Brown takes credit, but never the blame
Someone needs to introduce Mayor Byron Brown to President Harry Truman's famous desk sign "The Buck Stops Here." It appears, according to Brown's responses, that no matter what happens in his administration, it was someone else's fault. Whether it's paying health benefits to dead people, doling out money to fraudulent businesses or not adhering to the Freedom of Information Act, the list goes on and on.
In the latest case, his former economic development chief pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars of taxpayer money over several years. The mayor's response to the press, when asked how this could happen, was: "He was hired under a previous administration and policies were set in place at that time." Is he trying to say that previous policies were established to allow the theft? Also, Timothy Wanamaker served at the pleasure of the mayor and could have been replaced, just like Brown replaced many others who worked under his predecessor.
Secondly, when the mayor was asked when he first found out about this he responded: "several years ago, and then we disbanded BERC [Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp]." So he knew about it, but instead of firing Wanamaker, he gave him a different title and dissolved the city's only economic development agency. No wonder there is little or no business development in the city. Brown is always quick to take credit, but will he ever take responsibility?
Teen bullies following example set by adults
I, unlike many others, am content with the findings of the Amherst Police Department in its investigation of the tragic suicide of Williamsville North student Jamey Rodemeyer.
Some will see this as a failure to bring criminals to justice, but the true failure is systemic: we continue to live in a society that accepts and, in some cases, promotes the homophobia that Jamey experienced. The failure lies with politicians who legislate discrimination. The failure lies with religious leaders who espouse gay-bashing as piety. The failure lies with parents who don't raise their children to be respectful and tolerant.
Criminalizing the actions of children who have already been let down by our broken system of morals would just be one more tragedy.
Open border between America and Canada
My wife and I cross the Rainbow Bridge or Peace Bridge almost once a week to shop or dine in Buffalo or Niagara Falls. We know the bridge situation firsthand and we're puzzled by it.
First, the NEXUS solution is a drop in the bucket. We can't use it since my wife is a British citizen and cannot get either NEXUS or an enhanced driver's licence. The Whirlpool Bridge is a NEXUS-only bridge and is hardly ever used. NEXUS is not popular. Perhaps it is the lengthy interview process or perhaps it is the fact that one has to file a declaration form every time.
Second, billions have been spent on border security improvements and yet border guards on both sides ask the same questions. There should be a faster way of processing each car. This summer, I watched a steady stream inching forward as cars burn gas and spew exhaust for 20 minutes waiting for processing. Why? So we can get across and spend some money. Three out of four of my friends have stopped coming over regularly.
Third, we are puzzled about the necessity for such scrutiny of one friend by another. Europeans eliminated border inspections for the benefit of trade, but not Canada and the United States. Billions of dollars spent on "security" could be used for education, health or enforcing bans on illegal drug sales.
What would happen if borders were completely open between our two countries? I think that all our fears would prove unwarranted and both economies would improve. Sometimes, I think people try too hard to do things perfectly, things that don't need to be done at all. Consequently, I appreciate Sen. Charles Schumer's attempt to address the bridge situation, making my trips to shop and see my friends "over the river" easier.
GOP gets a free pass but Obama is assailed
In his Nov. 22 op-ed titled, "Why there's a debt stalemate," Robert Samuelson stated that Sen. Patrick Toomey's tax reform proposal's details were "murky." This caused the Democrats to claim that the plan would raise taxes for the rich and thus they did not respond positively.
Later, Samuelson states that President Obama "won't talk specifics, but government consists of specifics." Samuelson is thus suggesting that the president is the cause of the debt stalemate, due to his lack of specifics, but that Toomey's murky tax-reform proposal is just fine.
In other words, Samuelson believes the president is the cause of the stalemate for mimicking the senator. Did I miss something?
Charles E. Bernd
Government's job is to serve the people
As the dust settles from the county executive race in November, what does County Executive Chris Collins think? "Gee, I built up a huge surplus and the voters should be happy. How come I lost?" Well, as Donn Esmonde so eloquently pointed out days after the election, taxpayers do not want huge surpluses; they want necessary county services.
Now that Collins is out after four years, many former and present county employees compare him to the "Grinch who stole Christmas." This is because some of their jobs were lost during his administration, due to his inability to understand that the county should not be run like a business. Government's job is to serve the people, not to make a profit.
Continuing in the Christmas spirit, congratulations to County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz. All county workers are wishing him well in his next four years. It is hoped that Poloncarz will learn from Collins' mistakes and keep all necessary services that the people of this county need and deserve, and not a large surplus.
Kavinoky Theatre offers great shows
Having just attended the Kavinoky Theatre, I am compelled to say how lucky we are to have companies in Buffalo that present works that have received critical acclaim, most particularly "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza, which won London's Olivier Award in 2009 for Best New Play and also won a 2009 Tony for Best Play. Not only did this hilarious production entertain, but it reached deep into our minds and souls.
Mary Ann Stamp