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Both parties must put people's interests first

Locally, pro-union Democrat Mark Poloncarz defeated incumbent Republican County Executive Chris Collins. Nationally, an anti-union piece of Republican legislation was soundly defeated in Ohio. Hmm. Having accomplished what he promised when he came into office four years ago, namely, to change the dismal financial picture in Erie County, in his concession speech Collins indicated that he was not sure what his defeat meant. What message were voters sending? Hmm. Former County Executive Joel Giambra says it's time for Republicans to change their message. Hmm.

As a Republican, let me suggest that it's not about crafting a political message that is attractive to voters. Rather, it is about having the right mission. Perhaps we have begun to uncover the main shortcoming of running government in accord with a "business" model. At the risk of oversimplification, within the business world the primary focus is financial. The result is that people, both workers and consumers, are necessary for the generation of wealth. In other words, people become secondary means to the end of economic advantage.

So what may be the voter message? It is really quite simple. Make sure that "we the people" are first. Make it your mission to enhance the quality of life for all of the people you are elected to serve. Many voters are willing to risk a less financially efficient government so long as it is effective in providing the conditions that enhance their quality of life. As individuals and communities, we are often willing to do without in order to walk side by side with our neighbors as together we pursue that happiness the founders of our country had in mind. So whereas "we the people" want leaders with business know-how, we do not necessarily want leaders who are all business.

Michael Sherry

Orchard Park

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SPCA case about horses has dragged on too long

Having been involved with the horses in the SPCA/Hoskins case since the beginning, I applaud the editorial in the Nov. 4 Buffalo News, as well as Karen Robinson's articles and Donn Esmonde's columns.

The SPCA's mission is to protect animals. These people are the professionals with the knowledge. They have had high, non-budgeted animal care and legal expenses in this case, which has dragged on for way too long. Both sides deserve both trials to move forward quickly.

Ann Jewett

East Aurora

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Movement is sending several vital messages

The 15,000 health care workers of District 1, Communications Workers of America (CWA), support the continued efforts of Occupy Buffalo. We, as health care workers and union members, more than understand the issues that are being brought to the forefront by the Occupy demonstrations, not only in Buffalo, but in cities across the country and around the world.

Critics of these efforts would say that there is not a singular and/or clear message. Is there a necessity for a movement to have only a singular message? There are several messages that are important. People are frustrated and angry about the growing monetary divide between the rich and the poor. They are concerned with disappearing pensions and not knowing if they will be able to survive to retirement. The message is clear -- people have had enough! Clear enough?

We, as health care workers, see so much of the devastation and illness that has been thrust on our communities due to the recession, failing economy and gridlock in Washington, D.C. We see hardworking people going without medical insurance and being seen in our emergency rooms only when they are critically ill. We visit clients in their homes who are going without their medications, or trying to stretch them out as far as they can, because they cannot afford them. We see families trying to care for their elderly family members because they cannot afford an appropriate place of care.

We must stand side by side -- health care workers, union members, community activists, religious groups and other concerned citizens -- and demand that we return stability and equality to our country. We have had enough!

John E. Klein, R.N.

President, CWA Healthcare

Coordinating Council

President, CWA Local 1168

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Smart growth can help this area save millions

When financial times get tough, it's hard to stick to your guns. Even the most responsible consumers can find their mettle tested when money is tight. Paying an extra few dollars for that energy-efficient light bulb stings just a little more, and big-box bargain chains may start to seem palatable. Western New York's politicians face similar challenges on a larger scale, but when strapped for cash, the answer isn't lowering standards. It's spending smarter.

Is Western New York really in a position to throw away nearly a billion dollars? In 2006, Erie and Niagara counties joined forces to create the Framework for Regional Growth, Western New York's first regional plan in more than 30 years. The plan aspires to reduce sprawl and encourage development in existing neighborhoods. Unless we change our ways, between now and 2025 only 25 percent of development will occur in developed areas like Buffalo, Tonawanda and Amherst, while 35 percent will stretch out into rural areas such as Newfane, Marilla and Colden.

As sprawl marches on, new roads, sewers and other infrastructure must be built and maintained, at significant expense. If we can reverse the trend by investing 70 percent of development in existing neighborhoods, the region would save nearly $800 million.

Buffalo already has infrastructure in place to support more than twice its current population of 260,000. Needlessly expanding outward even more is a step in the wrong direction. Sprawl not only hurts the environment and damages existing neighborhoods -- it is economically irresponsible.

Hopefully, the newly instituted Western New York Regional Economic Development Council will be able to make headway with promising but stalled initiatives like the Regional Framework, thereby establishing Buffalo as a progressive region and a leader in smart growth.

Ryan McCarthy

Kenmore

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Occupiers are trying to raise awareness

Millions of people have lost their jobs and homes. Families are having trouble making ends meet due to this poor economy. The Occupiers are protesting this and the Wall Street bailout. They are trying to raise awareness and produce change while some people are more concerned about the trampled grass. We only wish the economy could be fixed as easily as the lawn at Niagara Square.

John and Sharon Roy

Lockport