falling branches, or worse? "It was next on our list!"

Even though we are encouraged to call the mayor's office, with my experience, I find this an effort in futility.

Helen Dallos

Buffalo

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Nation should welcome hardworking immigrants

Our politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves, not just the Democrats but the Republicans, too. This country has always accepted foreigners, right back to the days of Christopher Columbus.

Now we are faced with the dilemma of the border conflict. The Mexicans are coming here in search of a better life. Can you blame them? These people are hard workers. They will often take any job that comes along. Their sons and daughters often join the military in order to get their citizenship.

What bothers me is that our politicians want to close the door on them. What about the draft-dodgers of the Vietnam War? They left this country. They turned their backs and high-tailed it to Canada or Mexico, knowing they would never be able to come back because of the laws of the land. So what did the politicians do? They forgave them and let them return. Then our politicians turned their backs on all of us drafted Vietnam vets.

Now we have foreigners wanting to come and become law-abiding citizens and our politicians want to kick them out and send them home. I say kick the draft-dodgers out and give some people who want to be citizens a chance at the liberty we have and enjoy.

Karl M.G. Oertel

Tonawanda

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Americans may need those low-paying jobs

Just a thought about the immigration bill before Congress, which considers these illegal immigrant workers as necessary to perform jobs American citizens will not do. With the increasing number of good-paying jobs leaving the United States for low-wage countries, Americans in the future will need these jobs just to survive.

Bob Pagels

Tonawanda

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Independent probe of Gonzales needed

We are a wonderful country -- or used to be. What is going on? Alberto Gonzales is our attorney general. As such, he is the head of the Department of Justice. The latter, we are told, is conducting an "internal investigation" into whether or not the attorney general tried to influence the testimony to legislators by a Justice Department employee. Great! The fox is supervising the chicken coop.

John J. Hoffman

Williamsville

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President continues to ignore the people

Is there anyone who doubts that in September, the generals in Iraq will report that the surge has been successful, we are making progress, the Iraqis will soon be able to govern their country, blah, blah, blah?

This would be one more example of the bowing and kowtowing to President Bush that is so apparent. Republican politicians are vocal in their criticism of Alberto Gonzales, the war in Iraq and the current immigration bill. Yet when push comes to shove and a vote is required, they all do Bush's bidding. And they said John Kerry flip-flopped!

Democrats saw their success last November as a mandate to get the United States out of Iraq and bring our troops home. Their half-hearted attempt failed and Bush has the blank check he needs to carry on his war. They have been just as unsuccessful in ousting Gonzales from his job. I find it frightening that, on the one hand, we have a president who is arrogant, selfish and completely out of touch with reality, while, on the other hand, we have two parties, one slavishly following its "leader" and the other too timid to do anything. Meanwhile, more than 3,500 Americans have died, 12 million illegal immigrants enjoy the benefits of our country and an amnesiac runs the Justice Department.

JoAnn Reemer

Buffalo

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It's no wonder why gas bills are so high

In the June 10 paper, a headline in the "Business Today" section read: "11 execs in WNY earn over $2 million; median pay of 55 execs in 2006 was $773,740." Of those 55 executives, five were from National Fuel. No other utility company made the "honor roll."

Well, this certainly explains our outrageous gas bills! I'd hate to see these poor guys stand in the cold lines in winter trying to get assistance to pay their winter heat bill. Not to mention I'd hate to have to include a little extra money with my payment for the "Neighbor-To-Neighbor" fund so that these men can keep warm during Buffalo's frigid months and their gas doesn't get turned off.

Sherry Bradford

Grand Island

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National Fuel wins, while customers lose

One of the outstanding facts lost in the story about Western New York executives' earnings was that out of seven companies listed filing under old Securities and Exchange Commission rules, six of the 25 executives identified were from National Fuel Gas.

As everyone knows, National Fuel Gas is a monopoly, mostly unregulated by the Public Service Commission, and is allowed to operate in a way best described in David Robinson's article as using "trade secrets." Filing a complaint with the PSC is useless.

And in reading back issues of The News' financial pages, one would also find that National Fuel executives have been exercising options or selling stock many times, as was noted in the June 10 edition, where it is dubbed as"executive trading" instead of "insider trading."

National Fuel Gas is part and parcel of the energy industry, always wanting more, complaining with a loaf of bread under each arm. It's no trade secret that it owns its gas and oil fields, owns its gas lines and owns its customers.

Best of all, it can control the outflow of the wells, controlling prices and selling and buying options. In utilizing such trade secrets, National Fuel Gas always wins, and its customers always lose.

John Cappelletti

Olean

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Most Catholics do not 'shrug off' abortion

Froma Harrop's assertion in the June 15 News that Catholics "don't fret much about abortion" is a ridiculous and unsubstantiated commentary. We've all read this kind of rhetoric before and regardless of how many times it's put into print, it doesn't become factual. She cites a rejected 1986 anti-abortion referendum in Rhode Island as a basis for her determination.

The understanding of human embryology has expanded over the past 21 years and the current scientific realities of human development would certainly affect the results of informed voters today. Harrop claims that a more recent poll suggests the attitudes of Rhode Islanders have barely budged since the 1986 poll. Since when are the opinions of Rhode Island's 1 million total population a true representation of 65 million U.S. Catholics?

To claim that Catholics "shrug off" abortion is a gross misrepresentation, especially when based on faulty conclusions from obscure polling results. This issue matters greatly to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who both hope and pray for a culture without the many social ills that lead people to abortion in the first place. Human-rights issues like abortion begin with the recognition that life is a blessing and just to live is holy.

Phillip M. Galbo

Williamsville

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Harrop shouldn't rely on polls to make point

I must say that I've read more astute articles than the one written by Froma Harrop, "On abortion, many Catholics shrug." Her anti-Catholic bias and her indifference to the plight of the unborn is evident, but her use of polls in an attempt to give credibility to her assertion that "many Catholics don't fret much about abortion and may care more about workers' rights, the environment and social problem" than they do about the killing of unborn babies is foolhardy. In relying on such polls she shows herself to be ignorant of what it means to be a Catholic.

When a pollster interviews those who call themselves Catholic, but who, by their own choice reject Catholic doctrine, they are no longer Catholic; they have separated themselves from the Church. And so any attempt by a pollster to come up with a result showing a certain percentage of Catholics supporting abortion is futile.

Harrop and her pollster friends should be informed that the impossibility of conducting a poll showing a percentage of Catholic who support abortion, is fool-proof.

Eileen Hannah

South Wales

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