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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Downstate politicians pay only lip service to upstate

If anyone has any doubts as to why upstate New York does more poorly with our statewide politicians, both at the federal and state levels, one need look no further than Sen. Charles Schumer's statement, which was quoted in the Jan. 26 News. In commenting on the appointment to the U.S. Senate of Kirsten Gillibrand, Schumer said her district "is quite different than much of the state. It's very rural. In some ways, it's more like Montana than New York City."

Right there in the attitude reflected in his statement is our biggest problem upstate. As a matter of fact, her district is actually like most of New York State. Most of upstate is not much like New York City, and the career politicians from the New York City and Long Island areas, like Schumer, may pay lip service to upstate's needs, but when push comes to shove, we're "more like Montana than New York City."

I for one think that is a great thing to be. Unfortunately, the majority of the people in the state live around New York City and could not care less about us. It would be nice if politicians elected to represent the entire state would place a little more importance on our well-being, and less on the well-being of the New York City area.

Chuck Godfrey

Cheektowaga

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Bid to reform Albany is unlikely to succeed

The News commendably detailed the varied facets of our state's Legislature-caused mess in a Feb. 1 article. But where could the corrective measures start? And who would start them? The FBI might find more instances of Bruno-esque behavior, but Congress cannot change the way a state chooses to govern itself. State politics and state politicians would find reform suicidal to their sinecures. If Albany does anything, it will be to strengthen the trenches, making "transparency" even harder to achieve.

Who'd have thought that an ardent believer in our democratic system would ever think: "Come the revolution, the masses will raise up and change things." Yet I don't see any other way we will ever reform Albany and its entrenched bureaucrats, 500 lobbyists and overpaid, and overweeningly arrogant, legislators.

If any lawmaker had the temerity to suggest the sweeping changes needed for reform -- the bartender/restaurateur lobby would likely work hard to get it killed.

Michael Levy

Amherst

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Many state politicians are abusing their power

I take exception to a quote in the Jan. 26 News article on Albany scandals. The remarks attributed to Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group were aimed at New Yorkers in general regarding their attitude toward Albany. It read, "They just assume it's a place where good work doesn't get done and they shouldn't pay attention. The result is the democracy death spiral where the public tunes out and lawmakers give more responsibilities to special interest groups, which makes Albany less responsive to the public, and then the public tunes out even more."

It feels like just the opposite to me -- that New Yorkers are not tuning out, but being tuned out. I for one pay attention. I read, I vote, I send letters to the editor. I pay taxes. I have had occasion to deal with several legislators. Some are hard working and honest while others may be out for personal gain. If those we elect to represent us were more responsive to "we the people" there would not be such a need for so many highly paid lobbyists promoting special interests. I love New York, upstate, downstate and in-between. It is disheartening to realize political power is so often abused rather than used for the common good.

Pat Webdale

Fredonia

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Get money into hands of people who need it

Republicans complain that the stimulus package is not well targeted and is too big. The same complaints were made against the New Deal in the '30s. Street workers in the WPA and PWA programs were taking frequent breaks and leaning on their shovels.

Since that time I have learned that, while a great many valuable projects were completed, the objective was to stimulate the economy by getting paychecks into the hands of the otherwise unemployed so that they could become shoppers again, creating demand for products and services.

The Depression was moderated but not defeated until World War II spending brought prosperity. The appropriate conclusion to draw is that the New Deal efforts were not large enough. The objective has to be getting enough money into the hands of spenders to stimulate demand, which creates jobs. What the jobs of the spenders are is not of great importance.

Robert H. Hale

Buffalo

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Tax cuts for the rich won't solve this crisis

Tax cuts for the rich and the corporations will only make the rich richer. The sort of stimulus we need is to give money directly to poor, those on fixed incomes, those who lost their jobs and the working middle class. The average retiree lost 40 percent of his IRA or 401(k) pension due to the greed of corporate financial manipulators.

We must raise taxes on the rich and the corporations and redistribute the collected money to the poor, retirees and the working middle class to make them whole again. The federal government should then help fund projects to rebuild our infrastructure and create millions of new union and living-wage jobs that will restore our economy and the American Dream.

Joseph S. Guadagno

Buffalo

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Executives have nerve taking huge bonuses

For the corporations and their executives having received taxpayer bailout money who say the money spent on bonuses and perks is not from the taxpayer-provided money, I have two words: horse hockey!

I may not be an economist or have an MBA, but there is one very simple thing I understand. If you are operating in the red, and you receive a pot of cash that puts you in the black, any money you spend is from that pot of cash because you did not have any money before the pot of cash. And please don't hand me anything about "cash flow." Cash flow is why it is easy to be unethical in the business world.

John Marschke

Niagara Falls

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CEOs should be ordered to return bailout funds

On Jan. 29 I heard on CNN and read in The News that Wall Street corporate executives received bonus money that totaled $18.4 billion. I implore President Obama and his administration to order those Wall Street corporate executives who received bonuses to return all that money back to the federal government. The government should then distribute that money equally to all 50 states to shore up unemployment insurance. This way, all unemployed American workers will receive 52 weeks of unemployment pay. The way the economy is, it will take that long to find a decent job. Let the rich take care of the masses!

Cindy A. Abrams

Buffalo

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Food stamp recipients are grateful for the help

In response to the letter suggesting that food stamp recipients give up luxuries like smoking, cable TV, etc., first of all, you don't have a right to tell people how to spend their money. Why don't you ask our politicians or government employees, whose paychecks are dependent on the taxes of the middle- and working-class families, to tighten their belts and give up their luxuries?

Second, don't assume that everyone who receives food stamps is totally dependent on the taxpayers. I received them many years ago, because I was a single mother of two and worked a full-time job that didn't pay enough for me to fully support my family. The food stamps were there when I needed a little extra help. If I wanted basic cable for my kids, that was my decision.

Most people dependent on food stamps are grateful for the help. How do you know that the person in front of you in the line at the grocery store didn't just lose his or her job? And by the way, there are a few luxuries that you can't buy on food stamps, i.e, toilet paper, personal hygiene products, laundry detergent, etc. Don't judge others until you walk in their shoes.

Susan Hollander

Kenmore

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People on food stamps don't live extravagantly

In regard to the letter about food stamps, I would like to inform the writer that I have been receiving $10 a month in food stamps for a few years. It recently was raised to $14 per month. I have been a widow for 17 years and recently celebrated my 70th birthday. Until last year, I was living on less than $1,000 per month.

For his information, I quit smoking 15 years ago and I do not have cable or a satellite dish. I don't drive, so I spend a lot of time watching my regular TV. I buy an eight-pack of beer once in a while for under $5.

If he's complaining about me buying beer, he has too much time on his hands. Instead of writing to Everybody's Column, he should volunteer with some veterans, youth or elderly organization. Leave me alone.

Florence E. Kowal

Buffalo

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Paladino has no idea what he's talking about

I read Carl Paladino's vicious personal attack on Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore. I was quite amused. Is Paladino a spokesman for the BTF now? I laugh at his so-called concern for younger teachers. They have had no raises the past seven years. Where has he been?

What union card does Paladino carry? How many union workers work on his vacant buildings? The Buffalo Fire Department has been in the courts for the past five years fighting the city on the same issue -- forced into a single health care provider. Is our union next? Paladino should get both sides of a story before he starts taking cheap shots at Rumore, a well-respected union leader.

Phil Ryan

Buffalo Fire Dept. union member

West Seneca

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Rumore ignores economic reality

Three cheers for Carl Paladino for telling it like it is. How anyone could consider himself a leader and behave like Phil Rumore does is beyond common logic. If Rumore had any conscience, he'd gather his members and encourage them to embrace a single carrier, which would hopefully save some teachers' jobs.

What can be negotiated? The taxpayers are losing jobs and benefits so quickly in Buffalo there is nothing left in the school board's till. The disconnect between the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the reality of our time astounds me. Paladino's letter was on the money, not over the top. How about a News poll on how Buffalo taxpayers feel about Rumore's position?

Charles Schwendler

Orchard Park

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