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Everybody's Column

SUNY tuition should be the same at each campus

In a recent News article, "SUNY's fate hinges on votes in Albany," aside from the minor error that SUNY has 64 campuses, not 63, there was a far more substantial error indicating that cuts to the University at Buffalo for this year and last year totaled $56 billion rather than million. While any cuts to institutions of public higher education are incredibly disturbing, New York, like most other states, has had a dramatic loss of revenue. The result has been cuts to most areas of the budget from elementary and secondary education to health care and human services.

What was not made clear was that SUNY recently imposed an increase in tuition of $620, and it is our humble opinion that New York's working families cannot afford another increase at this time. Permitting each campus to set its own tuition will undermine the key mission of SUNY to have students pursue their education without being forced to select the cheapest campus even if it doesn't offer the course of study that they are best suited to pursue.

The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act proposal is very far reaching. We have diligently engaged in discussions around the issue of procurement changes that SUNY has indicated are vital to its flexibility. We believe that even in this decentralized system, there are great opportunities for economies of scale in purchasing for items like information technology, which we believe SUNY has been less than aggressive in obtaining. We remain open to finding areas of agreement, but recognize that there will also be some ideas that are not in the best interest of New Yorkers.

Deborah J. Glick

Chairwoman, State Assembly Committee on Higher Education

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No need to print names of laid-off employees

What was the point of The Buffalo News reporting the names of employees recently laid off by the West Seneca School District? Given the state's fiscal collapse, layoffs appear to be a sad and predictable fact for teachers and employees in all school districts for the foreseeable future. But if you are the one on the chopping block, being laid off can be personally devastating. Isn't it enough to report the number of positions no longer available as resources to the children of West Seneca? Naming names is not just unnecessary, but extremely insensitive to those who may not want to advertise their sudden predicament to colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances.

Tony Duggan

Buffalo

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Demand for more oil is a big factor in spill

While Americans are busy attacking the U.S. president and the heads of BP for their sluggish response to the disastrous Gulf spill, I'm wondering when they will start pointing their accusatory fingers at themselves. In all of the debates and accusations about irresponsive government, inept company operators and insufficient industry regulations, I have heard nothing about how all of us are responsible for this epic disaster.

Americans demand limitless amounts of oil and gas to maintain a lifestyle that is by far the most extravagant in the world. Recent interviews by ABC on the anger over the worst oil spill in history ironically depicted outraged Americans criticizing Obama and BP for their ineptitude as they stood filling their gas-guzzling vehicles in front of gas pumps or surfaced from Walgreens carrying goods shipped by gas-guzzling trucks from across the continent.

Sorry America, we can't have it both ways. Yes, the heads of BP should have had a backup plan. Yes, there are clearly grounds for greater regulation of the oil industry. Yes, we do need to hold the government accountable. But what about every other American who unwittingly participated in this disaster?

Until Americans agree to change their lifestyles and reduce their dependency on oil, there will always be the potential for disasters like the one we are facing in the gulf. So, as globs of oil continue to gush into our beautiful oceans and estuaries, and as more fish and wildlife lay dead on the beaches, let's stop flailing around insults and ask ourselves the more prophetic question: How much oil do we really need to be happy?

Janet D. Larkin

Orchard Park

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National Grid is taking advantage of taxpayers

National Grid is at it again -- trying to scare New Yorkers into believing the company cannot survive without another rate increase. ("Another hit to the wallet," June 9 News.) Thankfully Sens. William Stachowski and Antoine Thompson stood up to a giant multibillion-dollar company to make sure some of its profits go to the hard-working cleaners and security officers at their facilities.

Public utilities, like National Grid, have been taking advantage of taxpayers and workers by allowing the contractors they hire to pay poverty-like wages. In turn, workers who are earning as little as $7.75 an hour are forced to rely on taxpayer funded programs to support their families. At a time when every penny of our state budget counts, the loophole that allows public utilities to continue putting the bill for their contracted workers' food, health care and housing back to taxpayers has got to end.

It would cost public utilities only pennies of their profits to make sure these working families are able to support themselves. That's why the Senate voted to close the loophole, and it's why the Assembly and governor should follow suit.

Jerry Dennis

President, SEIU Local 200United

Syracuse

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Birth control pill has many benefits

After reading the many letters concerning the birth control pill, I am compelled to write. Although I have no medical background, I know that the pill has many positive effects in women who suffer from severe menstrual cramps, endometriosis and infertility. I suffered from severe, aggressive endometriosis for years. The only time I could function as a "normal" person was when I was on the birth control pill.

When we tried to start our family, I was unsuccessful and began the long, difficult, difficult, disappointing course of infertility treatments that so many women suffer through. I was considered hopeless, but after adopting our first baby, I continued treatment.

My brilliant doctor, Henry Hess of Rochester, put me on a short course of the birth control pill followed immediately by my second round of Pergonal. After undergoing five and a half years of treatment and three surgeries, I finally conceived.

Yes, I became pregnant by using the beneficial effects of the pill. I know I never would have conceived had it not been for my doctor's brilliance in using the pill to suppress my endometriosis just long enough for me to finally get pregnant.

Stop knocking the pill. I have a beautiful daughter to show for it.

Linda Lalli Stark

Amherst

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