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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Protesters have a right to voice their opinions

I was rather amused by the letter, "Wisconsin protesters crossed the line." It reminded me of the saying: When my team does it, they're noble players caught up in the spirit of the game. When your team does it, they're a bunch of thugs!

Apparently he forgot about the tea party protesters who behaved like lynch mobs that had forgotten their rope. But that was his team.

What the protesters and the Wisconsin Democrats are against is the naked power grab masquerading as "fiscal responsibility" by Gov. Scott Walker. His budget had as much to do with balancing the budget as the cast of "Jersey Shore" does with responsible drinking. It was filled with rewards for friends, and punishments for enemies.

So where did the protesters cross the line? I saw no cars overturned and on fire. No buildings vandalized, no violence, no mass arrests. They just disagree strongly with their Republican regime. I'm pretty sure that's not a crime, though it seems the right wing wishes to make it one.

Larry Schultz

Springville

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Let's work to prevent, treat substance abuse

The News series, "A journey to disaster," is a sad but much-needed wake-up call on the dangers of addiction. Untreated, this disease, which afflicts one in 10 Americans, wreaks havoc on our families and communities, and costs too many lives each year. To combat addiction, we must give prevention and treatment the attention and funding they deserve.

To that end, New Yorkers -- and all Americans -- would do well to urge their leaders to support strong implementation of the historic Wellstone/Domenici Parity Act of 2008 and health care reform law, which require equal coverage of substance use prevention and treatment.

Just like diabetes and heart disease, addiction is a potentially fatal disease that we can, and should, work to prevent. It's the only way to save the William Jakobis, Victoria Eikenburgs and Adam Tafelskis of the future.

Paul N. Samuels

Director and President

Legal Action Center

New York City

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Silver is out of touch with upstate realities

Much has been written and discussed about upstate versus downstate, the have and have-not communities and the dysfunctional state government, but nothing epitomizes the problems of New York more than the bias and spiteful attitude of Sheldon Silver. As Assembly speaker, he rules state government with an iron fist from his lower Manhattan district, an area that has enjoyed prosperity while much of the Empire State is mired in an economic malaise and increasing taxes. His perspective is skewed due to the fortunes of both his district and personal wealth, putting him out of touch with the realities and necessities required to resolve many of the problems occurring from Westchester to Western New York.

Robin Schimminger has represented Western New York in the Assembly for 35 years, and has earned his position as Economic Development Committee chairman through his tenure, knowledge and experience. Along with being a strong proponent of lower taxes, incentives for businesses and protection for homeowners, he has been a political ally of Silver. But after standing with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and opposing a tax proposed by Silver, Schimminger was left off of the panel to examine the economic development portion of the 2011 budget.

This is not just a slap in the face to Schimminger and Western New York. It is a reminder that the welfare of the state is secondary to the needs and whims of those who hold onto power. The battle for ultimate control of New York's destiny is imminent between Cuomo and Silver, and it is difficult to bet against Silver's victory based on his history and take-no-prisoners attitude. Regardless of the outcome, I applaud Schimminger for voting with his conscience.

E. Alice Miranda

President, Buffalo Niagara

Association of Realtors

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Stop trying to restrict women's abortion rights

Once again the Republican Party, which constantly campaigns on smaller and less-intrusive government, has passed a bill severely restricting a woman's right to an abortion. This procedure has been legal in the United States for almost 40 years and has been upheld by many Supreme Court decisions.

Imagine the outcry by the tea party and Republicans if a Democrat signed a law restricting gun ownership rights or men's access to a cancer screening test. Fox News would be on the air 24 hours a day with protests by these groups. Hopefully, a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood or another women's rights organization will prevent this law from taking effect.

Once again, it is primarily a male effort to control the right of a woman's choice. When men start having babies, then we can pass legislation to control birth rights. Until that happens, please leave this very emotional choice entirely up to the woman involved.

Mark Muchowski

Orchard Park

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New York needs to keep moratorium on fracking

After reading Douglas Turner's March 21 piece about environmental hysteria, I am very thankful to the ever credible League of Women Voters which, with UB Green, is presenting free screenings of the 2010 award-winning documentary film "Gasland." The remaining screenings are March 28, March 30 and April 14. The League of Women Voters has a reputation of careful, concerned research on numerous issues.

"Gasland" is a documentary film on hydraulic fracturing, a process to force out natural gas by drilling a vertical well, turning it horizontally and pumping down millions of gallons of fluid containing toxic chemicals. Thanks to an amendment to the Safe Water Drinking Act signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005, these fluid injections are not regulated or monitored. States where hydraulic hydrofracturing is used have reported ground water and stream contamination, well-water contamination and air pollution. Reports of illness and contaminated water for residents living near these wells have been increasing.

Does Turner recall Love Canal? Would he have labeled Love Canal residents hysterical? When I saw "Gasland," the first thing I thought of was Love Canal, and not just in one location.

New York State has a moratorium on hydrofracking until June, when the Department of Environmental Conservation is due to complete its revision of a supplemental environmental impact statement.

After seeing "Gasland" and reading about hydrofracking and its impacts, there is no way that I could support it. I just ask myself, do I want to read about more contaminated waterways and more Love Canals? We need to keep our state moratorium on hydrofracking. Let's be smart with our energy, environment and public health.

Leona Rockwood

Lake View

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