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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Indians do not have an unfair advantage

News items covering the sale of tobacco on Indian Nation property often cite owners of convenience stores as saying that the Indians have an unfair advantage over businesses that must collect taxes. Unfair advantage?

Can this unfair advantage be compared to the unfair advantage that the "riches seeking" explorers from industrially and educationally advanced European countries had over the original inhabitants of this "free" country of ours? As a matter of fact it was the Indians who helped starving settlers when they settled here after fleeing from religious oppression.

Can this unfair advantage be compared to the unfair advantage that convenience store owners may have over the original inhabitants of this "free" country of ours in having often corrupt lawmakers in their back pockets via huge campaign donations? Will convenience store owners hire the many nonnatives who may lose their means of support if the state rules in favor of the convenience store owners?

The Treaty of Canandaigua in 1794 found the United States promising the Iroquois that it would never interfere with Iroquois internal affairs or let any state take their country. But the broken treaties and broken promises continue. While the struggle continues for the descendents of this land's original inhabitants, they will not give up their inherent right of freedom to do what is rightfully their prerogative within their sovereign nations.

Perhaps it is time for term limits. Too many of our so-called public servants appear to be more interested in making servants of natives and nonnatives alike. It seems that the longer they stay in office, the more they take advantage of the power that goes with it. Maybe the government can level the playing field by stopping the selling of tobacco products altogether. Wouldn't that be a setback for the governor's plan to increase state revenues!

Leona (Reed) Gonzales




Fight was misdirected; let's reduce state taxes

James Calvin, executive director of the New York State Association of Convenience Stores, should not have wasted his 20-year battle to push the cigarette tax collections on the Indian tribes. Instead he should have fought the New York State Department of Taxation for imposing these obscene taxes on a legal product that drew in many customers. New York State killed the stores' businesses. Wake up!

Patricia M. Levorchick



Get the whole story before knocking Palin

The letter "Palin's statements never cease to amaze" put forth the typical liberal mentality, and that is to make anyone on the right look stupid. If the writer had continued to follow this story, he would have found out that a Boston historian had just told Sarah Palin that Paul Revere had in fact been captured that night by British soldiers. And he also had warned the soldiers about the patriots' plans.

So maybe the writer should listen to the whole story before he starts writing to The News to knock Palin, who is the left's favorite target.

William E. Bittner, M.D.



There's nothing funny about ignorance of facts

In the late '70s, John Belushi got plenty of laughs when he tried to rally his frat buddies in "Animal House" with the line, "Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" And when the end credits claimed his character later became Sen. John Blutarsky, it added a humorous note of absurdity to his clueless character. Now we have presidential candidates who are ignorant of basic facts about American history (and science) and it's not funny anymore.

David Group



It's none of our business how much Hycner earned

Once again I'm baffled by what The News considers newsworthy. While reading the June 12 "expose" about Cheektowaga Police Lt. Kenneth Hycner's retirement severance, I am forced to wonder what business it is of anyone but the lieutenant's family how much money he received.

I have no connection to Hycner other than being an appreciative Cheektowaga resident who received the benefit of the countless hours he spent doing his job instead of taking sick leave, vacation time and comp time, which he is legally and contractually entitled to. Fiscal responsibility by our town is certainly foremost in everyone's mind, but to hold an individual who did nothing wrong or illegal and spent his due leisure time on the job up to public scrutiny is a travesty to say the least.

Ray Ott



What on earth merits such incredible pay?

A lieutenant in the Cheektowaga Police Department was paid $292,899 for 2010. I guess I missed the part where he "leapt over tall buildings in a single bound." Will Cheektowaga be safe now that he's gone?

Dave O'Connor



'Sport bike' menace needs to be addressed

The recent double fatality accident on the I-290 should serve to focus attention on the issue of "sport bikes," motorcycles designed so that the driver hunches forward over the fuel tank. These motorcycles have intrinsic appeal for those who obtain psychological gratification from traveling at excessive speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

As one who drives many miles, I can safely assert that the sport bike driver who drives less than 15 miles over the posted speed limit is the exception rather than the rule.

Many of these drivers are confident of their ability to elude pursuing police vehicles. Some display the license plate at a 45-degree or greater angle, making it impossible for a pursuer to ascertain the plate numerals and letters.

I advocate three measures to combat the sport bike menace. First, any vehicle traveling in excess of 100 mph should be immediately confiscated for a period of at least 30 days. Prosecutors should be prohibited from offering any reduced plea in such cases.

Second, any vehicle that attempts to elude police at high speeds should be confiscated and permanently forfeited.

Third, the law pertaining to license plate display should be clarified, so as to make it illegal to display plates at an angle that obstructs their view.

While some will argue these measures are excessive, it is apparent that the current system of fines, with the remote probability of incarceration, is not adequate to combat the sport bike menace.

David R. Markus



Motorcyclists have to use common sense

Recent headlines brought us the horrific news of another senseless death of two young motorcyclists. I'll admit racing along at speeds in excess of 100 mph can be quite a thrill, but public highways are no place to get your thrills. All it takes is an imperfection in the road or a small piece of debris and you could be sliding and tumbling into a guardrail, another vehicle or maybe even one of your riding buddies. I love riding, but it's a dangerous world out on the highways. I've heard drivers say, "Oh, I don't pay attention to motorcycles." And that's a big problem. Motorists not paying attention to bikers is a recipe for disaster, and it's the biker who pays the price.

But there's another problem that needs to be addressed. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've seen young riders on so-called crotch rockets sitting at a light and when it turns green, they pop a wheelie through the intersection. Is your mission in life to become a hood ornament?

How many times have we seen bikes flying along, cutting between cars that are side by side. One little slip or a trailer mirror and your friends are going to be placing crosses along the highway. Getting stuck in traffic is annoying, but dead means you're never annoyed again.

Use a little common sense, remember that you have to watch twice as far ahead as in a car and anticipate the stupid moves some drivers make and you may get home in one piece. Give yourself twice the room you would in a car. Nothing will get your heart pounding like a muffler falling off the car in front of you or a big rig losing a tire cap. And the worst thing of all is those who say, "that could never happen to me." Our best protection is under that helmet -- use it!

William G. McAllister



Medicare is essential for many Americans

Medicare's value to Americans cannot be boiled down to a line in the budget, a fact that is clear to families all over the country, even if it eludes some inside the Washington Beltway ("Medicare 'as we know it' must end," Robert Samuelson, June 7 News). Part of that value is the peace of mind that comes from having a reliable source of health care in old age, something that would be jeopardized by the approach of Rep. Paul Ryan.

Yes, Medicare costs are rising too fast. But the answer is not to give seniors vouchers of diminishing value and then place them at the mercy of private insurers. The real way to contain Medicare costs is to address skyrocketing prices in the broader health care system by eliminating waste while preserving quality care. This essential goal will require reforms in payment and delivery of care, which will be tested under the Affordable Care Act and hopefully implemented throughout the whole health care system.

Samuelson is wrong to trivialize such important work as "tinkering," and he is cavalier about abandoning the protections of traditional Medicare in favor of the "radicalism" -- his term -- proposed by Ryan. Let's remember that we're talking about people's lives, not lines on a spread sheet.

John Rother

Executive Vice President, AARP


Albom's column was right on the money

I probably laughed more than I should at Mitch Albom's column on June 14. Thinking of a deviation of the old saw, "A little song, a little dance, a little camera down his pants," sure takes one's mind off high gas prices and unemployment.

Thanks Mr. Weiner!

Carol Thrun Nowicki

Orchard Park