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Everybody's Column

Residential area is ill-suited for violent, sexual offenders

Regarding Saving Grace Ministries, let me be clear in my concern. The service Rev. Terry King is attempting to provide is admirable. I don't think any of us dedicated to working with the marginalized, poor and disenfranchised would disagree. Unfortunately he fails to understand that the location of this work is incompatible in a residential area where children, families and a residential program for young adolescent girls (TRY) are located. King says that housing these offenders at Saving Grace is safer. Why are we to feel safer?

When TRY purchased its house in 1990, we met with religious and secular organizations, block clubs and city officials. Everything was above board and the mission was clear. That same mission exists today. King stated in his June 21 letter that he "went to our neighbors, explained the change [to accept violent offenders], sought their agreement and have adhered to its terms." As his neighbor, we heard nothing and were never approached. I speak regularly with local church leaders and city officials. I never received notification regarding a change in the type of parolee being housed at Saving Grace.

I cannot imagine how parents in the neighborhood fully understood what the "change" would entail. Accepting violent and sexual offenders is a recipe for disaster.

Sister Janet DiPasquale

Director, TRY Program

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Food stamp regulations exclude needy families

I read with interest the June 17 News article and a June 19 letter about food stamps. The problem is that for the last 25 years, many working families have been excluded from the Food Stamp Program. The reason is the maximum gross income limitation. Anyone who has ever worked knows there is a big difference between your gross pay and your take-home pay. There are also other costs associated with working, such as transportation.

The Food Stamp Program gives an 18 percent earned-income deduction. If your gross income is over the limit, you don't get to use the deduction. If a working family has a gross income that is one dollar over this limit, they could expect to receive about $70 in food stamps with normal deductions. If the family is paying child care costs, the amount can be much higher. Everybody assumes that anyone over the limit would receive little or nothing anyway.

The maximum gross income is not a haircut, it is a decapitation. It excludes the people we need to help the most. If we do not take care of the working poor, they become nonworking poor and cost us a lot more.

Rodney R. Brown

North Tonawanda

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Homeowners can buy cheaper garbage totes

I'm all for keeping the vermin down. I'm all for shiny new totes, with wheels that help with garbage collection and bigger volumes in the bins themselves. I'm all for putting only house garbage in it and keeping my (now ratty) other bins for garden waste and such. I'm all for getting another smaller bin when all the Village of Williamsville residents have their first one.

What I'm not for is paying for it. I must have missed that particular letter in the mail. Or should I say paying extra for it. Especially when it comes with a $60 price tag and I didn't even get the option to opt out. I can buy decent plastic garbage cans for a lot less than that, even ones that come with a lid (which I already use).

So, Supervisor Mohan, either it will be covered by my expensive village taxes, in which case I'll ignore this little extortion letter, or it will be outside my house and you can keep it.

Dave McKewan

Williamsville

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Healthy Teens Act may improve outcomes

Even if the abstinence-only programs touted by Judith Vogtli in the June 21 Another Voice column are successful in their claim of reducing teen sexual activity "by periods of one to two years," the fact remains that we're sending young adults out into the world without basic knowledge of how to use or where to buy contraception as well as denying them essential information about healthy sexuality. How is a 17-year-old who doesn't know how to put on a condom much better than a 15-year-old who doesn't know how to put on a condom?

To borrow Vogtli's language, it would be inappropriate for any government to dismiss the direct correlation between knowing how to use contraception and getting pregnant. So go ahead and preach abstinence, but don't attach the word "only." We need to tackle teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases from as many angles as possible, including comprehensive sex education as laid out by the Healthy Teens Act.

Whitney Crispell

Buffalo

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News is wrong to back yet another authority

The News' support of a bill creating yet another state authority that would take away local decision-making regarding cable franchises by municipalities is confusing to say the least. It is all the more confusing given The News' unequivocal support of Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his goal of eliminating the befuddling number of state authorities that are financed on the backs of an already beleaguered and overburdened taxpayer.

The Omnibus Telecommunications Reform and Consumer Protection Act sponsored by a downstate Assembly member is simply bad public policy. Do we really want a state authority making decisions that are best left to local governments? The News in particular has been lamenting this fact as it pertains to decisions by the New York Power Authority regarding low-cost power produced at the Niagara Power Project.

Rather than urging for the creation of new authorities, we should be supporting the governor's efforts to eliminate as many as possible. This so-called protection act only protects the interests of big government.

Colleen DiPirro

President and CEO

Amherst Chamber of Commerce

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Kopp life sentence sends right message

The sentence of life without parole handed down in Buffalo in the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian sends a strong message that violence against doctors who provide essential reproductive health services will not be tolerated. The dedicated doctors who provide these services deserve to practice medicine freely without fear of violence.

New York State has a long, proud tradition of leading the nation in protecting a woman's right to control her own reproductive health. As commissioner, I will continue to protect women's reproductive rights and ensure that women can safely access abortion and reproductive health services in New York.

Richard F. Daines, M.D.

State Health Commissioner

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