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Everybody's Column

Family's dedication to mission is inspiring

Every day I read the paper, wondering why I aggravate myself by reading about bad politics, layoffs and violence in our area. What a pleasant surprise to read the Dec. 21 News story, "Couple opens hearts, minds in East Side mission," about Michael and Josette Taheri and St. Luke's Mission of Mercy.

I have worked for social services for many years, 10 of them in the emergency aid unit dealing with the downtrodden and homeless. I am only too well aware of the need that exists, on all levels, for the population on the low end of the socio-economic scale in our area. It is a daunting and overwhelming task that is made a little easier by people like the Taheris.

It is wonderful that the Taheris care so much about people who have so little and that they are teaching their children by example. It was a beautiful and inspirational story.

Rosie Evans



Gioia deserves praise for assisting culturals

Kudos to Robert Gioia and the Oishei Foundation for funding and giving life blood to our area's smaller cultural organizations. Gioia realizes that even small culturals are not a luxury, but an asset to our area's economic engine.

Even if out-of-town visitors do not attend small cultural venues, most area patrons will usually visit area restaurants and establishments prior to and after a cultural event, which not only helps the vitality and growth of local businesses, but also adds to the county's sales tax coffers -- something our county executive still fails to understand.

Shame on our elected county legislators for treating Gioia's most generous plan as just another way to have a political fight. When will our local elected officials embrace area leaders like Gioia for helping our cultural institutions, and not treat him and other area philanthropists like a door mat?

Mark Jones



Collins could qualify as our local Scrooge

As the Western New Yorker nominated as "WNY's Own Scrooge," first let me say that I am honored and delighted to be recognized. Still, it's only fair to note that there's another Western New Yorker whose Scrooge credentials leave my own humble achievements in the dust. In the unlikely event that some statuette, plaque or certificate will be forthcoming in connection with this nomination, you have my permission to deliver it instead to County Executive Chris Collins at the Rath Building.

Tom Flynn



U.S. needs to fight for aerospace jobs

Gov. David Paterson's state employee layoffs won't fix the budget but will cause real economic pain. Rather than delivering pink slips, he should be lobbying Washington to fight for New York aerospace jobs, which are at risk if the Pentagon outsources a key government contract to a company that uses illegal government subsidies.

Right now, America's Boeing and Europe's Airbus are competing for a $35 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract. A Boeing victory would mean $30 million in investment and 580 good-paying manufacturing jobs for New York, but Airbus' proposal is being boosted by $5 billion in government subsidies from European governments.

The World Trade Organization clearly ruled these subsidies illegal, but Europe and Airbus were unmoved, and continue to use these and other protectionist policies, such as blocking U.S. firms from their defense markets.

The Defense Department has so far refused to discount Airbus' subsidies in the tanker contract bidding, which leaves Airbus with an unfair advantage. That isn't right. Congress and the administration should direct the Pentagon to banish the illegal subsidies to ensure a fair fight. Maybe then we'll read stories about hiring instead of pink slips.

Paul Shearon

Secretary-Treasurer, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO, CLC


How can park casino be closed for private party?

This past week, our daughter and her family came from Indiana for a visit. On Dec. 18, we decided to take the two little boys, ages 4 and 6, to Chestnut Ridge Park to visit Santa. Upon arrival, we found we had made a mistake and were a week too late. We decided to stay for a while and let the kids play on the big snowy hill that our children had spent so may years enjoying in the past.

Since there were signs posted at all the entrances and throughout the park stating that the Snack Shack was open, we also wanted them to see the big fireplace and enjoy some hot chocolate. Imagine our surprise when we and many other cold children and parents arrived at the casino doors and found a sign: "Casino closed for private party."

I was under the assumption that this is a county park and we pay taxes for its use. Unlike the many shelters that are rented out in the summer, this building should be open at all times for the public to use. My question is, what politician had a party there on the weekend before Christmas, when there are so many out-of-town visitors wanting to enjoy the park?

Paulette Mendrysa



Raze grain elevators located near Skyway

Now that our waterfront redevelopment is slowly under way, I was wondering why the dilapidated grain elevators that sit between the Skyway and the new Fuhrmann Boulevard are not slated for demolition?

I know the preservationists are reluctant to allow removal of these structures, but we have many more silos both on the lakefront and along the Buffalo River. These particular silos are not only non-aesthetic, but from downtown they block the view of the lake and conversely from the outer harbor, in the area of the silos, they block the view of our city skyline.

As we continue to try to attract visitors to our city, I think we would be better served to eliminate this eyesore.

Dick Weber



Car insurance is required, why not health insurance?

Unless you live on another planet, health care has to be one of your top priorities. President Obama has given us a start in fixing this problem, and the Republicans want to make the health reform law unconstitutional. They claim the government can't force you to pay for health insurance. Have they ever heard of the Social Security tax, income tax and even auto insurance? Are they not things we are forced to pay for, for the benefit of our way of life? Can't any of Rush's "sheep" think for themselves?

Gerald Stefanacci

West Seneca

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