Taxes won't be lowered? if Buffalo loses the Bills

I listen to some people's outrage over the Buffalo Bills' decision to not participate in the NFL's blackout alternative, in which the team could allow home games to be aired locally if 85 percent of the seats are sold 72 hours before kickoff. This latest announcement resurrected that old argument that Erie County shouldn't waste tax dollars on a sweetheart lease deal for the Bills.

Let's assume the team has left. Now folks who complain about wasting taxpayer dollars on a football team have their wish. New money is now available to improve schools and other quality-of-life issues. Does anyone honestly think taxes are going to be lower, or that the county would be prudent in distributing this "windfall"? Taxes will not go down, and money that would have been spent on keeping the team would, no doubt, go into a general fund, to be spent at the (gulp) County Legislature's discretion!

Furthermore, not all game attendees are county taxpayers. So, no visitor buys tickets, concessions, souvenirs or food? No sales tax receipts are collected. Wow, what a boon for Erie County!

Forget the sick or shut-ins who would benefit with all of the games on TV. Forget ticket affordability. Those are discussions for another time. This is about a unique, quality-of-life issue that only 31 other communities have. Maybe we can't afford the Bills. But what's to be gained if they leave? Certainly not lower taxes and better services. That's another discussion that should outrage you much more than this nonsense.

I hope all the games sell out so everyone can see them. But don't be upset if they're not. After all, if we lose the team, we can trust our representatives to do the right things with the extra money, can't we?

John Jarrett



Liberals can complain?but conservatives can't?

Ever since Chief Justice John Roberts declared "Obamacare's" individual mandate to be a tax, I have read numerous letters and columns advising that this is now the law of the land. Anyone who opposes it should shut up because, after all, the Supreme Court ruled, therefore there is no argument against it (much the same as Roe v. Wade).

Perhaps this opinion would carry more weight if these same liberals had not spent the last two years whining about the Citizens United ruling, or 12 years crying about Bush v. Gore.

Tim Delano



Banks are prospering?as customers languish

Concerned with the possibility of inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has indicated that interest rates will remain artificially low until 2014. Clearly, as a result of this policy, many Americans, primarily senior citizens, are beginning to experience some degree of financial difficulty. The nation's banks, on the other hand, are able to borrow money from the Federal Reserve at a zero rate of interest.

Therefore, banks have no fund acquisition costs. Yet they are able to lend money at profitable rates of interest, e.g., mortgage rates between 3 percent and 4 percent and higher sliding rates of interest for commercial borrowers. Not bad!

Seniors with cash in IRAs and 401(k)s are earning zero interest rates on their savings and, since the stock market is far too risky for many, they are left to see their savings slowly erode. The banks prosper while their customers languish. Typically, in the past, interest earned on savings (CDs) in these retirement accounts would be used to offset living expenses and whatever income taxes that might accrue upon withdrawal. One could argue that senior citizens and other depositors are subsidizing American banks. After all, funds on deposit allow banks to loan more than 90 percent of their deposit base to borrowers and to charge interest on those loans. Banks earn money with depositors' money.

From a broader economic perspective, reduced income for senior citizens translates into less consumption of goods and services. In a stagnant economy desperate for an infusion of cash or – in Fed terminology – quantitative easing, it seems to me that interest earned and paid to depositors would quantitatively provide a significant impetus or stimulus to our economy.

Then there's the central issue of fairness. But, who cares about that?

Nicholas D. Mecca



New York should approve?Safe Patient Handling bill

It is with serious disappointment that I write this letter to the editor about the failure of the New York State Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pass the Safe Patient Handling bill this year.

This bill would mandate hospitals and nursing homes to institute safe patient handling programs. These programs are designed individually, by facility, but mandate equipment, training and monitoring for when health care workers lift and move patients. It is sad but true that back injuries make nursing and other health care jobs among the most dangerous jobs in America today, increasing worker compensation costs. Improper lifting is also hazardous to patients.

The Senate this year passed the bill by a 58-2 vote and the Assembly had passed an earlier version of this bill in June 2011. However, this bill was not brought to the Assembly this year as the session closed.

I believe, as do my co-workers, that politics of some sort interfered with common sense and the public interest. This bill is good for workers, good for patients and good for a facility's bottom line.

Our understanding is there will be a fall special session of the State Legislature and as health care workers, we want this bill passed. As advocates for our patients, we will do everything in our means to assure passage this fall.

John Klein, R.N.

Executive Board Chairman CWA, District 1

Healthcare Coordinating Council


Time to cut spending,?not raise county taxes

It seems like the party of overtaxation has one master statement in its playbook, "the previous administration was hiding costs, and we didn't know it was this bad." So we all know what's next for Erie County, a tax increase. Are you kidding me? When are we as citizens going to learn?

Mark Poloncarz was elected to manage the county. So we have a shortfall. So what? When my water heater goes, I don't have funds sitting around, allocated for that emergency, so like everyone else, I cut my spending somewhere else.

What happened to the highway funds from our mild winter? Where did our money go that was left over? I know that it's not in your playbook, but why don't you try something new? Cut spending! One of the few things that Joel Giambra did that I agreed with was the red/green budget.

If Poloncarz doesn't have the smarts or competency to cut spending, then I ask that we as citizens have a chance to vote on it. Give us a red/green budget choice, and we will do the job for him.

John A. Merkler