Buffalo needs to crack down on building code violators

The 500 block in the middle of downtown Buffalo is a disgrace to the residents of Buffalo and an embarrassment to everyone living in Western New York. The row of empty buildings contains hundreds of building code violations. The city, for the past 25 years, has refused to enforce the building codes on the politically connected owners of the 500 block buildings.

The 500 block building owners are mostly politically connected speculators, waiting to flip their property at a profit when the city is finally forced to deal with the problem because the Buffalo building inspectors are not enforcing the building codes. This mess will continue for years to come unless someone is willing to help.

Buffalo spends millions of dollars each year on various new projects and yet it continues to ignore the deteriorating 500 block, only blocks away from the newly renovated Convention Center. Our mayor and every city politician should be embarrassed with their inaction. The media have failed to criticize City Hall or question why city building inspectors are not doing their jobs. There must be a reason behind this inaction; someone must be responsible.

How can the city expect to complete any major project if it can't fix the 500-block embarrassment in the very middle of downtown Buffalo, only two blocks in front of City Hall? I hope that the next time people reading this letter visit downtown, they look at the 500 block and then send our mayor a letter asking for some action to resolve this embarrassment.

I strongly suggest that the media invite the mayor and the owners of the vacant 500 block buildings on a personal tour. It would be great if the mayor would invite his building inspector department to join the tour.

Paul Snyder

Owner, Hyatt Regency Hotel



Avastin has helped many cancer patients

After a great, successful Race for the Cure, which brought in a million dollars for breast cancer in this area, the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel decided to end the drug Avastin for breast cancer patients. It said this drug doesn't help cancer patients, but I know one patient it has worked on and I would imagine there are others in this country that the drug has helped. My friend's wife has breast cancer and has been taking the drug, which the insurance paid for. Now they can't afford the $9,000 for the drug. Even a benefit for the family can't help pay this bill. I beg everyone who knows someone with cancer to write their congressmen and help to restore Avastin.

Anthony Speranza



Great to see good news on front page of paper

What a treat to read the front page of the July 1 Buffalo News. One piece of good news followed another. Beyond the beautiful weather forecast, I learned that the new Peace Bridge was abandoned, a measured approach to fracking is in the works, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the weekend and Sam Hoyt will be able to focus his energies on local economic development.

Anybody who has crossed the Peace Bridge more than twice would know that it is not the capacity of the bridge that is the problem, but the ability to process the traffic at the Customs checkpoints. Put the time, money and nerve into expanding that facility, resurrect the talks to do some prescreening on the Canadian side and stop the crazy talk of a new bridge.

As for fracking, yes, I am concerned about the environmental impact and am glad it is not going to be a free-for-all. But I must say I am more concerned about this region dying than becoming polluted. Perhaps with a taste of the gas rush, Buffalo might move from the third- or eighth-poorest large city (depending on the source), to somewhere in the teens. As for Hoyt, I wish him much success in his new endeavor -- we are going to need it.

Kevin Cornacchio



Collins' library plan is simply ridiculous

Erie County Executive Chris Collins has done a disservice to the people of Erie County by attempting to cut $4 million in funding from our public libraries in the 2011 budget. It is mind-boggling to me that in a time when Americans are griping about the state of education and the loss of our culture, this public official would mount an assault on one of the institutions that helps our democracy to flourish. How does eliminating centers of knowledge equate to a better quality of life for county residents?

It seems that Collins, who admitted that he does not use libraries, fails to understand that libraries assist individuals in education, job seeking and starting a business. This is surprising from someone who touts himself as a businessman rather than a politician. Perhaps the businessman in him is too busy focusing on slashing "unnecessary" services that do not directly benefit his own profit margin or improve his power base.

Erie County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz has the right idea in his new policy paper, which blasts Collins' proposal for a special taxing district to fund the libraries. Why should we create another level of bureaucracy and reduce funding to cultural assets, while Collins doles out $150,000 for a county attorney to fill out his attack squad against the democratic process? We should not stand by as self-serving politicians dismantle our cultural and educational institutions in the name of "leaner" government, while at the same time enriching themselves.

Carmen Bartolotta



We must work harder to eradicate inequality

As a young African-American woman who grew up in Buffalo, I have witnessed the injustice that people of this great city suffered, whether as a result of their race, gender, national origin, age, religious belief or sexual orientation. This has spawned my interest in attending law school. I hear the tales of the forgotten people who are passed over for promotions, not hired due to their race, racially profiled by the police and otherwise mistreated by their employer or higher education institutions. As a legal intern, I am grateful that I can educate and empower others to stand up for their rights.

Our communities need to work harder to make sure that inequality and injustice are truly a thing of the past. I call upon our communities to gather, to empower, to educate, to stand up, to be heard.

Catherine Ejimadu



Same-sex marriage is nothing to cheer

An old saying tells us: "Be careful what you wish for; you just may get it."

Well, same-sex marriage was passed by the New York State Senate. Those who hoped for this must be thrilled. My message to such is this: Don't complain when the taste of this "accomplishment" suddenly sours on you.

Lloyd Marshall Jr.