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Everybody's Column

Keep religious bias out of UB commencement

"Pray in the name of Jesus," marked the conclusion of the invocation given by the Rev. John B. Mansfield, director emeritus of the Campus Crusade for Christ at the 2010 College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo. I was disturbed anew by the impropriety of this exhortation as I prepared to send the commencement DVD to my aged, out-of-state mother. The brief, perfunctory nod to selected religions previously given by Mansfield did not mitigate or excuse his final request.

UB is a public university. The students who have studied and worked for years and the parents, family members and faculty who have encouraged and supported them deserved an invocation that recognized and celebrated the diversity and freedom from religious bias and limitation that should be the hallmark of such an education.

I don't know where the error allowing this disrespectful and unseemly address lies, but I certainly hope it is corrected so that future convocations properly honor those in attendance. I also hope that my mother has someone with her who is able to skip over the invocation and allow her to enjoy her grandson's graduation without being asked to pray to a particular (or any) deity.

Sharon Levy

Snyder

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Students lead the way toward greener future

Despite all the problems we continue to create for our planet, in order to satisfy our hunger for energy, we remain heavily dependent on a menu of fossil fuels. This is the main reason we need to look to young people to make green energy a reality. With this in mind, soon a group of middle school students and chaperones from Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School will be attending an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., as the New York State winners in a national competition, sponsored by Project N.E.E.D., National Energy Education Development.

Our students' entry included a student-created movie "Energy Efficiency: How to Do a Home Energy Audit," an Energy Expo for younger students and a wiki titled "Wires Across the Sky" using Library of Congress primary sources to tell the story of rural electrification. Everyone here is very proud of our students. This project is an example of the kind of hands-on learning that usually stays with students (and teachers) for a lifetime. We need more of this kind of education.

Our students have already shown the kind of leadership needed to move us forward toward a greener tomorrow. They have learned about energy efficiency and shared their knowledge with others to help us make a greener today.

Candace Broughton

Tony Schabloski

Cattaraugus

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Two-tower needle version is the best bridge design

The two-tower needle version of the cable-stayed expansion Peace Bridge, based on early 21st century design, will provide signature towers and be an iconic bridge between Canada and the United States. The two-tower design, in both the "needle" and "diamond" towers, has the least impact on the Niagara River and the shore lines, because they require only two footings in the river for the towers. The three-tower designs have three footings in the river to support the three towers.

The three-arch bridge, in its attempt to "twin" the original bridge designed in 1925, is my fifth choice because it is not a symbol of regional hope, it is not an iconic signature bridge and there are two footings in the river and two footings on the shore lines. It may also be the most costly to construct.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Boston's new Bunker Hill Bridge clearly show that a bridge can be functional, iconic and magnificent. If Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Boston selected three-arch bridges, the bridges would simply be functional.

The Bridge Authority should select either the two-tower needle version cable-stayed bridge or the two-tower diamond cable-stayed bridge. On both sides of the border, people just want a bridge built. We shouldn't settle for an arch-bridge design. The 83-year-old Peace Bridge will some day be taken down and we don't want to be left with a functional only arch-design bridge for the next 100 years.

Tom Graham

East Aurora

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County workers must shed their entitlement mind-set

I don't always agree with Donn Esmonde. OK, I often do not agree with him, but he hit it right on the mark when he criticized Erie County employees for rejecting the proposed contract. As a county employee, I am both ashamed and embarrassed by our rank and file for turning down the opportunity to do the right thing, while making minor concessions. When negotiating, people never really want to give up something they already have, but this is the real world, and perks are a luxury that cannot be afforded. We have to shed the entitlement mind-set.

I am sure there are few people who believe they are underworked and overpaid in their careers, but, just the same, are grateful to be employed.

Oh, and the "theory" that the contract was voted down to protect future employees is truly a delusional one; an idea made up to make members seem like the altruists we are certainly not.

Amy A. Brinkworth

Town of Tonawanda

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Paladino, like most of us, is fed up with government

I recently attended a breakfast meeting where Carl Paladino was the guest speaker. After reading Douglas Turner's June 14 column, I wonder if he has ever heard Paladino talk? Knowing Paladino was to be the guest speaker, I did wonder why a home-grown, self-made successful businessman would continue to spend his personal dollars to compete with the major party choices and battle the downstate political machine.

I cannot say, like Turner wrote, what the left and right side of Paladino's brain is telling him to do, or that he is in political rapture, or that his forwarding of e-mails makes him a neighborhood clown. But I can say that Paladino, like so many New Yorkers, is fed up with what is going on in our government, the squandering of millions of our dollars and the lack of productivity from our elected officials -- issues that newspapers write about and everyone talks about daily.

Few of us can do anything about these issues, but Paladino has taken the challenge to make things better for us. I do not get the same feelings when I listen to candidates Rick Lazio or Andrew Cuomo.

Paladino is not the polished political robot that we are used to. I would hope that New Yorkers take the time to listen to his message and ask themselves if the state government we have been living under is how we want to continue.

I do not see believing in the changes Paladino will make as "wishing upon a star." Rather, I see it as wishing for a better future for our state.

Randy Philipps

Town of Tonawanda

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