Baum firm is scapegoat for Fannie and Freddie
The recent pullout of the Buffalo area by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has cost Western New York approximately 700 jobs. Color me enraged that these two pillars of virtue, after bankrupting the largest number of homeowners in the history of the United States by giving mortgages to people who could not pay them, are now allowed to bankrupt several hundred more who were only working to fix their blundering ways.
The errors made by the Steven J. Baum law firm were being corrected nationally, not just here. If the deciding factor was an inappropriate Halloween party, heaven help this planet. It is no secret that the law firms in the New York City area were complaining that too much work was being given to Baum. Now they can do the foreclosures on those who will be bankrupted in Western New York.
More disturbing to me, however, is how our congressional delegates, Reps. Kathleen Hochul, Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter, have seen fit to do nothing to set Freddie and Fannie straight and correct these issues rather than punishing us once again. Does anyone believe that Sen. Charles Schumer or Gov. Andrew Cuomo remotely cares about Western New York given the dour outcome for us? Perhaps Carl Paladino would have.
Finally, the Occupy Buffalo rally hurt its own cause by picketing the Baum firm and hurting those in the 99 percent group who now will be losing their jobs.
Once again we take the bullet and yield to downstate without a whimper from our elected officials. I have called all three representatives and am still awaiting a response. The real victims are those losing their jobs, and something should have been done to stop it.
Diligent Border Patrol keeping Americans safe
In response to the letter writer from Ontario and his desire to open the border between Canada and the United States so that cars may move freely: I would like to remind him that his country is not targeted by terrorists from the Middle East. Canada has not endured a direct attack on any of its cities like we did on 9/1 1. Canada is not hated by several terrorist factions in the Middle East that want nothing more than to destroy it. I am thankful that our Border Patrol does such an amazing job filtering out potentially dangerous people at our borders. There is a reason we have not been attacked on U.S. soil since 9/1 1: diligence.
Let citizens have a say on courthouse naming
The Dec. 4 News reported that the naming "debate" for the new federal courthouse "is all but over." Elected and judicial officials unanimously endorsed former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. It is appropriate for our esteemed congressional delegation and honorable judicial officers to share their views on their choice. It is also appropriate for the people of upstate New York, who have an equal voice in this process, due to their status as voting citizens and federal taxpayers, to have an opportunity to advocate for their choice. The concern with the naming of the federal courthouse is not the name; it is the absence of a public process. There has been no public forum allowing for a debate and begging the question: How can the debate be over if it never started?
There should be a public forum, as deemed appropriate by our congressional representatives, to allow for a meaningful consideration of courthouse names. It is better to do something right than to do it right away. The name will be affixed to the courthouse for generations to come.
I respectfully offer Lt. Col. Matt Urban as the name for the federal courthouse for reasons based on selflessness, courage and patriotism. Urban received a total of 29 decorations during his service. Urban was wounded on seven occasions during World War II and returned to battle six times. Without any criticism of the many important jurisprudential contributions of the honorable Jackson, a soldier occupies a unique status due to his or her selfless contributions to freedom, including the ultimate sacrifice. Urban, in his own right, and as a representative of all upstate New York veterans, deserves to have his name on the courthouse.
Capability isn't an issue, desire to run for office is
On behalf of the Erie County Comptroller's Office, I take umbrage to the comment in the recent News editorial, "Wanted: A watchdog," that "Ideally, [Mark] Poloncarz would have left behind a top assistant capable of taking over -- a careerist uninterested in the political game."
The fact is the term "capable" should be replaced with the term "desirous." The Comptroller's Office has several experienced professionals in senior management positions who could successfully serve Erie County as comptroller.
However, the individuals do not desire to become the next county comptroller for a myriad of reasons, including disinterest in being subject to public and media scrutiny, accepting a reduced salary and/or having to run for comptroller, as interim comptroller, in a special election in November 2012 followed by re-election (if victorious in the special election) in November 2013.
Serving the public as an elected official is noble yet challenging. The notion of serving constituents as the county's chief financial officer, chief auditing officer and chief fiscal officer while running for election virtually endlessly through Election Day 2013 is a daunting undertaking for many.
Erie County Comptroller's Office
'Death Master File' is good for beneficiaries
The Dec. 6 article regarding the database for "Death Master File" is good news for beneficiaries of life insurance policies. Insurance companies that use this information to stop sending out annuity payments will now be proactively contacting family members or representatives of a decedent's estate to start the claims process. A claimant form and a copy of the death certificate will still need to be furnished, however.
The New York State Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, a trade group of professional agents and brokers, of which Buffalo is an affiliate, worked closely with the New York Insurance Department in the 1970s to require insurance companies to pay interest from date of death, currently 3 percent, to settlement date.
A private firm, the Medical Information Bureau, has a policy locator service that will search virtually all U.S. insurance companies to see if a policy was in effect for the deceased.
Past President, Buffalo Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors