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Everybody's Column

It's hard to tell difference between bribes, donations

I sat here chuckling after reading the article in the May 9 News, "Democrats return Walmart gift," because the corporation has been accused of bribing Mexican officials. The article states, "the Democrats are trying to fund this year's gathering without million-dollar donations from corporations." But they will accept money from labor unions to fill the gap.

What is the difference between bribes and donations? The denotation of bribe is: "Money or valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person, especially in that person's performance as an athlete or public officer. Anything given or serving to persuade or induce." The denotation of donation is: "An act or instance of presenting as a gift, grant or contribution." The denotation of lobbyist is, "A person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest."

I'm confused. I consider myself of average intelligence, but aren't lobbyists or people who give money (of course they are donations, not bribes) to politicians trying to influence their voting or views (isn't that corrupting their behavior) on a political issue? The old adage says that when American soldiers killed Native Americans, it was a "battle won." When Native Americans killed American soldiers, it was a "massacre." To me that means, "politicians speak with forked tongues."

Paul Bax

North Tonawanda


HEART needs new home to continue its mission

Thanks to The News for Anne Neville's Pet Tales article highlighting HEART Animal Rescue & Adoption Team and the challenges it faces. This hard-working, not-for-profit, all-volunteer, no-kill organization has been dedicated to the plight of needy animals in the Western New York community for almost 30 years. HEART's mission to respect all animals and to help each animal gain its rightful place in the world, regardless of handicap or personality, has never faltered.

In addition to all of the selfless and exhausting work HEART does for animals, it is now faced with moving its adoption center location for the second time in less than a year. Hopefully, some animal-loving and compassionate Village of Hamburg entrepreneurs will read the article and step up to the challenge of helping to find HEART a new home.

Arlene Grasso

West Seneca


Top 1 percent is happy to see other 99 divided

Things just don't add up. I keep hearing about a lopsided division in our society. I am referring to the 99 percenters versus the 1 percenters. If this line of demarcation really exists, it would seem logical to expect what happened the last time a societal division was this asymmetrical -- storm the Bastille!

Strangely, though, I never hear from the 1 percenters; front and center are the 99 percenters. Being far from united, they gain their attention by half of their members fighting the other half. If nearly all of America's citizens are excluded from the ivory towers, then why are they involved in class warfare among themselves? Things just don't add up.

In order to make sense of this enigma wrapped in a mystery, I read "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. Two important lessons were relevant: think like your opponent and divide and conquer. Coincidentally, I noticed how the cable news stations of MSNBC and Fox News have divided the 99 percenters approximately in half. I know we are a polar society; but is it possible that our battles have been orchestrated to create this division? When Republicans take the exact opposite position of an issue than the Democrats, we are forced to choose a side. Does every issue have to be mutually exclusive? It doesn't make sense. That is, unless I was a 1 percenter; then it makes sense. I would make sure that the plebeians remained engaged in distraction, confusion and misinformation. While they were embroiled in internal fighting, I would continue to do the things I do that make me a 1 percenter. Now it adds up. "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Robert J. Wegrzynowski



Demolition contractor generously donated bell

Readers of the recent series of articles on housing demolitions in the City of Buffalo were given a negative view of the contractors involved, especially Albert Steele of Hannah Construction. I'd like to share my experience with Steele.

On a rainy night in May 2010, I received a call from preservation activist Tim Tielman concerning the emergency demolition at St. Mary's-on-the-Hill Church, located on Niagara Street just behind the Connecticut Street Armory. The bell tower had partially collapsed, and the bronze bell, cast in 1892, had fallen through the floor into the basement.

At Tielmann's urging, Steele donated the bell to be preserved for future generations. Not only did he give up the salvage value of the bell, which weighed 1,240 pounds and was worth about $4,000 in scrap, but he met me the next day and loaded it into my truck. We hung it from a majestic maple tree in the neighborhood, and after four months of display, moved it for safekeeping to the Historical Society's warehouse on Forest Avenue.

Preservationists and demolition contractors rarely agree on anything. Not only did Steele give up this valuable artifact, but he also made a generous cash donation when we honored him at a neighborhood meeting several months later.

William M. Murphy



Town IDAs must stop giving away our money

Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters just doesn't get it. In his Another Voice the other day, he tried to convince us that towns with industrial development agencies are not hurting other communities. When a town IDA gives out tax breaks, everyone loses money and every town and village in Erie County is hurt.

As a taxpayer in Hamburg, I'm tired of our supervisor giving away our tax dollars to pay for projects that don't bring good-paying jobs to the area. Of course, the Erie County IDA has the same ability to give out tax breaks to doughnut shops and pizzerias. But the fact that they don't do this should be applauded. We should not be encouraging the Erie County IDA to give out these types of tax breaks, like Walters suggests. The Erie County IDA should be the only IDA that gives out tax breaks, because it isn't going to give them out to small retail projects that don't provide true economic growth. Something has to be done to fix this broken system.

Lynn Chilelli



Will Obama get credit for declining gas prices?

Gasoline prices are falling. Republicans must be thanking President Obama for this. After all, they were blaming him when prices were rising. I'm sure we'll be seeing conservative columnists praising him now for bringing about this reversal.

Michael Silverman