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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Cuomo advancing changes that will harm health care

I wonder how many readers are aware that the governor of New York State is conducting end-runs around the legislative process, thereby eliminating our legislators and our voices through them? A law was passed last year that would give the public information about key quality indicators at hospitals (Nursing Care Quality Protection Act) such as medication errors, falls, staffing, etc.

Having this information allows the public to make informed decisions about where to go for treatment. This law cost the public and the hospitals zero dollars. The information is readily available at health care institutions as required for quality assurance and regulatory bodies. The governor put holding this bill in abeyance until 2012 into the budget. The Assembly took it out of its budget -- the governor and the Senate have not.

The governor also cut short the discussions of his Medicaid Redesign Team, forced a premature vote (which many members abstained from) and did what he wanted. He included Proposal 200, which states that licensed practical nurses can do patient assessments. This is not included in their education and is not included in their scope of practice. It also states that nurse's aides can pass medications and a new provider, medication technician, can be developed in nursing homes. This proposal subverts education and legislative law, leaving legislators and their constituents out of the legislative process. These are only two issues. I wonder how many other end-runs around the law are buried in the hundreds of pages of the budget?

Janice Howard, R.N. M.S.

LeRoy

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High-paid CEOs need to create jobs in U.S.

The March 16 pity-wealthy-taxpayers letter perpetuates the fallacy that "high-income earners" are currently taxed fairly. In 1960, a CEO's income was 42 times higher than the average worker. By 2000, the ratio increased to 531-to-1. This growth in avarice has not been reflected in the tax code. Perhaps if CEOs used their abundance of riches to create jobs here instead of outside the United States, and paid their employees good wages and good benefits, the number of "low-income and no-income earners" would decline. Then the writer wouldn't have to worry about the wealthy being taxed so unfairly.

Cathleen Mann

Cheektowaga

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Crumbling grain silos aren't worth preserving

A recent News article, titled "Wonders from our past," describes an upcoming Travel Channel episode that aims to reveal one of the so-called intriguing sites from Buffalo's glory days: The grain elevators in the Old First Ward.

How exciting! Not only do we have residents who want to preserve these decaying, crumbling, rat-infested structures, we now invite the Travel Channel to show the world what we're trying to hang on to. I can hardly wait to see the traffic jams flocking to the area just to see them after the show airs.

Local entrepreneur and historian Mark Goldman said: "This could be the Silo Drive-in Theater. You would [pack] this place in the summertime." This area has long since evolved beyond movies under the stars. Gone are the multiscreen establishments like the Buffalo, Wehrle, Aero and Boulevard drive-ins.

There are many old area treasures worth preserving, such as the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where community members got together and made the restoration happen. People are now willing to visit and pay the admission fee. In fact, business is up 25 percent since the new addition was added. The Art Gallery and Historical Museum left over from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition are other examples of past treasures worth preserving. But grain silos? I don't think so.

As for preserving the history of the silo period, that's what photographs and history books are for.

Dennis Occhino

Kenmore

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Many members disagree with UUP's position

I find it highly frustrating that the president of United University Professionals, Phillip H. Smith, presents himself as representing the opinions of State University of New York faculty members (i.e., UUP members) in continuing his stance against the SUNY flexibility measures that are on the table with state government (Another Voice, March 19 News).

As a UUP member, to my knowledge no effort has been made by the union to actually poll the opinions of the faculty members who are its constituents, at least at the University at Buffalo. When I visit the UUP website, there is a link to express opposition to the flexibility measures, and when one selects that link there is a prepared letter against the measures that automatically goes to one's state legislators. No option is presented that allows a member to express support for the measures.

The UUP seems simply to be against budget cuts, and against reasonable mechanisms for campuses to deal with the cuts, most of which have already happened. The UUP argument that the flexibility measures would make college education unaffordable does not hold water -- especially compared to the random way that the Legislature can now enact dramatic, unexpected hikes in tuition, the funds from which mostly do not return to the campuses. Readers should be aware that UUP's official opinions may not reflect the opinions of the majority of its members.

Greg Valentine

Williamsville

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State office workers earn far below average

I would like to comment on the front-page article on New York State's public employee salaries. The News says that the average state worker's salary is $63,750. I happen to know that is simply not true for the office workers; i.e., the clerks, secretaries, etc.

Their salaries are usually less than half of the above-mentioned salary. Of course, if you average in the huge salaries of the highly paid administrators, you may well come up with that figure. The same thing goes for the fringe benefits that are mostly tied in to the salary.

State employees today are covering the work of others who have retired, quit, etc., and have not been replaced. It is not fair to blame the New York State budget crisis on these hard-working people.

Gina C. Kankiewicz

Amherst

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Time to get to work, improve city's image

Asking New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for an apology is petty. As much as it has to offer, Buffalo is far from perfect. We should be spending less time attacking the people criticizing us and more time figuring out why they hold that view in the first place.

Matthew Mancini

East Amherst

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