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Everybody's Column

Pass bill to create ?the Justice Center

Finally, New York has been provided an opportunity to end the abuse and bring new justice to the most vulnerable New Yorkers. The Justice Center, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is a plan that will provide the long-needed foundation for protecting people with disabilities, special needs and substance issues.

Last year alone there were more than 10,000 allegations of abuse reported. While the majority of workers who care for people with special needs, disabilities and substance issues are doing an incredible job, the few exceptions who have been negligent or abusive have too often been left unpunished. A great many who were fired for abuse have been allowed to continue to work with vulnerable New Yorkers by leapfrogging to a different provider or agency that has no knowledge of their bad record.

People entering these systems of care should never find themselves experiencing trauma as a result of neglect or abuse by the very people who are responsible for their care. The Justice Center will be solely dedicated to protecting patients, rooting out and prosecuting abusers and making sure they are never again able to work in the system.

As the executive director of Cazenovia Recovery Systems, an agency that offers residential services to people in recovery from homelessness, mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders, I support and applaud this legislation. This is about safeguarding the basic rights of those who may find themselves unable to defend their rights. People in these systems of care must be able to go about their daily lives without fear of neglect and abuse. We need to strengthen the system of protection and safety for vulnerable people in residential care. Albany needs to pass the proposed legislation to create the Justice Center.

Suzanne L. Bissonette

Orchard Park


‘Flower children'? have gone too far

What happened to the "flower children" and the counter-culture protesters from yesteryear? Didn't they espouse "free love," drug experimentation, "feed your head," dropping out, personal freedom and all that stuff?

How did they evolve into the people who are trying to limit the size of my soft drink, keep me from smoking in bars, regulate everything and everybody, and think they know what's best for me? I think that they've become what they were really protesting against all those years ago – their parents.

Patrick McLaughlin



City should showcase ?Polish contributions

As a person of Polish ancestry, and whereas Western New York is, and has always been, heavily Polish, I would like to make a few suggestions to the Common Council.

First, I propose renaming a street after Poland's national writer, Adam Mickiewicz. It would showcase how, just as with the Dyngus Day tradition, Buffalo is leading the way and being the epicenter of everything Polish. A trailblazing sign celebrating Mickiewicz's life and importance could provide information for tourists on that particular street. I believe it would help spur much-needed tourism from Poland.

In addition, I'd like to designate Poland's Independence Day, Nov. 11, as "Western New York's Polish Heritage Day," thereby celebrating the enormous contribution of Polish immigrants to the fabric of the area. I'd also like the Council to recognize the special bond and values between Poland and the United States, the sacrifices of Polish soldiers (Kosciusko) during our Revolutionary War and to highlight the cultural, historical, cuisine and traditions to Western New York.

Polish immigration to our neck of the woods, including Jewish immigrants from Poland, has shaped our region and is therefore part of our history. Let's not relegate it to the history books.

Steve Norris



Guitar competition ?gets better and better

What a treat it was to attend the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition Final performance at Kleinhans on June 9. I was first introduced to the competition a few years ago and am thrilled with how it has evolved over the years. I was once again blown away by the talent of the guitarists, which seems to get better and better with each competition.

I was also notably impressed with various improvements the planning team from WNED and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra have made to the competition, including an increase in the award money and televising the semifinals. Both will ensure the ability to attract top performers in the future to the competition. Showcasing video clips of the finalists before their performances and having them perform one piece with the orchestra and one of their own choosing helped to showcase their personalities as well as their capabilities.

While I was able to attend only one live performance this year, there were many smaller-scale performances scheduled around town that shared the talents of our international guests with various unsuspecting audiences and gave the contestants a chance to get out of the studio and rehearsal hall and see more of our beautiful community.

The JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition is the only of its kind in the world and we are as lucky as the competitors are talented to have it here in Buffalo. Bravo!

Cindy Barrett



Drinking is a problem ?at Darien Lake concerts

What is needed for Darien Lake to take some action to prevent the "drunkfest" atmosphere their concerts convey? It seems every time there is a concert, especially one that attracts the 13-to-25 age group, you read the next day about all the underage people arrested for drinking, lewdness or disorderly conduct.

At the recent Drake concert, 10 people were arrested and 70 underage drinking tickets were given out. For the 70 underage drinking tickets given out, there were probably another 7,000 people who were under 21 and drinking. Before the concerts, from a drinking point of view, the parking lots are much worse than any football tailgating atmosphere. To get an idea of the young people drinking and playing "beer pong" in the lots, just look at some of the Facebook pictures attendees post.

The concert promoters need to make some policy changes. They could look at reducing the time the parking lots are open before concerts to reduce drinking time and/or check IDs of the people in cars pulling in the lot and search the coolers for alcohol and confiscate it if there is anyone under 21 in the car. More patrols in the lots would help to let the attendees know there is a strong security presence and underage drinking will not be accepted.

While the drinking/arrests at the concerts are alarming and concerning, the even more worrisome thing is that most of these young drinkers will then drive back home still under the influence.

Cathy M. Nowak