Bring Cotter fireboat to waterfront festivals

On June 17 and 18, the Buffalo River Fest was held at the new beautiful Buffalo River Fest Park on Ohio Street along the Buffalo River. Many visitors were disappointed to learn that despite all the marketing, they were not going to be able to even see the Edward M. Cotter fireboat, let alone board it for a ride. I inquired and found out that just prior to the event, organizers were notified that it was being sent to a festival in Dunkirk instead.

During the weekend of July 30, a sell-out crowd flocked to Canalside to see Tragically Hip perform at the Outer Harbor Fest held at the former site of the Pier, and the waterways were filled with boats. Again, the Cotter was among the missing. This time the fireboat was at a festival in Port Colborne, Ont.

The fireboat is a national historic landmark, one of only nine in the City of Buffalo, and the oldest working fireboat in the world. It should be present in Buffalo as an attraction for visitors now that Buffalo's waterfront has become a destination. With its cannons shooting water, the boat is a show-stopper that local tourists and Western New York residents should be able to enjoy.

As we plan for next year's season, perhaps we can plan on the fireboat for 2012 Buffalo River Fest.

Geraldine M. Butler



Turkish official must be joking about Israel

It was with utter disbelief that I read in The News the recent statement by Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. He warned Israel "that it risks alienation among Arab nations by resisting an apology for the raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla." Risks alienation among Arab nations? What on earth does Davutoglu call the Arab nations' treatment of Israel since its rebirth in 1948? Over the years, the world has watched or read about the surrounding Arab nations' attempt to push the Israelis into the sea; wipe them off the face of the map; and state that Israel has neither the right to the land nor even the right to exist.

Perhaps Turkey should send some real aid to all those millions of suffering Arabs we see on TV rebelling against their despot leaders who have kept them in abject poverty all these years.

Virginia McGroder



Social Security is not an entitlement

Some recent articles refer to Social Security and Medicare as "entitlements." Absolutely untrue! Social Security was created to be a retirement insurance plan for American workers. During the years we work, we (and our employers) contribute to this plan. At retirement time, we are supposed to receive a monthly payback from the fund in accordance with the number of years we were employed. This is an earned retirement benefit for those who actually worked and contributed. It is not an entitlement.

One of the government plans to reduce spending is to curtail entitlements. It has redirected our money to other uses. Now it wants to finagle the rules and call our contributions "entitlements subject to reform." That's outrageous! Abolish some of the freebies and perks for certain government employees, and the giveaways to people who didn't work and are not entitled. And plug the many other leaks that need to be plugged.

If Medicare is also an entitlement, will the government ever stop deducting the $96 a month from my Social Security "entitlement"? And will we go a third year without a cost of living increase?

To create jobs, change the free trade rules to make America more competitive. Then we'll need more factories to produce goods. Factories and manufacturing mean jobs. People working generate more tax revenue. But if these things ever happen, they politicians will still have to stop their squandering.

Dave Roth



Our federal politicians are big disappointment

So, am I going to go out and hire lots of new employees for my accounting practice because I'm going to get tax credits? I don't think so. As for veterans, I was looking for an accountant to work in my practice and would have hired a veteran, but there weren't any qualified ones.

We need government incentives that will create jobs. I wrote to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand about giving tax credits to owners of rental property when they insulate their buildings. This would create jobs for the people manufacturing the insulation, the delivery people, the installers and the people selling the insulation.

The only response I received was a letter, one year later, from Obama's office that told me how the government is trying to clean up the atmosphere. It almost seemed that these politicians didn't understand what I was trying to tell them.

I am very disappointed with our federal politicians. We elect them to represent us and they they can't even read or respond to the letters we send them.

Kenneth Weinstein

East Amherst


People are the lifeblood of any arts organization

When County Executive Chris Collins releases county money only for capital improvements to arts non-profits, this is a back-door way of turning county funds directly over to private companies. Operational money, which he blocked, goes to people's salaries, the people who are the lifeblood of any arts organization. Capital improvement money goes straight back out the door to some company that can build or sell and install the capital improvement. What good is a new roof or an elevator if there are no people left to staff the organization?

If Collins wants to help the bottom line of construction companies, let him just say so. It's hypocritical to disguise it as help for the same arts organizations he has just stabbed in the back.

Nancy Fernandez



GOP intransigence is the order of the day

Besides death and taxes, one other certainty exists in our culture -- Republican intransigence. I watched the president's address on the American Jobs Act and was hopeful for bipartisan support to assist the 14 million unemployed to get back to realizing the American dream.

Sen. Mitch McConnell calls the speech a ploy to get President Obama re-elected in 2012. Sen. Bob Corker says, "it's nibbling around the edges of the problem and might affect the supercommittee's efforts to cut the deficit negatively."

McConnell has indicated the goal of Republicans is to deny Obama a second term. The goal is not to make economic conditions better for the people. It's always party interest over national concerns.

The 2012 elections will be a referendum on Republican intransigence. In the meantime, Republicans are saying to the unemployed, "we don't really care!"

Richard Czarnecki