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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Federal employees play vital role in community

In recent months, a great deal of misinformation has been circulating in the media and elsewhere -- much of it driven by elected officials -- that somehow the government can continue to provide the services the American people want and need while slashing federal budgets.

As president of Chapter 154 of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), I want to set the record straight. In our community, NTEU represents a large percentage of men and women serving the public as employees of a variety of federal agencies. We provide that service in a variety of ways, including services at Veterans Hospital (VA), distributing tax refunds (IRS), monitoring our financial systems (SEC), monitoring the food and medicine we consume (FDA) and monitoring the borders we live next to (CBP/BP/Coast Guard). The list goes on and on. They do so much of importance to the quality of life in our country.

What's more, federal employees are an integral part of our community. We pay taxes, shop locally, send our children to school with the children of our neighbors. Federal employees did not cause the current financial crisis impacting our country, and cutting their jobs will hurt our fragile recovery.

Our citizens require the services our agencies provide. That is why Congress should not make enormous cuts to the federal budget.

Mark Pukalo

East Aurora

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1st Source Servall growing in Buffalo

As recently reported, my company is embroiled in a contentious legal battle with Marcone APW, our main competitor in the appliance parts distribution industry. Marcone's lawsuit threatens to hurt a growing business in Buffalo.

Immediately after buying Buffalo-based AP Wagner, Marcone sent every Buffalo-based employee a letter warning of significant layoffs. Since then, Marcone has eliminated many of the local jobs. My company is investing locally and creating many jobs for the people in Buffalo. The claim that Marcone employs 100 people in Buffalo is exaggerated.

An appeals court has already granted a significant reversal of the decision that was reported. We are out-performing Marcone in the marketplace and local companies want to do business with us.

I believe Marcone has practically destroyed the brand of AP Wagner, which was once a proud third-generation, Buffalo-based industry leader, and wants to destroy the good name of our company. We hope that The News will give as much attention to this matter when we are vindicated by the appeals courts.

Kim Adler

CEO, 1st Source Servall

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Obama is ineffective; elect new chief in 2012

I hope President Obama, his wife and their two children had a wonderful time on their spring break in South America. I also read that Obama will be traveling to eastern Europe in May. I hear the Danube is beautiful in the spring. With all of his travel, it is amazing that the president has been able to squeeze in 60 rounds of golf since his inauguration.

Meanwhile, unemployment is still around 9 percent. There is no federal budget. Our national debt soars to new heights every day. The Middle East is in turmoil, and gasoline is now near $4 per gallon around here. Regarding the latter item, nothing has been done to remedy the problem. The administration is content to let prices spiral out of control,with no talk of opening up new avenues of drilling and/or exploration. This president, who has been propped up by the liberal media for two years, has proven to be the most ineffective leader we have had since Jimmy Carter. I doubt this administration can be fixed. It must be voted out of office in 2012.

George W. Radka

Elma

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We have a moral duty to help people in need

All thinking persons are concerned about our national budget and deficit. We do need a balanced approach. Do we need to punish the most vulnerable among us by cutting programs that help struggling people survive? Women and men religious in Western New York, along with many associates and volunteers, are ministering in soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, job training programs, services to victims of domestic violence and at-risk adolescents. They are in social services agencies, schools, hospitals, the list goes on.

Americans have a moral responsibility to assist people in need even as we debate balancing the budget. Many foreign policy and national security experts point out multiple ways in which the Pentagon budget can be cut more deeply without harm to national security. In fairness, should not legislators examine all government spending and make adjustments to benefit the common good? Let's not lose our compassion as we struggle for balance.

Sister Eileen O'Connor

Amherst

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Protesters have right to gather peacefully

The writer of the letter, "Wisconsin protesters are crossing the line," has unfairly complained of public service unions, calling them "mob-like" and suggesting they rule not through rational discussion and compromise but through "intimidation" and "threats."

Are the rights to free speech and assembly not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights? Historically people have often gathered peacefully to protest and convey what they believe to be unfair to the governing body, and history is again repeating itself in Wisconsin.

Union or non-union, it was always the people exercising their rights that changed the working conditions in America for the betterment of all. I salute the union workers (firemen, police, teachers, etc.) who are the fabric of the middle class and continue to make America great and strong.

Jim Busshart

West Seneca

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Suspended priest served his parishioners well

Relative to the recent News article, "Pastor given suspension on conduct with boy," my husband, Paul, and I attended a number of Masses offered by Father David Bialkowski and were inspired not only by the Mass, but by his eloquent sermons, which were significant reminders of Christ in our daily lives. How uplifting and encouraging he was when he spoke of God. Bialkowski is a remarkable man of God, one of spirit, courage, sacrifice, dedication and commitment to God. He has a deep sense of sacredness and due respect for those he serves.

"Go to all people, go to all nations, baptize them, teach them, make them disciples." The concept of Church is missionary and so it calls the listener "to be involved with people, to serve people, to give himself and to share what he has with them." Bialkowski does this extraordinarily well. It is a privilege to know him.

Josephine Fritton

Williamsville

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