Keep underage people out of Chippewa bars

Letters discussing the pros and cons of persons under the age of 21 frequenting establishments in the entertainment district (mainly on or near Chippewa Street) have been written by those underage patrons and the businesses in the area. Politicians and businessmen have met to discuss possible solutions to the crimes of violence that have been occurring, such as increasing the police presence in the area, establishing an adult (over 21) only zone or possibly legislating an earlier closing time.

I would like to add the voice of the downtown residential community to the mix. There are many families living in close proximity to Chippewa. My neighbors and I have experienced the notable increase in rowdy, thoughtless behavior of a much younger crowd. They park their cars in front of our homes and blare loud music while drinking cases of beer (which they discard on our lawns) before they head for the bars. When they return between 2 and 4 a.m., they are noisier than ever. (Young girls staggering to their cars tend to be screamers when drunk.) Having raised a daughter to yell for help if in trouble, I tend to react to the screaming by jumping out of bed to see if the girl is in trouble.

Yes, we have called the police, but more often than not, the offending teens have fled the area before the police arrive. Practically speaking, the police have to prioritize where they send their cars -- to quality-of-life infractions, or more serious crimes. We do know that the cutbacks in staff are having a negative effect on the precinct.

Business owners, residents and politicians have to arrive at a viable solution; one that helps the businesses maintain their vibrancy and one that keeps residents in downtown Buffalo. Barring underage teens from the entertainment district would certainly be one approach.

Jill Benker-Beck



Police deserve praise for a thankless job

On the morning of June 1, at 2:04 a.m., my alarm system went off at home. I was on hold for exactly nine minutes and 47 seconds with the security company and, in the interim, a policeman showed up at my door. I apologized and showed him the cordless phone. His response was, "as long as you're OK, as long as you're OK."

I was not expecting so much empathy at 2 in the morning. The stuff I have to put up with as a physician, and now someone has to put up with me. I have to commend the Buffalo Police Department at this time. Way to go, guys.

Tariq Niaz Ahmad, M.D.



Dismissal of teacher is a sad commentary

It was with sadness and anger that I read the recent story about Shawn Siddall, the young Niagara Wheatfield teacher who was honored for his work and is being excused due to district budget cuts. However, it is a story that is being repeated over and over again in this failure of a system called American education. How many professions reward an employee for merely being there a certain length of time (the seniority system) versus competence, productivity and even excellence? How could businesses and organizations succeed using this employment model?

No wonder our students, the ones on the receiving end of the process, are ranked far below students in many of the industrialized countries in the world. Too many teachers are not challenged to do anything but show up once they have received the grail of tenure.

Administrators say they cannot seem to devise a system that equitably identifies gifted teachers. Teachers' unions quake at the thought that anything less than the old method of seniority should be perpetuated. Why are these educational administrators at the top end of salary scales incapable of devising a better system? Do they lack the intelligence or the fortitude to create a better system? It is a charade that thwarts progress from all sides. And the students suffer the tired, the worn out and the incompetent.

I encourage Siddall to seek employment in a field that will reward excellence. If he does get called back to his job, he will only face a certain future: he will be cut the next time because he has no seniority. Excellence in education has nothing to do with it. The system in place is a failed one, dooming the nation to fall even further behind.

Ronald Cohen

East Amherst


How could Obama play golf on Memorial Day?

As The News reported, President Obama gave a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. Obama spoke of the duty to honor our fallen heroes' memory and sacrifice by living out their ideals every day of our lives. And then he spent the rest of Memorial Day playing golf. Obama had already golfed the eight prior weekends, and 69 times in his 28-month presidency, but still chose to golf on Memorial Day. The News, and almost all of the other major news outlets, failed to mention this.

Regardless, Obama's decision, as commander-in-chief, to play golf spoke volumes about his real view of Memorial Day. It was disrespectful and disgraceful to those we honored this past Memorial Day, to those U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and to those we may be honoring next Memorial Day.

Randall D. White

Grand Island


Bishop's decisions tough on elderly parishioners

Who's in charge of this mess? I've pondered this question for quite some time. A few years ago, the directive came from the bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo to reduce the number of parishes and combine the remaining parishes to provide a place for longtime Catholics who are displaced to worship their faith.

I'm a lifelong Catholic and have never seen as much heartbreak as this has produced. Some elderly Catholics now must take a bus to go to their place of worship. These parishioners are on a fixed income and cannot handle the additional expense. I've seen grown men crying as the transition took place.

I was appalled when I read in The News that the bishop approved the closing and merger of two parishes. How can he give approval to something he directed? He acts as if someone else requested this. A June 1 letter, written by a St. Barnabas parishioner, questioned who mandated the merger of St. Barnabas and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament churches. It seems the bishop is vindicated on this one. The writer indicated the pastor was the villain. Who's in charge of this mess?

Now the damage is done. Many elders I spoke to cannot attend Mass due to the additional distance and inconvenience. They do not want to join another parish. They feel rejected by the very religion they were raised to believe in.

In closing, I am deeply disappointed in this bishop and the direction the Diocese of Buffalo is headed in. All I can do is pray his replacement will have more compassion for the elders he's been assigned to guide as sheep of his flock.

John M. Natalzia