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Everbody's Column

Community's support? eases family's grief

I will always remember June 2 as an amazing day. More than 200 people supported my family and the Flight 3407 families by attending the Long Street memorial dedication. We continually try to comprehend and accept the loss of our loved ones, and this dedication gave us the opportunity to express our love for them.

It was a day of remembrance and a celebration of life — a final goodbye to our Long Street home, while remembering my husband, Doug, and all those who perished that night. It was also a celebration of my daughters' and my survival, and our and the families' determination to carry on.

The crash of Flight 3407 affected my life in ways that remain hard to fathom. As a wife, homeowner, mother and survivor, the dedication was an emotional day for me. The memorial celebrates the lives of those lost on Feb. 12, 2009; the life our family shared at 6038 Long St.; and now the site's new life as a quiet, reflective park.

Sen. Charles Schumer, and Reps. Brian Higgins and Kathleen Hochul have been supporters of the quest for improved air safety measures, and it seemed so fitting that they could join us for the dedication.

So many people gave their time and effort to make a vision become a reality, and I am extremely grateful. How could someone in my position be able to get through each day without the support of family, friends and community throughout the last three years? At least, in that respect, I am a lucky woman.

Karen Wielinski

East Aurora


State must reduce ?its gasoline taxes

My ulcer is acting up again, no doubt anticipating New York Sen. Charles Schumer's annual visit to investigate why Western New Yorkers are always being slammed on gasoline purchases. His summation most generally is equivalent to the adage, "If you can't convince them, confuse them."

When gasoline was $2 per gallon and taxes were 50 percent of today's outrageous number, there was little concern. Today, at 67 cents per gallon, 17 percent of the total, it is a serious issue.

Albany and Erie County leaders really need a wake-up call. They have shown zero effort in righting this wrong. We consistently have the third-highest fuel prices in the nation.

There is no plausible reason for this injustice — simply bad management. Taxes could be and should be reduced without further commentary. Period.

Jim Ramsey



Social safety net ties? our nation together

The radical right denies cooperation among citizens, enshrines competition and its outcomes, and shrinks government.

The vast majority of citizens could lose their social safety net. Already 46 percent of our citizens earn so little they can't pay federal income taxes.

The enlightened wealthy of the past made it possible for us to have unemployment insurance, disability insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, public education, democratically elected officials, unions and clean air, ground and water.

Elites like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson saw cooperation among citizens as more important than competition. They knew that this social safety net tied our nation together and served the interest of both wealthy and unwealthy.

The wealthy of today see our citizens as bionic units to exploit and to increase their control until they have a new variation of slavery. If the trend lines of the present are extended to their logical conclusion, citizens will no longer see themselves as part of a nation. To redress their grievances without a forum, citizens will turn to their Second Amendment rights, just as the radical right threatens to do.

The problem with the radical right tasting the fruit of absolute power is that it's more addictive than crack cocaine. The national structure carefully constructed by the enlightened elite will crumble. When citizens no longer feel they have a stake in their own nation, can an "American Spring" be far behind?

Richard Czarnecki



Suspend ticket writing? for Corporate Challenge

Coming home Thursday night to my Parkside neighborhood, it became instantly obvious that the great City of Buffalo had gotten its annual pound of flesh with its yearly "Corporate Ticketfest."

Hundreds upon hundreds of cars were ticketed from one end of a street to the other parked on the wrong side for a Thursday.

In my opinion, the organizers of this great civic event are as much to blame as City Hall in that it is not logistically possible for all those cars to park legally in that neighborhood at one time.

They should request a 24-hour amnesty period and then the city should grant it.

That said, the city sure made some money Thursday ... but at what price?

Karl Koniarczyk



Proposal to legalize pot ?is step in right direction

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession is a step in the right direction — if his only goal is to lessen the disproportionate frisking of blacks and Latinos. However, if the governor's intent was to make a statement about marijuana use, or to clear the haze of ignorance and baseless paranoia that surrounds the issue, his proposal falls sadly short.

Few are aware of the events leading up to marijuana's illegalization, specifically of Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger's sensationalized propaganda war. And while many cannot help but recognize that the current laws most often penalize minorities, the nation's collective memory is too short to recall the racial overtones of the early war on drugs: Anslinger and others argued for marijuana's illegalization based solely on the fact that the drug was used by "Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers," and blamed the drug on "their Satanic music, jazz and swing."

Even fewer are aware of the drug's history on this continent. The first settlers in Virginia were actually required to grow hemp; George Washington used the drug to ease the pain in his gums, and Thomas Jefferson gave away special blends of cannabis and tobacco to guests at Monticello.

Despite this general ignorance, many (perhaps most) Americans agree that marijuana ought to be legalized. The old arguments against its use — that it is a gateway drug, that it causes cancer, that it creates legions of zombified good-for-nothing sex fiends — no longer carry the same weight: they are held and perpetuated primarily by those who have no experience with the drug, taking their views from others who are equally uninformed. I can't dispel all these allegations and misconceptions here; I only urge that readers seriously research the issue.

So when state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long warns that Cuomo is giving kids the "green light" to smoke marijuana, he is wrong. Cuomo isn't that honest.

Aidan Ryan