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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Collins needs to get his priorities in order

'Tis the season to refer to him as "Scrooge" or "Grinch." He seems to prefer "successful businessman." The county executive appears to be determined to remove from constituents whatever quality of life remains in this area in the name of balancing the budget. The situation reminds me of his predecessor's red and green budgets, with fear as the motivation for passage. Threats of increasing property taxes are designed to frighten the Legislature into acceptance of his proposed budget.

For a brief time, it seemed that the Legislature might have the integrity to challenge his axing of the budget by restoring funding to deserving entities. But this is Western New York politics. What did we expect?

It's too bad that the money spent on Chris Collins' lawsuits is not available as revenue. His county jail debacle, in retrospect, and the resultant damages to the budget might have helped provide a step up to the richly deserving cultural organizations that enrich the lives of our citizens.

Our area continues to elect some inept, self-serving, dictatorial, sometimes dishonest politicians as our "leaders." The names of Kathy Hochul and Mark Poloncarz have been floated to run in the 2011 election. I would heartily support either of them, but I would also give a boost to ABC -- Anyone But Collins.

Hallie Morrison Block



People should pay for their own entertainment

Here's a novel idea. Why don't all you folks who want the taxpayers to pay for your entertainment pay for it yourself? You could donate as much money as you choose to whatever institution you cherish. Or, you can pay higher prices for the events you go to. Running benefits and getting all your friends and relatives to attend is another option. Me, I don't use any of those venues and I don't want my tax dollars to go for them in this kind of an economic climate. People are out of work, out of food and out of money. What is it you folks don't get?

It's high time people start paying their own way or do without. It seems we went from the greatest to the greediest generation in just 75 years, give or take a few years. These days, no matter what anyone wants, they expect government (read "taxpayers") to pay for it.

E. Ceceil Pauly



Collins is delivering on promises he made

I am watching with total amazement the current budget battle between Erie County Executive Chris Collins, the County Legislature and the various constituent groups that are being impacted by the budget decisions.

Why are so many people surprised at how Collins is treating the culturals, libraries and other groups? Don't they remember that he ran on a platform of "I'll run the county like a business"? He won resounding support and easily won the election with this platform. He is delivering on his promise. He is running the county like a business. Do people expect Collins to do things differently now that he is elected official?

It appears to me that Collins will run the culturals, the libraries and other groups feeding at the proverbial trough right out of business. He sees no value in them, as any businessman would. They are liabilities in his view, not assets, and any businessman is concerned with the bottom line.

Collins has amassed a multimillion-dollar budget surplus. Did people expect to elect him and have a deficit? He was a highly successful businessman; a millionaire in his own right. He didn't get there by funding liabilities and nonprofitable ventures. He is thinking in the only way he can, like a businessman.

If you look down the road and see no libraries or taxpayer funded cultural activities, don't blame Collins. He is delivering on his promise.

Lawrence F. Schiro



Greedy GOP pushes us even deeper into debt

I understand why people collecting unemployment need $300 per week to keep a roof over their head, feed their family, keep the utilities on and keep the wolf away from the door. But Sen. Mitch McConnell and the Republicans said no to more unemployment unless their rich friends get even richer, too.

Can somebody tell me why anyone making $20,000 per week -- a million-dollar income -- needs a tax cut? But McConnell's friends make much more than a paltry million. The GOP tax cuts are designed for the 400 American billionaires. In order to break into that club, you need to make a minimum of $192,000 per week. Americans will now go deeper into debt and borrow hundreds more billions from China in order to pay those ultra rich Americans money they clearly don't need. For them, it's the best of times. What an insatiably greedy gift it is.

Meanwhile 98 percent of Americans will celebrate Christmas just trying to survive, losing their jobs, their homes and their self respect. "May I have more unemployment, sir?" "No," say the Republicans, "not unless we pay the rich their tribute." But this isn't a novel by Dickens. This is real and these Republicans don't care about the vast majority of Americans. How low can they prostitute themselves? How low can they go?

And how on earth could the president and the Democrats not win this fight? Could the lines between right and wrong, between moral and immoral, have been drawn any clearer? McConnell, Boehner & Co. realize that Americans have stopped reading newspapers and are being spoon-fed a steady diet of right-wing propaganda by Fox News and others. Thus, low-information Americans probably won't discover what travesty was just perpetrated upon them by the Republican Party. Thanks for nothing, Mitch.

Bob Catalano



Children cannot afford bills we're leaving them

In response to Mitch Albom's Dec. 14 column, I suggest a few corrections. Albom says that we pay taxes on our earnings, and that it is presently taxed at 35 percent if you earn $250,000. In fact we pay taxes on our adjusted gross income, not earnings. None of us likes to pay taxes, but let's be fair -- and honest.

Most folks who earned $250,000 last year had an adjusted gross income of significantly less, and on average, pay less than 25 percent tax on their earned income. The combination of deductions, capital gains, exemptions and the scaled rates lead to this reduced effective tax rate.

If you are paying $50,000 in tuition and $10,000 in real estate taxes, and pay mortgage payments of $2,000 a month, most of those reading this paper will not be sympathetic. When the tax rates were reduced by the Bush administration, while conducting two expensive wars, it started us down a slippery slope. I'm concerned that we no longer have politicians with the leadership skills and courage to lead us out of this fiscal dilemma. It's a good bet that our grandchildren will not be able to afford the bills we are leaving them.

Jim Stegner

East Aurora


It's obvious Katz has no concept of religion

I am riled at the insensitivity of Jonathan Katz. Freedom comes with responsibility. Gay life has nothing to do with insulting Christians. Why was Mohammed not shown covered with ants? If the artist's intention was to show the suffering of an AIDS victim, why was an AIDS victim not portrayed? To be respected you must show respect. Christians are livid.

Katz referred to Robert Mapplethorpe, whose crucifix in a bucket of urine certainly has to do with religion -- not gayness or consolidating right-wing power. According to Katz, nothing about the work is sacrilegious. He has no concept of religion. Jeff Field, the Catholic League's director of communication, is correct in saying, "There's no federal money for the promotion of religion, so there should be no federal money for the bashing or denigration of religion."

Dorothy Kristich



Why is it OK to offend Catholics, not Muslims?

Colin Dabkowski would probably agree that because I, as a Catholic, oppose "art" like "Piss Christ" and the depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in dung, that I am "intolerant." And of course those institutions that respect my sensitivity are "cowards."

Maybe. There is a way to find out. Let The News publish the 2006 Danish cartoon which, by depicting Mohammed, inspired worldwide Muslim outrage, since it was deemed blasphemous. Another thought was to publish a favorable review of "The Satanic Verses." How soon will I see this act of courage from The News? Any day now, I'm sure.

Helen Westover



Lee ignores seniors while helping the rich

Thanks to Congressman Chris Lee, R-Clarence, for his vote opposing a onetime $250 check for those on Social Security. He and his fellow Republicans are holding the line on the wasteful squandering of our tax dollars on old folks. Those greedy seniors should be thankful to have him as a representative in Washington.

I want to apologize for my fellow Democrats who have the gall to question Lee's courageous stand. I understand how tough it is for a wealthy man to make these votes to curtail the profligate giveaways to these pensioners. Who are these people and what would they do with $250? Lee is protecting seniors from having to make a choice of what to do with such a windfall. He is preventing them from frittering it away buying food, paying a utility bill or buying warm clothes.

I am sure that by the time he runs again in 2012, his vote will be forgotten. Seniors are old; we won't remember his support for continuing the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, while helping to kill a $250 onetime payment to senior citizens who rely on Social Security to survive. When they ask how much Lee and his family stand to gain as a result of continuing the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000, just call it class warfare, then ignore the whole issue.

Edmund J. Gentner



We all must sacrifice in order to right ship

The amount saved by adopting all of the recommendations of the Debt Reduction Commission is more than $3 trillion. The amount that would be saved for the U.S. Treasury by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would be the same.

Occam's Razor says the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is always the best. With some sacrifice by all taxpayers, we can right our economic ship. Let's follow the simplest economic solution. Shouldn't Americans be willing to make financial sacrifices when our troops are sacrificing their bodies and lives in Afghanistan and Iraq to defend our culture? Let's do what is right for our country.

Richard Czarnecki


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