>Refugees struggle, too, there is no 'free ride'
A recent letter provides an excellent opportunity to dispel some myths about refugees and the benefits they receive. Refugees pay the same taxes (sales, income and property) as those born in this country. Refugees do not get a "free ride," they do get a ride to freedom, which they pay for. Refugees receive a loan from the International Organization for Migration to pay for their air fare. They begin repaying that loan within a couple of months after they arrive. They do not receive assistance that is unavailable to young Americans, as the writer claims.
Income eligibility criteria for public assistance is the same for those fortunate enough to have been born in the United States as it is for those who come here through the Refugee Resettlement Program. Once here, refugees struggle like Americans young and old to stretch their earnings to provide for their families. They feel the pain of rising food and energy costs like the rest of us. What they no longer feel is the fear of imminent danger of rape, starvation, torture or death. They are finally free from the barbed wire that surrounded them in the refugee camps.
Ann H. Brittain
Catholic Charities of Buffalo
>Spending won't decline until we eliminate pork
There were two items in the Oct. 25 News that caught my attention. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer backed a plan, which was since scrapped, to build a museum for $1 million to commemorate the Woodstock rock festival. This would have been almost as stupid as Ford putting up a monument to the Edsel.
Then Congress approved a bill that would set aside $15 million in federal funding for a national heritage area in Niagara Falls and a commission to oversee it. This was good news to Reps. Louise Slaughter and Thomas Reynolds. If we are ever going to cut back on federal spending, all of these people are going to have to join with the other members of the Senate and Congress to eliminate some of their personal pet pork projects.
All of this is somewhat analogous to the situation of the Catholic Church in Western New York. In its efforts to economize, our bishop should consider selling his multimillion-dollar mansion and moving his residence and the meetings he has to hold to one of the many buildings he is closing or even to the seminary. After all, in efforts to economize, a business will either do it correctly or simply go broke.
Robert J. Jacobi
>Demand green design in new development
The City of Buffalo recently solicited proposals for the development of the abandoned railroad right of way, approximately 30 acres, in the North Buffalo area adjacent to Shoshone Park. The city's criteria included a general reference to sustainability, but no specific requirements to ensure the project is environmentally responsible. Buffalo should require developers to meet a higher sustainability standard, such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum criterion for neighborhood development.
The LEED rating system is the most widely used benchmark for green design. Developers who adhere to its criteria construct highly sustainable neighborhoods in a systematic and verifiable manner. Higher up-front costs are offset by savings on energy costs over the long term. Also, community benefits, including health, social interaction and environmental protection, are maximized. There is still time to make sure we get a good, green project. The city should require that this rare opportunity to create a unique, sustainable new-build neighborhood is done according to the highest standard. The result will be a better development for the residents of the new development, for the city and for the environment.
>Boulevard option poses problems for drivers
There are currently two plans to reshape Buffalo's outer harbor. The current plan would create a parkway along the side of the elevated portion of Route 5. The second option would eliminate the elevated portion of Route 5 and create a boulevard that runs into Buffalo.
The second plan seems nice, however, those who support that plan must not use Route 5 regularly. During winter, the elevated portion of Route 5 is the only safeguard against the wind and snow that comes off the lake. Exiting off the elevated portion is extremely dangerous. Now take the safeguard away and you have created a dangerous element for hundreds of motorists for many miles.
I am also an optimist and hope to see a bridge built in the next 10 years. Once the bridge is built, our truck traffic and noncommercial traffic will increase expeditiously. The boulevard concept would make travel along that road, with the addition of more traffic, a disaster. Couple more traffic with our winter weather and you have made our roads unsafe and less economical. A boulevard would be nice if we had better weather and didn't have an international crossing around the corner.
>Stop forcing us to use mail-order pharmacies
After reading the article in the Oct. 29 newspaper about the Buy Buffalo initiative to support local businesses, I would like to say that it is a great idea and I think it would really help boost the local economy. So why is it that local corporations are forcing us to use mail-order services for our prescription medication? Wouldn't it be more beneficial for the economy if we were allowed to shop in our neighborhood, locally owned pharmacies?
The promoters of Buy Buffalo Week should ask National Fuel why it refuses to let its employees and retirees patronize pharmacies owned by members of our own community! Locally owned pharmacies are already at a disadvantage compared to the larger corporate chains, such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, so it doesn't make sense to prevent those customers who wish to support their independently operated local pharmacies from doing so. Let us Buy Buffalo, too!
>Indian tax collection is a drop in the bucket
Please do the math. The New York State budget is $120.635 billion. Indian tax collection is $200 million or .0016578 percent of the budget. The projected state budget deficit for next year is $4.3 billion. Indian tax collection is .0465 percent of the deficit.
Albany should quit tripping over dollars to get a dime. It doesn't make "cents" to cripple vibrant emerging Native American economies to appease the underbelly of Albany's fiscal malfeasance.
Tyler C. Heron
Seneca Nation of Indians