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How does letter writer know Bloomberg's motivations?

A Sept. 2 letter writer lamented that there will be no prayer at the 9/1 1 memorial ceremony in New York City. As a Christian, I find her comments disturbing. She is "concerned" that the families and friends of those who lost their lives are not allowed to have the support of their religious leaders, yet not so concerned that she does not feel that a pastor praying in Jesus' name might be offensive to the Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others who lost loved ones. To be truly sensitive to those in attendance, there would have to be a member of the "clergy" from every faith to offer prayers in the name of the God they follow.

The writer also castigates Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision not to have clergy pray as a narcissistic move with political underpinnings. How does the writer know the motivations of the mayor's heart? I find it rather ironic that on one hand she is appalled by the apparent rejection of God by the mayor by not allowing prayer, yet on the other hand clearly violating the Scripture by judging a person according to her standard.

Lastly, the writer takes Scripture out of context saying, "God will not be mocked," to buttress her final point that the "reason" for Hurricane Irene was the fact the mayor was not allowing prayer. I would never want to presume when it comes to God. I am so very tired of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ claiming to know what God is or is not doing. And to make this ridiculous statement is to minimize the pain of the hundreds of thousands still trying to recover from this devastating storm.

Mark Lee Schnitzer

West Seneca

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Obama is wrong to reject new standards for ozone

President Obama has the dubious distinction of following in the footsteps of George W. Bush when he rejected new standards for ozone. By taking this misguided action, he dismissed the best medical and scientific advice provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and condemned thousands of Americans to poorer health. As Bill McKibben said, "Somehow we need to get back the president we thought we elected in 2008."

In 2007, the EPA's air quality data showed that almost 120 million Americans lived in counties where the ozone standard was not met. On the hot days of summer, Buffalo frequently fails to meet this standard. We need and deserve cleaner, healthier air. The EPA's 2020 projections estimated that if a 60-part-per-billion standard replaced the current 75-part-per-billion standard, cleaner air would prevent 4,000 myocardial infarcts, 46,000 exacerbations of asthma, 18,400 emergency room visits and 332,000 lost days of work each year, plus a myriad of other adverse health effects.

The projected cost estimates range from $8.3 billion to $18 billion, with benefits ranging between $53 billion and $100 billion. These are not numbers and dollars -- these are patients who are sick and some who tragically die prematurely. These are children in the emergency room who are struggling to breathe, adults who die prematurely from heart attacks, etc. Instead of playing golf with Speaker John Boehner, the president should invite him to form a foursome with Rep. Eric Cantor and Sen. Mitch McConnell for a day in an inner-city emergency room to witness the personal tragedies of ozone-related illnesses.

Alan H. Lockwood, M.D.

Emeritus professor of neurology

University at Buffalo

Past president and board member

Physicians for Social Responsibility

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Non-smoking policies are not being enforced

As non-smokers, my husband and I are thrilled with recent efforts to advertise events in Buffalo as smoke-free, especially now that we have an infant. Unfortunately for us we are being forced to leave these events in a cloud of smoke.

Despite good intentions, the enforcement of such policies leaves something to be desired. We first came across this as former Buffalo Bills season-ticket holders. At all eight home games, we contacted the fan hotline, but no one ever approached us to follow up or enforce the non-smoking policy. We felt uncomfortable having to advocate for ourselves but we politely asked surrounding fans to put out their cigarettes. Many cordial people apologetically complied, however, many of them became agitated and harassed us for the duration of each game and future games. This led us to get rid of our season tickets and attend very few games with our fingers crossed in the family section.

After this experience and many more just like it, we have been even more selective about the events that we attend. I was ecstatic to see that the 10th Annual Wing Fest was advertised as non-smoking. Sadly our stay was short-lived due to smoke. Once again we had to uncomfortably ask numerous people to stop smoking; there was no security in sight. When we finally found security, we had mixed reviews. One guard said that smoking was not her main priority, yet another expressed what a hard time she had keeping up with enforcing the rule even though a reminder was printed on the front page of the flyer that was being distributed at the entrance.

As a frustrated citizen I am begging for an answer -- when will it end?

Heather Bertini

Buffalo

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Boston needs to reduce cost of fire protection

As a lifelong resident of the Town of Boston and an avid tea partyer, I am compelled to respond to the Sept. 2 letter regarding the dispute between town officials and the fire departments.

First, let me say that I am very grateful to the men and women who volunteer and provide essential services to our community. I have called them myself in the past. However, I feel the costs and scope of fire protection, as well as most government services, is out of control. Some points that I feel are relevant to the discussion are as follows:

According to our Town Board, the cost of fire protection is 25 percent of the town budget. This seems high to me and I am sure to others as well.

Boston has three firehouses on Route 391 within five miles of each other and two auxiliary houses on the east and west hills.

By my count, Boston has 12 full-size fire trucks, which cost an average of $250,000 each. This is a lot of equipment and fire halls for a town of 8,000 people.

Approximately 90 percent of calls are for auto accidents and other emergencies, not fires.

Also, let's not forget that with large structure fires, the mutual aid system kicks in and help comes from neighboring towns -- an old and great tradition of cooperation.

Now, as I've said I'm not "picking" on the fire departments, just the opposite. I commend them for their efforts. I just feel creative thinking, such as consolidation and privatization of services, is a necessary and worthwhile goal.

I hope the dialogue between the town and the community can continue so we can provide quality services at less cost.

Keith Clauss

Boston