It's sad to see profits put before air safety

After all of the pain and suffering that the families of Flight 3407 have endured since the loss of their loved ones, now they learn that in emails exchanged by Colgan Air supervisors, there was considerable doubt over the pilot's ability to fly that plane. How sad is it that corporations continue to put profits ahead of safety, at the expense of innocent, unsuspecting people? To the airline industry, the 50 people who lost their lives are a statistic in computing their safety record. To the family members of the lost, they were moms and dads, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives. No amount of money that the families may receive will ever come close to replacing their loss.

Since the crash, the families have tried to change legislation to put stricter safety regulations on the airline industry, but with the help of the corporation-backed right wing, they have encountered nothing but resistance. It is disgusting to hear how incredibly out of touch these lawmakers are with Main Street. They continue to feed the greed of big business at the expense of the rest of us, looking to ease restrictions for corporations, whether it's trying to defund the FAA andFEMA, dismantle the EPA or seek more free trade agreements with other countries. Whose interests are they serving? Certainly not those of the many.

It should come as no surprise that we have folks occupying Wall Street, Niagara Square and many other locales. My hope is that this passion and activism continues into next year's election season. I further hope that we never forget the victims of Flight 3407 and how senseless their deaths were.

Tony Vaccaro



Our natural resources belong to the people

There's gold in my back yard, an underground vein that meanders beneath our neighborhoods, including yours. A company contracts me to mine this entire vein and I make lots of money. Should I share with you?

Who owns the oil, natural gas, coal, the air above us, the aquifers beneath our feet and the water flowing into our Great Lakes? Why are private companies and their CEOs allowed to get rich by charging us money for these natural resources?

In Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other countries where resources are nationalized, every citizen receives free health care and education through college.

Besides pollution and higher prices, what do U.S. companies give us in return?

Fred Tomasello Jr.



Six Sigma no substitute for great management

Years ago, when I was a benefit specialist at the corporate offices of a Fortune 500 company, a newly appointed vice president of human resources undertook to demonstrate his creds by implementing Zero Based Budgeting. It was a program, like Six Sigma, that used formulaic numbers as a substitute for management expertise and judgment in order to eliminate organizational and process fat.

One staff secretary who was in her early 60s was soon given notice. It was in no way a reflection on her performance, just that Zero Based Budgeting indicated her position was no longer needed. Everyone knew that for her to be eligible for a pension and continued medical coverage, she had to reach age 65 as a full-time employee. Everyone also knew that her husband had terminal cancer.

We were all stunned. I took myself to the president's office and spoke to his secretary about how high feelings were running. That it would take only a nudge for the whole corporate staff to join a white-collar union. Shortly thereafter, the vice president was called to the president's office. A long conversation ensued behind closed doors, which ended abruptly when the president exclaimed: "You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. You're fired!" So was Zero Based Budgeting. It's a lesson I will take with me to the voting booth when I select my choice for the next county executive.

Andrew R. Graham



Collins' leadership is producing good results

Finger-pointing, half-truths, distortions, hidden agendas -- it's election year in Erie County. Collaboration, enhanced quality of life, park reopening and special events -- this describes the last three years in the county. The smiles from county residents are priceless.

Let's not forget that under the previous administration, parks and beaches were closed and family recreation events were eliminated. During the last three years, let the facts speak for themselves. Under the direction of Parks Commissioner Jim Hornung and Deputy Commissioner Stan Jemiolo, residents have enjoyed and benefited from the following: All county parks and beaches were reopened and properly staffed. The toboggan chute at Chestnut Ridge Park reopened. The Chestnut Ridge Casino and many other amenities throughout the county park system were restored.

Winterfest, Santa Land and Fall Fest, to name a few, were brought back to life. Last year alone these events attracted more than 15,000 residents. New events such as BPO concerts and wellness walks are now taking place in county parks.

This does not happen without leadership that cares, has vision and is willing to collaborate. New collaborative relationships have bought into this forward thinking with results. Niagara Frontier Recreation and Parks Society, Orchard Park Recreation Department, Verizon, Wegmans, Canisius College, Dick's Sporting Goods, Boy Scouts and Niagara Region Disc Golf are among the groups committed to a better quality of life.

Let's stop dwelling on the negative. It benefits no one. Look at what has been accomplished in a short period of time and imagine what will be done long-term. We need to continue to be visionary, not reactionary.

Ed Leak

Recreation Director

Town of Orchard Park


Get rid of politicians taking away our rights

I am a typical resident of an ordinary community in Western New York. I worked full time while achieving an advanced college degree. I work hard for a good company, make an honest wage and pay my mortgage and other bills each month. I am no different from millions of individuals across this country. I am also sick of being taxed to death, mandated to death, legislated to death, regulated to death and preached at to death. Again, no different from millions of individuals across this country.

Little by little, my individual freedoms and rights are being taken away from me. Let's start with our local and state politicians and end with the current resident of the White House and vote them out next November. I, for one, am sick to death of all of them.

Carolyn Swanson

East Amherst