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Everybody's column

Chancellor's proposal will hurt SUNY students

The column by SUNY's chancellor touting the so-called Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act proposal doesn't tell the real story about how this legislation would affect the university and its students.

She claims it would produce new revenue to support SUNY and the ability to create 2,000 faculty positions. But where would this newfound revenue come from? It would come from students and parents in the form of higher tuition.

The act would allow SUNY to hike tuition by as much as 10 percent, and permit individual campuses to set their own "differential" tuition rates above that percentage. That costly combination would put a higher education out of reach for thousands of families.

The chancellor claims the act would facilitate private-sector partnerships with individual SUNY campuses that would raise new revenue, but history shows most such partnerships have not proven to be lucrative. Some have lost money. Why should we believe such partnerships are going to be gold mines now? Besides, campus property belongs to New York taxpayers, not to individual campus presidents.

The chancellor portrays those who oppose the act as critics who defend the status quo when change is necessary. But the kind of change being proposed would be dangerously counterproductive.

Phillip H. Smith

President

United University Professions

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Officers must be held to a higher standard

"I think what probably makes it more newsworthy is the very people who are trusted with enforcing the law are accused of breaking it. I just think a brighter light is shined on them," said Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III in the March 15 News article, "How some cops cross the line."

I agree with the statement that cops are shown in a brighter light; therefore, more is expected from them. The police have sworn their lives to serving and protecting the public from criminals. When cops break the law, there should be consequences for their action. Because when one officer decides to break the law, they make all police look bad and ultimately take away from the trust built with the community.

The police departments need to crack down on officers who step out of line. When 50 complaints are made and only a few officers are reprimanded, there is a problem. And when it is officers in their 20s who are the offenders, the departments should put them in patrol cars with their seniors, who are statistically less likely to break the law.

Thomas Tasker

Blasdell

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Health insurance firms reaping obscene profits

A recent News editorial addressed the need to control the cost of the health care plan Congress is working on. Well, how about containing the obscene profits of the health insurance companies? The top five had record profits in 2009 -- $12.2 billion! Three of the five shifted more of their customers' premiums out of providing medical care and into corporate profits, executive salaries and administrative overhead. And to top it off, one company's subsidiary demanded a 39 percent hike in premiums. This, after a 91 percent increase in its profits.

How much profit should be sufficient for insurance companies? How about a novel idea -- breaking even? I'm fed up with the crying "poor mouths" of the richest, most powerful people and corporations. They are about 1 percent of the nation and control more than half of its resources. We need to spend more money on education and medical care for people, and less on wars, war materiel and nuclear plants. It seems to me that the people with the power have their priorities not only out of whack, but also against the majority of this once great nation. Enough!

Mary Ellen Hoen

Tonawanda

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Crystal for our embassies should be made in the USA

A recent article in the New York Post stated that our State Department, headed by Hillary Clinton, awarded a $5.4 million contract for the purchase of crystal stemware for our embassies throughout the world to an interior design company in Washington, D.C., which outsourced the purchase to a Swedish firm without the benefit of a bidding process. Some, if not all, of this stemware was to contain the seal of the United States.

In my humble opinion, as an American citizen, I feel this is a slap in the face to the American crystal and glass industry. Apparently our secretary of state has forgotten that Steuben Crystal, a firm renowned for its quality crystal throughout the world, has a facility in Corning, in the very state that she promised to deliver 200,000 jobs, if she was elected a senator, and used as a steppingstone to higher office. She also apparently forgot that our country is in the grip of a bad recession and we need jobs very badly. What gives?

Norman Machynski

Cheektowaga

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Repeat DWI offenders need to be put in jail

A recent article in The News reported that an Ellicottville man with eight revocations of his license for drinking and driving offenses was charged with felony driving while intoxicated in Springville. Why is this man still driving and not behind bars? It is not fair to the people who were convicted of lesser offenses that this man is allowed to drive. Someone in law enforcement is not doing his job.

John Jendrysek

Orchard Park

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Williams should study what charters do right

Lost in School Superintendent James Williams' disagreement with state officials over the definition of the word "graduation" was an interesting fact in regard to the Education Department's recent report on high school graduation rates: A local charter school was at the very top of the list.

The Charter School for Applied Technologies, and its 1,400 city students, posted a 100 percent graduation rate, putting a diploma in the hands of 168 students. Noteworthy was that the charter school topped City Honors (96 percent), an institution that gets to hand-pick the best students in Buffalo. Without entrance exams or requirements, charters do not have the luxury of "creaming the crop" like City Honors.

Add the facts that charter schools do it with two-thirds of the state funding traditional schools receive and that they cannot raise taxes to close budget gaps or build new facilities, and it would seem that, in charters, local taxpayers have a reason for optimism.

While no one should mistake charter schools for a cure-all for the city's struggling system, it is clear that Williams should spend more time learning from the charter model and less time trying to tear it down.

Frances Banas

Elma

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