Reducing service won't help NFTA
According to a Dec. 8 article in The News, studies have shown that 77 percent of Metro riders do not own a car. I am one of them. When the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority announced its decision to drastically reduce routes, I panicked. As a reverse commuter traveling from the inner city to a job in Amherst, I rely on public transportation to earn a living.
Just in time for the harsh elements that define Buffalo winters, my bus home has been eliminated. Supposedly the community said that we couldn't afford a fare hike in these difficult economic times. I wonder how the community will fare with an unemployment hike when people can't get to work?
My self-pity ceased when I thought of others who would be more adversely affected. I thought of the individuals in wheelchairs who frequently ride the bus. I thought of the elderly lady who boarded with multiple bags of groceries tied to her walker. And I thought of the mother cuddling her small child at the bus stop last week as the little girl cried, "I'm cold, mommy! When is the bus coming?"
Well, little girl, the wait for that connecting bus just got longer.
The article went on to report, "The system will reduce its rides by almost 18 percent, translating into more than 3.7 million fewer rides per year." Wait, 3.7 million fewer rides? I thought we were eliminating mostly "deadhead" miles logged by empty buses?
Acting Chairman Henry M. Sloma was quoted as saying, "Over time our system has creeped up in size for a variety of unknown reasons. It has grown and grown, and yet our ridership hasn't."
Well, Mr. Sloma, as you increasingly make a system less reliable, less people will rely on it.
Cuts will hurt people who need transit most
The recent decision by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to eliminate many of its bus routes is unfortunate. I invite the NFTA commissioners to look at the Brookings Institution report, "Missed Opportunity" (www.brookings.edu/metro/jobs_and_transit) which chronicles transit access to jobs in major metropolitan areas of the United States.
According to the study, 78 percent of residents in Buffalo and Niagara Falls live within three-quarters of a mile of a transit stop. Unfortunately, only 33 percent of jobs are reachable via transit within 90 minutes. Nonetheless, of the 100 largest metro areas, Buffalo-Niagara actually ranked 21st, meaning its residents, comparatively, can easily access transit and many of its jobs are transit-accessible when compared to other metro areas.
Cuts to our transit system, as recently prescribed by the NFTA commissioners, will hurt the people who need it most, and make our region fall further behind in an area where we are ahead of the curve. Few of our region's jobs are reasonably accessible by transit already, and the proposed solution to the NFTA's problems will only make the situation worse.
The commissioners should be proud of our bus and rail system and insist that it be improved, not gutted. We put so much effort in trying to catch up with other cities in areas of policy and governance. I ask the commissioners why, in this area, it makes sense to retreat.
Story on suspensions merited front page
The front page of The News recently reported that several Williamsville North High School students were being suspended for bullying Jamey Rodemeyer. A letter writer stated that this was not front-page newsworthy. I take exception to that statement because Jamey was a human being who was bullied so badly that he decided to take his life rather than to endure any more bullying.
I find The News acted responsibly in printing the follow-up to this case. I think it's a shame that the law protects the degenerates who bullied Jamey. I feel that their names and their families' names should be printed also.
The writer said her proud moment of listening to her daughter at a concert was eclipsed by news of this tragedy being on the front page. I am sure Jamey's parents feel sympathy toward the writer as they spend their first holidays without their son.
Writer who complained simply doesn't get it
I read in awe the letter from a reader complaining that the bullies who put Jamey Rodemeyer in his grave made front-page news. She needs to get her head out of the sand. It's not about the "school" or the "town," it's about savage individuals who put a boy in his grave. Period.
In the opinion of a lot of us, it's about time the school acted, and I'm sure it was a relief for his family and friends to have the blame accurately placed. Where has this reader been? This has made national news and should be front-page news!
What disappointed me is that the names of these wicked, sick individuals, who unfortunately will get only a slap on the hand with school suspension due to their age, were not published. In reality, they are contributors to the murder of an innocent young boy. They have to live with their consciences the rest of their lives due to their immature and evil actions.
Worst-case scenario, maybe their parents will ground them and take away their cellphones and cars to teach them a lesson. I hope this boy can rest in peace while the rest of you go on with your lives.
Ken East girls' chant promotes intolerance
In response to "Ken East girls basketball players suspended for using racial slur," I feel that Kenmore East High School did the right thing here. The girls on the team should have known much better than to use the chant, even if it was a part of some tradition. Even if the chant has "gone on for years," it's still highly offensive.
One major issue that is being cracked down on in schools is bullying, and even though indirect, the girls' chant is a notable example of it. Yelling out, "1, 2, 3, [N-word]!" is promoting a term formerly used only with charged emotion to keep African-Americans down, and while this is 2011, the connotation of the word has not changed. I'm sure if you were to say it to random people you passed on the street, a majority, if not all, would take offense.
So even if all the girls were OK with it -- which they were not, because Tyra Batts was shocked by it, and held down when she tried to argue her case, which led to her physically fighting back -- they still were promoting intolerance in the locker room. And who knows where they might promote it outside of the locker room?
I'm not defending Batts' actions, however, she was certainly being harassed by the other girls. Even though she could have handled the situation more appropriately by speaking to an adult about it, I feel sympathy for her for having to deal with their intolerance.
Neither race should use offensive word
I am writing about the complaint made at Kenmore East High School. Truly the N-word has been used toward black people in an offensive manner for too long, but if racial remarks such as this are to be taken so offensively, and consequences are brought about by using them, then why is it tolerated when racial remarks are made of other kinds, toward other races?
Why is our black community, if so offended by this word, not contacting recording agencies and some of these popular black singers who use this word in their music? For example, Lil Wayne, with his popular "Bedrock" song that has been played by popular radio stations since it was released, or 50 Cent's song "To all my Niggas." Why is this word selectively tolerated if it is uttered by a person of color? If we are all equal and racism is to end, which includes use of words such as this, perhaps society should be digging deeper than a chant made at a local high school by teenage girls.
Dome symbolizes protesters' hypocrisy
Without question, the people of Buffalo and Western New York are generous and charitable. And thanks to the presence of Occupy Buffalo this year, we will not forget that during this holiday season. Months after starting their loosely organized temper-tantrum, the disheveled and disgruntled individuals occupying Niagara Square accepted an expensive gift made by an anonymous donor. After all, who could refuse a brand-new playground?
To the small number of occupiers left in Niagara Square, the constructed geodesic dome symbolizes a commitment to continue their protest efforts during the upcoming winter months. In actuality, though, the dome stands to symbolize the hypocrisy of the Occupy movement. Its followers distort and ignore the role of business and corporations, yet readily accept the innovation and improving living standards that result from an economy driven by competition and the profit motive.
Hard economic times unquestionably raise suspicions about the values and practices of corporate America. However, I do not understand how harming one's employer financially or protesting our economic system will help the so-called 99 percent with job security, higher pay or any of their other problems.
Thanks to the charitable donations of this community, we all have the opportunity to witness the hypocrisy that is the Occupy movement. As the occupiers leave behind their cardboard tents and upgrade to the warm comfort of the geodesic dome, I can only hope the housing market continues to improve for the rest of us this holiday season.
Town of Tonawanda
Elected officials feel they are untouchable
The bill that Rep. Louise Slaughter has been trying to get passed for the last six years, which would make it illegal for our congressional representatives to use insider information in their personal financial dealings, has once again stalled on the altar of "don't do what I do, just do what I tell you." This is wrong.
Is it any wonder that citizens are losing trust and respect for our elected officials? The holier-than-thou attitude has a lot to do with the fact that these elected officials feel that they are untouchable, and until the average American finds his way to the polls, they will continue to have no fear of allowing these kinds of things to continue.
The weapon we have is the vote. We must exercise that option to send a clear message that enough is enough.
Michael J. Rusinek