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Everybody's Column

>Hold parents accountable for underage drinking

In the past few weeks, a lot of media attention has been given to underage drinking. Year after year, I have seen the same kids involved in underage drinking. The police go to the same houses, where older siblings are passing the torch to younger ones and initiating them in the fine art of drinking.

The parents of underage drinkers are our neighbors. They are doctors, lawyers and teachers. They sit on our PTAs, town and bank boards and hold influential positions in society. Their neighbors, other parents and kids know this. Yet no one wants to hold these parents responsible. The consequences of "ratting" are dire.

A fact often touted is the pledge that all athletes sign to abstain from drinking. What would happen if every school benched every athlete who drank? We wouldn't have a sports season and the parents of the benched athletes would be the first ones to threaten school administrations. Why single out athletes? Underage drinkers are honor students and neighborhood punks. They come from affluent and underprivileged families.

We as parents have to not only take the responsibility of actually parenting our children, but also holding other parents responsible for their actions.

Seema Maheshwari
Williamsville

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>More financial aid needed for adult college students

The connection between an educated labor force and economic growth in the Untied States is well established. In Western New York, we face the loss of many young adults who graduate from college only to leave and pursue careers elsewhere. Adult nontraditional college students, however, are more likely to remain in their communities.

Although the number of adult college students has increased nationwide, there has been a significant decline in New York in the past decade. Albany's Schulyer Center for Analysis and Advocacy reported that New York ranks 43rd in adult college students.

A major barrier is state and federal programs that favor full-time students. In order to promote increased adult participation in higher education, financial aid must be more accessible to adults, who most often attend college part time.

This is National Nontraditional Student Week, which salutes adult college students. In addition to applauding their efforts, we should also remember the economic impact their success in college represents. Support for greater access to higher education by adult, nontraditional students will benefit Western New York.

Nan M. DiBello
Dean, Niagara Frontier Center
Empire State College, SUNY

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>Candidates do not value sanctity of human life

As politics shifts toward the message of the individual and away from traditional party-run politics, it appears to me that the electorate is truly fed up. People are more savvy even as they avoid venturing to poll booths to exercise their right to vote. Perhaps the majority of voters have reached the point in which they believe their vote does not matter. Those elected "woo" with promises that are immediately forgotten as they achieve office.

What is important to people? I believe that a good many Americans wish to affirm the sacredness of human life in every aspect. From the tragedies in Darfur, to the wars in the Middle East, to the victims of 35 years of legalized abortions.

But in looking at those running for the highest office in our nation, there is no front-runner who truly epitomizes the philosophy of being an affirmer of the Gospel of Life. There appears to be an emerging pathos where Americans feel they have no presidential candidate to get behind who believes in the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death. It is tragic that the presidential election of 2008 offers so little to those of us working in the vineyards for peace and in defense of the most helpless of all, the unborn child.

Joanne L. Capone
Board Member, New York State
Democrats for Life, Buffalo

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>Contractors that steal should be prosecuted

Attorney Paul Cambria says the guilty plea to millions of dollars of overcharges by National Air Cargo does not mean the company is untrustworthy. Don't we all continue to do business with people who steal from us? Of course not! But our government does. Being a defense contractor in the United States means you have a license to steal, and if you get caught, you can keep doing it, no problem.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, every single one of the top 10 weapons contractors was convicted of or admitted to defrauding the government between 1980 and 1992. And guess what? They're all still doing business with the Defense Department. These criminal acts by the wealthy owners of these companies cost billions of dollars. Will anyone in our government put a stop to it?

Bruce Kennedy
Orchard Park

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>Board shouldn't cave to Coppola's threats

I read with complete astonishment The News article, "Original Pan-American Exposition building may be torn down." I was so shocked by Alfred T. Coppola's words that I had to reread them. He is prepared to tear down one of the only two Pan-Am buildings left in existence because his friend was denied a canopy for his restaurant.

I have so much respect for private citizens who attempt to improve and preserve the rich historical landscape of this city. However, I now view Coppola as a villain, dangling a rare piece of history in front of the Preservation Board, threatening to dispose of the building if he can't get his way for his friend, the owner of Stillwater restaurant.

I had a very pleasant experience at Stillwater a few weeks ago, and told my friends what a nice place it was, and that they should go there. I've changed my tune now. It would be devastating to lose a 100-plus-year-old building because an immature man is trying to blackmail the Preservation Board. It would be just as devastating for the board to placate a man ready to bulldoze Buffalo's history just to get his way.

Valerie C. Pawlowski
Cheektowaga

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>Buffalo police exam was handled poorly

People want what's best for Buffalo. So the city advertises high and low for people to take the police exam. How much did it cost the city to do that campaign? It would have been a lot cheaper just to advertise in the City of Buffalo. Money well spent? I don't think so. Then officials state that preference will be given to Buffalo residents.

If this is to be the best for Buffalo, I think it would be only fair to use this policy the next time the district needs a superintendent for the Buffalo schools. Nothing but the best and the brightest!

Thomas D. Czechowicz
Lake View

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