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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Collins' scare tactics put the public at risk

So, Chris Collins has gotten his way again. This time, using scare tactics via misleading robo calls and radio ads. He managed to mislead the public that there would be a massive tax increase if the Erie County Legislature overrode his budget vetoes. Members of his staff rode shotgun over the likes of John Mills and Kevin Hardwick as they voted no to all 154 budget amendments, as if to say, remember who put you here.

And the budget amendments all went down one after another as the nine united Democrats tried in vain to restore funding to the culturals, the libraries, jobs to the Comptroller's Office, security staff and the Probation Department. It's my understanding that Collins wants to have people on probation report to a kiosk for supervision. As of Jan. 1, don't expect to pay your county taxes in the City of Buffalo in person anymore: there won't be any cashiers to take your payment.

When trouble breaks out in the Social Services Department, as often happens, and someone gets hurt, let's see if the victim sues Collins and those six Republicans who made this happen by deleting the security staff. Or, as usual, the citizens of Erie County will pick up the tab for another lawsuit because of an administration that has put the public at risk.

Bob Farmer

Lancaster

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Come out and support our U.S. hockey team

As a Sabres season-ticket holder and "hockey mom," I was looking forward to the World Juniors coming to Buffalo, buying tickets to all games at HSBC Arena. The hockey was exceptional. Pure hockey at its best. Fast paced, end to end, limited clutching and grabbing, great scoring opportunities and outstanding goaltending. These young men play with no fear of injury or contract repercussions, but with a love of the game and their country.

What was disappointing was, where are all of the Americans? As the host country, I was expecting our opening game to be a sea of red, white and blue. Instead, the arena had maybe 12,000 people in attendance and half of them were Canadians there to support Finland!

Maybe it was due to the holiday and the Bills home game, or the Sabres organization being rather aggressive with ticket pricing. I am not sure. But I hope the remaining USA games will be packed to the rafters. After a great overtime win, I implore Western New Yorkers to consider supporting this event. Even if you do not have a love of the game, I appeal to your love of your country to come out and support our team. You will not be disappointed in their effort or the game.

Margaret E. Shotwell

Town of Tonawanda

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Those in charge of schools are happy with status quo

The News recently reported the results of a study confirming that getting a master's degree has no bearing on teaching ability. I agree, and have professed this point for four decades. This truth was made clear to me when the same underwhelming graduate school professor who left us comatose by his lectures was sent to my classroom to grade my teaching ability shortly after I received my master's degree. If this study is spot-on for teachers, it goes double for school administrators. A handful of term papers and a short practicum is not a recipe for dynamic leadership -- and it shows.

It is obvious that our education system is failing. Clearly, American technology and related corporate employee training programs are responsible for the United States keeping its national competitive edge. We need to bring some of the originators of these programs into our schools. For example, how about Rosetta Stone taking over our foreign language efforts? It works for business, the military and the general public. Let's try some of the methods used by some of our large corporations to educate their employees.

The Greeks had it right. Hire the best people to teach our children. Greek teachers were called pedagogues. They never did a term paper. They were merely very wise individuals who had a facility to communicate their ideas to others. We need to find them.

Our educational system creates plenty of noise and fluster about training and spends massive chunks of taxpayer time on administration and meetings. Educators like to believe they think "outside the box," while lucrative contracts, union benefits and cushy pensions rather insulate them within a shuttered sense of self-righteous entitlement.

Change will not come from those in charge of our schools. It's just too easy to maintain the status quo, collect a big salary and a bigger pension. There's no real motivation to change or even to introduce new concepts. The system isn't broken -- for them -- so why fix it?

Joe Weiss

Clarence

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Toles' cartoon insulted all members of military

Once again Tom Toles presents a cartoon that is an affront to all who have served in the military. The military ceremony we use to honor our fallen comrades of the rifle, helmet and boots was denigrated by his Dec. 16 cartoon to make a statement about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy used in the military.

Since the founding of this nation, more than 1.2 million Americans have given their lives in the defense of this nation and I do not know a single veteran who ever made a reference to a fallen comrade's sexual orientation.

I am all for freedom of speech; it is what I and 48 million other Americans have fought to preserve. But I am disgusted by those in the media who have not ever served this nation using our traditions in such a demeaning manner. Those in the media should take a course in military culture so they could be more aware of the sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve in the armed forces of the United States. Maybe then these type of insults would stop.

Patrick W. Welch

Sgt. U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)

Vietnam Veteran, Director, Center for Veterans & Family Services

Daemen College, Amherst

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Base health payments on state pension income

Budgetary woes are felt by many state and local governments across America. The common denominator is, for the most part, the state pension funds and employee/retiree health insurance premiums.

As a beneficiary of the New York State and Local Retirement System, who also receives free health insurance, I speak only for myself in this hypothetical scenario. Therefore, I believe I should pay my fair share of New York State taxes.

Furthermore, in this scenario, my health insurance contribution should be equitable; to pay a flat rate would be unjust. In light of this, my contribution should be based on my net (after New York State taxes) state pension income. Why should my health insurance contribution be the same as those who receive more generous benefits from the New York State Pension Fund?

Dolores B. Vaught

Buffalo

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