Do necessary research before writing column

As a medical doctor and a mother who has breast-fed (always with covers when my child did not kick them off), I felt it was important to educate the clearly unlearned Donn Esmonde.

First, let us be clear. His perspective about breast-feeding is neither "controversial" nor "puritanical." It is simply naive. I am shocked an article with such a lack of research and intellectual veracity has been given space in The Buffalo News. Leaving aside the medical benefits and social merits of a breast-feeding society -- and they are many -- perhaps Esmonde should examine the simple temporal reality of his suggestions.

The average infant exclusively breast-fed on demand feeds every two to three hours. The average nursing session lasts between 20 minutes and one hour. The simple math of that reality requires the average breast-feeding mother of a newborn to spend 30 percent of her existence with a baby attached to her chest. This is already an enormous biological sacrifice and now Esmonde suggests it should be compounded by the complete loss of a woman's freedom to participate in any other remotely productive aspect of human existence such as eating or shopping for basic necessities.

His solution? "Stores and restaurants are equipped with restrooms and, in many cases, changing stations. They seem to me like the perfect place for an infant to chow down." So, his suggestion is that one of the most immunologically compromised individuals of our species should consume their only source of sustenance in a location that is covered, from a microbiological standpoint, in human excrement. And why does he suggest a baby should have to eat on a toilet? So he can avoid the rather minor inconvenience of diverting his eyes. Wow.

It is difficult enough for medical practitioners to persuade women to breast-feed even with the enormous body of medical evidence in our favor. Unfortunately, it is a choice and sacrifice most women are still not willing to make for a multitude of valid reasons. Thanks for making it that muchharder.

N. Shira Brown, M.D.



Comparisons were totally ridiculous

While I agree with Donn Esmonde that there are some unfortunately vulgar trends in the 21st century, the trend toward feeding our children in the most nutritious, least expensive way possible should not be compared to Internet porn, using the "f" word indiscriminately or public urination. Rather, it should be compared to some of the best trends our society has chosen to embrace as of late, such as food cooperatives and eating locally grown, sustainable food.

Most mothers would prefer not to have to nurse in public for a multitude of reasons, however, this is not always possible and most public places do not provide a private space where nursing is feasible. On the occasions when I am forced to be out and about with my infant child and she needs to eat, I would certainly prefer to be in a clean, quiet, carpeted room with a comfortable chair and dim lighting. Unfortunately, that is not what you find at Target or Wegmans or most of the other places we modern moms have to frequent on a regular basis in order to care for our families.

As to his comments about heading to the ladies room the next time my child is hungry, I can only assume that he has never nursed a child and he has never been in the ladies room at Target. Next time he is there, I challenge him to buy some popcorn and a slushy, take them into the men's room, find a place to sit for half an hour and eat his snack. After he does that, he can call me and we can talk about where I should feed my newborn.

Jessie Schnell Fisher



Clueless Esmonde should keep quiet

Donn Esmonde is a dim bulb. Does he expect mothers to feed their babies sitting on the toilet? Or standing in the corner in a filthy ladies room? Or maybe sitting on the floor? Very few chairs are available anyplace in most stores -- I'm elderly and believe me I know that. Even a car during this weather is risky. Donn, until you have this experience, mind your own business and butt out.

Elaine Deazley



Things are hard enough for nursing mothers

I am writing in response to Donn Esmonde's commentary about breast-feeding. I was shocked! In my opinion, breast-feeding is a private act, no matter where it takes place. But sometimes, mothers have no other choice than to feed their babies in public. Esmonde asks if it is so hard for a nursing mother to head to a private area. Well, yes, sometimes it is. When a baby is hungry and needs to eat, baby can't wait. I would prefer to nurse a baby in the comfort of home, sitting in my rocker. However, I have had to breast-feed on a bench at the Buffalo Zoo and aboard a packed train on the Arcade and Attica Railroad. It wasn't ideal, but I'll bet most didn't even know. Anyone uncomfortable with that could just avert his eyes.

It's sad that in today's society, when people are constantly exposed to nudity in movies and magazines, the second a woman publicly breast-feeds, people are up in arms.

I'm also disappointed that Esmonde compared breast-feeding in public with public urination. We are talking about eating versus excretion. Furthermore, the author says that restrooms and changing stations seem like "the perfect place for an infant to chow down." I wonder how comfortable Esmonde would be having his lunch in a bathroom stall. No mother should have to sit clothed on a toilet seat and have her poor baby eat in a place not meant for eating but for the other natural human act Esmonde described.

Forty-five states, including New York, have laws that specifically allow women to breast-feed in any public or private location. Until public establishments have clean areas specifically for nursing, women will nurse where they must. In the meantime, don't mess with "mama bear."

Teresa Kaczynski



Praise for Collins came a bit too late

I enjoyed the Dec. 28 editorial in The Buffalo News praising Chris Collins for his work as Erie County executive. Unfortunately, it came too late to help the citizens of Erie County. Collins accepted the challenge of running for office as a business leader, and did a better job than anyone could expect, politics being what they are. The News, however, instead of praising Collins before the election, endorsed the other candidate. Maybe situations like this discourage well-qualified people from running for office.

Frederick Johnson

West Seneca


Poloncarz's actions have many worried

The News article about the location of interviews held by incoming County Executive Mark Poloncarz did more than raise eyebrows, as the headline suggested. It made me wish that county taxpayers had made the responsible choice. Chris Collins did not have a warm personality, but he did save Erie County from fiscal meltdown.

Collins wasted too much time and money defending the Erie County Holding Center instead of fixing it. He was unnecessarily stingy with cultural entities that were used to a base level of funding. His misguided campaign emphasized clean bathrooms in parks instead of promises kept. These factors cost him dearly and unfortunately cost county taxpayers even more.

Poloncarz has serious conflicts of interest. The unions made phone calls for him, produced and paid for most of his commercials. Why would unions do this for any candidate unless they felt it was in their financial best interest? Poloncarz held interviews for county positions at union locations with union officials in the room. This process can only stack the deck for pro-union candidates.

County department heads are now coming out of the woodwork to say they are understaffed. Poloncarz also worries that staffing levels are too low to provide services. Really? This is code for we need more union employees that we somehow were able to survive without last year. Erie County has been losing population for years. County government should shrink proportionally.

Poloncarz is mortgaging our future with county borrowing for two major expenditures costing a combined $10 million. These items would have been paid for in 2012 under the proposed Collins budget. These delayed expenditures along with bloating labor costs will bring higher county taxes in the future.

Gerry Cumbo



Move into Buffalo to get free tuition

It is sad to read so many negative letters regarding the offer of free college tuition for city children. After teaching in an inferior system for 32 years, I was so happy to hear of this grand opportunity for urban children. So often those with no connection to Buffalo schools take the "I couldn't care less" attitude. Now, when something positive is finally happening, jealousy rears its ugly head.

My suggestion to all those in the suburbs who want the same opportunity is to move into the city and start making a positive contribution to our children. Imagine how our neighborhoods and our school system will flourish with an influx of caring adults who want to make a positive contribution to our city and schools.

Kathleen M. Garcea



Time Warner, MSG should be ashamed

With the upcoming presidential election looming, we've been bombarded with political mud-slinging. Surprisingly, however, the worst offenders this month weren't running for office.

No, the worst offenders were Time Warner Cable and MSG Network. Instead of settling a private dispute behind closed doors, they wasted everyone's time with ads attacking one another. Now, Sabres fans have to find an alternative, and many people are out of luck.

Both companies need to stop acting like petulant children (or political hopefuls) and find a solution, because we all lost out on this deal. The people at Time Warner Cable and MSG should be ashamed of themselves.

Marc Deschamps



Politicians engulfed by 'me only' morality

In regard to the article, "Wealth gap widens considerably for members of Congress, constituents," printed in The Buffalo News, it should be noted that not only do congressional politicians have an income disparity with their constituents, they also have a moral disparity. Politicians and government officials alike all suffer from a "me only" morality. A "me only" morality is where those with power, and in power, can violate their own moralistic precepts without feeling any hypocrisy. This "me only" morality leads to a degradation of public trust toward professional politicians who "stash the cash" and proves the adage that "intelligence is no cure for stupidity."

Matthew R. Powenski