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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Outreach helps immigrants adjust to cultural changes

As a professional working with the immigrant community in Western New York, and collaborator in the planning and implementation of this training, I was excited to see The News article titled, "Domestic violence laws compound immigrants' culture shock."

However, I'm concerned about the underlying suggestion that immigrants are disproportionately represented within the system, or more violent than U.S. citizens. While there has been a notable increase of immigrant families involved with the court system, this increase is natural due to the increased foreign-born population in Buffalo, and only affirms that familial violence is prevalent across cultural and socioeconomic lines.

My job involves providing education to immigrant communities regarding domestic violence, and helping to develop services accessible to victims with cultural and linguistic barriers. In my experience, immigrant women have welcomed outreach regarding domestic violence. These women face numerous gaps in mainstream services, and it is exciting to see the system recognize this and begin to create an effective community response.

This is a relatively new field, and there is little research surrounding how education will impact cultural norms as they relate to familial violence. The line between cultural tradition and abuse is often sensitive and can be unclear; our job is to provide education, not judgment. We are excited to see how outreach begins to affect rates of violence and effective linkages to services.

The refugees I've worked with greatly value their lives in the United States and add valued diversity to Buffalo, opening our city to the world. Buffalo prides itself as the "All American City." Certainly promoting these values through viable, positive change is the essence of the American dream.

Shea Post

Outreach Coordinator, Victim Services

International Institute of Buffalo

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Lower malpractice costs by eliminating mistakes

Regarding "Detailing the rising costs of health care," while most of the article on the causes of health care inflation was illuminating, repeating the common myth about medical malpractice and defensive medicine only distracts from the real issues.

The best way to lower the costs of medical mistakes is to stop making them. By using readily available "best practices" for patient safety -- like electronic records, safety checklists and hand-washing reminders -- we can dramatically reduce the number of patients injured by doctors and hospitals and save billions annually in wasted health care dollars.

If doctors can reduce their rate of preventable mistakes from 18 percent to just 15 percent, they could cut their malpractice-related costs by 17 percent, not to mention prevent thousands of unnecessary injuries and save hundreds of lives.

We must also be clear about the alleged rise of so-called defensive medicine. The number one cause of unnecessary tests is that physicians and hospitals make money by ordering them. If doctors are ordering tests because they fear legal liability, it is a good bet that the test is required by the standards of care and is therefore needed to protect the patient and provide appropriate care.

We can and must reduce medical costs without sacrificing quality of care, but doing so requires an honest account of the facts.

Nicholas I. Timko

President, New York State

Trial Lawyers Association

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Orchard Park Town Board should say no to Walmart

When it comes to extending the 10-year tax waiver for new construction in perpetuity, Walmart is making its position clear. Despite the excellent profitability and expansion capabilities of its vacated McKinley Parkway location, Walmart wants to relocate approximately two miles at Quaker Crossing, for what is supposed to be a temporary tax advantage to encourage new enterprise, not an incentive to make a junkyard for discarded behemoths in the Southtowns.

Citing "new" jobs and business, the Town Board seems poised to overlook this obvious boundary tax maneuver, which will exacerbate overloaded traffic in Orchard Park. The board seems oblivious to quality, safety and residential property valuation issues put forward by constituents in e-mails, petitions and appearances regarding this issue, which has been purposely protracted for years.

There's a national tendency these days that when powerful concerns make the right political contributions, they can do anything they want. When this issue is again reiterated by Walmart at the next Orchard Park town meeting on Jan. 5, let Walmart and the board know this is our community, these are our homes. Orchard Park is not theirs to trash.

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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Prevailing wages bill will destroy more jobs

Queens Assemblyman Michael Gianaris states in the Dec. 19 News story "Pay boost for service workers defended" that his bill to mandate prevailing wages for a variety of private sector employees will impact only utilities -- so that makes it OK? He is simply wrong.

First, he is wrong to suggest that business improvement districts have been exempted somehow from this job-killing measure. They haven't, and no such amendments protecting them were sent to the governor, who would be wise to veto this misguided legislation.

Second, forget about hurting utilities; the proposal simply hurts utility customers -- the people who pay electric and gas bills and are the same people represented by state lawmakers who passed this costly measure.

Michael Moran

Director of Communications

Business Council of New York State

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Collins is taking steps to ease financial crisis

Last week, Donn Esmonde and Rod Watson presented well their critical perspective about our county executive's interaction with the County Legislature. Their facts and observations were presented well, but there is another side to the story, which from my perspective includes two key points:

1.) Part of democracy is "playing your hand" and allowing the checks and balances, including the third branch of our government (the court system), to fulfill its role. So I personally find it overkill to say Chris Collins doesn't like democracy. He has a role to play and he is choosing to play it strongly.

2.) In times of crisis, and we do have a governmental financial crisis from the federal government down, strong leadership and decision-making are needed. When it's time to choose where to go to lunch, build a consensus. When there's a fire, you make decisions differently.

I, for one, am glad that we are making important, yet difficult, fiscal decisions that may turn our governmental financial crisis in a different direction.

Mark Jentsch

Orchard Park

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