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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Don't balance state budget on backs of less fortunate

Two articles in the March 10 News were disturbing. One was the article regarding Albany's new fiscal gimmicks involving borrowing to hide the deficit. The other was the Another Voice indicating Sen. Antoine Thompson's proposal for the state to borrow $5 billion for environmental purposes.

Legislators should read the New York State constitution, which states the responsibility to care for the poor, the sick, the elderly and the mentally handicapped as well as to provide education for its citizens. There is no guarantee of pork barrel spending! Nevertheless, that seems to be part of the problem with our budget.

I had the privilege of participating in Public Policy Day of the New York State Catholic Conference. The Church has historically advocated for the care of the less fortunate, and our state bishops identify issues of concern. Briefly these involve protection of innocent life, budget cuts involving maternity and early childhood services as well as to the elderly, reimbursement of mandated costs to private and parochial schools, assistance to poor families and education for prisoners.

It would be wrong to balance the state budget on the backs of the less fortunate. As one of our young participants stated: "I am so angry that my future is being compromised with all this debt, and I didn't even have a chance to vote on it." We certainly are not against grants for the arts, environment, etc. But let's fix the moral obligations first.

Dolores Kurzdorfer

Amherst

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Albany has proved itself ineffective and corrupt

It is apparent that The News is publishing more articles and editorials that have highlighted and exposed New York State's government, and in some instances our local governments for what they are: ineffective at addressing problems that face the state and Western New York, dysfunctional and inept in the best case and just plain corrupt in the worst.

The March 10 article, "Albany's new fiscal gimmickry haunted by the old," was journalism at its best. Hats off to Tom Precious. I have often lamented the fact that The News has endorsed long-standing Albany incumbents in past elections mostly because they have brought home the bacon. Now there is no more bacon. The News has come to this realization and I applaud its recent efforts.

Please keep this front and center in your editorials and investigative journalism. For the state and the region, it is tremendously important that The News do everything possible to expose these long-standing problems in "our" government.

Jeffrey P. Kingsley

East Amherst

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Congress works together on anti-Indian legislation

Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the PACT Act. Who says bipartisanship prevents members of Congress from getting anything done? The key is finding issues they can all agree upon. Obviously carrying on a great American tradition like sticking it to Native Americans is one of those issues. A government that can't tackle basic needs like health care has no problem marching in lock step when it comes to passing anti-Indian legislation. The Senate bill has been reconciled with the House bill, and it is now just a presidential signature away from being law.

The bill, which was flowered up with "saving the children" and "stopping the illicit tobacco trade" and "stopping the funding of terrorism," will make it illegal to mail certain tobacco products. The more affluent tobacco consumers who demand special exotic blends for their pipes or their imported cigars will not be infringed upon. But if you are a regular guy who smokes those nasty cigarettes or chews, forget about it.

Once the bill becomes law, hundreds of Native businesses in Western New York will shut down, leaving an estimated 1,000 people jobless. That is the short-term effect. In the long term, wholesalers, manufacturers and traditional retailers will likely be reduced significantly for a second round of job losses. Isn't it great that these politicians can put aside their bipartisan differences for such a noble cause?

John Kane

Gowanda

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Government is targeting Native Americans again

So, history continues to repeat itself. We continue to allow our leaders to bring shame on the citizens due to the greed of a government controlled by big business.

Native Americans are again being denied their right to live and succeed in the world we have forced them into. The leaders of the U.S. Senate have voted to continue the theft of their rights. It is a continuation of land grabbing, forced location of residence, and forced taxation due to the greed of almost everyone else -- land barons, corporate farmers, railroads, buffalo hunters, power companies, highways and now tobacco companies and a state government on the brink of collapse.

The playing field must be leveled, but never for the Native Americans. They continue to work and fight to raise themselves by whatever means left to them. But for hundreds of years, our glorious government "for the people" has slapped them down every chance it gets.

I am completely disappointed in, and ashamed of, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for their vote in this matter. The attempt to force the Senecas to bail out New York State is appalling. Of course the cry is always "save the children." There are so many ways to "save the children" it is exhausting to think about. Perhaps they should start with "save the children from our educational system."

Virginia W. Hughes

Dunkirk

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Legislation will free SUNY from red tape

Nancy Zimpher, in her March 13 Another Voice on the legislation to free up the State University of New York from the red tape currently imposed by the state, is exactly correct. The University at Buffalo and SUNY as a whole must be freed of the red tape in order to better serve the people of New York.

This will allow SUNY students to better know their tuition costs for their four years of college. It will also allow UB and SUNY to better compete with the other research universities. The enactment of the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act will allow UB to fully implement its UB 2020 plan, which will result in the creation of more high-paying jobs and help to stop the brain drain from Western New York.

As an alumnus of UB and a former parent of a UB student, I believe that this is one of the most important pieces of legislation before the New York State Legislature this year and should be passed.

Ronald Balter

Brooklyn

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UB Alumni Association endorses Zimpher's plan

The University at Buffalo Alumni Association, representing 200,000 living alumni all over the world, is very concerned about the future of UB and in complete support of the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher's Another Voice column of hits the mark perfectly.

Public higher education is too important to be subject to the annual political and budget mayhem in Albany. SUNY needs to have the ability to manage its own tuition policies, ensuring that they are fair, equitable and maintain access. Speaking as the parent of five children who all went through the SUNY system, I would much rather deal with a rational, predictable tuition increase policy than subject parents and students to the irrational nuances of the state budget process.

Even more importantly, however, public higher education, teaming with private industry, can be a prime economic driver in a state that badly needs the stimulation. On the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus today, we can see evidence of what can happen when UB partners with the private sector -- new construction jobs now, and longer term, permanent new high-paying professional and support jobs in medical research, clinical care and spin-off companies.

Great public universities are economic engines in states like Virginia, Michigan and North Carolina. Why does New York deserve less?

Larry Zielinski

President, UB Alumni Association

Elma

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Use some common sense in driving emergencies

The modern car has more than 20,000 parts and electrical circuits. That means at least that many parts can go bad at any time. The average driver does not know how to handle these emergencies. Drivers are taught how to pass a driver's test, not how to drive a car. A trained monkey could pass a driver's test!

Most drivers cannot drive in the rain, let alone in snow or on ice. Before obtaining a license, a person should have to complete a defensive driving course to learn how to cope with road emergencies. This would probably reduce accidents by 50 percent.

As for the Toyota gas pedal problem, all you have to do is shift into neutral, put on emergency flashers, pull off to the side of the road, stop the car and put the gearshift into park. Turn the ignition off. Wait a few minutes to allow the computer to reset, then restart the car. If the engine still races, call or wait for help.

Toyota insists the gas pedal is sticking. This is not true because if the pedal stuck the car would stay at the same speed, not speed up. The problem is with the computer that controls the gas feed to the engine.

Fred Hussar

Cheektowaga

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Those attempting suicide need support, not ridicule

Recently there has been a rash of suicides at the Erie County Holding Center. Many of us, people who have successfully incorporated ourselves into society, may dismiss these deaths simply as sociopaths killing themselves. The reality is these individuals are sons and daughters of other people, and their deaths or attempts at death are tragic and heartfelt to their families.

My sister and her boyfriend recently attempted suicide in Emery Park; many of you may have read the article that was posted on The News Web site. After the article were 27 comments from members of our beloved Buffalo community. Half of the comments posted were cold and heartless; many of these comments were encouraging them to try again, with reference to the Holding Center.

Individuals who attempt suicide need professional help and support, not the encouragement to try again from the community. The people who posted these comments should be ashamed of themselves and should re-examine the level of their maturity.

Jason Miller

North Collins

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