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Everybody's Column

Slaughter bill provides tools for family planning

The headline of the June 27 News article, "Rep. Slaughter pilots Democratic Party's course on abortion" is misleading.

The Prevention First Act is not about Democrats or Republicans and takes no stance on the legality of abortion. Rather, my bill brings together pro-choice and anti-choice members of both parties to chart a new course designed to prevent unintended pregnancies and improve the health of our citizens by expanding access to and education about family planning.

The United States has one of the highest rates of both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among industrialized nations, and the consequences fall disproportionately on our youth. One in three girls in America becomes pregnant before the age of 20, and 80 percent of these pregnancies are unintended. We face 19 million new cases of STDs annually, nearly half of which are among people ages 15-24. It is irresponsible to allow ideology to trump this stark reality. Our people deserve better.

Rather then continue down the path of divisive politics, Prevention First expands access to preventive health care services and education programs to help protect women's reproductive health, reduce unintended pregnancies, prevent the spread of STDs, and provide women and men with the tools they need to make the best decisions possible for themselves. It is a sensible, common-sense approach to a difficult problem, and I am proud of the far-reaching support it has received.

Rep. Louise Slaughter

28th District

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Hydrogen fuel is better alternative to ethanol

Our attempt to cut dependence on Middle East oil by producing ethanol from corn, I believe, is doing more harm than good. We complain about the high price of gasoline and think by putting our food supply into our fuel tanks we will save money, but that only inflates food prices. A perfect example is the upsurge in the price of milk, a direct result of inflation in corn feed for dairy cows. Where is the savings?

Hydrogen fuel, on the other hand, I think is the better solution. It is the most abundant element in the universe and can be extracted from the most abundant liquid on earth, water. This is a no-brainer. The use of hydrogen as fuel can fulfill our energy needs and free us from our oil addiction and inflated grocery bills. Hydrogen fuel has propeled many of our rockets into space. I find it hard to believe our government and the automobile industry haven't switched over to this technology years ago. Is common sense no longer in vogue?

Norman Machynski

Cheektowaga

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Mesiah misses the mark on judges' qualifications

NAACP President Frank Mesiah's racially charged comments about the relative qualifications of Judge Tim Franczyk and Judge James McLeod ignore the simple fact that Franczyk is by far the best qualified candidate for Erie County Court.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer recognized this when, after an exhaustive review of the backgrounds and credentials of several candidates, he selected Franczyk, whom he described as an "outstanding public servant."

Franczyk has served with distinction in City Court where he has presided over thousands of cases in Criminal Court, Domestic Violence Court, Housing and Civil Court. He is also the chief instructor of Buffalo's Youth Court, training our high school students in the basics of criminal law and advocacy.

Franczyk is widely respected for being open and fair with the African-American community. Last year he received the Minority Bar Association's highest rating of "Superior" and, unlike his counterpart, he was rated "Outstanding" by the Erie County Bar Association. As a former bureau chief with the district attorney's office, he successfully prosecuted countless felonies.

While Mesiah is an important voice for equality, in this race, he is way off the mark.

Donald O. Allen

Former Commissioner of Community

Services, City of Buffalo

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Crime statistics ignore quality-of-life issues

Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson's reply to Assemblyman Sam Hoyt's June 10 letter concerning the amount of crime in the Queen City makes for compelling reading, but it must be viewed through the rather narrow window that dominates the FBI's analysis of crime statistics. As Gipson knows, the FBI only tracks the following crimes: arson, burglary, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, rape and murder. Such a statistical accumulation of numbers fails to reveal the true nature of criminality in our city.

While the reduction of such violent and offensive crimes does offer testament to the vigilance of our police officers, there are other less serious offenses that directly affect the people who call Buffalo their home. Much has been written and said concerning loud music from cars and residences, inconsiderate motorcycle operators, sneaky and deceptive narcotics dealers, young people gathering in city parks for the sole purpose of intimidating visitors and residents, uncontrolled graffiti that is marring our urban landscape.

Are we to applaud only Gipson for the reduction in FBI reportable crimes? What about the "quality of life" issues raised by Mayor Brown? Are they to be forgotten? Should the "broken windows" model from New York City be abandoned?

Sean Birmingham

Riverside

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Criticism of principal is unjustly negative

As a teacher at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, I take issue with the June 28 letter, "New schools are just tools in the educational scheme." It is condemning of the Performing Arts Academy's principal for referring to our new building as a key tool in improvement efforts at the school and that it sends a message that students are important.

First, the new building is a key tool in our constantly developing program at the Performing Arts. It is state of the art and absolutely stunning. Also, it has been constructed to support an already rich and successful program, as well as send a message to our students that the district is committed to their education.

No one has claimed it to be a magic bean to success, as the letter writer has stated, and we are aware that the students, administrators, parents and teachers are the core of our program.

Performing Arts has the best music and arts programs in Western New York, raised test scores, committed students and supportive parents, and I am lucky to work there.

The letter writer has chosen to find a negative twist to a wonderful time in the school's history. I wish there was a magic bean to eliminate this type of negativity from our new building and the arts community.

James Healy

Buffalo

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