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Everybody's Column

Expanding bridge plaza? will hurt the West Side

I am opposed to the proposed expansion of the truck plaza deep into the West Side community. The expansion will result in worsening of air quality, related health problems and increased health care costs. The proposal reflects an absence of understanding of factors contributing to truck pollution. They are: 1) increased pollution resulting from trucks idling at the bridge, 2) trucks idling at the bridge and U.S. Customs booths, 3) trucks accelerating out of the booths and 4) trucks idling as customers make purchases at the duty-free shop. The city does not get any money out of all this. Simply enlarging the plaza does not address numbers 3 and 4.

Decreased congestion at the bridge will attract trucks to the Peace Bridge, resulting in even more plaza expansion. Thus, we are trading in the community's health and quality of life for a mega liquor store and parking lot. No tourists come to Buffalo to see a parking lot! There is no traffic congestion 84 percent of the time. The majority of the bridge benefits to Western New Yorkers come from travelers crossing the bridge by cars, not trucks. Plaza expansion is unjust, and has not been thought through.

We need to think outside of the box. Why do we need two bridge authorities a few miles apart? Increasing truck tolls at the Peace Bridge, with improved truck-handling facilities at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, would reduce congestion at the Peace Bridge. Lands bought by the authority should be returned to the city and money slated for plaza expansion used for community improvement. This should concern us all.

Jamson S. Lwebuga-Mukasa, M.D.

Founder, President and CEO, Respiratory & Environmental Exposure Consultants



Why must every issue? be linked to politics?

People do not step on their bathroom scale to measure their height or their IQ. Yet many in the media insist upon assessing all ideas and proposals on a political conservative/liberal scale, even when it comes to limiting the size of soft drinks. The proper measure for that issue is the idiocy scale. Coincidentally, that also happens to be the appropriate metric for comparing talk show hosts.

Hans G. Reif



Don't give ex-convicts a leg up in job search

We all make choices. Some people choose to join the military, there currently is no draft. Some people choose to break the law, so they should suffer the consequences. Some people choose college, with no promise of a job. Some women choose to be single mothers, so they take responsibility for their actions, a lifelong commitment.

If you are unemployed and looking for work, getting hired should be based on your merit, experience, qualifications and what you can do for the company. At least that is what I am told. The company has the right to hire the best candidate, "the best fit." What about the workers' rights? When you are collecting New York State unemployment, you have to go to an orientation, where you are told veterans and their spouses get first preference. Why? So even though I may be more qualified for a job, because people choose to enlist and get married, they get a leg up in the hiring process?

People go to prison for their mistakes. They pay their debt to society and some even get trained for a job while in prison on the taxpayers' dime. Let's give them a second chance, after all it is their right. You cannot discriminate. But do you as the worker have any rights? Shouldn't you have a right to know why the person working next to you was in jail for 13 years? Should the employer have to disclose this during your interview: "Hey, we hire ex-convicts here. One is a child molester, a few are drunken drivers and one committed grand larceny. Are you all right with that?"

Employers are given tax breaks if they hire veterans, their spouse or an ex-convict. Now officials are debating if the poor ex-convicts have to disclose on their job applications whether they have been convicted of a crime, because if they don't, they will have a better chance of getting hired.

As a college-educated, single woman with years of experience, what are my chances of getting a job? What are my rights? Does the employer get a tax break? Am I still considered a minority? In order to get a job, should I marry a veteran or commit a crime or both?

Julie Hughes



Unions far outspent ?by political lobbyists

I would like to respond to a letter regarding the recent Wisconsin governor election, in particular the comment that "Democrats and the labor unions of Wisconsin failed to recall the governor and legislators despite pouring millions of dollars into the state."

I have been the president of Teamsters Local Union 275 here in Buffalo since 2009. Long before I took office, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) established its own political action committee called DRIVE, which stands for Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education. Our union gives members the opportunity to contribute to DRIVE on a voluntary basis. These contributions are not part of the monthly union dues paid by the members; they are totally separate and are paid directly to the IBT in Washington, D.C. The funds raised are then used throughout the country to help elect candidates who are sensitive to the needs of working people and their families.

We all know that big business and its financiers have well-organized political lobby groups operating throughout the United States. In the Wisconsin governor election, for example, big business outspent the unions $34 million to $4 million. That's not propaganda, that is a fact. If the unions were "pouring millions of dollars into the state" then what was big business doing – flooding the state with a tidal wave of millions of dollars? The individual working men and women have virtually no chance of competing with the deep pockets of these political backers, but collectively, through the political arm of their union, they have a chance of having their needs addressed.

Michael N. Wach



Prohibit fracking ?until proven safe

One picture is worth a thousand words. The picture of the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania on June 16 was an eye-opener. I can't imagine living anywhere near such a site. An independent "industry-backed study" of the hazards to human health, water, noise, etc., should be suspect. Disturbing the core of the earth cannot be without consequences. Proper techniques are not always employed in the rush for monetary goals of a few corporate giants that are not living in the back yards of such sites, nor will they be the victims of their contamination.

Jobs are important, but when the lives of the workers and nearby land dwellers are in jeopardy, other alternate sources of energy should be investigated. Until this controversial process is proven safe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo should not allow it in New York State.

Eileen McKenna

East Aurora