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Everybody's Column

>Cut wasteful spending out of stimulus package

As a lawyer trained at an Ivy League law school, I assume President Obama spent time reading, researching, analyzing, thinking, debating and drawing conclusions to prepare himself to properly represent his clients. But he expects Congress to skip those important steps to making rational and affordable decisions. He is badgering and trying to intimate by fear-mongering to get his trillion-dollar stimulus package passed quickly, without Congress having time to exercise its duty of oversight.

Granted the economy is in tough shape. But putting the label "stimulus package" on the old Democratic social agenda and trying to ram it through is not the solution. A rose by any other name is still a rose and a pig by any other name is still pork. If Obama wants those social programs, present them separately on their own merits and have the debate. But don't try to con us into thinking honey bee insurance or a renovated Commerce Department building or new grass on the Mall will stimulate the economy. Recent polls show that many of us (the ones who, with our grandchildren, will be paying for this thing) know that much of the plan is wasteful spending.

When I vote for my representative and senators, I want people who will take the time to think, debate and stand up to power if necessary. I hope those senators (Republican and Democrat) will continue to resist until the best proposal is written.

Lora Lee Downer


>Using metal detectors is a holistic approach

Rod Watson portrayed an ominous picture of Gaza-type fortresses if metal detectors are placed in our schools, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The newest devices have a smaller footprint, are extremely intelligent and very discriminating. Their archived database can detect individual violations sending this information into a network where reports can be generated in City Hall.

This information can be analyzed for trends helping professionals intercede, thereby addressing habitual offenders. It is a front-line tool capable of ensuring that individual students receive the social counseling necessary for conflict resolution. Student screening is only one part of a holistic approach to reducing school violence.

With new federal funding available, it would barely cost anything for the School Board to install these detectors and reinstate programs such as Stop the Violence or Mad Dads. The two are not mutually exclusive, as the article leads one to believe.

These detectors will reduce illegal contraband being brought into our schools, and discourage a possible fatal incident from occurring. For some students, school is the only safe-haven in their lives, and it should remain that way. For others, it will ensure they receive the counseling they so desperately need.

Jim Missall


>Government must get its priorities in order

Maybe our government should spend more time helping the thousands of families who are finding themselves out in the street without a place to live or a couch to sit on or a TV to watch, instead of helping and worrying about a few select people who may not have received a television signal if analog television broadcasts had ended on Tuesday as planned.

Laurence Murstein


>'Buy American' clause will hurt us in long run

The "Buy American" mandate in the government stimulus package is a horrible idea. It is protectionism no matter what you call it and it has never worked. One needs only to recall the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 to see the ramifications of protectionist policies.

Other countries will most certainly raise tariffs on our exports, which will hurt many of the same American companies that this mandate is supposed to help. This will create worse sales than we have already seen and will inevitably lead to even greater job losses.

Even more fundamentally, this hits at the core principle on which this country was founded: freedom. Companies should be free to get the best value in the raw materials they use, even if they are used on government projects. That leads to higher profitability, increased growth and more jobs, which is what this whole stimulus package is believed to be promoting.

Tom Smalley
North Java


>More than tax reform needed to revive state

Tom Golisano's full-page ad compares property tax rates in upstate cities with those in downstate. Buffalo's rate of $30.96 per $1,000 versus the least of the downstate cities, South Hampton, at $4.56 per $1,000, serves to demonstrate an injustice that is "destroying our upstate economy" and justifies a demand for "tax reform now."

However, care should be taken not to confuse cause and effect. No matter where a city is located, schools, social services, public safety, etc., need to be funded. The amount each homeowner pays in property taxes depends on the municipal budget and on the overall value of properties subject to taxation. Thus, if 1,000 homes with an average value of $100,000 per home have a budget obligation of $3 million, the tax rate will be $30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. But if the value of 1,000 homes averages $500,000 and the same $3 million in property taxes is needed, the rate is only $6 per $1,000.

Needed solutions go way beyond just tax reform. If we are to compete, we may need to fundamentally change our state's organizational model to fairly raise and distribute essential revenue, to jump-start failing regional economies and to avoid economic serfdom. Hopefully, with the prodding of Golisano and many others, Albany will listen and begin to create the basis for a 21st century economy instead of the 19th century quagmire in which upstate is currently stuck.

Andrew R. Graham


>Republicans' behavior is an affront to citizens

In a recent interview, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas said the Republicans should now act as an insurgency, similar to the Taliban, to stop any program proposed by Barack Obama, our newly elected president. So the party of the rich, who got richer under the Republicans, is now thumbing its collective nose at the majority who voted for change.

In effect, "working people be damned. We the Republicans still do not want to share and, like the Luddites, we will throw a monkey wrench into any procedure that takes money away from our rich supporters just to put the less fortunate back to work rebuilding the nation."

The behavior of the Republicans in the House and the Senate speaks as loud as the words I just put into their mouths.

Richard Czarnecki

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