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Everybody's column

Keep funding programs to prevent child abuse

Would you cut funding for law enforcement in the middle of a crime wave? Of course not. Preventing child abuse and neglect is one of the most powerful weapons we have to fight crime. Children who experience abuse and neglect are nearly twice as likely to commit crimes as adults.

Unfortunately, the proposed state budget significantly cuts funding for programs proven to prevent child abuse and neglect such as Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) and Healthy Families New York, which serve 130 Niagara County families and almost 300 families in Erie County.

These voluntary home-visiting programs send trained professionals to help high-risk families learn about the health and nutritional needs of young children. A study of NFP found that it cut abuse and neglect by half in families that participated. Children and mothers who participated had 60 percent fewer arrests than similar families who did not receive home visits. The program cut crime and other costs so effectively that it saved taxpayers $5 for every dollar invested.

With these results and the lives of innocent children at stake, we need this important service in place. State legislators should restore funding for voluntary home-visiting programs. A safer future hangs in the balance.

Tim Howard

Erie County Sheriff

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Taking an innocent life can never be justified

The Feb. 7 article "Abortion clinic death unites local sides" is disingenuous at best. The article's fourth paragraph debunks this feeble notion of harmony.

Susan Ward's comments seem insensitive to the fact that an innocent infant dies, whether "legally" in the womb, or illegally outside of it, and whether the infant dies at 22 weeks instead of 23 weeks. Glenn Murray's comments are equally troubling. Again, the "criminal act" appears to be defined by current law, not by the snuffing out of an innocent life, whether legally inside the womb, or illegally outside of it.

The Freedom of Choice Act, which would remove essentially all restrictions to abortion, could become law under the Obama administration, given the president's strong support for abortion rights and a potentially compliant Congress. The innocent unborn will have nowhere to hide.

America, please wake up. Taking an innocent life is eternally wrong, regardless of where, by whom or how it is done. Roe v Wade will be deemed wrong, just as laws that allowed slavery and racial discrimination in America have been found to be wrong. Let us really restore American values, and stop the killing of a million unborn children a year.

Frank Notaro

Amherst

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Lawmakers will fight bid to end gerrymandering

Reforming the dysfunctional New York State Legislature is going to take time, but we have to start somewhere. Assemblyman Mark Schroeder's proposal to take gerrymandering away is a good start.

The reason the Legislature is dysfunctional is because, in many cases, the leadership holds more sway over the rank-and-file members than do their constituencies. Since the leaders aren't elected by the people, they can't be held accountable. They lord their power over the other members by controlling legislation, budgetary member items and re-election campaign funds.

Taking the power of gerrymandering away from the Legislature, and thereby the leadership, strengthens the power of the electorate by making the legislative districts more truly representative of the people who live in them. It would help to give re-election only to those who represent their constituency first and leadership second.

There is little doubt that this idea won't catch on in Albany. Support has to come from the outcry of people who really want reform. Now is the time for this first step. In 2010, New York will redraw the legislative district lines. Without this reform, you can bet that incumbents and the leadership will use this tool to more deeply insulate themselves and continue the dysfunction.

Larry McMahon

Buffalo

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Lots of children rely on community centers

It's been brought to our attention that County Executive Chris Collins wants to close the city community centers. As a parent whose family has utilized these facilities countless times, it sure is a shame that dollars and cents are taking precedence over the best interests of the community. These places have become second homes for many of our youth, and staff members have taken on the role of family toward these youngsters.

Maybe if Collins ventured out of his Spaulding Lake community and came into our neighborhoods, he would truly see how instrumental these community centers are for our children. As adult taxpayers, we expect to have recreational opportunities as well. If these centers close, where are our tax dollars going? Hey Mr. Collins, let us know if you are closing the centers because we'd be more than willing to move our volleyball league to your front lawn.

Dean Shannon

Buffalo

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Lawyers should lead taxpayers in a revolt

New York taxpayers have known for a long time that our state government is too costly, is kept secretive and deceptive. Recently we saw that the FBI agrees. Now the state is forming a reform committee whose members feed at the trough year after year without complaining or seeking reform.

There must be a group of concerned lawyers who understand what it takes to change the state Constitution, if necessary, to lead taxpayers in a revolt to bring change. Start by eliminating half the Senate and Assembly seats, impose term limits and pay legislators what taxpayers think they're worth, not what they think they're worth.

Our state government is a bloated, costly, ineffective mess that needs reducing and reforming on the taxpayers' terms, not the politicians'. We can't allow the fox to design the hen house.

Norman Denny

Holland

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Ridiculous regulations are norm in New York

As wars rage, the economy collapses and a myriad of new problems surface every day, this is not a major issue, but I recently bought some wine as a gift. The retailer used to sell empty gift boxes and bags near the check-out, but there weren't any in sight, so I asked the cashier if they had been moved or were out of stock. She replied that on Christmas Eve, the New York State Liquor Authority ordered the store to stop selling gift boxes which, apparently, liquor stores are not allowed to sell. I asked if she knew where they could be purchased, and she said, "No, maybe Party City." Dumb! New York State bureaucracy strikes again.

Bill Newell

Williamsville

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