Niagara Air Show needs help managing traffic and crowds

With two young, airplane-loving sons and a father-in-law who flew in the Army Air Forces, we had looked forward to the Thunder of Niagara Air Show for months. You can only imagine the disappointment we felt on Saturday after it took us an hour to travel less than 1.14 miles on Ward Road -- as directed by signage in the area -- attempting to reach the Air Reserve Station. After checking the GPS and calculating how far we still were from the entrance, we followed the lead of many other cars and turned around to drive home.

The traffic was not only unheard of for this area, but also completely unnecessary. There are multiple locations near the station that could have been used for off-site parking, from which shuttle buses could have transported visitors to and from their vehicles throughout the day. Instead, the organizers identified one off-site parking location, which remained closed to vehicles until the primary lot was completed filled.

Capt. Ben Canetti is correct, the air station is not Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Ralph opens multiple lots for cars to park in simultaneously, managing thousands of vehicles with relative ease (sometimes in snow and ice, I might add). And the logic of his advice to "leave early" eludes me; if thousands of vehicles had tried to reach the station hours earlier than they did on Saturday, would it really have been easier to get there?

Organizers who are experienced in managing crowds and traffic of this magnitude have to be appointed for future events. Thunder of Niagara could and should be a place for thousands to witness and enjoy the majesty of these planes alongside the talent and courage of the pilots who fly them. For those who actually made it there last weekend, I'm sure it was.

Elyse Brown



New York State violated Seneca Gaming Compact

James Calvin has long led the convenience store lobby's charge against the Native people across New York demanding that the state enforce cigarette tax collections. Now he inserts himself into gaming issues?

Let's get the facts straight regarding the Seneca Nation's exclusivity payment obligation. The Senecas entered into a 2002 Gaming Compact with New York in which the Nation agreed to pay the state for the exclusive right to offer gaming devices (including slots and video lottery terminals) in its facilities. The Nation agreed to pay the state up to 25 percent of the slot drop in return for the protection of the exclusive right to gaming in Western New York.

The state now operates and sanctions video lottery terminals, and has allowed Batavia Downs and Hamburg Casino to market themselves as full-blown casinos. Thus the state has violated the Gaming Compact. Once the compact was breached, the Senecas were no longer obligated to pay the exclusivity share.

In spite of the violation, the Senecas still proposed and offered to make direct payments to the local municipalities. The Senecas gave full support to local legislators who backed a bill that would allow the Senecas to make direct payments to host casino communities -- Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca -- who are blameless for the state's actions.

Calvin ignores the facts and prefers to paint the Seneca Nation as the party that has abrogated the agreement.

Richard Nephew

Council Chairman, Seneca Nation

Cattaraugus Territory, Irving


It's time for sports teams to help their communities

With the football and hockey seasons coming into full swing, it's time to get a reasonable perspective on their value and role in our community. They've evolved from professional sports teams to professional athletic businesses. In the process, they have made a lot of money. City, county and state residents have, over the past 40 or 50 years, supported the teams financially and emotionally through good and bad times. The millionaire athletes and owners are very fortunate to have such dedicated fans.

Now, I believe it's time for the teams to give a little back and help support our cherished, non-athletic institutions that contribute to our quality of life in Western New York. This can be accomplished with little or no financial pain to the athletes and owners. A dedicated source of income for museums, theaters, libraries and the zoo can be put into place simply by donating 50 cents per ticket to these cultural enterprises. It would have very little impact on the teams, but would be a tremendous help to those who give us something else to cheer about.

And here's another simple idea that gets lost or ignored in all the hype during collective bargaining agreements. With all the concern about sharing the billions of dollars by players and owners during negotiations, why not put in a clause that gives their respective communities $1 million or $2 million for cultural institutions? It's time the players and owners took a small role to help the the communities that are the reason for their wealth.

Paul J. Wasielewski



Collins is doing great job as Erie County executive

In 2007 I wrote about Chris Collins, "He believes he can make Erie County as successful as his businesses because he has superior executive management skills." I believed him. I still do.

An acquaintance told me he thought that Collins was arrogant. But he has confused arrogance with self-assurance and assertiveness, fueled by intelligence and conviction. Collins is incisive and adept at problem solving, with a clear vision of what needs to be done and how to achieve it. His judgment is from his personal experiences based on proven success and not emotional slogans. Recent critics should view living within our means as commendable. He is prioritizing and watching our wallets. Collins is one of the best county executives ever.

To the lady on the beach with the two darling kids thanking Collins, I say thanks as well, for they are correct. Everything in Erie County is better with Collins as the chief executive. Let's all appreciate his great successes and let him continue his plans, aptly named "Collins For Our Future."

Marian M. Gray



Why is America wasting millions to explore moon?

After seeing the article in the Sept. 6 issue of The News titled "Robotic twins ready for lunar exploration," I couldn't help but wonder. We read about the national unemployment rate being 9.6 percent. Recently we heard of the Social Security and Social Security Disability checks being threatened because of the national debt. Everywhere there are millions of Americans living without health care. How then can we justify spending $496 million to send twin robots to the moon? Maybe I'm wrong, but I could surely think of better ways to spend close to half a billion dollars.

Mike Decker