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Fishkin was asked to stay as first deputy comptroller

I would like to set the record straight regarding the Dec. 27 editorial "Politics trumps competence." The News claims that I drove First Deputy Comptroller Darby Fishkin to resign from the Buffalo Comptroller's Office. This could not be further from the truth.

On Sept. 20, I asked Fishkin to remain first deputy comptroller, an offer that she immediately accepted. I told Fishkin she would be my top adviser and confidant, and we began working on the transition. It wasn't until two weeks later, on Oct. 6, that she informed me she had instead decided to resign from the Comptroller's Office in order to start her own firm.

Prior to my career in government, I spent more than two decades in the private sector, serving as vice president for two large corporations. I first ran for public office in 2001 to help this community move forward. I am proud to have been an independent voice for the people of Buffalo in the State Capitol, and I look forward to serving as their comptroller.

Mark J.F. Schroeder

Buffalo

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Occupy protesters must be more focused

While reading the "Peaceful occupation" editorial on Dec. 28, which gave thanks to Buffalo officials for helping protesters remain quiet, I asked myself: Where's the focus of the Occupy Wall Street movement and what do these people try to achieve?

It seems that the group leader and organizers don't understand or are confused about the meaning of the word "occupation." If they did, they would have a different plan and strategies by taking into consideration local "public" laws, rules and regulations, policies and procedures. Have they done their homework on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights when dealing with the political representatives who constantly change their sides?

On the other hand, thanks to The News for informing readers about the "immediate city support, including the waiving of a $500 permit fee" and Mayor Byron Brown's support for "the group's constitutionally protected freedom of speech." I just hope the same deal will apply for all freedom speakers who don't want to remain quiet.

Playing politics and taking sides isn't easy. And it doesn't happen quietly. How can the local protesters talk about freedom of speech and at the same criticize The News? Where's the focus?

Zanna Vaida

Lackawanna

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West Seneca Board needs to work for the people

I belong to a group of citizens who encourage government that is open, deliberative and accountable to its citizens. We have often repeated questions and comments at West Seneca Town Board meetings to call members attention to issues that many believe have been neglected.

I'm looking forward to Town Board concerns being openly and thoroughly deliberated by all council members. Whether they support or oppose an action, I hope they will publicly share their reasoning as required by the state's Open Meetings Law.

Our political system has historically allowed for "perks," such as allowing council members opportunities to appoint persons of their choice to certain positions. Sometimes a vote is given for a member's choice in exchange for a vote on another position. It would be good to see all choices made primarily on the basis of competence and what is best for the community.

A public review and update of the comprehensive master plan is urgently needed. A well-understood plan is essential to good decision-making. Review, with changes if needed, will provide a basis for understanding and working together for meeting the goals and priorities of the plan.

Zoning laws are also in need of serious attention. Locations such as former sites of the Developmental Center and the Seneca Mall should be properly zoned for what the community foresees as their best use. To allow them to remain as they are currently zoned leaves them open to development that may be detrimental. Our frequent use of spot rezoning for special uses throughout the town is an indication that current zoning has been in need of change for some time.

I look forward to observing this new board as it addresses these and other important issues. I hope many other residents will attend Town Board meetings to learn of town needs and how they are being met.

Paula Minklei

West Seneca

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Esmonde displays a terrible attitude

Donn Esmonde's column of Dec. 30 represents the worst of our society's skewed attitude toward mothers and children. To suggest that a mother should feed her infant child in a public restroom -- designed for the elimination of waste and often not even clean enough for that purpose -- is ignorant. His comparison of breast feeding to pornography, crass cable television, profanity and public urination is ridiculous. Based upon the online comments to his article, I know I am not alone in my criticism.

The world was not created for the comfort of Esmonde or for any of us in particular. However, breasts were made to feed babies, and whatever other significance Esmonde places on them, which makes him uncomfortable when he is subjected to them in public, is not the mother's, or society's, concern.

I have no doubt that if the same infant was crying out of hunger because there was not an "appropriate" place for him to nurse, Esmonde would complain of the noise.

Sarah Rera

Buffalo

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Address bullying to deter violence

I'm not really astonished that my prediction about the Jamey Rodemeyer case came true -- a lot of weeping and wailing followed by no action. I was just surprised it happened so soon. A five-day suspension? Do you know what your average kid considers a suspension from school? A vacation! Bullying is only paid attention to when violence happens, like the N-word chant at Kenmore East. The chant was ignored until a kid who objected hit back.

I do realize there are a few out there who are secretly delighted when a "problem" (a.k.a. gay, little, social problems) kid commits suicide, like the school board member in Midland, Ark., who lost his job and hopefully will never be allowed near kids again.

But let me inform you: Bullying creates violence. School shootings happen when a kid who's been victimized doesn't feel like he'll be taken seriously. This case says, "We're not taking this seriously." If schools were serious about stopping violence, they would react to bullying like they would to a kid bringing a gun to school. But instead we do nothing and are going to wonder "why" the next time there's a school shooting.

Larry Schultz

Springville