Stop throwing trash into library gardens
I am writing in response to the letter on the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library gardens. The gardens are done by the library gardener, who spends a lot of time to keep them in shape. The triangular garden on Washington in front of the library is done by Working for Downtown and, along with weeding and trimming the flowers, it takes a lot of time to water this garden and to pick up the trash that people just toss into it.
I was frustrated calling Buffalo Place and the city trying to get someone to help water this garden, as many of the perennials were dying off from our exceedingly dry summer. I was hauling gallons of water from home two to three times a week, which couldn't keep up with the perennials but did keep the annuals alive. All Pro Parking, and especially Jim Larivey, have been a Godsend, keeping this garden watered for the last six weeks.
Secondly, the trash tossed in this garden amounts to at least one carpenter bag full a week! This includes cans, bottles, food bags, wrappers, plastic bags and other trash. I get so annoyed with these people because I'm sure they wouldn't like me tossing trash in their yard. However, in looking around the area recently, I could not see a garbage can anywhere. I know the city has garbage cans on Main Street. Perhaps adding one along the sidewalk by the library would help. If not, a little courtesy from those walking by would be nice. Do not use the library gardens as your garbage can.
Workers must stand up to greedy companies
An Aug. 24 letter about how 86 American Axle UAW workers "cut off their nose to spite their face" is causing the downfall of the middle class. They voted "no" on their latest contract offer. The writer implies that they should have taken half a loaf instead of the whole because now they won't have money to send their kids to college, save for retirement, buy a new car, etc. He has to be self-employed or the CEO of some company because what American Axle and other American employers want to give their workers will only fill their rice bowls.
These proud UAW workers gave their years to a company that is just looking for the cheapest labor to make the largest profit. The workers are second. Labor Day is just days away. Maybe a huge turnout of union and non-union workers at the Labor Day Parade in South Buffalo will show the American Axles of this country that we still have "fight."
New York's taxes, fees drive up health care cost
In his Aug. 22 column, Douglas Turner, while focusing on the possibilities he sees the Affordable Care Act bringing to New York, overlooks the many hurdles in place that impede the efforts to achieve the goals of federal reform including affordability.
First there are New York's taxes on health care, which total more than $4 billion annually and can equal 6 percent of the premium. These include various assessments and surcharges applied to health insurance premiums as part of New York's Health Care Reform Act, as well as other assessments and premium taxes levied by the state that must be built into the premium base. If New York's health care taxes weren't enough, the administrative requirements associated with the initial work of implementing the federal reform act added another 1 percent to 3 percent to the cost of premiums.
Add to these costs the ever-increasing number of state-mandated benefits -- a list of more than 50 coverage requirements that must be included in every basic policy sold in New York. Every mandate carries a cost, however minimal, and this legislative session lawmakers approved new mandates such as restricting the use of mail-order pharmacy benefits and requirements for coverage of oral chemotherapy treatments. They also passed a broad autism coverage bill. Though, in a nod to the cost it imposes, the Legislature exempted state programs such as Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and Healthy New York from having to provide the coverage.
Turner notes that New York's health insurance rates are the fourth highest in the nation. Until New York faces and fixes the factors that contribute to this, making care affordable here will be a difficult if not impossible task.
Paul F. Macielak
President & CEO, New York
Health Plan Association
Writer who mocked teachers is clueless
This is in response to the uninformed, snarky letter about finding "something for teachers to do during the summer instead of walking around in flips flops and putting on sunscreen." I don't know about the teachers the writer knows, but I can tell you about the one I know.
My daughter is a first-grade teacher in a rural Western New York school district and I can guarantee you that flip flops and sunscreen are not part of her agenda. During her so-called summer vacation, she attends mandatory in-service programs and workshops to learn any new curricula that is being introduced in September. She also uses this time to set up her classrooms for the year, write and mail introductory letters to her new students and their parents; produce and mail her classroom newsletter; prepare lesson plans in advance; develop teaching materials; and purchase extra supplies -- at her own expense, I might add.
And when school starts, she is gone from early in the morning until well after dark. Twelve-hour days for her are the rule rather than the exception. She, like most of her colleagues, is a dedicated, hardworking professional who has made a difference in the lives of thousands of children over the course of her 20-year teaching career.
I would suggest that the letter writer might benefit from walking a mile in some teacher's flip flops before making such thoughtless assumptions. Better still, maybe he should volunteer his services over the summer to tutor children who need extra help.
Abusive parents merit harsher punishment
The story of Jeremy Bolvin's assaults on his infant sons was heartbreaking. I could not believe the lenient sentence he received. It is hard for me to imagine how someone could be so brutal and have such indifference, especially to an innocent child. His comments regarding the incidents show a lack of any remorse for what he has done.
I hope that Sen. Timothy Kennedy is successful in getting his bill passed that will increase penalties for adults who assault children. The sooner the better.
Child abuse, neglect and exploitation should be a priority with government so that our most precious resources are protected. No child should ever be assaulted, especially at the hands of the people he should be able to trust most, his parents.
Tammy S. Laurito