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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Levy is working hard to improve community

It's beyond me why Jane Woodward would submit for publication such a mean-spirited personal attack on Jordan Levy, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. What did that accomplish?

As a former board member of the corporation, I served three years with Levy and found him to be an extraordinary and tireless volunteer leader who listened to everyone's opinion and was never reluctant to admit he didn't have all of the answers, nor did he always have to be right. Far from it. I found him to be courteous, good humored and open minded to everyone and genuinely motivated to do something good for our community. Levy was appointed chairman by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and at that time the Bass Pro development had been in the works for several years, so it is an outright inaccuracy to say Levy "foolishly pursued Bass Pro for about a decade."

This community is fortunate to have someone of his caliber (along with the other board members) willing to volunteer his time and talent to once and for all get something accomplished on the waterfront. Progress is definitely being made after decades of false starts. If you don't like what's going on, get involved or comment constructively on the plans, but leave the personal attacks out of it.

William M. Collins

Williamsville

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Lawsuit against Ford is a sad commentary

I am writing in response to the article, "Local suit over crash in '99 still pending." Eleven years -- how insane can it get? The law at the time was inane enough and yet 11 years later, even though the initial law has been repealed, the farce of a fourth trial plods on. While I have empathy for what happened, the fact remains that both brothers were under the influence at the time of the crash, so why should Ford have to pay to take care of one of them for the rest of his life?

All that is needed here is the truth. But the facts have been so twisted and convoluted that I'm not sure the real truth would change anything. It's a typical scenario, one played out so many, many times. No one wants to take responsibility for his actions; let someone else pay the price, absorb the cost and litter the legal battlefield with corporate casualties, just so long as the means justify the ends. It's a sad commentary on our society.

Scott H. Patterson

Clarence

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Erie Canal museum would draw visitors

In reading the Stage 1 Report on the Buffalo Canal Side Cultural Master Plan, I am encouraged by many of the suggested elements that should enhance the Canal Side experience of Buffalonians.

I feel, however, that discussion of museums was limited, since it reviewed only five "city museums," which could be categorized as "traditional." Buffalo is unique for its history as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. Accordingly, a more appropriate institution to analyze would be Ellis Island, remembering that more people passed through Buffalo on the Erie Canal than passed through Ellis Island, and that Buffalo was the nation's major interior immigration nexus.

The Stage 1 Report gives annual attendance of the "traditional" museums in the vicinity of 50,000, and notes average earned museum income of about 28 percent of expenses. The 2010 Annual Report of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation shows more than 2 million visitors to Ellis Island last year, and 100,000 visitors to its Family Immigration History Center. The foundation's revenues were more than $15 million, against expenses of $5.5 million and net assets of almost $36 million. Much of this revenue was generated by the 90 million online visitors to www.ellisisland.org.

Canal Side planners should consider the potential of a Buffalo-Erie Canal museum and visitors center, which could mirror the success of Ellis Island by attracting, in person and online, not only Buffalonians, but the millions of Americans who have a family connection to Buffalo and the Erie Canal.

Angelo F. Coniglio

Amherst

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Breakdown of society is dooming education

A recent news report showed educational rankings by country across the globe. The United States was listed as 25th in mathematics, and low ranking in history and science.

This is a result of many factors, among them, teachers who can't teach, parents who don't care and students who won't learn. Over the last few decades, education in this country has been "dumbed down" to accommodate "disadvantaged" students. Don't believe it? A passing grade when I went to school in the '60s was 75. Now it's 65. When I went to school, you couldn't use an aid like a calculator. You obviously couldn't consult your Internet-capable cell phone or log on to a computer. You couldn't even ask the kid next to you, for fear of teacher reprisal or detention. Nobody advanced without deserving it, and definitely not without a basic understanding of reading. English was important, too. If you tried to speak by saying "wif" instead of "with," you were rightly doomed to fail.

We also took pride in our appearance. Jeans and sneakers weren't allowed. Wearing a hat was unheard of. A student without a modicum of modest pride in his appearance isn't going to care much about learning either. We also didn't need cops in school. The fear of teacher or principal, or respect for same, was enough to keep us in line. We also worried about the parents at home if they found out about misbehavior at school. And, before anyone labels me a racist, I am not singling out anyone. I am encompassing everyone.

No, we don't need government studies to figure out the problem. It's not complex at all. We are the problem, and it's a travesty with no end in sight.

Rick Lange

Freedom

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Make effort to display American flag properly

As a native-born American citizen and military veteran, I am extremely agitated and annoyed by individuals and certain U.S. organizations that should know better. Some local law enforcement agencies and even the Boy Scouts of America continue to improperly display the American flag on uniforms, jackets, homes, etc.

When the flag is displayed either horizontally or vertically, the field of stars should be in the upper left corner. This will hold true for a flag patch worn on the left sleeve of a uniform, jacket, etc. However, when the standard flag patch is worn on the right sleeve with the field of stars facing to the rear, the flag is in an inappropriate position because it is symbolizing retreat. Not only is this embarrassing with regard to the integrity of the United States of America, it is highly disrespectful and insulting to the thousands of past and present military personnel who have put their lives on the line to uphold and preserve that integrity.

To all true Americans who have the pride to wear or display the flag, please do so properly.

John V. Hari

Lackawanna

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