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Everybody's Column

>Officials should take pay cut as promised

Hypocrisy and dishonesty are alive and well in the Town of Hamburg. Two newly elected Councilmen, Joseph Collins and Jon Gorman, ran for office last year. Their campaign ads contained a pledge to take a 10 percent pay cut upon taking office. As of today, months after taking office, they still have not.

When I originally asked about this, I was treated to a fantastic explanation that ranged from "a misunderstanding" to "it was meant to be for the entire board" with a stop at "we want to think globally" and, when none of that worked, they blamed the town personnel director.

Monday night, they attempted to introduce a poorly worded resolution that would cut the pay of the entire board. Other board members, none of whom ran on a pay-cut promise, have kept their promises. Supervisor Steven Walters promised a 0 percent tax increase. He delivered three straight times and has pledged a fourth. Councilman Kevin Smardz's campaign pledge not to take a previously passed pay raise upon entering office was fulfilled the day he took office.

It is time for Collins and Gorman to either immediately take the pay cut they promised or admit to the voters that they lied in order to get elected.

Elizabeth Reszka
Blasdell

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>Corrupt government threatening America

We can no longer tolerate the casualness and insincerity of so many in political careers. The improprieties, scandals and bribery (now called lobbying) have been a way of life in government for the last several decades in our beautiful country. When lobbyists spend $3.5 billion bribing Congress, it represents a sickness and a corrupt government.

We veterans made a commitment of our own lives so as to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for our families and communities. We must now separate the patriots from the greed and corruption in our society. This November will be a great place to start.

To all my veteran comrades, clip this letter out and mail it to all you know in politics along with your commitment to join in this action. We have had it with those who insist on destroying our nation. Nikita Khrushchev, former head of the Soviet Union, once said at a meeting of the United Nations, "No nation's military force shall ever defeat America, they will do it to themselves from within."

Laurence P. Paul Jr.
Williamsville

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>Let's increase the price of unhealthy products

The state budget crisis could seriously impair our public health programs and the public health gains they generate. However, I am glad to read about the governor's proposal to increase the cigarette tax and a tax on sweetened beverages to help fund health care and public health related initiatives.

Taxpayers are already paying plenty for the medical costs associated with treating obesity, diabetes and tobacco-caused disease. The annual portion of our state and federal taxes that pays for treating smoking-related diseases is $822 per household, with estimates of $771 per household for treating obesity-related diseases.

The $1 increase for cigarettes would create $200 million in new annual revenue for the state. If lawmakers actually added that $200 million to the state's tobacco-control efforts, New York would just reach the minimum amount that the Centers for Disease Control recommends New York invest. The tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is expected to raise $450 million in new revenue in 2010-11 and $1 billion in 2011-12.

Increasing the price of unhealthy items is one of the most effective ways to reduce their purchase and use. The proposal would prevent 106,500 children from becoming smokers and 53,800 adult smokers would quit. Sweetened beverage consumption would decrease by at least 10 percent. To improve our physical and financial well-being we need to do what's proven to work.

Shannon Waddell
Project Coordinator
Tobacco Cessation Center
Roswell Park Cancer Institute

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>Time for voters to boot incumbents out of office

The cliches "where there's smoke there's fire" and "I smell a rat" seem to wrap up politics these days.

Gov. David Paterson is not running for governor because of allegations that have recently appeared. Were these revealed to force his withdrawal for election because he couldn't win and would leave the seat up for grabs?

Henry Ford Jr. was contemplating a run for the New York Senate, opposing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. It looked promising as people gathered to support him. Suddenly he withdrew his candidacy and revealed he was advised by Democratic leaders not to run for the Senate seat.

Now we have Rep. Eric Massa resigning, first because of health reasons and then because of an ethics investigation. Finally we hear a disconcerting statement from Massa that he thinks the White House is behind the allegations.

Is bullying now a part of the political process? Should an investigation be held to seek the truth? However, who is or not in the group of "dirty politics"?

The recourse to this problem is to vote every incumbent out of office until there are only new faces and ideas to get our country back to our founding fathers' vision.

Margaret Milliron
West Seneca

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>We must merge districts, not cut Regents exams

It is interesting, in the budget crunch in New York State, that cutting Regents examinations is even being considered. Our children and their course of study come first, not last, when considering budget cuts. We tend to forget that the reason for having schools is educating our children. Regents testing is a good way to check on the quality of education offered and how well the children are absorbing the teaching methods -- or why have any tests at all? We cannot allow each district to go a separate way; we need a basis for excellence statewide.

And let's take this time of fiscal tightness to change the framework of education in New York State. It is time to consolidate school districts to save money. Each town should have but one district with one superintendent; smaller towns must merge districts. Why can some Southern states have educational districts spanning counties and we need more than one in modestly sized towns?

We have to make hard decisions in New York State, but not in the actual education and testing standards that our children receive. Rather, let's change the outdated methods of assigning districts and overinflating bureaucracy. We need to educate our future taxpayers, who will have to work ever harder to pay the outrageous taxes that are always increasing at the expense of quality of life and educational standards.

Janet Pope Schumer
Hamburg

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