Give gas-fired plants a chance to compete
Recently, State Sen. Cathy Young added a section to the state budget "that would require the New York Power Authority to purchase electricity from coal plants in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties over a three-year time frame." The idea behind Young's legislation is to keep the plants operating for the next three years, in hopes that natural gas prices will rise and the coal plants will become more competitive.
What I believe Young has failed to consider is that there are several smaller, clean, reliable and (perhaps most importantly) cheaper natural gas-fired power plants in the area that are ready and willing to pick up the slack. There is a limited demand for power in Western New York. Forcing the Power Authority to fill that demand with more expensive coal power from the Dunkirk plant not only doesn't make financial sense, it will cripple other commercial power plants' ability to sell their electricity. Natural gas prices are at a 10-year low. Why not take advantage of this, allow the free market to act as it should and allow plants that burn natural gas to compete? People who are concerned about the environmental impact of coal-fired power plants should question this decision as well.
Young's proposal would give government backing to a large corporation that cannot compete in today's market and cripple smaller, privately owned, competitive local businesses.
Tier VI is the first step in eliminating pensions
Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted and got Tier VI. The governor argued that pension reform was necessary to avoid layoffs of public employees, to help taxpayers and to help business. Tier VI has no impact on current pensions, and offers no savings this year or any time soon. Yet, if he didn't get his Tier VI, what budget savings would have been lost this year that would have necessitated the layoff of public employees? None! Cuomo just wants to lay off public employees.
What is the real reason for Tier VI? Just follow the money. The ploy is to eventually do away with the current defined benefits plan pension managed by the state comptroller and to have a portable 401(k) pension system. The state pension fund is one of the largest investors in the U.S. stock market which, if divided up into individual 401(k) portable pension accounts, would generate enormous fees for the management firm of these new accounts. Cuomo and his Wall Street friends can't wait. Sure, let's reward the same firms that created the economic meltdown; although Cuomo has most believing those greedy public employees and their unions are responsible. This isn't reform, this is business as usual -- transferring wealth to the upper echelon.
Attempt to take funding from charters is shameful
I read with interest The News article on how the union-controlled Assembly has voted to devastate the charter schools by withholding more funding. The article mentions that the current allotment to charters is $12,005 in Buffalo, but fails to mention the total allotment per student provided by Albany, which is approximately $18,000. In other words, the district already gets to keep $6,000 per student that it does nothing to earn.
The public also has a right to know that if a student leaves the district or chooses a private or religious school, the district gets no funding for that student. Hamstringing the charter schools could force more parents to choose that option for their children, leaving the Buffalo district in even worse shape.
The attempt to take additional funding from the charters is shameful and will hurt the few educational successes that Buffalo has. Throwing more money at a failing system will not help; it hasn't in the past. I sense union pressure behind the Assembly's action in retaliation for the charters showing them how education can and should be done. Withholding more funding from charter schools to restore funding to the Buffalo Public Schools that has been lost due to the actions of the teachers union is criminal.
Why are the Buffalo students attending charter schools worth less than those attending traditional schools? Funding for charter schools and traditional schools should be separated and each should receive the entire amount allocated by Albany per student.
Dress appropriately for church services
As Easter approaches, the ads for Easter finery appear. Over the years, these fashions have changed dramatically, sometimes for good and sometimes for not so good. I definitely don't long for the days of matching shoes and purses or Easter hats and white gloves. Although, I must admit that I am intrigued by the fashionable young Duchess of Cambridge sporting her fascinators. I do, however, yearn for a return to dressing with a sense of occasion.
Cut-offs, tube-tops and flip-flops are great for the beach. Bedroom slippers, sweats and old T-shirts work for the dorm. The sad truth, however, is that last Sunday a young woman decided that her dorm attire was appropriate for church. In the heat of summer, I've even seen young women come to services in an air-conditioned church in their beach wear.
I trust they had no intention of showing disrespect to the other members of the congregation, the priest or to the house of God. The fact of the matter is, however, that the clothes people choose for any event reflect the significance they attach to that event.
I wonder how these same young women would dress if they were going to a job interview or if they were invited by someone special to dine in a fine restaurant? My bet is that they would wear the best outfit they could assemble.
I don't suggest that we attend church services dressed like the Duchess of Cambridge. I do suggest that we try to dress with a sense of occasion, a consideration of where we are going and why we are there. It's simply a matter of respect.
Kearns' victory is good news for city
What a great victory for Mickey Kearns, the newly elected assemblyman from South Buffalo. This was the biggest upset since Dennis Manley beat Bonnie Kane Lockwood for the South District Council seat many years ago. A lot of people thought this contest was a mere formality simply because of the democratic popularity Chris Fahey had.
Rep. Brian Higgins' popularity not only took a major hit, but the voters knew in their hearts who was the most qualified independent candidate for this seat. Kearns is not a puppet, and he will not be controlled by any individual aligned with the Democratic Party or be persuaded by liberal hindsight or policies.
In the future, the Democratic Party needs to re-evaluate all Democratic candidates before anointing them with party backing or making them the sacrificial lamb simply based on entitlement.