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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Stop pretending a casino is economic development

Recently there have been letters accusing casino opponents of being "do-gooders." First of all, is that bad? Secondly, the facts are ignored. Extensive research notes that stand-alone urban casinos are not economic development, rather they cause economic harm. Don't take my word for it. Go online and search for William N. Thompson (a professor who is not anti-gambling), Earl Grinols and John Kindt. Go to www.nocasinoerie.org and follow the links.

We who oppose a casino have seen that while 1,000 jobs may be created, evidence shows that 2,000 to 3,000 jobs will be lost in the region. Urban casinos take regional disposable income that would be spent elsewhere in the region. It is no secret that casinos want it all inside -- eating, drinking, gambling, entertainment and now a hotel with many guests comped. This won't hurt downtown hotels and restaurants?

If people want to gamble, that's their choice. But don't pretend that this is economic development. Economic development is happening with the Buffalo Niagara Medical facilities and the Statler overhaul. They are not the same dynamic as a casino. We do have economic problems that need addressing, but casinos only make it worse.

Robert J. Heffern

Buffalo

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People are ignoring facts about casinos

On consecutive Sundays, The News has published letters touting the benefits of a casino in Buffalo, and condemning those trying to prevent achievement of such and impugning their motives. The letters are excellent examples of inherent contradiction and the illogic of stating as fact unproven propositions.

One suggests that since this locale is already awash in gambling venues, another can do no harm, being in any event representative of progress. A second chides the casino opponents for failing to provide an alternative to the development and progress they are thwarting at no expense to themselves.

According to their logic, those who warn of a hazard become thereby forever responsible for the welfare of those whom they have sought to preserve, as well as all bystanders.

Lest it have been overlooked, The News on Oct. 21 carried a report from Suffolk County of another embezzlement of considerable proportion, the proximate cause of which was gambling. But gambling always did seem to possess that quality of allure, which too often causes prudence and logic to be ignored, both by gambling's proponents and by its victims.

Paul Egan

Amherst

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Wilson reaps benefits of corporate welfare

Since the late 1960s, the taxpayers of Erie County have loudly insisted that their political leaders do what was necessary to keep the Buffalo Bills here whenever Ralph Wilson threatened to leave. What was necessary became an expensive and expansive list:

Taxpayers pay for a Lancaster stadium because of a broken contract deal. Taxpayers build and pay for an Orchard Park stadium. Taxpayers let Wilson use the stadium rent-free and put his name on it. Taxpayers let Wilson use the stadium for any and all events he wishes to hold there and keep all the proceeds. Taxpayers provide and pay for security at all events held at the stadium. Taxpayers pay for all stadium updates and improvements, including exclusive luxury boxes and a new multimillion-dollar scoreboard. Taxpayers build and pay for an indoor practice facility and name it after Wilson. Taxpayers pay all maintenance costs and repairs for the stadium, practice facilities and parking facilities, including repaving, repainting, resodding and snow removal.

Eleven games later, most members of the Bills organization leave town and the taxpayers are left with all the "bills." What a great business deal -- corporate welfare is a wonderful thing!

Carl and Kathleen Janish

Williamsville

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Wilson needs to ensure Bills remain in Buffalo

The news about the Bills requesting a "home" game in Toronto again evokes anxiety about the organization's long-term prospects of remaining in Buffalo. As much as Ralph Wilson has been pivotal in making the Bills a fixture in our community, it has only been possible through a loyal fan base. Not to mention that Wilson enjoys perhaps the sweetest stadium deal in all of sports given by county and city governments.

With the exception of the 1990s, loyal fans have suffered through many losing seasons. Yet Wilson and his family have become rich through sellout after sellout. His position of putting the Bills up for sale to the highest bidder after his passing is pure greed.

He owes our city to ensure the team remains a part of Buffalo. Wilson has made more than a fair return on his investment and has received unbelievable concessions from our bankrupt county and city governments.

For his own legacy's sake, he needs to ensure the team stays in Buffalo. Otherwise, I don't see why we would want his name on the Wall of Fame, no matter where the team is located.

Tony Zambito

Lancaster

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Case highlights greed, congressional myopia

The News article, "Orchard Park company admits cheating U.S. military," is one more classic example of congressional shortsightedness and corporate greed. Since the early 1970s, our political leaders have allowed the systematic downsizing of our nation's active duty and reserve military forces and supporting infrastructure to the point where it has become a necessity to pay civilian corporations for even the most fundamental of services i.e., timely, low-cost transportation of military resources and personnel.

These so-called cost-saving measures have not only diminished our military capability, but at the same time flung the doors wide open to the modern-day "robber barons" who expand their empires and further increase our national debt and the average law-abiding citizen's tax burden.

Perhaps it's time for Christopher Alf and his fellow corporate executives to direct their company Web master to change the National Air Cargo home page to read, "From the military to manufacturing, the world is going via National Air Cargo because, whatever the cargo, it will be delivered on time, every time and at an exorbitant cost to the people of the United States."

SMSgt. Patrick Vanderbeck

U.S. Air Force Reserve

Burt

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Fines aren't enough; Alfs should go to jail

How can the U.S. government allow Christopher and Lori Alf, owners of National Air Cargo, to systematically steal millions of dollars from the United States and get off without jail time? And to make matters worse, continue to do business with the company?

Where is the deterrent? The fines aren't going to discourage such thefts. The United States is still doing business with the company, so it can offset the fines by raising rates. In effect, the United States will end up paying its own fines. This is preposterous.

The Alfs enjoy an exorbitant lifestyle courtesy of their biggest customer, the U.S. government. They make political contributions and walk away unscathed from bold-faced thievery. It practically smacks of conspiracy. Worse, it's not an isolated case.

We need to penalize disreputable companies. If we aren't going to incarcerate offenders, we need to at least refuse to do business with them.

The United States can certainly afford to discontinue business with the conspicuously affluent Alfs. National Air Cargo is simply an intermediary -- a sort of travel agent for cargo. They don't even own the planes -- just a $10.4 million home in Boca Raton, Fla.

Theresa Lynch

Orchard Park

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Will illegal immigrants also be allowed to vote?

Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses has farther-reaching nefarious effects than just providing illegals with government-approved documentation.

The New York State Motor Voter Law provides for automatic voter registration to those issued New York State driver's licenses. Spitzer's plan will in essence add hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens to the voter rolls, hundreds of thousands who seek taxpayer-funded public assistance and laws more favorable to illegal aliens. Hmmmm, I wonder which party they'll cast their vote for?

Spitzer's plan is nothing more than a traitorous power grab by the Democrats to ensure the support of the illegals and their continued control of New York. The Democratic politicians and those who vote them into office have sold out our state and country to maintain their power and line their pockets. If this is passed, Democratic politicians will be beholden to those they are sworn to protect us from.

Michael J. Beyer

Orchard Park

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Plan is slap in the face to all legal immigrants

Hurrah for the county clerks and law enforcement officers who refused to look the other way when handing out driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Are we to pick and choose what is illegally OK and what is illegally not OK? Are the taxpayers of New York State supposed to pay for the time and personnel that it takes to train these illegal persons, issuing learner's permits and then testing them?

What makes Gov. Eliot Spitzer think the roads will be safer if illegal immigrants are licensed? I'm sure their percentage of accidents is small compared to us legals. Here in New York State, we pay for no-fault insurance to cover the uninsured driver.

Illegals are stopped crossing our borders all the time. I guess if they make it here, we're supposed to let them drive. I think not! If they are here illegally, send them back to take the proper course to become American citizens. It's a slap in the face to all legal immigrants who did take the right path to become American citizens.

Grace McGee

Buffalo

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Reynolds, Kuhl right to uphold SCHIP veto

I write this letter in support of President Bush and local Congressmen Randy Kuhl and Tom Reynolds. I support their opposition to the ridiculous raises proposed to the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Though I belong to no political party, I appreciate anyone who is trying to slow or stop the spread of socialism in our country.

In some cases SCHIP would help cover "children" up to age 25 and families with incomes up to $60,000. Are we insane? Do we want to end up like Norway, where the government takes 78 percent of a person's paycheck to finance its social programs?

Where does it say in our constitution that government should take care of our children's health care? The government doesn't have any money. It can only take it out of our pockets and redistribute it.

Take care of your own children and get your hand out of my pocket. A great American once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" -- President John F. Kennedy.

Art Kohl

Angola

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More money for war, but not for health care

Once again, Congressman Tom Reynolds has shown his true colors. He voted to uphold President Bush's veto of the bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to help give health care to the nation's poor children. Reynolds continues to support Bush and his failed policies in Iraq, and has no qualms about asking for billions of dollars to continue on in this debacle, but will not consider our children's health.

Then there is the tobacco money Reynolds and Bush received in the past. Could that be the real reason they won't support this bill? It's all about big business and not about our children, except to ask them to join the military and become fodder for Bush's war machine.

Diana Butsch

West Falls

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