Orchard Park police perform vital service
I have been an Orchard Park police officer for 18 years. When hired, I had to hand write all reports and tickets and all our records were ink and paper. Our computers were accessible only at dispatch. I had to call in a driver's information to find out about his license status and warrants. Now I have cameras on my patrol car linked to a computer to instantly check every car I drive past. My onboard printer generates my tickets for me. The pace of modernization is ever increasing. We do need to update many aspects of our Police Department.
Other changes in the last two decades are very dark. Suicide attackers intent on causing maximum casualties in the minimum time are a fact of life. Columbine in 1999, Sept. 11, 2001, and the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, Russia, in 2004 changed the way law enforcement must respond to worst-case scenarios.
Will children attack their classmates in Orchard Park schools? Locally, Columbine was frequently compared to Orchard Park demographically after that attack. It is very unlikely to happen. But if it does happen, do Orchard Park residents want their own police officers responding immediately with the right equipment such a AR-15s, or will the "cheaper" Sheriff's Department's response be good enough?
Every organization should strive every day to do better at what it does. The Orchard Park Police Department is no exception. But the Town Board must be very careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Joseph C. Ray
Link stadium lease to Bills' performance
Well, folks, Ralph Wilson, the owner of an NFL team housed here in our midst, wants to talk about a new lease. He says he'd be glad to sign a lease that will keep the team here, and "competitive."
Let's see, since the time of Bill Polian and John Butler as general managers, the football team has fallen far away from being competitive by any objective measure. Now, he wants government subsidies for "modest" improvements.
Here's a better idea: Erie County Executive Chris Collins ought to get together with Wilson and include the following stipulations to take effect from now forward, every March 1 to Feb. 28: No playoff appearance; no subsidies. Make the playoffs; get a 25 percent subsidy. Win the AFC title; get a 50 percent subsidy. Win the Super Bowl; get a 100 percent subsidy. Attempt to circumvent the lease; forfeit said franchise, and all money and resources, into the hands of Erie County.
This way, the taxpayers won't have to be saddled with supporting an under-achieving on-field product all of the time.
Lloyd Marshall Jr.
Politicians no longer work for the people
The leadership of the United States is the best that money can buy. How else can one explain the continued failure of the politicians to close the loopholes that allow our corporations to pay taxes to shore up the economy of foreign countries and not pay taxes to the United States? These politicians also allow outsourcing of well-paying jobs, reducing the income of workers. When one of the richest people in the world said that the wealthy should pay more taxes, he was immediately assailed by those in power.
The original tea party, if I remember correctly, dumped tea into the water to protest the taxes going overseas. "No taxation without representation" strikes a chord in my memory. This so-called tea party wants to cut spending. "We can't spend more than we take in," they say. How true! And they suggest going after the "entitlements" of the retirees and the working class. What about the entitlements of those in Washington, D.C.? They should start there, but perish the thought.
It has now been reported that one in six Americans is below the poverty level, yet there is a movement under way to break up the unions. Let us start instead with breaking up the special interests that are pulling the strings of their puppets in government. It is pathetic how many Republicans are being misled by the GOP leadership. They are blindly following those who have their own agenda. What a pity that there are those who place their party ahead of their country. This will lead to our country's downfall.
Green technologies are wise investment
Buffalo is known for having the largest disco, the second biggest food-tasting festival and the list goes on and on. But the other day we found out that we also have the largest Solar and Green Buildings Tour in the state.
Today, in our hard economic times, it is hopeful and surprising to see that there are more than 40 projects in Western New York that are benefiting from the growing green economy. The University at Buffalo Solar Strand, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Tonawanda Solar Technology Park and the Avant are great examples of the anchors leading the green revolution in Western New York.
On Saturday, I and many other Western New Yorkers will take advantage of a free, self-guided tour of these green buildings provided by the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association. The Solar and Green Buildings Tour gives us all a chance to learn about how these technologies work and how people have overcome the costs of the initial investment. Each year I go, and each year the tour gets bigger and better. My hope is that the tour will help Western New Yorkers learn that investing in new green technologies is the right thing to do.
Clean water must be nation's top priority
The Buffalo News has printed many informative articles about hydro-fracking. This is timely because it is literally coming to our front door here in Western New York. Fracking is an efficient way to obtain natural gas from rock formations. The frackers are working in our neighborhood, and have begun the procedures to process waste-water material through a plant in Niagara Falls.
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, "Each Marcellus Shale well uses 100,000 to 300,000 gallons of water for drilling and an average of 4 million gallons mixed with sand and chemicals to hydraulically fracture the shale and release the gas. This number does not include pollution to existing ground water."
According to the New York Times, "There were more than 493,000 active natural-gas wells in the United States in 2009."
According to the Drought Monitor, 32 U.S. states are under drought or are abnormally dry, including parts of Western New York. Texas is under a state of emergency.
I know jobs are important. I know energy is important. But humans can live for only about two days without water. Water is more important. Let's not waste it on fracking.