Random questioning smacks of police state

While sitting in the Depew railroad station on Aug. 27, waiting for a train to arrive, five or six U.S. Border Patrol officers walked in with bulletproof vests and an assortment of tools hanging from their belts. They all proceeded to put false smiles on their faces and walk around the station waiting room and ask everyone, "Are you a United States citizen?"

When I am returning to the United States and a Customs officer asks the same question, it is right and proper. When I am sitting in a public place, and in fact not even traveling on any public conveyance, this question causes me great concern. Indiscriminate questioning, without cause, by an official police force of a national government smacks of a totalitarian police state.

The actions of these young officers were embarrassing to the United States because there were indeed foreign tourists in the station. You could see the question going through their minds: "Are Americans so afraid of terrorists that they have sacrificed everything for safety?"

The actions of these young officers caused me to ask: "What is being taught in police academies these days?" Indiscriminate police questioning does not make the United States safer. All it does is reduce my faith in any action by the federal government.

For some reason this quote from Benjamin Franklin comes to mind: "Those who would sacrifice liberty for freedom deserve neither." If we citizens and the press do not start making more noise about the police assuming powers in this country, we will indeed be very close to "neither."

Robert A. Martin



St. Adalbert Basilica should be worship site

I would like to know if Bishop Edward Kmiec and Sister Regina Murphy are above the Vatican? Even though the Vatican clearly ruled in our favor and assured us that St. Adalbert Basilica is to remain a worship site, they are intent on disrespecting that ruling. Like other parishioners, I will not be attending any other church. Our parish has the status of being a basilica and has special blessings for all who worship and visit the church, and as such it deserves to remain open as agreed by the Vatican's ruling.

Barbara O'Brien



Republicans are not beholden to citizens

As a liberal Democrat, I have a clear conscience in believing to my very core that one major American political party should be expunged from this country.

The origins of our country prove that at the time of George Washington's first election, there were no parties. Many founding fathers abhorred them and I follow their belief and call for the GOP abolishment.

It has become painfully clear that the Republicans cannot lead, they cannot create, they cannot govern and they cannot compromise. And yet, they can readily sign pledges! These pledges stand in stark contrast to, and are most antithetical of, our democratic republic. If GOP politicians are committed to signing pledges, then it is quite comprehensible to whom they are beholden -- and it isn't this country's citizens. A politician can have only one master. At one time, it was the American people. Now it has become these political groups that write pledges. It is anti-American to work for interest groups and not citizens.

The creator of the "anti-tax" pledge famously said he would like to "drown government in a bathtub," and we are now witnessing the bathtub being filled with water. It needs to end now. Citizen committees, along with congressional hearings, should be formed to investigate the extent of the Republicans' subterfuge.

Shane E. Stephenson



It's time for Brown to share the wealth

I am no math whiz, but why is Mark D. Croce requesting $5.3 million of New York State funds for renovations? Croce said he has spent about $1.5 million so far and will have spent about $3 million by the end of the year. So then why is he requesting the $5.3 million -- because it is there, part of the $15 million economic-development funding?

If there truly is $15 million that has been stuffed in some account somewhere for the past three years, why doesn't Mayor Byron Brown share the wealth? I can think of a few places where the money could be spent. I think the Statler is a beautiful building, with a lot of memories for a lot of people, including myself. My senior prom was held there. So, I thank Croce for his vision. He is a businessman, I am not.

But if I knew there was money in some economic-development fund that would pay for my dream, maybe I would have bought the Statler. By the way, I need a new roof on my official historical home. The estimates are around $7,000. Could the city allocate $10,000 from the economic-development fund? Hey, the money is just sitting there.

Julie Hughes



Collaboration essential on teacher evaluations

As anyone who has ever endeavored to develop an effective assessment knows, evaluation of human performance is complex. It is not surprising, then, that the creation and implementation of a new evaluation process requires collaboration and modification. What is disturbing, however, is the way that the media -- including The News (most recently in its Sept. 1 editorial "Drop the objections") -- consistently cast state changes in the process as "logical" and teacher responses to the changes as "obstacles."

Perhaps writers have forgotten the numerous inaccuracies and dubious practices that have been connected with state assessments (math examinations immediately come to mind). Like teacher unions, the state is composed of humans. Collaboration is essential in this complicated process; however, it is not useful to portray one group as well-intentioned and the other as mindlessly obstructionist. This is particularly true when the latter group's livelihood is at stake.

Julie Gorlewski



Letter writer's comment about storm is blasphemy

A Sept. 2 letter criticizes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to exclude clergy from the 9/1 1 memorial ceremony. I don't feel that Bloomberg is necessarily "looking to advance his political agenda."

A benevolent God does wrap his loving arms around those who mourn. But to actually infer that he would cause "Irene to hit the East Coast shortly after the mayor's decision" is blasphemy.

Joan K. Roll


Sagamore Hill, Ohio