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Everybody's column

Senecas are protecting treaty rights, economy

A recent News editorial argues that the Seneca Nation should not protect itself against state efforts to undermine our treaty right to engage in tax-free commerce in our territories. What The News ignores is that the Seneca Nation is only doing what any government would were its economy under attack -- defend itself.

The News parrots the flawed and unsupported argument of the convenience store lobby that tax-free sales of cigarettes in our territories rob the state of millions of dollars of tax revenue. To the contrary, because the Nation and our people spend our revenues locally, we have hard evidence that our $313 million retail economy provides a $71 million net benefit to the state, as well as to the consumer.

The News' effort to demonize the Seneca Nation for engaging in the cigarette trade ignores the true nature of the conflict. The state's position is not that people should never smoke cigarettes; it is that the state and its corporate citizens, and not the Seneca Nation, should reap the profits from cigarette sales.

I am willing to talk with the governor about this issue. Indeed, the Nation and the state are quite capable of working together, as evidenced by 4,000 casino jobs and more than $350 million in direct revenues generated for the state and local governments since 2002. But I will never stand down from defending my Nation and my people from any threat to our treaties or livelihood.

Barry E. Snyder Sr.

President, Seneca Nation of Indians

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Bionic eye implant is years away from use

Several patients have inquired about the device highlighted in the article, "Bionic eye implant" in The News on Jan. 11. While this is an extremely exciting area of ongoing research, and one that is likely to be of significant impact in the future for some conditions affecting the retina or back of the eye, it is important to remember that these devices are in their infancy and are currently being implanted under test conditions. Widespread use remains years away.

Certain forms of one condition mentioned in the article, macular degeneration, have recently enjoyed much treatment success with prescribed medication. For some conditions not mentioned, such as diabetic retinopathy, early detection and treatment via an array of methods can often result in maintenance of good vision.

Therefore, at this time, the best advice for patients who have or are concerned about conditions affecting the back of the eye is to see a retina specialist. Early detection and early treatment where applicable still offer the best chance for vision preservation in many disease states.

Saralyn Notaro Rietz, M.D.

Williamsville

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Funding STD prevention is a smart investment

I am frustrated to hear people call some of the items in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act "pork." While I am sure there is some pork, the money proposed for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention is anything but pork. As a person who works in this field, I have watched the previous administration gut the funds provided to programs that work to prevent and treat STDs.

Research has shown that testing and treatment of one case of chlamydia can cost as little as $20, yet an untreated case leading to pelvic inflammatory disease can cost in excess of $2,500. This figure does not include later treatment for infertility or loss of quality of life by the patient. This one example does not account for the number of infections that could be prevented with education activities that would occur with funding that is proposed in this act. This funding would create jobs for nurses, lab technicians, health educators and others as well as prevent STDs. Complications from these diseases cause increases in Medicaid rates, insurance premiums and unpaid bills at local hospitals and health care clinics.

This funding would create jobs and save much more money then is invested in the program. This is not pork, this is an investment in health, and it creates jobs.

Jacquelyn Andula, M.P.H., R.N.

Hamburg

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Budget chief's comment was insulting to seniors

I take umbrage to the remark made by Gregory G. Gach, budget director for County Executive Chris Collins, in the Feb. 3 News article regarding the tax goof. Quoting in part, "mailing out new tax bills would have confused taxpayers, particularly seniors."

Having reached the age of three score and ten, I am still able to put two plus two together and come up with four.

Possibly, Gach and those who work for him should examine their own abilities rather than question the understanding of those who pay their comfortable salaries and benefits.

Peter S. Swartwout

Orchard Park

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Open gates, plow roads in Akron Falls Park

Akron Falls Park is truly a Western New York paradise with a variety of great outdoor activities to enjoy in all seasons -- except winter. The gates to the county park entrance at Parkview Drive are closed, the roads inside the parks are never plowed and there are no groomed trails for walking.

As a longtime resident of Akron, many people I know, including myself, follow a regular walking program. Walking is good for you. It decreases high blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease and burns calories.

Winter is here for another six weeks, and I'm having a hard time understanding why, when we have winter road crews seen driving frequently throughout the village, more grooming work can't be done to give residents access to the parks. Open the gates and plow the roads so those of us who enjoy walking outdoors can experience the park's wonderland of nature during all seasons.

Mark E. Wilson

Akron

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Catholic clergy need to be more forceful

I am almost ashamed to submit this message. I have become convinced recently that many of our Catholic bishops and some of their clergy have not been speaking out forcefully enough with regard to anti-abortion and pro-life issues. And if many people who should have been pro-life had not voted for President Obama, he may not have been elected.

I don't think there is any social, financial or political issue of any importance if we have killed off the right to life of an innocent baby from the moment of conception until natural death, which is what abortion does. I am very much afraid that we are shortly going to begin reaping the result of having elected the most pro-choice president and Congress that we have ever experienced in these United States. May God save us.

It is no longer Democrat or Republican. It is now a question of life or death.

Robert Jacobi

Alden

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