Taxpayers should have some say at the NFTA
In the Jan. 4 News, it was reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken a voluntary 5 percent pay cut, reducing his annual salary to a little over $170,000. Whether or not this is fair compensation for the job he has to do is open to debate.
Appearing in the Dec. 29 News was an article about the first woman to head the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, our region's public transportation system. Her salary? $170,000. I find it hard to believe the head of a regional transportation authority has the same responsibilities as the governor of this state.
I think the average person has a pretty good idea of what the governor does for his salary. And we, as taxpaying voters, will have some say as to whether he gets to keep his job. At the end of the governor's term in office, we can look at his record and decide if he has lived up to his campaign promises and vote accordingly.
Ask those same average people to describe the job description of our newest member of the NFTA. What is the exact job description of the new commissioner and who measures her performance? How do we, as taxpayers, know whether she is doing what she is supposed to be doing? Since she, as well as all of the commissioners, is being paid by the taxpayers, shouldn't the taxpayers have some say as to who is selected as a commissioner?
The governor of this state campaigns for the job, as do all of our elected officials. Those who succeed are elected by the taxpaying citizens of our community so we have some say in the matter. In the case of the NFTA, the taxpayer has no say about the people who serve. We do not have a clear idea of what their duties are or how long they serve or what the rate of compensation is. Is this current system, in one of the heaviest-taxed states in the union, the wisest use of our tax dollars?
World was different for today's retirees
In answer to the young person complaining about retirees who are upset over the lack of a cost-of-living increase in their Social Security, I am happy that at age 30 she is planning for retirement. When most retirees were her age, there was no push to save for retirement. People saved their $5, $10 or $20 at the corner bank, which may have paid as much as 5 percent interest. There were no 401(k)s, mutual funds or stocks to trade. Those things were only for the rich.
And make no mistake, people saved. In passbooks, and then CDs when they came out. They were relying on the interest paid on these to supplement their Social Security. Have you checked the interest that banks are paying on savings accounts and CDs today? My statement for December came the other day. Interest paid: 00.10 percent or 9 cents on $1,000. This has gone up, because in January it was 00.04 percent. See how far you get on 9 cents per $1,000. May her savings fare better.
There is nothing wrong with a polite correction
Add me to the list of people who cringe when they hear "you guys" from a server. If you don't bring it to the servers' attention, how will they know that it's offensive? There's nothing wrong with correcting someone politely. The last writer suggested not eating at that establishment again. It's a good idea -- I don't return if the server has a problem with my remarks.
County must demand prevailing wage rates
Let's be clear, Erie County Executive Chris Collins' recent attempt to pressure the Legislature to rescind job standards on projects financed by the Erie County Industrial Land Development Corp. will negatively impact our local economy and our work force if approved.
When it comes to quality job requirements like prevailing rate, Collins simply does not have his facts straight. According to a Business First article, the tax-exemptions given by the ILDC create savings of 50 percent or more on development projects. That same article cites Collins claiming that "prevailing wage costs will dwarf savings." He must not be aware of the fact that extensive research shows prevailing wages only minimally increasing project costs if at all. In other words, savings from exemptions dwarf prevailing wage costs.
One would also hesitate to use the word "cost" in association with prevailing wages. A prevailing wage standard creates a skilled work force through apprenticeship training programs that offer opportunities to women and minorities. It ensures a work force that is 20 percent more productive than lower-wage workers, while creating more local employment opportunities.
Construction companies that are not required to pay prevailing wages often bring in workers from out of state to work on local projects, paying lower wages and leaving local people without access to jobs. And these low-wage conditions are dangerous, reporting significantly higher numbers of injuries and fatalities in comparison to sites with prevailing rate standards.
Erie County needs jobs that protect workers, strengthen local communities, sustain healthy families and take the burden off of the taxpayer. The County Legislature should stand up for Western New York workers and communities by maintaining quality job standards.
Coalition for Economic Justice
Navy wrong to cave in to political correctness
With a maximum of two dozen people qualified to command big carriers, Navy desk jockeys have caved in to political correctness and beached one of them, Capt. Owen Honors. That ship was deployed for months. Let me tell you about deployment in a combat zone. There's no effective defense; there are only the weeks of mind-grinding tension, the moments of stomach-sucking fear.
Given time, old veterans can forget that, but our deployed soldiers and sailors are living it now. To relieve that deadly pressure, they let it boil out in rough language, they play very rough games. A good commander doesn't ban that, he manages it. It's worked for fighting men for a thousand years. It's beyond the comprehension of people who haven't been there and, barring criminal behavior, it's beyond their right to judge. When Honors walks off the base that last time, stand up and salute.
Why read Constitution if no one is listening?
What was the point of reading almost the entire Constitution of the United States of America in the House of Representatives if the members were not going to remain for the conclusion? The chamber was nearly empty at the end. Even the Speaker, John Boehner, left after reading the preamble.
Sandra W. Myers