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Romney's actions at Bain should concern Americans

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come under fire regarding his role as CEO of Bain Capital. It is documented that on several occasions, Bain acquired corporations and leveraged their assets to borrow working capital as a means to strengthen their position, but ended up crippling their chances of emerging from their new compounding debt.

Bain allocated loans by using numerous assets that the companies held in the way of inventory, property, pension funds and long-term projected sales to borrow against. When the corporation received these loan installments, Bain and its investors were paid for sizable fee costs and investor dividends until the corporation, now burdened with daunting debt, couldn't pay its obligations and the corporations were liquidated and shuttered.

If you compare these leveraged buyouts, you can draw strategic similarities with the Bush administration's economic policies. President George W. Bush took office with a budget surplus. The administration then used this money to dole out tax cuts. It also borrowed against our nation's assets and borrowed money to fund loosely monitored, no-bid military contracts in Iraq, and passed legislation prohibiting the U.S. government from negotiating prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. When the Bush administration ended its tenure, the United States was burdened by the largest debt ever recorded in history while the "dividends" of its policies made its "investors" billions in profits.

For those who believe a seasoned businessman (like Bush or Romney) is the best choice to grow our damaged economy, think again.

Walter A. Reeves

West Seneca

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Knox Farm is ideal site for a veterans cemetery

I strongly support a Jan. 15 letter writer's concept of establishing a national veterans cemetery at Knox Farm State Park in the Buffalo Niagara region. Also, a veterans home could be included to serve military veterans in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania.

It would be a pity to see the Knox Farm property deteriorate when Veterans Affairs needs land for cemeteries. This acquisition makes common sense and should be pursued. All military veterans, their families and local politicians should promote and support this effort.

Bill Cummiskey

East Aurora

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Philharmonic Chorus should reinstate Rao

I have been a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus for 16 years. I am saddened and distressed that the board of directors would choose to terminate Doreen Rao. Under her direction, the chorus was emerging as a world-class ensemble. The board's decision without reason or consensus of the chorus-at-large seems unethical and detrimental to an organization in its 75th year.

Even though a reason was not given for this decision, it became apparent to me while working on the concert committee that including children in some of our concerts and participating in educational workshops was opposed by the leadership because it did not represent the chorus's long-standing identity focused entirely on singing.

In my opinion, such a narrow view and lack of forward thinking will limit the artistry of the chorus, diminish community respect and stunt what was a growing reverence from its audience. As a chorus member who voted for the board of directors, I apologize to JoAnn Falleta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the board's lack of foresight.

Personally, my world has changed without permission. Sixteen years of rehearsing and paying dues, in addition to working on the concert committee and organizing my life's schedule around these events seem wasted. I can no longer rejoice in being a member of this chorus.

Great singing requires not only a wonderful conductor but also joy and dedication. I don't know where I could find the joy to sing or remain dedicated to an organization that seems to be guided by self-interest. The board is now calling for a healing of the chorus. There is no Band-Aid big enough to cover this wound. The only hope for the chorus is to reinstate Rao and to elect a new board of directors.

Linda Maxwell Yund

Grand Island

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Don't criticize Obama for rejecting pipeline

Jack D. Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, wonders what President Obama is thinking in rejecting, at least for the moment, the Keystone XL oil pipeline. What is most remarkable is that none of those quoted on this controversy mention the adverse environmental impacts of increased production from the Canadian oil sands formations. Greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands production are triple those of conventional oil and gas production, and the crude oil produced emits up to 20 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than light crude oils.

In a generation or two, our grandchildren will watch the ice caps melting, the coasts flooding, the rivers drying up and mass extinctions of animals, and they will wonder, too. They will see that the climate scientists warned everyone of the coming catastrophe, but that little or no effort was made to stop the burning of fossil fuels. Instead, we continued to drive our SUVs and build coal-burning power plants, and consumed more and more energy to extract increasingly dirty oil from the earth, thereby accelerating its destruction. Their question will echo that of Gerard, "What were they thinking?"

Michael J. Willett

Orchard Park

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ECC North plan defies effort to strengthen city

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to allocate $15 million toward the expansion of Erie Community College's suburban North Campus, he completely undermined his own call for the strengthening of the urban core. As an alumnus of ECC, I believe it is in need of better facilities in order to properly serve the citizens of Western New York, but not at the expense of its students' future.

For ECC President Jack Quinn and the board of trustees to continuously pursue a state-of-the-art health science facility in Amherst at the expense of the taxpayers is a severe disservice to the student population of ECC as well as residents of Erie County. These students deserve better access to the employment opportunities located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and the proposed Amherst facility, which is far removed from the blossoming Medical Campus, will only prove to be an obstacle for those who wish to find future employment in the ever-growing health science field.

I am appalled that the governor would even recognize this project in the state budget because he has personally called for the strengthening of urban centers. I urge the leaders of Western New York to step up and show Cuomo that they are not willing to throw tax dollars on a project that counters the synergy at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Jason Kulaszewski

Buffalo