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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Collins deserves praise for keeping his promises

'Tis the season to be jolly, and yet so few understand how to be pleasant because they think their job is to be negative, nasty or a combination of both. I never find a word of joy in some columnists in The News and can't bother to read past their first paragraph.

The repetitive slams against the county executive are just plain boring. Chris Collins is doing exactly what he promised he would do, and that means saying no to wasting tax dollars and teaching all of us to live within our means. With so much unemployment, the taxpayers can do no more at this time. He is protecting us.

People who have jobs and pay taxes know you can't keep raising the price of everything each thinks is necessary. I have seen photos of the limited audiences for Shakespeare in the Park. Shorten the programs or charge a fee. The county cannot afford to give more at this time.

The library needs to keep track of attendance. Serve the kids. Shorten the hours when no one is there. Yes, I have gone to a library and have found it lonely. Improve the time management. Get rid of the videos.

I am very pleased with the elected officials I supported. Rep. Chris Lee is one of but a very few I admire in Washington. State Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer is a fantastic voice of reason and fact. Assemblywoman Jane Corwin is outstanding and Legislator Ray Walter is on target with what the voters sent him to do for us. I applaud Collins for sticking to his convictions. The Town Board in Clarence is listening to the public. I think my praise has been earned at this season of joy.

Marian M. Gray

Clarence

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County voters were fooled, they wanted a true leader

When I voted for Chris Collins in 2007, I thought we were getting a smart businessman, a true leader. I was wrong.

We thought we were getting a leader who would make the investments necessary to protect the economic health of the region. What we got was just a man -- one who hoards surplus tax dollars meant to stimulate the economy, withholding aid to working mothers and the unemployed -- all in order to help ensure his re-election.

We thought we were getting a leader who had the courage to move beyond party labels. What we got was just a man -- one who ignores the legal acts of his legislative partners and belittles them at every opportunity.

We thought we were getting a leader smart enough to understand that the future of the region is tied to our urban center. What we got was just a man -- one who walked away from city-county collaborations, such as the parks maintenance deal, at the very first opportunity.

We thought we were getting a leader who sees that the coming economy is based on ideas. What we got was just a man -- one who thinks that reducing our investment in citizen knowledge (e.g., libraries) is smart budgeting.

Perhaps most important of all, we thought we were getting a leader who gave less thought to his own ego than to the needs of his constituents. What we got was a just a man -- one who takes umbrage at any disagreement, refuses to compromise and says to us and to our legally elected representatives, "If you don't like it, sue me."

In 2007, we voted for someone we thought was going to be a leader for the times. What we got was just a man. It's a mistake I won't make a second time.

John Henry

Hamburg

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Let company tear down unsightly grain elevators

More power to Ronald Chapin and Ontario Specialty Contracting. By all means, let the company tear down the unsafe and unsightly sections of the grain elevators on its property. I saw no mention that Chapin is seeking taxpayer dollars to accomplish this. So, more kudos to the company for assuming the financial end of this as well.

The preservationists fail to see that unrepairable, ugly and hazardous structures do nothing whatsoever to improve the appearance of our waterfront. The reality is that bombed-out and unsafe structures such as this are not filling hotel rooms, employing anyone, generating revenue or displaying Buffalo's waterfront in an attractive light. They are just ugly.

Perhaps the preservationists should conduct a survey. What would one rather see on the waterfront? An unobstructed view of the water over a green field, or a crumbling building resplendent with broken windows and crumbling bricks?

Want to preserve the memory and former significance of grain elevators? Take photos. Produce a video. Display these at a waterfront facility. But don't force people who know better to look at blight while trying to convince them it's precious eye candy.

Len Sperrazza

Buffalo

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Credits help developers but not the taxpayers

The Dec. 15 News reported that the federal tax incentive that helped the development of the Larkin at Exchange Building and other Western New York projects will expire unless it is restored to a pending tax bill. The article quoted Howard Zemsky of Larkin Development Group as saying the program "has been instrumental" in the renovation of the Larkin Building.

Although the Larkin project is commendable, it is in direct competition with downtown. For example, its tenants include the law firm Kavinoky Cook, formerly downtown for decades. First Niagara Bank has moved to Larkin, and is so supportive of its further expansion that it donated $1.5 million to the beautification of the neighborhood.

Zemsky and his company are reputedly wealthy and able to carry out ambitious expansion plans with their own funds, however disappointing loss of additional taxpayer contributions may be.

The wave of taxpayer handouts for development projects shows no signs of abating. The Avant Building developers received $11 million in taxpayer contributions toward their $80 million conversion of the Dulski Building, thus assisting the relocation of downtown law firm Damon & Morey.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency recently approved $460,000 in tax forgiveness to help move a Rand Building law firm to the Calumet Building, and is about to provide a taxpayer contribution to move the Ricotta law firm from Main Place Tower to a nearby downtown building.

In none of these instances do the taxpayers receive an interest in the project, although they do have to chip in to make up the taxes forfeited. Usually no jobs are created, but the taxpayers may somehow feel a sense of satisfaction from their contribution to progress.

In the meantime, downtown building owners are receiving a version of the "death of a thousand cuts" administered by government agencies.

David L. Sweet

Main Seneca Corp.

Buffalo

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