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Everybody's Column

Obama needs to change this culture of neglect

Doesn't it seem like nobody is "watching the store"? There is a lack of oversight everywhere in the United States. How many food scares have we had in the past few years, including contaminated produce and now peanuts? What about the lead paint in toys from China? How many drugs have been recalled in recent years? Is the Food and Drug Administration asleep at the switch?

Who was regulating the banking industry as it drove this economy into the ground? Where was the Environmental Protection Agency when the auto industry kept rolling out gas-guzzling SUVs for years? And where was government intervention when U.S. national security became so dependent on hostile foreign oil?

Did Brownie really do a "great job" for the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Is anybody watching our borders as illegals enter by the millions? Or better yet, is anybody punishing businesses for hiring them? And where was Congress when weak arguments were made to go to war or when trillions in our national debt were piling up?

Where were the constitutional watchdogs when agents were spying on U.S. citizens who had nothing to do with terrorism? In the past eight years, nobody has been watching the store! Hopefully President Obama and this new Congress will change the culture of neglect.

John W. Kowalski



Supervisors should walk a mile in carriers' shoes

After reading various articles about the post office trying to cut costs, maybe it should start by laying off some of the supervisors and time-study people who came up with the ridiculous idea of having carriers walk across snow-covered lawns.

Having worked in the automotive industry for 42 years, I have seen a lot of engineers and time-study experts who were smart people but had no common sense. It all looks good on paper and with their calculators, but they should carry the mail bag for two or three days and experience what it is like, not hide around the corner while sitting in their car. By the way, they should figure how many paces the carrier should walk in one minute during January or February, not July or August.

We have had some good letter carriers over the past several years, and not once did I hear them complain about the heat or the cold temperature. Let the supervisors walk a mile in their shoes. They probably couldn't cut it or keep up the pace they demand of the carriers.

Jack Barnas



Leniency keeps returning drunken drivers to roads

Will it ever end? Drunks on our highways are literally crippling and murdering innocent drivers and pedestrians year after year, destroying families, dreams and futures forever.

Then we get the constant barrage of ads from attorneys implying that "sometimes good people make mistakes" and drive drunk. Just call me, they say, I'll fix it for you. Everyone knows that drinking and driving can easily kill. Good people never drive drunk. Then, in so many of these situations, the drunken driver is back on the road doing the same thing all over again. Until these culprits get little more than a slap on the hand and short prison terms at best, any one of us could well be the next victim.

Carmon Becker



It's time for the media to accentuate the positive

In an article in the Feb. 13 News regarding coping with tough times, psychiatrists advise "avoiding newscasts and staying positive." This is good advice. We are swimming in gloom-and-doom news stories on the major networks and other media, including this newspaper. There is no doubt that the financial markets are in turmoil and that certain industry sectors like retail and domestic automaking are suffering.

I work with numerous manufacturers and contractors in different parts of the country and, for the most part, they are doing fine. They won't be, however, if their customers believe all that they absorb through the media and stop placing orders, abandon building projects and otherwise fall victim to the negative news reports. Americans and the economy are resilient and, if left to our own devices, we will do fine. It would be great if the media would start accentuating the positive and not always dwelling on the negative.

Davis R. Heussler

East Aurora


Today's accredited zoos are doing critical work

Unfortunately, those who like to rant against zoos are the ones with the most outdated knowledge and experience with today's institutions. Anthropomorphizing is rampant and there is often no clue as to the real instincts and behaviors of a species observed. If you think for one second that zoo residents aren't wild, perhaps you should try petting one of them.

Animals are now fed proper diets; no junk food from the public is allowed. They are protected from human predators that cause them the most damage in the wild, and they receive excellent medical care. Now there is also enrichment, a science in itself, to enhance the quality of life of zoo animals.

Public education is a primary focus of today's accredited zoos and the programs available are too many to list here. Additionally, much focus is placed on research and reproduction of threatened and endangered species. Where conditions are safe and protected, species have been released back into the wild. Frankly, I'd much rather see my taxpayer dollars support zoos than bail out greedy, arrogant bankers and Wall Street CEOs, which our president has also admonished.

Nancy R. Johnston



Metro Rail expansion must be pursued now

How can the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority not be prepared for rapid transit expansion? After a 20-year run on the rail to nowhere, it has never given serious thought to an expansion. I applaud the Common Council for introducing this possibility, but it appears the NFTA has been caught unprepared.

This is a real head-scratcher. This area is actually extending Route 219 -- uprooting people who have lived along this route all their lives, and encouraging sprawl -- at a time when energy costs are high and will probably get worse. Is there absolutely no leadership in this state and at the NFTA?

It is imperative that this area link the two University at Buffalo campuses to each other and downtown at the very least. How will the UB 2020 plan become a reality? Think about the real construction jobs this project would create. This could also be a cash cow for the NFTA, with ridership almost guaranteed to continue to grow. Am I missing something? Let's make this happen now.

Thomas Ciocca


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