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Everybody's Column

Peace Bridge neighborhood sacrificed on altar of egos

As we consider the agonies visited on West Side homeowners by the perpetual Peace Bridge design and construction delays, let's never forget that the original "twin span" might have been done by now. The Canadians and the Peace Bridge Authority were happy with the twin span design. Americans did not complain during the public comment period. It was only after-the-deadline caterwauling by a coterie of holier-than-thou American aesthetes that derailed construction of the twin span.

How much has been sacrificed on the altar of the tastes -- and the arrogance -- of a few. The twin span would have been utilitarian, inexpensive and rapidly built. Instead we've wasted years arguing the geographic and environmental details of a "signature bridge" our ravaged region cannot possibly afford. Meanwhile, with every year lost, the Detroit-Windsor crossing seizes more of the trans-border market that should have been ours.

When the corpse of Buffalo is finally carted away, I hope the "signature bridge" crowd will be happy. Let's never forget that they are solely to blame for the current fiasco, and for the devastation of West Side neighborhoods.

Tom Flynn

Buffalo

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Wages are an indicator of the economy's state

I was astounded when I read the state Labor Department found that the average wage for Western New York was slightly over $36,000. It is no wonder why Western New Yorkers are leaving! With longer commutes and increased gas prices, less money is being brought home. This would mean the median family earns a measly $72,000 (gross) a year. It's also apparent as to why bankruptcy is at an all time high. I could not afford to live without "robbing Peter to pay Paul" if I were the average worker. Cost of living is increasing at a rapid speed, while the salary ranges aren't. It seems some employers aren't doing enough to ensure their employees' needs are met. A 2 or 3 percent (raise) a year isn't enough to cover the rising costs of the basic necessities.

Nicole Jackson

Town of Tonawanda

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Area could lose bike museum if it doesn't pedal its wares

With great concern, I read Robert T. Coles' July 11 Another Voice, "The census clock is ticking down on Buffalo's future." That same day I was treated to one of the little known surprises of our wonderful Buffalo heritage, the astonishing bicycle museum, Pedaling History, in Orchard Park. The museum started as an antique bicycle collection by Carl and Clary Burgwardt and has evolved into the largest bicycle museum in the world, and 95 percent American heritage.

The exhibits cover the origin and evolution of the bicycle in the 19th and 20th centuries, the fantastic growth of bicycle manufacturer in the 1890s, the improvements in transportation spawned by the bicycle in the preautomotive period and the pre-eminence of Buffalo as a bicycle manufacturing center.

We visited the museum as a group and thus were extended a spellbinding tour personally conducted by Carl. He is an acknowledged expert in the history of bicycling, and the exhibits are educational, beautifully displayed and self-explanatory. This is a visit recommended to all ages.

The Burgwardts would like to move their exhibit to the waterfront if the Buffalo community can get its act together. I would like to encourage those powers in Buffalo to move forward with waterfront development plans before we lose this museum to another city. In the meantime, I encourage a visit to Pedaling History, a unique feature of our community.

Willard C. Macfarland

Orchard Park

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Dog fights, bull running should both be stopped

With the recent federal indictment of one of the NFL's best-known players for being involved in a widespread conspiracy of dog fighting, most people are outraged at the cruelty forced upon these animals in the name of sport. Hopefully some good will come from this incident and governments will pass very strict laws outlawing this barbaric practice throughout the country.

This brings me to why we are not as outraged by the way bulls are treated in Spain in both bullfighting and the absolutely terrible practice of the "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona. In today's world there is absolutely no reason for either of the above to continue. Bulls are not among the most cuddly of animals, but they are mammals, with a brain, and certainly feel pain and suffering. Can you picture the condemnation of these practices if instead of bulls, polar bears or pandas were used?

Finally some citizens of Spain are trying to end the bull fights with protests, and are making some progress. I'd urge all Americans who care about animals to also protest these practices and urge they come to an immediate end. Hopefully the media will stop showing video of the daily bull runs, this is not news and should not be given any time or exposure.

All foreign governments recognize how important U.S. dollars are in tourism, so if American tourism would boycott Spain, along with not purchasing its exports, I am sure some changes would soon be coming.

Mark A. Muchowski

Orchard Park

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Brown should enforce the city's living wage

I am extremely disappointed to learn that Mayor Byron Brown has failed in the two years he has been in office to fully enforce the city's living wage ordinance.

The living wage ordinance was passed in 1999 and recently the non-partisan volunteer living wage commission found that the city is in violation of nine sections of the ordinance. During his campaign, Brown made distinct commitments to the community to support the legislation and work to expand living wages to more workers. Yet hundreds of workers are still without a living wage who are legally deserving of it.

With election season coming up, I am reminded of the all-too-common phenomenon of false campaign promises used to entice voters.

This city needs public servants who, once in office, can resist the temptation to favor the politically powerful and the status quo while setting aside the needs of the most vulnerable, and least powerful, citizens. In Brown's case, poor voters were as important in placing him in office as those who are financially and politically connected. His refusal to obey the living wage law is nothing short of a betrayal of those voters.

Of equal concern is the mayor's inaccessibility on the matter. Over the last several years, Brown has repeatedly refused to meet with living wage advocates and address their concerns. At the very least he should come forward and explain why he hides behind corporation counsel's flimsy arguments against enforcement and why he refuses to obey the law.

Anna Falicov

Buffalo

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