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Dropping of MSG is the final straw

When we go into a restaurant for a meal, servers do not push their selection of foods in front of us. We get to order what we like, from a menu. I have been a cable subscriber since 1974, when we got about 15 Sabres games and excellent reception. I threw away my rabbit ears and began a new era of TV watching. It cost me $13 a month. I was thrilled with the service. Well, cable TV has come a long way. Time Warner is no longer the only game in town, as it will soon find out.

I currently pay close to $150 a month for Internet and "premium" service, declining the phone service in the "Triple Play" option. I have tried on many occasions to reduce my bill, speaking with representatives who always tout "the package." I don't need six HBO channels, I don't want 13 religious channels, etc. Why am I forced to take what is put in front of me? I often see advertisements while watching to sign up for this premium or that premium, which leads me to believe the company has the technology to offer things a la carte. I'd be more than happy to pay for the channels I want to watch, including premium channels.

I have had it with these guys. The dropping of MSG is the final straw for me. I don't care what it costs Time Warner to get it done -- it should have been done. This is another perfect example of corporate greed and why Occupy groups will always be relevant. I am leaving Time Warner and won't consider returning until it can offer some kind of pick-and-choose menu. I'm sick of the servers pushing things in front of me I don't want and don't need. We need an online petition asking for this, and if I wasn't so computer illiterate, I'd have made one a long time ago.

Vincent P. Arnone

Wheatfield

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Dabkowski's stories go above and beyond

Colin Dabkowski is an asset to The News and its readers. He not only has a genuine interest in local talent, but also brings home the big news, from the big cities, in a big way.

As a member and subscriber of Smithsonian, I was both excited and disappointed at its December 2011 piece on the abstract expressionist painter Clifford Still. While most of the magazine's stories of artists go on for pages, Still's was brief, with one column of text and a large image of one of his signature large, lusty works. It was just enough to whet the palate. Enter Dabkowski's two pieces in Sunday's Spotlight: Art, delivered with plenty of heart, insight and fantastic representation. Where the former publication's story just mentions the new Clifford Still Museum in Denver, Dabkowski gives an in-depth exploration of its history, ambience and content. And he does it with gusto. Bravo!

Ralph Sirianni

Buffalo

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New York's politicians will never cut Medicaid

In his Dec. 31 Another Voice, State Sen. Patrick Gallivan wrote that the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team has identified $2 billion in Medicaid savings. This savings could be used to cut the $50 billion per year that New York currently spends on Medicaid.

In my opinion, Democratic and Republican politicians will refuse to cut Medicaid spending because they will lose the political support of the health care industry. This refusal has been occurring since 1972, when former county executive Ned Regan complained about the Medicaid spending that was "killing my budget" (see Winter 1996 edition of City Journal). Per-capita Medicaid spending in this state has been twice the national average and has made New York uncompetitive with other states. Democratic and Republican politicians could not care less. For the last 39 years, their most important goal has been the survival of their political careers. In my opinion, this will also be the goal of Gallivan.

Michael F. Patterson

Clarence Center

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Ask for state's help to preserve bus routes

In the face of declining state funding, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority plans to make significant cuts to bus routes and safety personnel in Erie and Niagara counties. These cuts are devastating for the many local folks who depend on the bus to get to work.

The downstate Metropolitan Transportation Authority received $250 million in extra funding this past year, while local public transportation is twisting in the wind. The NFTA relies on State Transit Operating Assistance (STOA) for one-third of its revenues. As a matter of fairness and good public policy, the NFTA's allocation under STOA should be increased to cover the $15 million budget shortfall this year, as well as to retain and expand transit services in the future.

We need better public transportation, not cuts, in order to make employment possible for many workers, to cut the damage our transportation system is doing to the climate and our environment, and to improve our quality of life in Western New York.

I urge local elected officials to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase STOA in order to preserve bus routes and transit safety. We need to do everything in our power to improve public transportation across New York State. Public transportation is needed now more than ever.

Bill Nowak

Buffalo

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Volunteers benefit from rewarding work

As I reflect on my 15 years serving as a volunteer ombudsman assigned to the Rosa Coplon Living Center on the Weinberg Campus in Amherst, I am struck by the number of residents of long-term care facilities who have no one else acting as an advocate for them. In addition to the role of problem solver and advocate, the residents come to see their ombudsman as a friendly weekly visitor, and vice-versa. Upon their passing, I have attended a number of their wakes.

The supervision at Rosa Coplon is great, and residents' concerns are often relatively minor. I once had to explain to a gentleman who had direct deposit that he was still getting his money, even though he never saw a check. On the rare occasion where a larger issue comes up, the staff works to find an acceptable solution. Some residents were concerned about the safety of the entranceway. This was communicated to the center, and stop signs and pillars were installed.

My wife and I are retired and like to travel. Part of the beauty of the Red Cross ombudsman program is its flexibility. You set your own visitation schedule, and just let the office know if you are going to be away. The Red Cross provides excellent training and support services.

There are training sessions for new volunteers coming soon, and I would encourage anyone interested to visit www.buffaloredcross.org or call the Red Cross for more information. Someday I will step aside, and I hope others will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to help long-term care residents who may have no one else to look out for them or even to visit with them.

Ray Boehm

Williamsville