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Art Festival policies are? selfish and shortsighted

Bravo to Colin Dabkowski ("Art festival needs to join 21st century") for making the Allentown Art Festival's administration face up to its strange modus operandi! The way in which this wonderfully successful effort clings to its monopoly status is even worse than Dabkowski relates. Not only are other arts groups shut out and other fund-raisers discouraged, but people who live, as I do, close to Delaware Avenue are forbidden to put on a garage sale on the weekend of the festival. How on earth does City Hall allow this to happen?

The policy is incredibly selfish and downright shortsighted. Don't the Allentown Village Society board members know about "critical" mass? It's the reason that the constituent organizations co-exist at a place like Lincoln Center. It is also the reason that the owners of the Walden Galleria can get high-end rents for their stores. Have the board members never noticed that that flagship retail complex is home to both a Sears and a Macy's? It's because "the more the merrier" applies to a wide range of attempts to interest the public in some activity.

The AVS/AAF certainly did the right thing when it allowed the Allentown Association to set up a concurrent tent city on Allen Street. Has that development harmed the festival? I doubt it. But even so, one found signs prominently displayed on Allen near the junction with Park Street that seemed almost to "warn" people that they were leaving the one legitimate event when they had to pass by something akin to Checkpoint Charlie. Very weird.

The good news in that June 10 column was, for sure, that a few tentative steps have been taken to modify the monopoly setup. The society has done an incredible amount of good, as well as an incredible amount of business, in the visual art and in many crafts, but it really should stop being scared of "competition" and welcome it. I hereby pledge to give to the AVS/AAF a generous percentage of the receipts from the garage sale I plan to run on the first weekend of June next year.

Peter Smith



Motorists should be?considerate of bikes

Some of the "rules" in the McClatchy article, "Bicyclists need to follow the rules of the road," in the June 12 News aren't actually rules here. The writer says sidewalks are open to bikes, but that's illegal in the City of Buffalo. Also, adults are not required to wear helmets.

When he tells cyclists to move into single file, however, he is sadly correct. Traveling down the road side-by-side with your loved one is something motorists take for granted, while brusquely denying it to anyone else. Is it any wonder we're still addicted to gas at $4, when the only other choice is to become a peasant? Make way for my lord in his chariot!

Christopher Nicolai



New York must rein in?costs of workers' comp

We very much appreciated The News article addressing the impact of increasing workers' compensation costs on businesses in New York State. It might have mentioned one other critical effect of these high costs: They drive our high property taxes even higher.

The article notes that rising costs from the unfunded workers' compensation mandate contribute to an unhealthy climate for business and individual taxpayers in New York. Research by the Workers Compensation Policy Institute in Albany shows how heavily it also burdens local governments and their taxpayers.

Some 78 percent of municipalities that responded to our 2012 survey of municipalities said their workers' compensation costs have gone up since the 2007 Workers' Comp Reform Act. And more than half of all respondents to this survey said their compensation costs comprise a significant portion of their operating budget.

In January, the institute also released an analysis of workers' compensation costs that shows them going up fast for the private sector, and even faster for municipalities and other public entities. These costs are passed along to taxpayers, of course.

The institute also analyzed the burden of workers' compensation assessments – the tax on premiums paid by employers to fund the system. This analysis showed that New York's assessments are nearly five times the national average and more than twice those of the next most expensive state.

Clearly the savings promised at the time of the 2007 Reform Act have failed to materialize after five years. Municipal employers, like their counterparts in the private sector, are contending with an increasingly expensive mandate.

Paul M. Jahn

Executive Director, Workers' Compensation Policy Institute


Board should have kept?Dixon as superintendent

The Buffalo School Board had an opportunity to step up and do the right thing. We had a local person, Amber Dixon, doing a fine job as acting superintendent. There is no doubt she was doing an excellent job and should have been given the position as superintendent. We finally had a local, competent person in place. Why did the School Board even have a national search?

The last two people the board hired were from out of town with no ties to our community. They both proved to be incompetent administrators. In addition they were very costly. Who can forget the severance package James Williams was able to secure?

We need New York State to come in and take over the Buffalo Public Schools. Our current board has not looked after the best interest of the students.

Michael Krellner

West Seneca


Shuttle buses would ease?parking woes on Elmwood

Here's one possibility for relieving the parking problem in the Elmwood Village and encouraging pedestrian traffic. How about having small shuttle buses running regularly up and down Elmwood between North Street and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery? The fare should be nominal (a quarter) so people could hop on and off at various points. This would make walking the area much easier, encourage business, cut down on car traffic and remove the issue of "convenient parking."

Barbara Maynor



Children must follow?before they can lead

Why today is everything geared, from nursery school on, to teaching kids to be leaders? Every parent knows kids want to lead. They want to run things – be first and so on. Aren't we missing something?

What kids really need to learn today is how to follow. How to follow the rules. How to respect authority. How to put others first. These things don't come naturally, while what they are being taught today does.

Now if we spent the next couple of decades teaching our kids what must be learned before one leads, a few good leaders may even emerge.

Jack Telaak

Orchard Park