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Everybody's Column

Honor Flight would put extra funds to good use

I read with interest that former congressman Chris Lee is returning donations from his campaign to the donors who helped support his re-election campaign. While in office in October 2010, Lee met with a group of World War II veterans in Washington, D.C., visiting the World War II Memorial dedicated to their service. Our organization, Honor Flight Buffalo, has provided this trip free of charge and transported 52 of these heroes in June and September 2010, with 54 more slated to visit their memorial in May and June and hopefully 50 to 100 more this fall. We do not provide these trips for publicity, but rather to honor our veterans.

Approximately 900 American World War II veterans die every day. Time is not on our side to continue our mission -- to allow every World War II veteran in Erie and Niagara counties the trip of a lifetime. Honor Flight Buffalo would be pleased to be the recipient of Lee's "extra funds," and I am sure other non-profit veterans groups in the community would, too, because many of these organizations are struggling with budget cuts.

Lee witnessed firsthand what this one-day trip means to our local veterans. If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a World War II veteran before it's too late. Let's keep our veterans flying.

Lisa A. Wylie

President

Honor Flight Buffalo

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Keep a watchful eye on Net tobacco sales

I recently read an article about how New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been busting some website operators for selling tobacco products to minors over the Internet. Back in the spring of last year, President Obama signed the PACT Act, which bans trafficking of tobacco products via our U.S. Postal Service and requires retailers to follow a simple list of requirements before making a legal sale of tobacco products online.

Of course, there are many who continue shady business tactics aimed at addicting our children. These folks are trying to slip under the radar via websites that are easily accessed by minors, thus allowing them to make the purchases and deliver the product without even verifying age.

I am glad that we have people like Schneiderman and the members of the New York State Tobacco Control Program to help keep our children safe from big tobacco.

Robert Turpin

Buffalo

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Reform laws governing local officials' conduct

In the recent News article on downsizing, Evans officials would have readers believe that board members are overworked and underpaid. If this were true, why are they all running for re-election? The councilman who describes difficulties he attributes to downsizing would face the same challenge on a 100-man board since business hours at the Town Hall overlap his work day as a full-time teacher.

Town officials are quick to blame Kevin Gaughan, but they ignored recommendations on managing the town after downsizing. The downside of downsizing is that open government and transparency have fallen victim to a consolidation of power. Residents can no longer speak "on the record" at board meetings. Written communication with the board has been removed from the agenda. One day before the first scheduled meeting of 2011, the board approved a $343,000 lease for vehicles and equipment that didn't make it into this year's budget. The board has replaced public Town Board meetings with work sessions that deny residents an opportunity to ask questions.

Board members are more interested in bigger pensions, extra paychecks and Cadillac full-time benefits for part-time councilmen than true public service. Budget games trump accurate financial disclosure so they can claim they didn't raise taxes when campaigning for re-election. It is unlikely that politicians who benefit from the status quo will fix the problems that make Evans unattractive to new homeowners and businesses. As population declines and businesses close, the politicians would have residents believe that the same approach will have different results.

What's the solution? Maybe after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cleans up Albany, he'll turn his efforts to cleaning up local government. Overhauling state law that governs the conduct of local officials is long overdue.

Edward G. Schneider III

Evans

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Japan's nuclear workers are on a mission for life

The televised evening news referred to the workers inside the damaged nuclear plant in Japan as being on a "suicide mission." In such a context, the term suicide is inappropriate. Great harm is being done to the environment, not to be remedied for centuries to come, and posing serious health risks to humans and all other creatures.

The workers who volunteered have a mission for sure, but a mission for life, not death. They are striving to lessen the harm to their land and their people and the whole earth community. In the Christian Scriptures Jesus says: "No greater love does one have than to lay down his life for his friends." The workers may be motivated by a different belief system, but the effect is the same. Their mission is a mission of love.

Sister Donna M. Lord

Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart

Buffalo

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Japanese response to tragedy is amazing

As we watch the horrifying tragedy in Japan, it is amazing to see how these people deal with adversity. The dignity and respect they have shown each other is truly astounding. Nothing like the murders, rapes and looting that took place after Katrina.

Lynn M. Avery

West Seneca

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Don't punish all Muslims for the actions of a few

I was really upset by the Senate hearings about Muslims in America. I am an American and I am a Muslim. This country gave me everything from education to security. I also listened to the sobbing speech of Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison and that made me cry, too. Don't forget we are Americans, too. American Muslims gave their lives not only in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but also in the Sept. 11 attacks. Don't punish the whole religion just because of a few culprits.

We as a nation are already suffering a lot. I know that most of us are still open-minded and welcoming. We don't want to go back to the era when Africans were slaves and Native Americans were displaced. As a teacher, I hope we learn our lesson from history and prosper our future together with unity, because a fist is stronger than a finger alone.

Shahzad Malik

Buffalo

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