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Everybody's column

Assessments were fair, Casey is wrong to fight

Reading the article in The News about First Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey launching a "crusade" to encourage more city residents to fight their assessments "launched" my blood pressure.

In July 2009, my husband and I sold our large home that we raised four daughters in and downsized to a small ranch. Both are located in the South Buffalo neighborhood that we love. Our new home was reassessed shortly after the purchase and I made a phone call to Commissioner Martin F. Kennedy's office. I was given a clear and logical explanation of why our property is now fairly assessed at the purchase price, or else why would we have paid that amount? That made sense to the 9,700 people who also accepted their new assessments as fair. The services that we receive for our city tax dollars are sufficient, and when there is a problem, all it takes is a phone call downtown to resolve the issue.

Thank goodness for the hard-working Buffalo residents who pay their taxes and then read about others getting $200,000 homes for peanuts. My husband and I weren't fortunate enough to even cash in on the stimulus grant money that was approved shortly afterward for repeat home buyers.

I am frustrated with the state of the state, not the city. Kennedy is doing his job very well. Mayor Byron Brown gets it; I'm glad Casey's not at bat.

Patricia Farley



Why must some people always be so negative?

Cranky people post negative comments after many articles. It's the same individuals over and over. They berate those who are positive, rant political venom and just ooze ill will. Naysayers loath their community and look down on its citizens, deriding the efforts of anyone who tries to do anything. They come across as bullies. Sarcasm seems to be their weapon of choice.

Right now, some of my friend's children are facing the nastiness of life for the first time, as classmates start to learn the art of the insult, snub and taunt. It seems like both adults and children think it's cool to be cruel.

As a girl, I had lots of hope for my future. My goal wasn't to go out and find the biggest bully to spend the rest of my life with. I know of no man whose dating objective is to find the nastiest woman out there either. And I'm guessing not too many parents planned a family hoping to have a child with the disposition of a wild boar.

Bullies think the world of themselves, but the truth is, the tormentor is not as popular as he'd like to believe.

Alex Murphy



Five-year renewal is best for Kendra's Law

A recent News editorial supported the renewal of Kendra's Law. This legislation to provide enhanced treatment and supervision for some individuals with the most serious mental illness has been evaluated and found to be effective.

I write for several reasons. The first is to express our appreciation for The News' support; the Office of Mental Health has proposed legislation that has been supported by Gov. David Paterson and submitted to the Legislature, for a five-year renewal of the law.

The second reason is to correct an error. The editorial said that, "Commissioner Hogan has reduced the number of people entering the program." Under the law, those decisions are made locally at the county level, not in Albany. I am of the belief that the law should be used more frequently in some communities.

The final reason for writing is to indicate why a five-year renewal -- not a permanent one -- is appropriate. When Kendra's Law was passed in 1999, a number of new intensive mental health services were put into place. These expanded services were critical to the law's success. I frankly believe that some gaps in the mental health safety net remain. But now, in the middle of the state's current fiscal environment, is not the time to address this. Kendra's Law should be renewed and when we as a state can afford it, we should fill the gaps in intensive community care that are needed to ensure the law continues to work.

Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D.

Commissioner, New York State Office of Mental Health


Democrats ignored the will of the people

While all citizens want reasonable, limited health care reforms, major polling across the nation demonstrates that substantial majorities did not want the "comprehensive" health care bill just passed by Congress -- using every form of political bribe, threat and parliamentary device in the book. Most people reject this one-sided politically driven takeover of the health care industry because they do not want massive government intrusion into their personal lives and another, by some estimates, $2.3 trillion in debt, which is bound soon to cause massive inflation. Then there is also the personal mandate, which will crush many individuals, families and small businesses.

A political sea change is now needed to undo even some of the damage caused by this very partisan big government takeover jammed down the throat of the American people against our collective will.

Despite their constant claim to represent the little guy and to listen to the voice of the people, Democratic officeholders have now proven that the only way to make them respond to the will of their constituents is to vote them out of office, both in 2010 and 2012.

Dennis Bonnette



Corrections chief should meet with prison staff

I must say, I read New York State Corrections Commissioner Brian Fischer's March 20 Another Voice with much trepidation. Fischer had written of the misinformation that the Correctional Officers Union was spreading about the Department of Corrections. All Fischer has to do is look no further than the state comptroller's report from the past several years to find the truth.

Certainly it is difficult to argue that staffing levels should remain the same after having a decline in inmate population. Therefore, the Department of Corrections cut support staff, health services staff, inmate program staff and those in charge of inmate supervision.

Fischer's concept of fiscal responsibility was to add 60 full-time employees to the department's central administration in Albany while cutting the jobs of those who have direct inmate contact.

Perhaps it's time for Fischer to take his own advice and meet the men and women who work in the prisons so he may understand who truly runs the jails. He might just learn it is not the person pushing paper around in Albany, but the correctional officers who have to deal with the worst that society has to offer.

Douglas D. Kozuch


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