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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Move smoking area at airport downwind

Here's a scenario. You drive family members to the airport. You pull up to the departures area. The little kids are out first and told to stand there and not to move. Bags come out next. Hugs are given, kisses are given. The kids hopefully haven't moved. Well, maybe the bags come out first and then the kids. They have, however, been standing in a haze of smoke from the ill-placed so-called smoking section. The whole family then makes its way through the haze to the airport door. This is repeated dozens if not hundreds of times a day.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said, "Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer." The 704-page report goes on to say that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 70 that cause cancer. That means there is no "risk-free level of exposure" to tobacco smoke.

Jet Blue's new terminal in New York did the smart thing. Smoking areas are placed way at the end of the drop-off area and smokers are forced to inconvenience themselves to feed their habit.

The misplaced smoking area at the Buffalo airport is a serious health hazard and should be moved downwind to the extreme end of the drop-off area or eliminated altogether. The Erie County Health Department needs to seriously look into this problem in light of the recent dire revelations.

Tom Lynch

Buffalo

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More questions remain on Thruway Authority

Now that the Thruway Authority spokesmen have answered many of the questions about the recent storm, perhaps we should ask them to answer some additional questions. How many members are there? Who are they? What qualifications are required? Who appointed them? How much do they get paid? How often do they meet? How long is their term of service?

Perhaps in this difficult economy, we should ask these questions of every board, commission and agency at the local, county and state level. I suspect that many of these appointees are simply part of the "business as usual, payoffs and good-ole boy network."

Peter J. Plumpis

Tonawanda

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Weather forecasters dropped the snowball

Much blame has been heaped on various state and local agencies regarding the big snowstorm of Dec. 1-2. That they were caught off guard would be an understatement, but some of the blame has to fall on the folks who forecast the weather at the local television stations. Yes, we were warned that there would be a major lake-effect snow event, and that Buffalo would see some accumulation. But the smiling weathermen assured us that the snow bands would settle southward in the traditional snow belts. Using their much ballyhooed doppler radar and computer-generated super microcasts, they were flat-footed when Mother Nature didn't cooperate with them. Undeterred, they assured everyone that the Southtowns were in for the brunt of the snow even as the central part of the county was being buried with up to three feet of snow.

Why put blame their way, you ask? Because many people depend solely on our local weathermen and their dazzling weather gizmos to plan their activities. And that is the problem. When forecasting major weather events, especially lake-effect snowstorms, I depend on Internet-based weather websites such as the National Weather Service (noaa.gov). Using this site enabled me to accurately predict that the prevailing winds would not change and that central Erie County would get hammered even before the storm hit. After the storm wound down, one of our local weathermen was rather annoyed that a national network news outlet called it a surprise snowstorm. Well, it was a surprise to those residents of central Erie County who bore the brunt of this major weather event.

Clay Varga

Lancaster

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Many people refuse to take responsibility for actions

In the Dec. 11 News, I read three references to responsibility, in this order.

First was an article titled "Own up to your mistakes," authored by Lisa Earle McLeod. She offered excellent advice about taking responsibility for our mistakes. Second was the cartoon titled "Pros and Cons." Here, the defendant considers his lawyer's advice to "plead guilty and learn from your mistakes" to be absurd. And third was a News article titled "Allen gets 25 to life in murder of group home worker," which noted that the defendant "denies responsibility."

It is interesting how these three, published on the same day, in the same paper, provided such a strong, albeit likely unintentional, message regarding responsibility. The message for me is how sad that our society has degraded such that we need to be reminded to take responsibility for our actions, we make fun of doing so and we continue to claim innocence or deflect responsibility.

Further, this offered an opportunity for self-reflection. Yes, I have denied responsibility in the past -- thankfully, for small mistakes -- yet still claimed innocence while knowing guilt. And, as McLeod suggests, this caused much greater pain and conflict than had I owned up to my mistake. Finally, may I suggest we reread her article often and follow her advice. And, as parents, teach our children to be responsible.

William Morrison

Hamburg

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Writer ignores dangers posed by nuclear power

In response to the letter touting the safety and low cost of nuclear energy, I'd enjoy hearing the writer's comments on the "safe" railroad transportation across the country and eternal storage in abandoned mines and caves of the glass-encased, highly radioactive deadly waste products of this process.

Our defunct West Valley processing plant, oozing waste into the ground and nearby creek, would also be an interesting topic for him to comment on.

Pete Youngers

Holland

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Buffalo should give HSBC whatever it needs to grow

Rather than certain public officials playing the fear card regarding HSBC's downtown office location decision, they should instead accept, embrace and accommodate this opportunity for growth. HSBC should be encouraged to find the solution that best serves its needs. It should be understood that HSBC will expect a Bass Pro-size deal. Why wouldn't it? Give it to HSBC. It is a long and valued part of this community. If it opts to leave its current facility, there can be no better use for that building than to turn it into condos. New office construction, and a rehabbed building turned into condos with the best waterfront view on all of Lake Erie, replaces fear with growth.

Peter Huston

Williamsville

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