Maintain public access? to Buffalo's waterways

A recent waterfront proposal for loft apartments on the Buffalo River demonstrates we just cannot learn from our own failed past. Public access to the Great Lakes is our largest and most important heritage and greatest asset.

We remain blessed that in 1215 the dukes of England forced an arrogant King John to relinquish his presumption that the crown owned everything of value and used the Magna Carta to assert the right of the public to have a valid interest and share in ownership of common lands and waters.

Since that time, rambunctious lords, robber barons and finally corporate America have sought to pre-empt those rights. We have fought back to win our right to our waterways, our public trust, and deny exclusivity to wealth and power.

During the 1970s, real estate developers and the city combined to develop housing on the waterfront at the Erie Basin that granted exclusive water access to the owners of the expensive housing.

Public interest reviews had just begun and though there were some protests of this arrangement by a few parties, no official process existed to ensure public access to our waterways. Thus, though their tax dollars paid for the Great Lakes cleanup, the people were denied access to their investment.

The new proposal to construct exclusive apartments along the Buffalo River near Ohio Street once more proposes to construct a virtual wall along a public waterway and deny public access. We must discontinue and discourage the lazy management practices and policies that serve wealthy private interests. The public should have full access to all the waters of its public trust.

Art "Happy" Klein



GOP reaction to attack? in Libya speaks volumes

In 1983, during President Ronald Reagan's first term in office, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, was bombed by extremists. Hundreds of American military personnel died in the craven attack. In the aftermath of this terrorist act, Democratic politicians did not cite a lack of proper security precautions or hold the Reagan administration accountable for this violence. They blamed the madmen who committed the atrocity and did not try to score political points following this tragic chapter in our history.

Therein lies the difference between the Democrats and today's Republican Party. Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, along with conservative pundits and commentators, are more than willing to attempt to take political advantage of the attack by terrorists in Libya that had such tragic results.

William Rott



Forget Obama, Romney? and vote for Libertarian

I think it's safe to say there's at least one political statement that everyone can agree with – New York is not a swing state. All of New York's electoral college votes will go to President Obama. With that in mind, it occurs to me that every vote cast for someone other than the president can only really be considered a protest vote. So how can someone ensure that his "protest" will have at least some political impact?

A vote for Mitt Romney will just become part of a statistical database measuring how poorly Republicans tend to fare in this bluest of states. Consider, instead, casting a vote for Gary Johnson, the popular and successful two-term governor of New Mexico who is running on the Libertarian Party ticket. Libertarians, broadly speaking, are fiscally conservative and socially accepting, following a credo of "live and let live" that most Americans should find easy to identify with. The political implications of a surge in the number of libertarian-minded voters will not go unnoticed.

Let's be clear. New York State will go to Obama, but that doesn't mean that those who disagree with his big government philosophy must let their voices go unheard.

John Swanson

East Amherst


Opening Main Street? to traffic is a mistake

Buffalo has recently embarked on an aggressive citywide program designed to make our neighborhood streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. For what it's worth, it seems to me that the car-free, downtown pedestrian mall, already in place, would fit in very nicely with those lofty plans, but ironically, in this key area, our civic leaders are pursuing just the opposite approach. Their outdated project, now in its infancy, to return vehicle traffic to Main Street will seriously endanger public safety and no aggregate of fences, electric gates, caution signs, "sharrows" or striped pavement markings will mitigate the problem.

Opening Main Street to traffic, I believe primarily to accommodate delivery trucks, makes about as much sense as dredging the harbor to facilitate access to the Commercial Slip. The department store era on Main Street is long gone, but restaurants, drugstores, groceries and limited small-scale retailing can still exist today. Their success will depend almost exclusively on foot traffic generated by the recent influx of residents, tourists, commuters and patrons of the arts and entertainment venues.

Preserving and enhancing a relaxed atmosphere, where those folks can move about safely to shop, arrive at work, meet for lunch, attend theater or board the metro, should be our primary concern, not promoting the ease of truck delivery.

Michael J. Zobel



Students can benefit? from taking SAT, ACT

As the director of Huntington Learning Center in Williamsville, I have worked with many students prepping for the SAT and ACT. In our center, we take a lot of pride in the ability to help students determine the best test for their targeted colleges based on their strengths and weaknesses. We know the format of both tests very well from working with them so closely.

One of our students brought in the NeXt article, "Which test is better for you – SAT or ACT?" for us to read. This is often a difficult choice for students to make, but a very important decision affecting their future and I was happy to see such an article printed. I wanted to correct a couple of the statements made in the article. As stated, the ACT Reading Section has 40 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. However, the SAT Reading Section has 67 questions to be completed in 70 minutes, not 54, as stated. Also, as far as the total number of questions on each exam, the SAT has 170 (not 140), the ACT has 215. Another important distinction between the exams is the composite score. The SAT is scaled and out of 2,400 points, whereas the ACT is out of 36 total points. The national average is approximately 1,500 on the SAT, equivalent to a 19 on the ACT.

Making the decision to take the SAT or ACT is a critical one. While the SAT is more familiar in this area, both tests are equally accepted at all major colleges and universities. It is definitely worth the time and effort to try both exams. Depending on the student, performance may be much better on one than the other.

Kari Kibler