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Everybody's column

It's sad to see reaction to president's speech

"I'm an American. They are Americans, and I don't feel that's OK. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now."

This is a quote from a parent who was upset over news that our president planned to address students as they begin a new school year on the value of studying hard and staying in school. This statement scares me more than anything that our president might say to grade-schoolers. Is this how far the political discourse has come in this country?

I think back to my school days, and knowing our president was part of our civic knowledge. It didn't matter to me as a third- or fourth-grader what party the president was from, he was the leader of our country and we respected him for his position. As the father of a 6- and 8-year-old, I am happy to see the same values in our children. To politicize a message on values from the leader of our country is to further poison the well of citizenship that we have seen for the past few decades.

Like my retired Navy buddy says, we respect the president. We may not agree with the person, but we respect the position -- just like the eagle, the position of president is a symbol of the freedom we enjoy as U.S. citizens. Let's get off the partisan soapbox and return to some old-school civics. Leave our kids out of this debate.

Anthony G. Billoni



Don't let races block access to parks, streets

The other morning, I drove three miles down Elmwood to the Erie Basin Marina to sit by the water near the observation tower. I was turned away and then directed by a couple of Fleet Feet Run Into Buffalo traffic monitors. I had to drive 14 miles to get home.

I don't know Fleet Feet's financial arrangements for the race. Though it hopes to give 300 pairs of running shoes to local high school students this year, according to its Web site, one can't tell what percentage of the revenue that amounts to. There's no mention of a means test.

It looks to me as if the Run Into Buffalo is more a race for publicity than for charity. So I think the City of Buffalo was wrong to allow Fleet Feet to take away from the rest of us not only the Erie Basin Marina but also the Naval Park and Delaware Avenue all the way north to Delaware Park.

Why can't all such races be held where they don't deny everyone else the use of our parks and streets?

Keith Elkins



Good things happening in University Heights

As a longtime resident and activist in the University Heights community, I feel that the Sept. 6 front-page story outlining the negative developments failed to point out some of the very positive things that are happening in our area.

Our neighborhood groups, particularly the University Heights Collaborative and the individual blocks clubs, have mobilized the residents and created a momentum that will only produce good things for homeowners as well as students. I have never seen more residents involved at the grass-roots level than I see now. Landlords are being held accountable for their properties and students for their behavior.

The problems of the past few years have opened a very productive dialogue with the University at Buffalo that has increased the involvement in the community by UB substantially. Response times for quality-of-life issues has seen such an improvement that many problems are prevented before they happen. I still feel that UB needs to step up and take a more active role in the Heights, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the progress in the last couple of years.

I fully realize that going forward, there are many issues that pose a challenge for University Heights, but I feel credit must be given where it is due. My family and I have found University Heights to be a wonderful, vibrant place to live and work for the past 20 years and feel that the best is still to come.

Patrick Willett



U.S. needs to restore compassionate values

What a message we send to the rest of the world. We have citizens fighting the idea that no American should have to go without health insurance. We have corporations exhibiting greed like it has never been seen before, with little or no compassion for the workers who lay in the wake of sending jobs off shore in the name of more profit, while our government swims in an ever-growing sea of red ink. We send our men and women off to foreign countries to fight and die without the entire American public fully understanding why.

Instead we should look back to the policies and the compassion that once made the United States the standard bearer for the rest of the world. The word America was the living definition of all that was right, and today I don't think we can say that in good conscience.

We need to bring back those values of caring for each other, of companies understanding that they have a responsibility to the communities and to the country, and of politicians who understand who they are in their respective offices to represent and to do the job that earns them the public trust.

I have been fortunate to live in the best of times here and I hope to live long enough to see those times return.

Michael J. Rusinek



Switch to digital TV improves picture, sound

One of the reasons some TV viewers have chosen the convenience of cable or satellite reception is not having to install a cumbersome outdoor antenna.

Since the recent switch to digital TV, almost all of the Western New York TV stations are now located in the UHF spectrum. As the result of this, a new, considerably small generation of TV antennas has evolved. Installation is easier and the aesthetics are more pleasing.

For those situated in a good reception location, it is possible to install an antenna in the attic crawl space. The picture and sound quality have never been better.

Roy N. Lehner



We can no longer support state's bloated pension fund

Well, you knew it was only a matter of time before the state started crying for money for its bloated pension fund. How long did officials think the money would last when you give people ridiculous pensions and let them retire at 55 after only 20 years of service? They could be retired longer than they were working.

Most of the school tax increases go toward increased costs of pension and benefits. It's never about the children. This taxpayer will not pay one more cent toward it. The next increase in tax I pay will be in another state.

Charles Todero

West Seneca

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