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Everybody's Column

Albany should approve solar power legislation

Regarding the April 17 News editorial, "A solar economy," Albany has been talking about clean energy for ages, and the Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act represents the best real hope we have seen yet.

Sen. George Maziarz's bill will do more than just ease our dependence on foreign oil and protect ratepayers from rising energy prices. This legislation has the ability to transform Western New York's economy and finally put our state on track to become a clean-energy leader.

This is no small-potatoes initiative. It will create 22,000 jobs, generate $20 billion in economic activity and give New York the opportunity to enter the global solar power market in a very real way. The jobs created will be diverse, ranging across a broad spectrum of salary levels, skill and education requirements and employment fields. What's more, they will be local opportunities -- and extremely difficult to outsource.

New Jersey has exactly this kind of solar program in place, and that's why its residents have been reaping the financial rewards for years. New Jersey has six times as much solar energy capacity as New York already.

New York's lack of an assertive policy is a huge economic loss for the Empire State. The solar bill already has bipartisan support. It is expected to pass the Assembly in early May. In the Senate, Maziarz has been working to firm up support. This initiative also fits perfectly within Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign promise to help create a thriving clean-energy sector. In other words, there is no good reason New York can't get this bill done. All those years of rhetoric come down to this -- Albany must act today for a better, more prosperous tomorrow.

Marcia Bystryn

President, New York League of Conservation Voters


Hold elected officials to a higher standard

We provide the best pay, the best benefit package and the best retirement for our elected officials, their spawn and our public employees -- but all too often it is not enough. Apparently the slap on the wrist they receive from their cohorts when convicted of criminality is not enough to prevent their corruption and self-serving behavior.

I believe that those on the public dole should be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard. Maybe we need a "betrayal of public trust" law that would double (triple or quadruple) the punishment for those in public positions convicted of any crime. But that would take our legislators' approval and they are -- never mind.

John Grotke



Survey parishioners affected by closures

In The News article, "Mass exodus confounds diocese: Nominal Catholics shun services," Sr. Regina Murphy, director of research and planning for the Diocese of Buffalo, was reported as saying, "it still was too early to judge the impact of the diocese's restructuring of parishes on those numbers." The numbers referred to statistics about the estimated decline in number of practicing households between 2000 and 2010. She added: "At this point, departure because of anger over church closings appear to be 'relatively minimal.' We do know there was a loss, but it was not catastrophic."

As a canon lawyer in private practice, I have helped a number of parish groups and priests who opposed parish mergers and closings. Several of these groups conducted surveys as part of due diligence in obtaining information for their bishops. Four groups I have worked with, two within the Diocese of Buffalo, conducted surveys and established figures that between 20 percent and 50 percent of parishioners would no longer attend Mass if their parish closed. Post-closure surveys and reports given to me by colleagues and groups that did suffer the loss of their parishes indicate that these survey figures are accurate.

From the article, it would seem that Murphy is speculating. I wonder if anyone from the diocese has conducted a valid survey of all parishioners affected by parish closures to see what the real statistics are. Parishioners have, and they are alarmed.

Philip C. L. Gray

Hopedale, Ohio


Right is shifting blame for current debt crisis

There is a trend, introduced by a minority on the far right, to shift blame for our debt crisis to the public sector worker. The far right wants to reduce the size of government by eliminating many government jobs and spending programs. This trend is currently playing itself out in Wisconsin.

If you know what a CDO is, then consider yourself an informed voter by the author of this letter. If you don't know, then you need to get to a public library and ask that "evil" public sector librarian for help on locating a book explaining a CDO. Does anyone reading this really think some futuristic privatized library funded by Goldman Sachs will contain any books detailing the role collateral debt obligations (CDOs) played in the 2008 recession and the current debt crisis these Wall Street financial instruments left us, our children and grandchildren with?

My instincts tell me this country would be a scary place to live in if police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, food inspectors, district attorneys and many other government-funded jobs were eliminated and privatized out to the lowest corporate bidder.

Jay Surman



State must address high unemployment

This is in response to the My View column that appeared in this paper on April 14. Isn't it ironic that after a description from a young teacher complaining how hard it is for young educators to find meaningful work, that the answer lies with the picture to the left of the column?

It shows our state's current edition of the three men in a room -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. They are the ones who largely are responsible for the problem this young woman faces. I have a daughter who is currently working on her doctorate, and I doubt very much if she will ever find meaningful work in this area. As the young woman said, our children are the foundation of this country and they should be given every possible opportunity for success.

Sam Giarratano



Obama doesn't have what it takes for job

President Obama this past week was being thin-skinned and acting like a petulant child, proving to me that he is still a community organizer from Chicago and really did not have the gravitas to be president.

Frank A. Gugino Sr.

West Seneca

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