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Everybody's Column

County's unionized workers fighting to save middle class

In his recent column, Donn Esmonde is critical of CSEA members for rejecting a contract. He is advocating lower wages and reduced benefits for workers, calling it "the real world." Well, if pushing workers to the bottom, making it difficult for them to raise their families, limiting their buying power, restricting their access to affordable health care and forcing working families into poverty is "the real world," it's a shame.

As workers in the private sector earn less, pay more for their health care coverage and lose benefits, the CEOs and upper management at those companies pay lower taxes and see enormous increases in salaries, bonuses and benefits often reaching into the millions. Those same CEOs avoid taxes by outsourcing American jobs overseas and forcing remaining workers to give up more. It's a vicious cycle that has to stop.

CSEA members said no to the weakening of the county work force when they voted to defeat County Executive Chris Collins' contract proposal. CSEA members and other unionized workers are not the enemy. Unions fight every day for fair wages and benefits for all. We fight to save and maintain the middle class. Big business will continue to destroy this country unless we bring good-paying jobs back home.

Instead of kicking county workers for trying to hang on to the American dream, it is time for others to demand more for themselves. Workers need to stand up and say "no more!" It is time to organize, unionize and demand CEOs share their multimillions with the men and women "in the trenches." Together, we should all reach for the top, not continue to try to push each other to the bottom.

Joan Bender

President, CSEA Erie County Local 815


Community support makes Juneteenth Festival best ever

I've worked 15 Juneteenth Festivals and I must say that this year was by far the best. The community and Police Department worked together to provide an incident-free two days of fun and entertainment. A plan was developed and carried out that ensured all those who came to enjoy the festival could do just that.

Community "peacekeepers" provided great assistance to myself and fellow officers in identifying potential trouble. Vendors and visitors alike expressed what a great time it was. From a supervisor's standpoint, I felt much more at ease because we had a well-developed plan, proper personnel and, most of all, community support.

Lt. David Wilcox

Buffalo Police Department



Fossil fuel extraction damages environment

BP created a disaster and should pay for it, but there is danger in singling out BP and beating its CEO, poor Tony Hayward, over the head about it. We may let ourselves be fooled into thinking that BP and Hayward just didn't have the "right stuff" -- that it was pilot error. And then drawing the conclusion that the other oil exploration companies can drill into the deep ocean floor or off the Arctic coast, never spilling a drop of oil, avoiding all future oil disasters.

That is not going to happen. That is not the nature of the beast. Fossil fuel extraction is a dirty polluting business; be it gas, oil or coal. It cannot be done without an absolutely certain incidence of mishaps including mine explosions, flammable tap water, snowy white beaches coated with tar, mountaintops destroyed and our climate set on its ear.

Let's not be like Coyote in the old Sioux story, who came upon a scorpion who wanted to get across the Pecos River. The Scorpion told Coyote, "If you let me ride across on your back, I will be forever grateful and will always be your friend." So Coyote said, "Climb up on my back and I'll take you across." When they got to the other side, Scorpion stung Coyote and as he lay dying he asked, "Why you did that? You promised." Scorpion said, "Hey, what did you expect? I'm a Scorpion."

Do not trust carbon fuels. Build windmills, install solar panels and conserve.

Larry Beahan



'Much Ado About Nothing' is an excellent production

I was disappointed by Colin Dabkowski's review of Shakespeare in the Park's "Much Ado About Nothing." I find it hard to believe that he saw the same opening performance I saw. Dabkowski mistakenly labels it the 34th season, while the program clearly notes that it is the 35th. He then expresses his dislike of the music, going so far as to call for a "proper pit band." Methinks he doth protest too much. I thought the music was well conceived and executed.

Rather than attempting to label some performances as "nuanced, engrossing interpretations" (good stuff!), and others as "credible attempts to deliver" (not quite so good!), I would emphasize the extent to which this is an ensemble production, featuring a marvelous group of Buffalo actors working together, playing off each other and creating a hugely entertaining version of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."

I would mention that these people are all multitalented, not only delivering Shakespeare's words clearly and meaningfully, not an easy task, but singing, and dancing, and dealing with the slings and arrows and noises of our outdoor theater.

I would mention that the lighting was so good that it wouldn't even be noticed, that the sound system worked brilliantly most of the time, that the costumes and setting were all cleverly designed and adapted to add to the intended effect of the play. I would mention the many sea gulls who flew overhead on cue, and the lone blue heron who graced the sky during intermission. I would mention the huge crowd of all ages, whose attention was held by the warm antics on stage, even after the chilly darkness began to descend. This production is no stumble. It shines. I encourage readers to see for themselves. They won't regret it.

John Rex



Israel needs to defend itself against terrorists

I commend The News on its editorial, "Israel's blockade." It is the first piece of honest writing that I have seen on Israel in this column for a long time.

We live in an Orwellian time warp where truth is false and lies are true. It is irrelevant whether Israel's attempt to stop the Turkish flotilla was botched or not. What matters is that Israel has a right, even a duty, to defend itself against a terrorist group that is sworn to its destruction and is continuing to lob rockets into Israel and terrorize its population. The blockade of Gaza is a legitimate component in Israel's defense.

It is appalling that Turkey should have lent itself to the charade of attacking Israel under the guise of humanitarian relief, and disgraceful to see the hypocritical condemnation of Israel's legitimate actions.

We should urge all honest people to inform themselves of the facts and stand up for truth.

K. Nicholas Leibovic


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