Fill the vacant seats on NFTA board now
Pursuant to New York State law, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority board of commissioners should be composed of one chairman, 10 voting commissioners and one non-voting commissioner, a total of 12 positions. Unfortunately, as of June 30, the terms of three voting commissioners will be expiring, thereby effectively reducing the current makeup of the NFTA board to one-half its legally required size since, prior to June 30, the appointed terms of two other voting commissioners have long since expired and one additional voting commissioner vacancy has existed for years.
We all know the NFTA is responsible for two airports and bus/rail service as well as the majority of this region's waterfront. Critical decisions need to be made by this board that will forever affect the quality of life for all of Western New York. Needless to say, to have the NFTA board of commissioners potentially functioning at one-half its capacity is not in the best interest of our community.
We need the responsible government officials to act now to either reappoint the expired commissioners and fill the vacant spot or find suitable replacements. If the politicians refuse to act, then maybe the affected commissioners whose terms have expired should resign in the best interest of the public. It is noted that our previous chairman did just that. The future of Western New York depends on a fully functional NFTA board of commissioners.
Vincent G. Crehan
Sprawl, fewer hunters fueling deer problems
I would like to comment on the letter, "DEC needs to address damage caused by deer." First and foremost, my deep sympathy for the loss of a family member due to a deer-car collision. I lived in the Concord area for years and still have many relatives who reside there. I now live in Wyoming County and there are a lot of deer here, as well. I have deer in my yard all the time. They love the bird feeders and have eaten a few tree saplings along the way, but this is what happens in the country. We set up a trail cam to take pictures and have to shoo them away before letting the dogs out, but I would rather do this than live in the city any day.
I feel that fewer hunters and more construction of homes and subdivisions are part of the cause. It sounds like the writer has a bit of land if he is planting trees. He probably should put fencing around each trunk or even try moth balls. If all else fails, he should call me. I would gladly come out during hunting season and take a few of these deer out of his hair and put some steak on my plate.
Race to the Top policy is unfair to students
Here is a strategy that can be used by parents upset about the social inequalities within the Buffalo Public Schools. Tell the Regents that our children's education should not be a piece of merchandise to shop around for and compete with our neighbors over. The federal Race to the Top policy promotes the logic of its title -- schools and their students should be in a contest with their peers where only some of them win (or get to the top).
The New York State Board of Regents voted to follow the priorities of Race to the Top. That means that instead of funding more schools and empowering families for success in the immediate future, funding will be for fewer schools and will depend on measures of "teacher effectiveness" of how well individual teachers "add value" to individual student test scores. These are slow measures for slow change. These measures blame classroom teachers for a problem at the organizational levels above the classroom.
Where in such a Race to the Top value-added formula is the unfair funding of schools within and across school districts? Where in that value-added model is an examination of how curriculum and policy decisions are made? Emphasizing the seemingly complex scores of "professional performance" of individual teachers or principals distracts us from the more fundamental lack of financial support for Buffalo schools.
I urge residents to complain about this distraction. The Regents website says, "The regulation was adopted as an emergency measure and will be published in the State Register for public comment on June 8. Public comment will be received for 45 days after publication."
Pay attention to road when behind the wheel
Here we are again -- an inattentive driver kills a motorcyclist in the Town of Hamburg and doesn't even have to suffer the humiliation of having her name published in the May 27 edition of the paper.
Mr. Inattentive Driver, understand this, if you endanger me by your actions, I will follow you until you stop and I will confront you. I do hope you call 911 because I want the officer to hear my side of the story. You were probably on the phone anyway. If you injure me, I will file a civil suit against everything you own -- bet on it. We have as much right to the road as you do. It would be nice if we had your attention.
Corporate greed is killing middle class
Last week's 280-point stock market decline was reportedly due to a poor employment report for the quarter. ADP, one of the world's largest providers of business outsourcing solutions, reported that only 38,000 private sector jobs were created. Did you catch that? Business outsourcing solutions? That is code for work that has moved out of the country. One would hope that companies and their investors who drive corporate decision making would begin to question the strategy of maximizing profits by eliminating employees.
The irony is mind-boggling. Wall Street, corporations and those heavily invested in the market lobby for the very policies that cause such market declines. Good-paying jobs in the United States are rapidly disappearing because of a misguided belief in unregulated, unfettered capitalism coupled with free trade. Eventually, the demand for ever higher stock prices and dividends causes the system to collapse onto itself. It also comes at a very heavy social cost. To an extent, this is related to the housing market problems, too. If you don't make enough money, you can't afford a house. As a result, home prices trend downward because there are more homes than buyers. It is telling how bad things are when McDonald's adds a few thousand low-paying jobs and CNN reports this as positive economic news.
When corporations put investors and maximizing profits above all else, the results might work for a while but eventually all of the downsizing and off-shoring of jobs will have an effect. Corporate greed is killing the middle class. If unregulated capitalism continues to be this country's religion, our quality of life will continue to slide toward Third World status.