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Everybody's Column

Phelps doesn't deserve free pass for behavior

There's an old adage, "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." This is not Michael Phelps' first offense. Four years ago, he was pulled over for drunken driving. What's next, steroid abuse? I am well aware that drug use is still a large part of the social and recreational pyramid of society. That doesn't make it right. They are called drugs for a reason. They are addictive and dangerous and impair human judgment.

I've grown tired of the far left's efforts on encouraging society's approval of drug use and making success stories out of celebrity criminals, i.e. Martha Stewart. What is happening to human nature? Yes, mistakes are part of being human, but so is honesty and integrity.

Phelps and many others are supposed to be role models. And role models are held to higher standards than the rest of us. That is just the way it is.

So if you think it's wrong to criticize and even indict these so-called role models -- who not only fail to obey the law, but maybe even worse, let down the millions of children and young adults in this good world who don't use drugs -- then shame on you. I prefer that good prevails over evil and right is encouraged rather than wrong. That is the motto of a true role model.

Kent Randle

Amherst

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Brown should push deal to clear snowy sidewalks

With all due respect, I must strongly disagree with Mayor Byron Brown's decision to refuse the possibility of clearing every sidewalk in Buffalo of more than three inches of snow for an annual cost of a mere $11 per homeowner. Claiming that he doesn't want to "burden" the people of Buffalo with an additional cost, he evidently has no problem at all ignoring all of the hardship endured by the thousands of elderly and primary school children negotiating the snowy terrain after a Buffalo storm, of which there are more than a few each winter.

These extremely vulnerable people must walk, more times than not, in the streets of Buffalo whose condition after a storm is another story for another time. The total irony is that one of the mayor's main concerns since being elected is the so-called quality-of-life issue for the citizens of Buffalo. While I live in the suburbs, I would personally sign up tomorrow to have my sidewalks shoveled all winter long for a paltry $11.

Karl Koniarczyk

Williamsville

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Don't use tuition hike to balance state budget

I can't help but agree with a recent letter writer's comments regarding the State Legislature's decision to take 90 percent of the recent SUNY tuition increase as a means to help balance the state budget. That action is deplorable.

Many working families choose to send their children to SUNY colleges because a private college education is simply too expensive. Now, as part of paying for an education that is likely to suffer in quality due to state budget cuts, each SUNY student is being required to contribute more than $550 annually to alleviate the state budget deficit.

Young people who are pursuing higher education should not be held financially responsible for a state budget deficit created by the Legislature's inability to exercise financial restraint. These students did not create this mess and should not be targeted to pay for it.

Carol Jean Nephew

Gowanda

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Government has been failing us for decades

The way I see it, the monster that is eating us alive has many teeth. If we are to properly gauge the economic mess we are in, then we need to stand back at a distance that is great enough to recognize the other factors besides Wall Street malfeasance and toxic mortgages at work:

The average pay rate, adjusted for inflation, for workers fell $27 between 1984 and 2007. About 37 million Americans lived below the poverty rate in 2007. There were more than 7 million unemployed adults and 78 million other adults who did not consider themselves part of the work force.

The U.S. population has ballooned from 76 million in 1900 to around 305 million. Consumers spend more than they save. We paid $239 billion in interest on our federal debt in 2007. Our (free?) trade balance was minus $794 billion.

We spent $570 billion on national defense (not including Afghanistan and Iraq) in 2007. And our sickly health care system bilks us for 15.2 percent of our GDP, compared to Canada at 9.7 percent or France at 11.2 percent in 2005.

In this macro-view, our free-market, free-trade, less-government-oversight economy has been failing a lot of Americans for many years.

Michael Tenhagen

West Seneca

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Mixed-up priorities imperil our country

John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, in January 2008 spent $1.22 million redecorating his office. He spent $800,000 to hire a decorator, $87,000 for a rug, $87,000 for two chairs and the waste goes on. He did this while his company was running into $15.45 billion of debt. He also paid out $3.6 billion in bonuses to employees who helped run the company into the ground.

Recently, a local charitable organization applied for a small grant to hire a caseworker to find permanent housing for disabled homeless people, who are unable to search for an apartment on their own.

What did our government do? It appears to be more interested in protecting the rich than in saving the poor. It let Bank of America absorb Merrill Lynch. Then our government gave the company $20 billion, plus a guarantee of $118 billion to protect Bank of America's assets.

Our government denied the small grant to the charitable organization for the disabled persons' caseworker. Instead of saying, "God bless America," maybe we should say, "God save America."

Lois J. Reid

Amherst

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Make adjustments in TV to draw digital stations

This is to comment on the letter from the woman who is having problems receiving stations other than 17, 23, 29 and 49. First of all, these are all VHF channels so she's not receiving UHF. This happened to me and the way I solved it was by running setup using my remote control, the same way as when you first bring a TV home from the store.

I live in North Tonawanda and have rabbit ears and have received all my channels, including available digital, forever. To get a digital channel 2, for instance, on your remote you have to push 2-1 and it will come up on the screen as 02-001, digital. She needs a person who is savvy with electronics or televisions to stop by and help her. Calling a TV station is a waste of time. I would bet she can solve her problem within her set.

Jeff Kaszubski

North Tonawanda

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