Signs of failed leadership are displayed at all turns
On July 6, The News rightly identified a failure of leadership for the Peace Bridge debacle. I agree. But let's look at other failures of local leadership. Try to name three examples of vision and leadership from the mayor of Buffalo or the county executive. The city tickets us for overgrown grass while blocking people for up to three years from cutting the grass of some of the 10,000 vacant lots in Buffalo where they want to establish neighborhood gardens. The city messes up on a planned waterfront restaurant in the Naval Museum, needlessly delaying its opening this summer. And it wasted millions of federal anti-poverty dollars over the years while the rate of poverty in Buffalo has increased over that time period.
Not to be outdone, the county executive cuts funding for cultural organizations, the libraries and child care, never realizing the adverse impact of such actions on our local economy and quality of life. He spends thousands of taxpayer dollars on failed lawsuits designed to avoid providing the most basic hygienic care to prisoners at the Holding Center. While the mayor and county executive and their staffs can likely justify all of these actions, they fail to show any vision or leadership that makes Western New York a better place to live. There is more to governing than just getting re-elected or running government like a business. And let's also not forget the failures of the Buffalo Public School system, Superintendent James Williams, BTF President Phil Rumore and the Board of Education.
Want to know what real leadership looks like? Take a look at what Donna Fernandes has done for the Buffalo Zoo; what JoAnn Falletta has done for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, or Louis Grachos for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Rep. Brian Higgins for the waterfront; and the many grass-roots organizations' contributions to the waterfront, gardens and preservation. What can we do about it? Let's elect new political leaders for 2012. Finally!
Thanks for nothing to those 'in charge'
To the Peace Bridge Authority, politicians, historical preservationists, environmentalists and the federal government: a thank you for the bridge that never was. Original studies started in 1967. Yes, 1967. A perfect example of our area's historical track record of debating a project to death!
Sometimes "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few."
Republicans are wrong about not taxing rich
All this talk by the Republicans about not raising taxes on the rich, let's take a look: When in comes to income, CE0's earn 343 times the median worker's pay. The largest gap in the world. The wealthy top 1 percent of U.S. households rose more than 230 percent in the past 30 years, nearly 8 percent a year. Middle class incomes have grown by just $300 a year over that same last 30 years, from 2000-2007 median household income fell by $300.
Taxes: Many profitable corporations, including Exxon Mobil, Bank of America, Chevron, Goldman Sachs and GE, paid no taxes in 2009, some even got a tax rebate.
Retirement: CEOs negotiate generous employment agreements for themselves that include pensions and life long health care coverage. For the rest of us, Social Security is the major source of income for 54 percent of retirees, the average being $14,154 per year.
Jobs: In 2009 U.S. corporations created 2 million jobs overseas and cut 3 million jobs in the United States.
Who are the winners and who are the losers?
Michael J. Rusinek
Staff representative IUE-CWA
Local politicians finally listened to the people
The News consistently sides with those who want to build a new Peace Bridge and plaza, even at the expense of the citizens of Buffalo. The other bridges noted in a recent editorial do not have the truck-processing issues that we have in Buffalo with an international crossing. Rather than lacking leadership, the local politicians have actually listened to the people who elected them. It wasn't just a few neighborhood residents speaking up about doing what is right. The larger community, when presented with the facts, began to understand what Buffalo was losing in taking an entire neighborhood, with little or no value added but an iconic structure. Buffalo deserves development that will add to the quality of life in our region, but at what expense? Is there nothing more precious than the health of our people?
The question still remains as to how the health of the community will be improved. Preliminary processing of the trucks in Fort Erie may help the air quality of Buffalo's West Side neighborhood. Unfortunately, the people in Fort Erie may now have to contend with the brunt of diesel emissions.
I say hurray for all citizens who exercise their democratic rights to speak up and protect their health, homes and community. The bigger story should be about a group of ordinary citizens who took the bull by the horns, with no public financing, no staff of consultants, secretaries or public relations firms, and educated themselves and the larger community about the many complex issues involved around this project.
Tolerance is always better than threats
Regarding, the July 9 letter, "Same-Sex marriage is nothing to cheer," while I'm all for genuine, intelligent debate, and while I believe that there are many people who oppose same-sex marriage that have well thought-out opinions and strong arguments, the letter writer presents no argument, other than his vague reference to the old platitude, "Be careful what you wish for; you just may get it."
Worse than the utter absence of any argument is the fact that the writer's words come off sounding like a bizarre threat. Is he suggesting that those who voted for and supported the legalization of gay marriage in New York State will themselves be forced into gay marriages? Perhaps I fail to grasp the logic of the writer's musings, but I see no other message behind his statement. If, in fact, such an absurd insinuation does lie at the heart of the letter -- or perhaps the writer understood what he was saying no better than I do -- then it cannot be taken seriously.
Hoyt will help region, as will the choice of Ryan
Sam Hoyt's new role provides an incomparable opportunity for Western New York residents to have a local and authentic voice represent the economic development needs of upstate New York in a political arena dominated primarily by downstate interests.
Over the years, Hoyt has demonstrated his progressive edge in counteracting stagnation and economic decline through productive initiatives such as the Smart Growth Law, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, neighborhood revitalization efforts including Buffalo's Anti-flipping Task Force and waterfront development, to name just a few.
Hoyt has remained steadfast in his effort to restore public trust and accountability in our state government when so many elected officials have fallen short of that order. Hoyt fulfilled precisely what the Assembly seat was designed to achieve -- to accurately and effectively represent the needs of the constituents first and foremost without retreat. He carried out his role for nearly two decades with great integrity and much humility, a dignified balance that few elected officials, as we all know, seem to achieve these days.
As Hoyt advances and I look forward to seeing what else he can bring to Western New York, I can also think of no one else more suited to continue Hoyt's distinguished and esteemed legacy than Attorney Sean M. Ryan, who has a strong, insightful and unparalleled pulse on the community.
It is inspiring to see someone who understands the needs of the most vulnerable in our community and who has worked tirelessly on their behalf. Indeed he initiates a "fresh start" that will undoubtedly create considerable opportunities for the 144th Assembly District while sustaining and building upon the economic viability that Hoyt has established.
Hoyt's failures somehow gets rewarded with post
I have to hand it to Sam Hoyt, here he is about to be kicked to the curb in a rigged district, and he gets a plum from the governor. The governor who promised ethics reform, promoted Hoyt. How does this guy do it?
Thomas C. Barrett
Capping public CEO pay is a reasonable option
Regarding the July 11 letter, "Time to quit whining about high CEO pay," I agree that CEOs of companies should receive adequate compensation for their education, ability and experience. In regards to how much sports figures and movie stars make, I don't care. Because I don't pay them. If I don't attend a Sabres game, then I didn't pay his salary. I don't attend Yankees games, so I don't pay A-Rod's salary. I watch movies when they get to television so I don't pay their salaries.
But unfortunately I live in an area where I can only buy my natural gas from a single source. So I whine about my National Fuel bill when I see how much their CEOs are paid. Because it's my money that's paying them. It's my money that pays for their stock options, bonuses and perks. All the while there are people who can't afford to pay their heat bills in winter and must apply for assistance.
I firmly believe that there should be a cap on compensation for CEOs of public utility companies and not-for-profit companies. If a CEO in Western New York can't live on $500,000 a year (that includes all perks) then move out or get a part-time job (like many Western New Yorkers do)!
'Marriage' remains specific in meaning
It was interesting to read the July 5 letter written by the Episcopal Bishop of Western New York defending the fact that New York State has legalized gay marriage. He defends his liberal position by offering the words of St. Paul: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ." As usual, he fails to mention the words of Leviticus 18-22, which states: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."
It is unfortunate that the Episcopal Church has not developed a special rite to properly accommodate the proper needs of same-sex couples who wish to spend their lives together and leave the term marriage for the joining of a man and woman.
John N. Brown