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Record offers proof of strong leadership

This is in response to blatant untruths in a Dec. 31 letter about my record of leadership in Lovejoy. The leaders of the Iron Island Preservation Society were upset that we were building a new community center and did everything in their power to stop it. They claimed it took up park space and opposed it for that reason. When an amended plan that called for no parkland to be taken came forward, spearheaded by my office, they continued to fight the project and harass me.

The writer's contention that we lost park space to the new community center is untrue. The original plan was to build a sprawling, ranch-style complex that would eat up much of the green space. That plan was changed under my leadership to instead build upward, therefore preserving the park space. More activities occur there now with the addition of youth and senior programming.

She claims I did "nothing" to stop then Mayor Anthony Masiello when he and Police Commissioner Rocco Diina moved to close the Lovejoy, Fillmore and Schiller Park Police Precinct. That is a lie. With my own money, I hired prominent local attorney Margaret Murphy and we filed a lawsuit against Masiello and Diina. Even though it affected his district as well, Dave Franczyk did not file a lawsuit. I did. Judge Kevin Dillon ruled in favor of the mayor. The important point to note is that I sued a sitting mayor, and would do so again if warranted.

Finally, I led the fight to keep our Mead and East Clinton libraries open and was able to save the Clinton Street branch with those efforts. Once the County Library Board voted to close Mead, I offered to continue to run the library with volunteers if the board would keep the books and computers there. To this very day, my office runs the Mead Library and our model is used in South Buffalo and other parts of the county. That's leadership!

Richard A. Fontana

Common Council President

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Weather forecasters need to study a map

I am amazed as a resident of Erie County by the inaccurate weather forecasts predicting the conditions each day for the Southern Tier. Do forecasters realize that there is a difference between the Southtowns -- East Aurora, Hamburg, Orchard Park, etc. -- and the Southern Tier -- Ellicottville, Jamestown, Salamanca, etc.? I sometimes wonder if forecasters just consider anything south of the Buffalo city line to the Pennsylvania state line to be one and the same?

There really is quite a difference between "ski country" and the Southtowns. I really wish the weather forecasters would learn to differentiate between Southern Erie County and the "real" Southern Tier.

Mark R. Jones

Eden

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Would Esmonde like to eat in a restroom?

I am writing in response to Donn Esmonde's column regarding breast-feeding. As a male, he knows nothing about breast-feeding. Regardless of what his wife, sisters and mother may have told him, he is ill-equipped to advise anyone on the proper protocol that this natural habit requires.

His ignorance is demonstrated by his suggestion that women take their babies into public restrooms. Unless the gentlemen quarters in Target are substantially cleaner than the women's, it is completely absurd to recommend that a woman take her newborn into a space used for excretion to feed. Aside from the lack of seating (limited, of course, to toilets) and the inevitable stench, I ask if he would take his "snack" into a public restroom. Moreover, his reference to breast-feeding as a snack only furthers my point. When a baby is screaming at the top of her lungs for her sole source of nutrition, a mother's inclination to respond to that cry is far from her choice to provide her child with a snack. Moreover, mothers are often required to breast-feed to release milk created in preparation for lactation, as it engorges their breasts, making them uncomfortable.

Although Esmonde's touch of humor hints at his desire to keep this discussion light, maybe even amusing, the subject matter is nothing to laugh about. Breast-feeding is one of the most natural human activities, and babies suffer when they are precluded from gaining its benefits. He compared breast-feeding to diaper changing. Call me old-fashioned, but I find the latter a much more private affair. His column indicates his probable association between the female breast and sex, undermining his legitimacy as an authority on breast-feeding and, more importantly, mischaracterizing a natural habit imperative to the health of our children.

Maura Shriver Kernan

Amherst

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Reputable agencies aid people with disabilities

The Dec. 27 article in which Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his "initial review of local development corporations uncovered the potential for self-dealing, nepotism, improper loans and exorbitant expenses at some" had the unfortunate consequence of damaging the reputation of two well-regarded organizations -- Rehabilitation Support Services (RSS) and Multi-County Community Development Corp. (MCCDC). To set the record straight, these two entities are not what are commonly characterized as local development corporations, but rather are not-for-profit corporations. They deliver an array of vital social services to people with a variety of needs, including those with serious disabilities, under audited contracts with multiple federal, state and local governments.

Neither RSS nor MCCDC is involved with making improper loans with each other, but as a result of their affiliation, each is required by the banking lender to guarantee lines of credit and mortgage debt for the other. Job Builders Inc., an affiliate for-profit organization, has never compensated any individual. Board members of RSS and MCCDC receive no compensation of any kind.

Anyone familiar with RSS or MCCDC knows of our established record of competent and caring services to people with serious disabilities, our high ethical standards and entirely appropriate relationships. Both agencies are run by well-qualified, hard-working and socially responsible professionals in a proper manner. There is nothing improper in the operation of these two agencies, and we hope to have a discussion with the Attorney General's Office that will bring out the truth of the matters addressed in the article.

William DeVita

Executive Director, RSS

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One possible reason for declining enrollment

A headline in the Dec. 24 News read: "School officials are seeking answers to falling enrollment." There are 50 million souls that never had a crib, baby clothes or a toy; never had an education, a job, a car or a house; never had the honor of serving their country; and never had the joy of having their own family. Now, school officials, you have your answer.

Patrick J. Mellody Sr.

Angola