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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Community's response to crash was incredible

As the tragedy of Flight 3407 comes to an end, I sit here and reflect. I am a member of the Buffalo Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team that worked the crash scene. Forty-five members from Engine 21, Ladder 6 and Rescue 1 worked for four days at the scene. What we saw was horribly indescribable in its death and destruction. But through all this, the people of Clarence Center proved to me once again why this area is the best place in this entire country to reside in.

From the face of the assistant fire chief, without a word you could read volumes about what they were up against that Thursday evening.

Crews from the Erie County Highway Department assisted us with removal of the big debris and helped us make the scene safer to work. What they did will not be forgotten.

As we exited the site to take a break, little guys from the local schools were passing out the best chocolate chip cookies I ever ate. That gesture made a very bad day just a little more bearable.

Talking to a nice lady who lives in the neighborhood, you could sense the loss that the whole community is feeling. Through the unbearable sorrow, there is one thing to remember, Clarence. Together we will get through this. Keep your heads held high and be proud of the job you did for these families. May God bless you.

Mark Jarczyk

Rescue 1, Buffalo Fire Dept.

West Seneca

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Exposure to toxins must be monitored

We owe a continuing duty to the brave first responders at the scene of the Continental Flight 3407 tragedy. The long-term health risks posed to firefighters, police and residents exposed to petrochemical explosions and fires are well-documented and familiar to those of us who have devoted our careers to victims of toxic exposures.

The 1995 pipeline ruptures that spilled aviation fuel into the San Jacinto River resulted in an enormous fire and highly toxic plume. Sheriffs were among those most significantly affected; indeed, many such health effects were not diagnosable until many months elapsed. Emergency workers who survived 9/1 1 are experiencing a similar phenomenon.

The "burning off" of fuel at the crash site did not render the site non-hazardous. If air monitoring was conducted during the fire, this was apparently not reported. Regrettably, many did not appear to be wearing respiratory protection continuously that Thursday night.

I welcome the opportunity to place authorities in contact with toxicologists already familiar with the combustion byproducts of aviation fuel and capable of determining the toxicity of burning fuselage. First responders exposed to the respirable airborne toxins at the crash site should be assessed immediately and provided periodic medical monitoring for the next few years.

Holly J. W. Huart, Esq.

Williamsville

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There's no such thing as 'closure' for many

The News' coverage of Flight 3407 has been admirable. It has reported fully and with dignity, and I thank it for that. However, I am deeply distressed with the concept of "closure." Anyone who has suffered traumatic loss can tell you there is no such thing. It's a meaningless, feel-good term out of pop-psych culture.

Under the headline of "Bringing closure to the grieving," Charity Vogel wrote in her Feb. 24 column that the horror is over, the site is cleaned up and there is nothing to show what happened there. To suggest that the identification of the "remains" (such a callous word) brings the "closure of confirmation," and to say that the only question that matters anymore is why -- that the one thing the survivors crave in the aftermath of destruction is knowledge -- implies that they can somehow get on with their lives.

I don't think she meant to seem unfeeling. But the horror will persist. The survivors will try not to fall into the deep pit in their lives and drown in grief. At best, you go on going on. And with luck and time, you slowly become accustomed to pain. It is possible to live fully, but you are forever changed.

Let us, as much as we can, try to comprehend this tragedy. And let us mind our words.

Barbara D. Holender

Snyder

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Politicians, state employees need to pay their fair share

Here we go again. Those who don't pay taxes are pushing for increased rates on those who do. If politicians, state employees, teachers, etc., paid their fair share of taxes on their earnings and pensions, as the private sector is forced to do, then maybe our budget gap would not be quite so big.

Mike Hinde

Lewiston

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How can Paterson give raises to 'inner circle'?

On Feb. 18, I read with disgust The News article pertaining to pay raises for Gov. David Paterson's "inner circle." In fact, $250,000 worth. He calls for painful cuts in state spending and a hiring freeze, which should be done. Yet he defends the pay raises of his "inner circle." On the same token, he wants government workers to give up a 3 percent raise.

What planet is he living on? People are losing jobs, homes and their livelihood, possibly forever. When is this going to stop? Oh, I think I know -- when no one is left here to pay the "inner circle's" inflated salaries. Then they can give all the raises they want to each other.

Thomas Ford

Derby

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New York is very good at wasting our money

Every new budget plan put forth by New York's politicians to solve the ballooning budget deficit has included increases in taxes and fees while there is no effort to reduce government cost and expenses. So it is clearly evident that economic capitalism in New York State is being replaced with governmental "sewerism."

The government has become one huge sewer system for tax money. Our money flows into this sewer system already "treated" with the hard work of the taxpayer, but what comes out the other end is total government waste that is useless to anyone. This form of reverse monetary osmosis is killing the private sector.

Many taxpayers in the private sector are learning that with the growing state budget deficit, the capacity of this governmental sewer system to absorb taxpayer money is unlimited. Politicians haven't learned that the capacity of the taxpayer to supply the fresh tax money demanded is not.

So, many residents are leaving the state to try to keep what is left of their money before it is treated by the government's monetary sewer system and is expelled as pure waste. Here is one sewer system that nobody wants running at peek efficiency.

Matthew R. Powenski

Buffalo

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Who's going to bail out responsible citizens?

As I read about the bailouts of just about every high-flying company, organization, bank or stock brokerage, I cannot help but wonder who is going to bail out the responsible citizens who lived within their means, purchased homes they could actually afford, drove modest vehicles as a necessity, saved for their futures, provided for their families, made sure they had a little to give to the less fortunate and in general lived a life of thrift and reason?

It seems that now again this group is being called upon to bail out homeowners who had to have homes they could not afford, investment bankers, auto manufacturers and who knows who else, who is waiting to come forward. The responsible citizens who saved and lived a simple lifestyle are also hurting through losses to their retirement savings accounts and other investments.

In the meantime, politicians are screaming to find new ways to tax and fee the last cent out of every one of us. Question: Who is bailing out the responsible individuals who are also suffering from legitimate losses?

Paul J. Ziolkowski

Lancaster

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We can't spend our way out of this recession

Give a man a fish to eat, and he's satisfied for a day. Teach him to fish, and he's set for life. This used to be good advice.

History has taught us that we cannot spend our way out of a recession. Read the words of FDR's treasury secretary. That's why so many are questioning the recently passed spending bill, misrepresented as an economic stimulus. It's really just an expansion of government entitlement programs that have hooked so many into dependence, in exchange for future votes.

Making people dependent on the government is nothing new. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson told Meriwether Lewis how to deal with the Indian tribes he would meet on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Jefferson wanted to establish trade routes and didn't want to compete with the Indians' current Canadian trade partners.

Lewis' orders were to set up a provision of goods to the Indians and make them dependent on the government. Jefferson continued, "once they are accustomed to a regular supply of goods, we can count on their loyalty."

The government understands human nature. The larger the bailout or entitlement, the more government control and guaranteed future votes.

Ed Nesselbeck

Corfu

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It's time to institute flat tax for everyone

In these times of economic meltdown, it's time to do something different. A few years back, Steve Forbes proposed a flax tax, and I believe the time is now.

We need not continue to divide our people anymore with the wealth gap. Our republic is failing fiscally, services cost more than incoming revenue and we are bankrupt.

If we had a flat tax rate of 15 percent, with no loopholes, the impact would be the same for everyone. We could cut the size of the Internal Revenue Service, saving taxpayers money. We need to limit the power of lobbyists and hold our elected officials accountable. We need to work together to save this nation for the next generations.

Daniel R. Weaver

West Seneca

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Great to see justice prevail in DWI case

The case involving former prosecutor Anne E. Adams proves that the justice system isn't above the law. State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski tried to slip this case through the cracks and got caught.

Others who were caught drinking and driving had to pay the price, and it should be no different for lawyers and judges. These two got what they deserved for breaking the law, and in this case justice prevails.

John Jendrysek

Orchard Park

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