County should rule death of Wienckowski a homicide
There is a terrible wrong being committed by our elected and appointed officials in Buffalo and Erie County involving the investigation of circumstances in the death of Amanda Wienckowski.
Wienckowski was the 20-year-old woman from Niagara County whose frozen, nude body was found in a garbage tote on Buffalo's East Side almost three years ago. Subsequently, the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy, performed by Dr. Dianne Vertes, and issued its report ruling that Wienckowski died of an accidental drug overdose.
Her parents took exception to the autopsy report and hired Dr. Silvia Comparini, a nationally noted medical examiner who has conducted more than 6,000 autopsies, to conduct an independent autopsy. The results for this second autopsy took three years in coming because of the stonewalling on the part of the City of Buffalo, which authorized two attorneys to fight any release of information, and did so jointly with the county attorney, to deny the family's FOIL request for information on this matter.
In her cover memorandum accompanying her autopsy report, Comparini states, "the evidence was more than sufficient -- in fact, it was overwhelming -- to support my conclusions to a high degree of scientific certainty." The doctor concluded that Wienckowski was beaten and died from strangulation. There was evidence as well to support that she was raped and struggled for her life.
Unless the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office reverses its initial finding from accidental to homicide, no one can be prosecuted for Wienckowski's death.
This latest autopsy report was delivered to the Medical Examiner's Office for review. With the past track record of our local government agencies in similar investigations, we should all be calling the mayor's office and the county executive's office on this matter. Remember, this could just as easily be your child.
Edward F. McKee
Corporate greed is destroying our nation
Our country is awash in serious problems whose solutions remain elusive due to Washington's constant bickering and unwillingness to compromise on any issue. A recent letter writer blames liberals for many of these ills. His tunnel vision and finger pointing may be part of the problem, not the solution.
Liberals are not the major player in our runaway government spending. Up to the beginning of Obama's presidency, 80 percent of our national debt was incurred under Republican presidents, mainly Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Recently proposed reforms on Social Security and Medicare might require the lower and middle classes to "bite the bullet," but in all fairness, the very wealthy must also "bite the bullet" when the income tax "sale" is over as the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire.
Our country's infrastructure is in serious need of repair and there are millions of unemployed Americans. Labeling Obama's proposal to fix the infrastructure while creating millions of jobs as "unsuccessful," even before being implemented, is pure absurdity. Blaming welfare for the destruction of the nuclear family in inner-city communities demonstrates a lack of understanding of history, and of complex social and cultural issues.
Governmental regulations on businesses exist to protect the environment and our workers. Businesses choose to relocate to avoid these "burdensome governmental regulations" mostly for one reason -- greed. Does the writer wish to live in a country with foul air and water and full employment at $2 an hour? Is this what he has in mind as "free-market conservatism"?
If we can stop waving our chosen "team" colors of red or blue and, instead, as fellow Americans, wear our true colors of red, white and blue, just maybe, as a united team, we can cure the ills of this nation and once again be proud of our truly United States.
Scaffold Law protects construction workers
We are writing in regard to the Nov. 27 Viewpoints article, "Obsolete Scaffold Law is a burden for all New Yorkers."
New York's Scaffold Law protects the hard-working men and women who build Western New York. Our state certainly needs to attract new businesses to create more quality jobs -- but rolling back hard-won workplace safety laws that save workers' lives won't work.
Sometimes the facts in this heated debate get lost. The Scaffold Law holds those who own and control construction sites accountable for the safety of workers and passers-by. What the Scaffold Law does not do is provide workers with the basic but life-saving equipment they need, such as harnesses and safety ropes.
Weakening or eliminating laws that provide incentives for work site safety would only lead to more injuries and deaths, allow those whose carelessness or greed puts workers' lives at risk to get off the hook scot-free, and shift costs from the responsible parties to taxpayers.
Yes, we want jobs -- safe, quality jobs. It's New York's working families who deserve our protection, not developers and contractors who violate critical safety standards.
Director, Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health
Director, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health
Vote every incumbent out of office in 2012
Read the newspaper and listen to the politicians in County Hall, Albany and Washington and you quickly see that our country is in sad shape. In other words, it's all messed up.
In a democracy such as ours, the people should have the final say in what laws are passed and how we are governed. We have the power to do just that if we have the guts to do it. It's a simple principle, but I'm convinced it will work. We start by not re-electing a single incumbent. Starting at the bottom, from your town councilman to county officials to state officials, to national senators and congressmen and the president.
I know that by doing this, we would get rid of some good, hard-working public servants, but we would send a message that we are in charge. I know this will take years to see results and I don't expect it to affect me in my lifetime, but my children and grandchildren and future generations could benefit from it. We must do this in 2012 and every election that follows. My hope is that many agree and will use emails and the Internet to give this idea as much publicity as possible.
James SheltonEast Amherst