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Everybody's Column

Solar power project at UB makes little economic sense

An article in the April 24 News mentioned the opening of a solar array on the University at Buffalo's North Campus. The cost of the project, $7.5 million, was funded from the State Power Authority. What got my attention was the savings in energy costs per year, which was projected to be about $60,000. A little math shows that the pay-back for the installation would be 125 years.

I have a few questions: I wonder who made the decision to spend taxpayer money on a project with such a long pay-back? I wonder if the yearly cost of maintaining the facility (salaries, replacement equipment, etc.) exceeds the savings in power per year? I wonder if any solar-powered facility using current technology can be operated for a profit here in Western New York, given our climate? I wonder if this facility wouldn't operate better if it were placed in Arizona or Nevada, i.e, places that get a lot of sun? Why couldn't that $7.5 million be given back to the consumer in the form of cheaper electricity rates instead of a project that will never pay back the cost of its capital?

This has all the markings of a project that, while on the surface looks good and makes everyone feel good, makes little to no economic sense for our area. Oh wait, that's right, it's the Power Authority -- I forgot.

Larry Fertel

Orchard Park


College Board will not share students' photos

The recent McClatchy article, "Cheating forces increased security at tests," inaccurately describes last year's college entrance exam cheating scandal on Long Island as an SAT-specific occurrence. In fact, these unfortunate cases involved both the SAT and the ACT.

Under the new security enhancements designed to eradicate test-taker impersonation, students will be required to upload a photo during the registration process. But the College Board, the non-profit education membership organization that operates the SAT, will not under any circumstance send students' photos to colleges, as suggested in the article.

The SAT was created to democratize access to higher education. It has served as an integral part of the admission process for more than 85 years because it provides students the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness for college regardless of their background, part of the reason why we would never do anything to jeopardize access and equity for all students aspiring to attend college.

Kathleen Steinberg

Executive Director, Communications

The College Board


Traffic light isn't needed at Clarence intersection

The Erie County Department of Public Works is undertaking a major "improvement project" at the intersection of Greiner and Shimerville roads in Clarence. A public meeting was held on Aug. 29, 2007, because there had been numerous accidents. The county was pushing for a roundabout. It was made abundantly clear by the 75 or 80 of us who attended that this was not an option we would consider and it was withdrawn from the table. So the intersection, originally a two-way stop, was upgraded to an all-way stop. Since that time, the number of accidents has decreased, and traffic has moved smoothly and efficiently.

Now the Department of Public Works is stating that the number of accidents has increased, and that 13,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily, but has provided no verifiable data to substantiate that assertion. As a result, construction has begun to widen the intersection, create turning lanes and put a signal in place of the all-way stop. Those of us who live at the corner will lose some of our property as a result.

There have been no fatalities at this intersection. The speed limits are posted at 35 and 40 miles per hour. There is clearly no reason to make this innocuous intersection into a monstrosity with turning lanes. A signal will cause traffic to back up and idle for excessive periods of time. I am also concerned that the signal will cause a spike in accidents because drivers will accelerate to get through the amber light to avoid sitting at a red light.

I urge town residents to voice their concerns to our elected officials and urge them to pursue whatever legal means are necessary to put a halt to this project until the county provides the citizens with accurate and verifiable data concerning this intersection.

Kay Adamczak



Diplomacy is essential to avoid war with Iran

In a recent Another Voice column, Greg Slabodkin, former editor of Inside the Air Force, argues that the United States will ultimately become drawn into a military conflict with Iran. One can only hope Slabodkin's former publication holds little influence with today's policy makers and politicians. The last 100 years have shown almost every nation, including the United States, that has chosen military belligerence and accepted the inevitability of military conflict has not fared very well in the postwar era.

Every nation involved in World War I became a different nation from what it was prior to involvement. World War II was a direct descendant of that conflict; and every nation emerged from the conflict shaken to its core. North Korea chose belligerence in 1950. So did Sadam Hussein in Kuwait in 1990. The United States chose belligerence in Iraq in 2003; and we find ourselves in insurmountable debt, with the outcome of one party wanting to put the burden on the least of our citizenry by cutting our social safety net. We have become mean-spirited toward our own while thumping our military chests for dubious goals.

Slabodkin throws out as just a matter of course that the United States will engage in war with a nation of 80 million people covering 650,000 square miles. No possibility of negotiation is even broached. Our military had a long history of being for our defense and only for our defense. How have we ever developed a lobby that sees it for adventure with no connection to the defense of the United States?

Larry S. Fallon

West Seneca


Most moms who work do so out of necessity

In reference to the April 26 column in The News by Lori Borgman, her comments were incredibly naive. To compare her grandmother raising eight children with all of the laundry, cleaning, etc., to Ann Romney raising five sons with all of the staff she wanted is absurd.

Romney is not to be faulted -- she was a splendid mother. But most women I know work because they need the income to pay for rent and food. After they work outside the home, they come home to do the cooking, laundry and cleaning. My mother was a case in point.

The Rev. John A. Buerk