Over the last week, the editorial board of The Buffalo News met with policy-makers and leaders and researched, analyzed and debated issues affecting this community. Here's a summary of the week's editorials, which can be read in full on our Web pages:
Sunday: We observed the start of Sunshine Week by noting that the revolutions sweeping the Arab world show all people thirst for power over their own lives. Without open government, that's impossible. The editorial observed instances in local, state and national governments where officials seek to withhold information from the public. We called for stronger "sunshine" laws and for a workable federal shield law for journalists.
Monday: We criticized the comments of Daniel Cunningham, head of the union representing Buffalo firefighters. Frustrated over stalled contract talks, Cunningham threatened to encourage his members to select the city's most costly health insurance plan, which would amount to an $2.5 million attack on taxpayers. We noted that in 2008, the union rejected a contract that would have provided raises of 20 percent over five years.
Tuesday: The day's lead editorial questioned the unexplained growth in non-union administrators in the Buffalo school district, even as it confronts a financial crisis. We noted that, if job cuts must come, these administrators cannot be exempt. A second editorial mourned the unexpected death of former Buffalo Sabres player Richard Martin, a member of the famed French Connection line.
Wednesday: With criminal charges filed against two state legislators from Brooklyn, we noted once again the desperate need for ethics reform in Albany. Until that happens -- and for that matter, even after -- law enforcement authorities at all levels should make it their business to turn up the shady dealings that, we have no doubt, are still going on.
Thursday: In the aftermath of the multiple disasters in Japan -- a massive earthquake, a catastrophic tsunami and the threat of nuclear contamination -- we noted this region's natural impulse to help. We cautioned that fund-raising scams are already being reported and noted a variety of ways donors can verify that they are giving to a legitimate charity. A second editorial called upon unions in the Niagara Falls City School District to give serious thought to a request that they agree to a pay freeze in the face of a potential $9 million budget deficit that could require the elimination of 130 jobs, 68 of them teachers.
Friday: We celebrated the appointment of Satish K. Tripathi as the 15th president of the University at Buffalo. As one of the architects of the UB 2020 program, Tripathi has already shown himself to be a leader and is well suited to the challenges ahead. A second editorial supported the decision of Erie County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz to authorize payment of a $99,000 annual salary for the county attorney rather than the $150,000 sought by County Executive Chris Collins. The Legislature lowered the amount during the budget debate and it is all the county can legally pay.