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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Bloomberg was correct in his assessment of city

I read New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's comments about Buffalo last week. When I thought about what he said, I had to admit that he was correct in his assessment. We would love to have the problems he was talking about.

We would love to have a steady influx of new residents. We'd love to have the plethora of jobs that draws people to New York. We'd love to have fewer vacant houses and a demand for housing. We'd love to have neighborhoods like Tribeca, where abandoned commercial space was turned into a thriving neighborhood, doubling the residential population in 20 years. We'd love to see that formula repeated again, as was the case in the transformation of the Meatpacking District in New York.

Remember, Bloomberg was talking at a forum about housing and neighborhood development. He was right about Buffalo having a lot of open space. We have a plethora of vacant buildings that are sitting in neighborhoods that have been in decline for decades. Maybe that is why he said, "Buffalo would love to have our problems, and one of the challenges in this country is how we help a city like Buffalo."

If anyone can honestly say that we don't wish we had a better job market that drew more people, or that we had such a demand for housing that we were renovating buildings and transforming entire areas to serve those residents, then that would be a shock to me.

Also, remember that the mayor of the largest city in the United States does not ride in a police-chauffeured car to work, he takes the subway, like millions of other residents. Bloomberg has always said that you need to get out and meet the people every day and hear their concerns and worries and take the jabs and the comments that go with the job. Maybe that's why he is still the mayor, and not because no one will run against him.

Jeremy Lewis

Buffalo

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Poverty is key factor in educational crisis

It has been disturbing to watch the parade of right-wing politicians and pundits exulting over the vicious attacks on public education in Wisconsin and other states. But really, it should come as no surprise. For decades, they have tried to convince us that our education system is failing; that we rank near the bottom in educational achievement relative to the rest of the world. The public education system and the dreaded teachers union are to blame, and our only hope is to privatize education. But let's look at the facts.

In 2006, research conducted by the Program in International Student Assessment found the U.S. ranking 29th of 40 developed nations in science and 35th in mathematics. However, a more detailed look at the data shows how economic and racial inequality affects these scores. When looking at only white and Asian students, the U.S. scores above average for industrialized nations. In contrast, when African-American and Latino students are included, the United States falls to the bottom of the rankings. Additionally, the U.S. ranks 45th of 55 nations for having one of the largest gaps in test scores between rich and poor students.

This disparity should come as no surprise to Western New Yorkers. Look at Business First's annual ranking of our region's top-performing school districts. Consistently, the top 10 includes the area's wealthiest districts while schools located in the poorest communities routinely rank near the bottom.

The undeniable fact is that poverty is the real culprit in any education crisis existing in our country. The truly terrifying thought is that the right-wing politicians know this and must also be aware that corporate-backed privatization of education will devastate the poor and minority communities and make the already appalling gap between rich and poor insurmountable.

George Bushey

Lancaster

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Democratic spending is totally out of control

How surprising to read in The News that Reps. Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter report people "from Buffalo and beyond are shouting loud on the side of spending." In looking at maps of their respective congressional districts, it is obvious that they largely represent people in Rochester, Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Our large urban areas have become cesspools of entitlement programs, and the beneficiaries of these programs wish to keep receiving "their" money, no matter what the cost to our once great country.

I for one have stopped contacting Higgins, who is my congressman, because every time I urge him to make a rational decision on an important matter, he sides with the House Democratic leadership to continue high taxation and to merrily send us on the way to bankrupting the nation. I will admit that he always responds to my pleas with a nice, polite letter or an e-mail explaining why he voted the way he did.

The problem with this is that not a single one of these communications has made any sense whatsoever. I might just as well be reading a missive from President Obama, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid explaining why my children and grandchildren will have a lesser standard of living due to the Democrats' passing of the major legislation of our day, such as Obamacare.

For some reason, these people just don't get it. Even though the federal government won't run out of money because it prints the money, spending huge amounts of money that we don't have makes no sense. We can't continue to go on this way. My children and grandchildren have done nothing to deserve the future that these people are creating for them.

Chuck Godfrey

Cheektowaga

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Watson's column hit the nail on the head

Rod Watson's column titled "Let's separate idea from its suspect source" was superb. His thought process -- taking apart what Jack Davis said, what it actually meant versus how it was misconstrued and magnified for political reasons -- causes a thoughtful reader to think about what is actually happening.

When Republicans have not shown much concern for the plight of middle- and lower-class unemployed and underemployed, but are thunderstruck at a perceived slight against a minority, who is truly suspect? The undiplomatic, non-politician who expresses a good idea in a poor fashion, or the individuals who exploit this incident because they are against his common-sense position to remedy the failing supply-side trade and economic policy and want to exclude him and his proven ideas from the voting process?

The fact that voters are not getting a choice with three political parties in the 26th District concerning this vital economic issue is clear evidence that the privileged 1 percent is absolutely determined not to give up its 20 percent share of the nation's wealth, no matter what these people have to do and how much our nation declines.

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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