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Norquist's so-called 'pledge' does not help Americans

As Ricky Ricardo may have once asked, " 'Splain somethin' to me. " If an elected senator or congressman of the United States takes an oath to a non-governmental, partisan, third-party advocacy group in which he or she refuses to negotiate on any particular proposal germane to the well-being of the majority of Americans, regardless of consequences, what good is discourse? At the beginning of their terms, Congress should just place their ballots and go home; as they too often try to do.

I may be alone in this, but Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge seems un-American, unconstitutional, and, stretched to the limit, treasonous. How can our congressmen and women swear an oath of trust to the American people while pledging to be intransigent on matters that affect America itself? Lines in the sand are childish and often become blurred when the prevailing political winds swirl.

Grover Norquist is president of the conservative advocacy group, "Americans for Tax Reform" (ATR). ATR has stated that it "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle." Whose principle?

Norquist attended the Leadership Institute, a non-profit organization that teaches "political technology." Huh? What in the name of reason is political technology? Does it teach a course called the "Science of Manipulative Rhetorical Devices 101?" Crucial in the curriculum must be the Quantum Effects of Truth-Twisting. One elective might be called "Evolution: Schmevolution."

Other members of the alumni of the Leadership Institute include Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence. Mom always told me that I would be judged by the company I keep.

Robert J. Wegrzynowski

Medina

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The U.S. should look after its citizens first

I was wondering why a country like ours could spend billions of dollars helping out other countries, but not our own. We have people homeless and starving. We could pay off our nation's debt and help our own people and then "think" about helping other countries. Just an idea, no matter how "dumb" and "easy."

Daniel Hiam

Grand Island

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So many are abandoned by bad bridge decisions

Big surprise, no bridge, no expanded plaza. Well, they say, there are no funds for this. There were funds 20, 10 and possibly five years ago. Who is to blame? Let's start with the residential obstructionists who delayed the project by influencing the mayor, the Common Council, and other politicians. Let's not forget the environmental and the historical obstructionists. Then we have the Peace Bridge Authority, intimidated by all of these obstructionists.

Let's name a few consequences of this change in plans. Residents whose houses would have been taken were and are unable to sell their houses. The neighborhood has become crime-ridden and declining, causing property values to go down. Due to the project not being completed, there is a loss of construction, engineering and other related local jobs. Improved landscaping could have helped the existing deteriorating neighborhood and bring it back to its glory. I could go on and on.

Now, they want to put a Duty Free Store on Columbus Parkway across the street from residential homes. Big deal. That's like settling for a bologna sandwich when you could have prime rib. Progress in Buffalo is again stopped by self-serving individuals. Unfortunately, the remainder of us must suffer.

Joseph A. Paternostro

Buffalo

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Use our local talent to work on waterfront

It was exciting to hear about all the wonderful things planned for our waterfront -- including outdoor art. But I was dismayed to read that Louis Grachos, director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, is "expecting to bring five finalists to Buffalo to present ideas" for this art.

We have wonderful artists right here in Buffalo and instead of planning to bring in ideas from other places, we should be looking to support the arts right here in Buffalo. With his statement, Grachos seems to imply that we must import our talent. Why shouldn't we have the work of Buffalo artists represented at this Buffalo landmark?

Shelly Kerker

Amherst

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Authority lacked enough fortitude to build bridge

After many comments of why Western New York will not get an improved Peace Bridge structure to satisfy existing and future traffic between our two countries, I've decided to add my two cents. As the old Pogo comic strip eloquently stated, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

As a professional engineer, I was taught to correct the problem, not sugarcoat it. A few years back I recall seeing preliminary plans to expand the capacity of the Peace Bridge by using the original five arched spans and a Parker through-truss over the Black Rock Canal. I believe there was the necessary funding to accomplish the work. Then the media and the politicians got into the act. They inferred that we needed a signature bridge, which increased the cost and delayed the project.

The existing bridge is a functional and beautiful structure. A complementary addition would have been fine and would now exist. Where was the Peace Bridge Authority during all the confusion over the type of bridge to be constructed? Their goal was to provide the necessary controlled traffic between our countries, which is an integral asset to the economy of Western New York, not to yield to the media and political rhetoric. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Dario A. Violanti

Orchard Park

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Consider modest plans that would reduce debt

There is a way to overcome the standoff between the Republicans and the Democrats involved in the debt-limit talks in Washington. As it now stands, Republicans want major spending cuts and Obama wants to tax businesses. We need a solution, and I've got one.

Reduce the tax rate on businesses to 25 percent from the current rate of 35 percent and give Obama what he is asking for, namely eliminating the tax deductions for gas and oil companies, corporate jets and carried interest for private equity firms.

I believe the Republicans will accept such a proposal because the tax reduction will make companies more competitive worldwide and create jobs as a result. Even the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission recommended this approach.

Bob Rodgers

Williamsville

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Try balancing the books

A balanced budget amendment? Yes! With that we would never again be able to finance a war. How cool is that?

Paul H. Reitan

Amherst

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Collins should consider using surplus on roads

It was reported recently that Erie County Executive Chris Collins has a surplus of $13 million and is running for re-election. Sounds like a done deal -- but maybe not.

I have been driving Erie County roads for 59 years and I have never seen them in such horrible shape. When we had so much rainy weather in the spring it was understandable that road crews couldn't get the repairs made, but now the weather has been fine for several weeks and still little work is being done.

In just the Town of Hamburg, check out Pleasant Avenue, Amsdell Road, Sowles Road and many others. The longer we have to wait for repairs or rebuilds the more our cars suffer. Can we put some of that $13 million to good use?

Marian F. Ward

Hamburg

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'Hit and run' loophole was closed years ago

The News' excellent reporting on the July 18 "Inside the minds of hit-and-run drivers" is not only a sad, cautionary and thought-provoking story, but also an outstanding public service in reminding the public of the seriousness with which the law views hit and run driving.

In 1999, former state Sen. Mary Lou Rath and I introduced legislation to close what was then termed the "hit, run and hide" loophole that was responsible for allowing countless drunk driving killers to get off with only a minor violation by leaving the scene of an accident to gain enough time to "sober up." Back then, I noted, "individuals who turn their backs on their fellow man in a time of need to save their own hide show very little humanity and no heart. Avoiding personal responsibility is not something that should be protected under the law."

With a strong push from local law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) the new law, finally passed and signed by Governor Pataki in 2005, made it a Class D Felony -- vehicular manslaughter -- to leave the scene of any accident involving fatal injuries, thus eliminating the "hit, run and hide" loophole.

Jim Hayes

Member of Assembly

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Self-absorbed politicians don't care about debt

Our legislators are working overtime to reduce the deficit, or so they claim. They seem to be aiming primarily at Social Security, veterans benefits and Medicare.

Instead of hitting these same groups continuously, I have a unique suggestion. Why not have every elected official, and every department head, be they federal, state, or local, take a 5 percent cut in salary, with no automatic annual raises?

Doesn't this sound like a good start? I think it's strange that not one congressman has thought of this. Of course we have to remind ourselves that their primary aim is to get re-elected. Everything else is secondary.

We might also cut military spending, and stop making wars, before we end up like the Roman Empire. As a matter of fact, we're already marching down that road. History does repeat itself!

Whatever the outcome of their efforts, it will be interesting to see which group with the least political clout gets hit the hardest when the politicians get finished. We know in advance that it won't be them.

Roger J. Goergen

Williamsville

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Obama has shown a lot of nerve lately

I would ask the president this simple question: Why now? Why would you now come to the voters for help with the debt ceiling? You did not ask for our help when you shoved your health care bill down our throats. Your wild spending on the medical bill will probably bankrupt us in the long run, so we may as well get it over with now. Your arrogance is ruining the country.

William Kraus

Akron