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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Hochul should run for county executive

For the people, of the people and by the people I have been impressed in the past by County Clerk Kathy Hochul's ability to stand up for the people when she protested forcing new license plates on all New Yorkers solely as revenue generator for the state or another way to the impose a fee with no implicit value for New York's citizens. The more I hear and read about Hochul, the more impressed I am that she is acting for the people.

Imagine, a public servant who wants to represent the people and serve the public. She even characterized herself as a "representative" of motorists in trying to assist with the recent traffic jams. And what did she propose to do? Assemble a task force to look into the traffic problem. That sounds very much like standing up for the people and seeking to solve a problem.

Erie County Executive Chris Collins took affront to this and tried to pigeonhole her. That's him acting as the boss because he is the czar and makes all of the decisions. The library slashing to the detriment of county residents exemplifies his leadership style. Collins should be shaking in his boots. There is someone who works for and with the people. It is time to have a representative rather than a boss. Since she is of the people, acting for the people and by the people, I hope she runs.

Michael P. Maghran

Clarence

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Let's find ways to cut federal employees' pay

The Dec. 5 News article, "Obama, Congress search for tax solution," is another example of how our government is still stuck on stupid. We all know gridlock is here for some time. Favors for those recent huge political contributions have to be paid back, long before the taxpayer gets any relief.

President Obama wants to freeze federal employee pay. I think that happened in the private sector 20 years ago. In my opinion, current unsustainable unionized local, state and federal retirement benefits can be solved with some simple math. One idea I have is to set the minimum hiring age for government employees at 40. Most people agree 40 is the new 30. Reducing future retirement payouts by 10 years should save some money from our projected deficit.

Other ideas are a dime a dozen, but only if we stop using our aging Chinese calculators. When did we throw away our reliable American-made pad and pencils for these things anyway?

Tom Colligan

Angola

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Seniors really need a cost-of-living raise

Since when did being on Social Security make you a second-class citizen? Two years in a row with no cost of living increase, and as far as the Republicans are concerned, we don't deserve the mere pittance we receive now. I don't know of one thing over the last two years that is less expensive now than before, yet people on fixed incomes have to make ends meet no matter what inflation brings.

Our beloved government doesn't do without, no matter how much debt this country is in and when our mathematically challenged politicians want a pay raise, they give themselves one. We don't ask for much, just the necessities in life, but they cost much more now than two years ago, so come on.

It's hard to find optimism in a country where our elected officials think everything is a political game. On one side you have the spineless Democrats who cave in to every obstacle put in their way and on the other side, the demonic Republicans who don't care about anything but the wealthy and think the poor should be cast off on some iceberg and put out of their misery.

The only fix for this country's financial mess is higher taxes, not tax cuts. Everyone wants to pay less taxes but no one wants to give up the benefits that come from government programs -- local, state and federal. We are quick to point the finger of blame on the politicians but, in the end, we voted for them so it's our fault that we're in this mess.

Tom Perkovich

Tonawanda

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Creative plea deal might help recover stolen funds

The Dec. 10 issue of The News reported that Guy W. Gane Jr. has pleaded guilty in the theft of $5.8 million using an investment scam to steal money from investors. The article also cited "white-collar-crime experts" who indicate that rarely is more than 20 percent to 30 percent of the money stolen in cases like this ever recovered.

The article also discusses sentencing guidelines that are available to the judge in this case -- from at least nine years, but up to 17 years and 11 months. Perhaps the judge should sentence Gane to the maximum term allowable with an understanding that for every $1 million of restitution made to his victims, the sentence would be reduced by one year.

It would seem to me that this would accomplish two objectives: Gane would clearly serve the minimum amount of jail time, even if there was full recovery. And there would be a significant incentive for Gane and his family and friends to return any "hidden" money and/or to contribute personal funds to the restitution pool to reduce Gane's jail time.

If other forms of "plea deals" can be made in other types of criminal cases, it would make sense to provide one here. But only if there is a clear and unequivocal benefit for the victims.

John S. Waliszewski

Williamsville

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Collins is simply trying to hold line on spending

Blaming County Executive Chris Collins for the lack of funding for your favorite cultural group is like blaming the cleaning lady for the mess she finds after the all-night frat party.

Here the complainers are the enablers. The breathless letter writers, the demonstrators flopping around on the Rath Building steps, the tenured academics, the county legislators and Donn Esmonde all have one thing in common -- they supported the relentless public spending that brings us all to this point.

Erie County has lost 750,000 people relative to the rest of the country since 1970. Gone with this long migration from the area are the jobs and tens of thousands of new businesses created by Western New Yorkers in other states with less hostile regulatory climates and lower tax burdens. As a consequence, the kind of public-spirited business owners who in the past founded and supported institutions like Kleinhans, Albright-Knox and the culturals are doing so elsewhere.

Although I've never met Collins, he seems a rare breed among New York politicians. He has a proven track record of creating jobs from the debris of failed companies like Westinghouse, just for one example. If he lived in say, Pennsylvania, Democrats would be plying him with tax breaks and cheap power. Like socialists, liberals eventually run out of other people's money. In this case, as Hamlet might have said, they are now hoist with their own petard.

Malcolm Vanderburgh

Getzville

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