Let the voters choose School Board members
There are nine elected representatives on the Buffalo Board of Education. Six are elected to three-year terms by voters in six sub-districts of the city, and three are elected to five-year at-large terms by voters across the entire city. In recent years, the Board of Education has set a bad precedent. Twice when vacancies occurred mid-term for board members at large, instead of filling the seats with outside candidates until elections could be held, the board allowed sitting district representatives to fill the vacated at-large seats and then interviewed outside candidates to backfill the district seats.
This has allowed district representatives to extend their terms without the benefit of an election, and to subvert the more rigorous requirements for nominating petitions -- 500 signatures from registered voters for a district seat versus 1,000 signatures from registered voters for an at-large seat. In vacating his at-large seat on the Buffalo board to take over as Erie County clerk, Chris Jacobs was right to recommend that this practice stop.
If Jacobs' seat is filled by a current district representative, then all three at-large seats will have been filled by the board in a closed process. Parents and the community expect transparency from the board. The School Board can begin to build public confidence with open and transparent practices. It should fill the seat vacated by Jacobs by issuing a public notice seeking qualified candidates who are interviewed publicly and appoint the most qualified candidate until the next election is held.
I don't begrudge district representatives from seeking an at-large position, but they should go through the same process as any other candidate -- run for the position at election time. It's only fair to let the voters decide.
Helene H. Kramer
Former member at large
Buffalo Board of Education
Save historic bridge in Letchworth Park
My wife and I and our friends have been visiting Letchworth State Park at least twice a year for the last 38 years. We gaze at the legacy William Prior Letchworth gave to us all, including the beauty of the Portageville Viaduct. Our children and their children have grown up with its beauty imprinted on their memories.
If anything, we should help the park visitors enjoy its splendor from many angles, its grandeur, its paths through the woods, the colorful Genesee River and the elegance of the great bridge, all under the change of seasons. Let's do what we can to enhance it all.
Michael Tritto Sr.
Make local business anchor at Canalside
When plans for the redevelopment of Buffalo's historic waterfront were first introduced to the public, the priority was given to a subsidized mega-retailer to serve as an anchor. This retailer often received significant public funding, while consistently failing to deliver on its economic responsibilities that justified the subsidies in the first place.
Since that time, we have seen the plans modified, but not entirely devoid of the prospect of a mega-retailer. However, through good-faith negotiations, the Canalside Community Alliance has pushed the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. to think local first.
When a community agreement is finalized, there will be provisions in place that make local business the backbone of real economic development at Canalside. First, the goal for locally owned businesses at Canalside will be set at 50 percent. Next, mechanisms will be put in place to monitor compliance with local hiring and minority and women-owned business enterprise goals. And, lastly, an individual will be hired to perform outreach with local and MWBE firms to ensure that they have the tools necessary to bid directly on ESDC contracts.
As a business owner on the West Side who knows firsthand how a neighborhood prospers from the investment of local business, I support the provisions. They embody the desire to see our tax dollars used for the purpose of real economic development -- a local economy built on hard work, not subsidies, by those who live in the community, not outside of it, for the good of all, not just a few.
Local business and the entrepreneurial spirit should be the cornerstone on which all other development rests. I urge the ECHDC to swiftly negotiate an agreement that will make local business the anchor tenant at Canalside.
Owner, Westside Stories Used Books
If this is the best GOP has, Obama should win
It is clear that each of the Republican candidates for the presidency is attempting to outdo the others on the legitimacy of his conservative credentials. Once in a while, one will betray some hidden non-conservative view -- Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich for immigrants, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman for a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, Rick Santorum for the poor -- only to be immediately attacked by the Republican base, a base opposed to any possibility of enlightenment.
This base, represented by those who attended the Republican presidential debates, booed a gay veteran from Iraq, applauded when Perry talked about the record for executions Texas still holds and voiced their disapproval when Herman Cain was asked about sexual harassment.
If these are the best the Republican Party has to offer, President Obama, in spite of his obsessive search for bipartisanship with a party that is willing to sacrifice the good of the nation for the sake of defeating him, has a pretty good chance at re-election. As for Mitt Romney, at least he does not stand for anything and will bend effortlessly to the demands of the political climate.
Better signage needed for parking in Buffalo
After reading a letter sent by the gentleman who got a parking ticket for parking too close to a crosswalk, I thought I would add an experience I had with the parking enforcement agency. I got a ticket for parking on a bus route last winter. There were no signs indicating parking where I parked was illegal, so I protested.
When I went to the hearing, the gentleman I talked to refused to acknowledge that the street was not posted. Instead he said that all the entrances to the city had a sign warning people not to park on a bus route.
After issuing this absurd statement, he said that I could appeal this verdict and it was a simple matter to do so -- this after I had already wasted four hours waiting to see him. This fellow was aware that what he told me was a complete canard, but instead of just dismissing the matter I was expected to jump through more hoops.
I paid the ticket, like the crosswalk gentleman, and thought about all those cars that are parked every day on Franklin and Erie streets. They are causing a very dangerous situation, but for some reason are never ticketed. This is a case of selective enforcement run rampant.