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Where we stand . . .

Over the last week, the editorial board of The Buffalo News met with policy-makers and leaders and researched, analyzed and debated issues affecting this community. Here's a summary of the week's editorials:

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Sunday: Last Sunday opened Sunshine Week, a national newspaper effort to encourage open government laws, policies and practices. Today's Viewpoints section cover story wraps up that theme, but last week's Sunday editorial opened the discussion with a call for more transparency and accountability than the current administration has shown, and explained why that's important for the republic.

Monday: The day's top editorial drew inspiration from the 60 percent turnout of voters in Iraq's national elections, despite the danger involved in visiting balloting places after a week of terrorist attacks and bombings meant to discourage voting. It was a clear victory for democracy in Iraq, whatever the electoral outcomes, and should remind complacent Americans of the importance of voting. A second editorial lamented quarrels over the methods of calculating Buffalo public school graduation rates, when it's clear that energy should be focused on improvements.

Tuesday: The day's top editorial looked favorably at a plan advanced by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to reform the way state budgets are put together. The current system of back-door borrowing and interest-influenced budgets is a mess. A second editorial noted that the federal government still hasn't passed regulations for the financial industry that target the practices that triggered the deep recession.

Wednesday: There are some good ideas in the plan advanced by Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch to close state budget deficits, but we're still unhappy with his call for yet another $6 billion in borrowing over the next three years for a "soft landing." That just opens the door to more State Legislature avoidance of tough spending-cut decisions. The day's second editorial called for that same Legislature to make Kendra's Law permanent, instead of just renewing once again the measure to ensure that persons deemed dangerous because of mental illnesses stay on their medications.

Thursday: The day's editorial page started with a cheer for springtime and March Madness, welcoming visitors to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament here and celebrating both the season and the event. A second editorial was less cheerful, lamenting that once again Erie County is doing all it can to hamper an outside look at conditions and practices at the Holding Center.

Friday: Suddenly local Rep. Louise M. Slaughter is in the spotlight, as the author of the "Slaughter Solution" to allow passage of health care reform without an up-or-down vote. While that's not as unusual as opponents claim, it's still not the route the Democrats need to take; if they're proud of the bill, they should vote openly for it. A second editorial took a long look at the Statler, and called on the State Legislature to give the building a chance by making needed improvements to the historic rehabilitation tax credit law.

Saturday: Congress is rocketing toward passage of a health care reform law that will expand insurance coverage to more Americans but does much too little to curb escalating health care and health insurance costs. With health care now a sixth of the American economy, it's crucial that this be done right, and our editorial decried the rush to ram through a flawed bill.

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