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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Funerals help survivors deal with their emotions

Shame on the author of the letter, "Dog's memorial service was really over the top." We won't even consider the fact that Rocky probably gave more love and devotion to his family and job than most people will ever give. What we should consider is who funerals are for. I have been around longer than I care to admit and I have never seen a deceased person (or dog) walk into a funeral to pay his respects. Funerals are for the living to assist in dealing with emotions.

In early November, I required the assistance of a state trooper after a deer jumped into the side of my vehicle. That kind young man could have been killed or seriously injured several times over by the traffic flying past while he was assisting me. I can't imagine dealing with a job like that on a daily basis. I'm sure there are many more hazards all officers have to deal with. If those who are sworn to serve and protect us need a funeral like Rocky's to help them deal with the emotions of their difficult careers, assuming they were being paid, I for one would be more than happy to pay my share of their salary while they attended that funeral.

Jeanette Andrews



Memorial service was fitting send-off

This letter is in response to the one regarding the funeral held for Rocky, the Niagara County police dog killed in a fall from a building. What the writer fails to realize is that this was not just any dog -- this dog was on duty as a member of the police force. He is thus entitled to be accorded the same privileged burial as any other officer of the law, or firefighter, for that matter. He was trained to serve the community and did so in a loyal and competent matter for all of his too-short life.

Rocky did not "cause his own death because he was unable to think." He died because he was extremely focused on his job, and that required an awful lot of thinking. Four legs or two, tradition was rightly followed with a fitting send-off for a boy in blue. My sympathies go out to his family and to his fellow officers.

Tracey Palmer



Rocky's contributions should be acknowledged

The general population's ignorance about emergency response and first responders was never more apparent than in the Dec. 23 letter "Dog's memorial service was really over the top." Rocky was a K-9, a partner who had bonded with his handler and kept him far safer than if he were to work alone. K-9s, accelerant detection dogs, search-and-rescue dogs and even therapy dogs perform unmatched services to their human communities. It is a shame that the letter writer is so within himself that he is unaware of these important contributions.

Craig Thrasher

East Aurora


Police officers depend on their K-9 partners

In response to the heartless letter describing the memorial service for Rocky, the K-9 police dog, I have to say this to the author: You are obviously not a true animal lover, nor do you have any experience with how much police officers depend on and respect their service dogs -- their partners. These dogs save lives, catch criminals and find innocent, missing people. These dogs put their handlers and owners first. They give unconditional love, work hard, protect, serve and are more intelligent than many people. If the police officers felt that Rocky deserved that type of memorial service, that is their right and their call.

Michelle Coates



Find ways to restore cuts made by NFTA

The revenue shortfalls at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and the announcement of cutbacks have me wondering if the NFTA is going to be cutting back on middle managers and senior-level employees or just the transit police and the routes that allow public transportation users to get to and from work? It would be interesting to know how many from the management side of the NFTA will be losing their jobs or at least taking a pay cut to help close this budget gap.

It is the transit police who help make the subway and the buses safer and it is the route system that allows people to get to their jobs and keep the economy here limping along. It would be nice to have The News or some other organization look behind the curtain to see where else some cuts could come from to help restore some of the routes and the transit police.

Once again it is the many lower-income members of this community and those who prefer to take public transportation who are going to suffer the most because of a budget shortfall and perhaps some mismanagement at the NFTA. Someone other than the NFTA leadership should look to see where other cuts can be made. I would hope that there are no salary increases or bonuses being paid this year or for the next couple of years to the management of the NFTA. That would be a travesty. Everyone should share the pain of this situation.

Steve Gandel



Cut fares, add routes to increase ridership

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is faced with a $14.7 million deficit and in good conscience did not increase fares. Officials decided instead to cut service.

Let's step back and take a look at the reason for public transit. It is to provide basic transportation for citizens to get to work, recreation, medical visits, education, etc.

Low-cost, efficient public transportation should be a primary goal in this or any community. Increased use of public transportation will not only serve to reduce energy consumption but also will reduce traffic loads on overcrowded highways.

Making good, cheap public transportation a basic necessity needs to be supported by all entities -- local, state and federal. Fares should be reduced and routes added. Public transportation needs to be so cheap and efficient that ridership will increase as a natural course of events.

Providing the cheapest and best transportation system possible must be the ultimate goal. The options of increased fares and/or reduced service are absolutely contrary to the need for affordable public transportation for all citizens.

It may be necessary to divert funds from other programs and allocations to do this, many of which are superfluous and not in keeping with the concept of maximum benefit for the greatest number of citizens.

Let us support the truly necessary public expenditures for the greatest good to all people.

Philip F. Frandina

Former Erie County Commissioner of Public Works



Free college tuition sends wrong message

The idea of awarding city students who graduate high school free college tuition is not only a joke, but a slap in the face of any suburban student and his or her family. These kids graduate, too, (without being bribed) but where is their free ride? Why should they be saddled with student loans for the next 20 years of their adult lives?

I thought you were supposed to go to school and graduate. If this program does continue, at least put conditions on it, such as attendance levels and grade point average for both high school and college. The best lesson you could teach is that if you work hard, then you can get college assistance. They used to be called scholarships, but I guess now all you have to do is show up.

This is just another example teaching kids to be just good enough. Certainly don't try, it will be handed to you anyway. Sorry, being just good enough doesn't cut it.

David Schaff



A noble objective with serious flaws

Can someone explain how the promise of free college tuition is going to improve high school graduation rates and student performance in the Buffalo Public Schools? In a system with high absenteeism, how is the ideal of delayed gratification going to be viewed as significant?

Don't get me wrong, the privately funded Buffalo Promise Scholarship program has a noble objective, but let's consider a few factors. Most students who perform poorly do so because they don't see the relevancy of school work, have minimal or no support at home and do not perceive the value of education. The chance for an education is a means toward self-determination and a better life. But how is the promise of paid tuition an incentive when this opportunity isn't appreciated and college is a foreign concept? And what do we tell those who fail to get accepted at an institution of higher learning?

For the economically disadvantaged who do perform well, there are already a host of scholarships and assistance programs to fund post-secondary education, as there should be. So are we really left with the sole premise that college is the solution to help all these inner-city kids?

Why not help them find relevancy now, during their high school years, by combining academics with vocational learning. By partnering with the trade unions, health care providers and technology companies, students can gain real-time achievement they can be proud to share with others. These intrinsic accomplishments might help them to recognize that school can provide tangible skills and a path to productive employment -- with or without college.

For the vast majority who live with daily poverty and despair, simply holding out the carrot of free college tuition is too alien a notion to be grasped by more than a few -- and reaching only a few isn't going to help the many who need more than that promise.

Martin E. Mutka



Occupy protesters merit some applause

Could anything make the case for Occupy more perfectly than this? The CEO of the New York City corporation that owns One HSBC Center is "affronted" by the "hordes" in the square and figures that his money gives him the right to tell our mayor to evict the Buffalonians who have committed their days and nights to fight for the rest of us.

For those who may have missed it, their central message is that our federal and state governments have been bought and paid for by the big corporations. We don't have as much money as Stephen Fitzmaurice, but we do live, work, vote and pay taxes in Buffalo. We implore Mayor Byron Brown and the Common Council to show that our city is not for sale to the banks.

Before Occupy, was anybody talking about the cancer of corporate money devastating our democracy? Before Occupy, did anybody expect to stop the so-called congressional super committee from stealing our Social Security and Medicare to pay for tax giveaways for millionaires? Did anybody expect Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce even a slightly fairer tax structure after swearing to leave the 1 percent alone? Much, much more still needs to be done, but already the protesters' accomplishments are amazing, and we all should be grateful to them.

Chris and Toni Wilson



Postal Service is at a disadvantage

I opened my mailbox last week and was surprised to find a package from UPS inside. Wondering how UPS got a key to my box, I asked the mailman how this could happen. The postman informed me that he delivered the package. I asked how it was possible that the U.S. Postal Service was delivering for UPS. He answered that it was common for him to deliver its packages. No wonder the post office is broke -- UPS can deliver through the Postal Service, charge its customers a higher rate and make a profit. UPS cleverly uses its competitor against itself, and the people pay the price.

John Nostrant