Shortsighted removal of Rao is outrageous

I was dismayed to read in The News that Doreen Rao has been terminated as director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. I find it appalling that when we have someone so talented, so personable and so committed to Western New York's cultural/music community that we would not do everything humanly possible to keep her here for the long term.

My own experience as a participant in the December 2011 Messiah Sing-Along was one of the most thrilling and satisfying evenings of choral music in a very long time; actually one of a very few all-time great musical experiences. Rao has an amazing ability to fold in several hundred amateur singers -- those of us who sing in local choirs, school and university choruses -- with the wonderful Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. She extended the sing-along to include very interesting background and historical material, many more choral pieces than are usually part of such events, and arias and recitatives by soloists with outstanding voices.

This action by the chorus board seems to be yet another example of Buffalo's inability to appreciate the best in our community and to let yet another opportunity for greatness slip through our fingers. As a native of Western New York, I am outraged at this latest instance of shortsightedness, especially in an era when so many citizens have been active in trying to restore funding to the area's culturals. This truly seems counter-productive for that cause, not to mention the effect on this world-renowned music educator with outstanding conducting credentials.

Ann B. Salter



Union dues aren't used for political activities

I want to correct one detail in Doug Turner's Jan. 30 column. He wrote: "The dues of millions of union members are being poured into the Florida Republican presidential primary" and "dues checkoffs are effectively compulsory in New York."

Many people believe that union dues are used for political activities. As a CWA 1168 member and former union steward, I know that there are strict laws regulating what can be done with dues and agency fee payer moneys. Political action funding is strictly forbidden.

The way union members help fund union political activities is by voluntary contributions separate from union dues. The money is taken out of our paychecks, usually $2 to $5 per check, and is called a donation to COPE, the Committee on Political Education. Union members are asked to commit to COPE donations, but are not required to donate or sanctioned for not contributing. This information is easily verifiable.

Carlene Boisaubin, R.N.



Moves are not saving Postal Service money

Everybody knows that the U.S. Postal Service is in financial trouble, and in Western New York, managers in Buffalo tried to address it. In a cost-saving measure, they moved the postal carriers from Wilson to Ransomville, from Youngstown to Lewiston and from Sanborn to LaSalle. These moves were made in November 2011, and although the carriers no longer work out of these offices, Wilson, Youngstown and Sanborn were left open for their post office boxes, for customers to mail packages and buy stamps.

Now the carriers start out in the morning at their new offices, which are now overcrowded, and travel back to their original starting point to begin their routes. From Lewiston to Youngstown, it is a 12-mile round trip per day -- 72-mile round trip per week, times five carriers. Wilson and Sanborn both have longer trips mileage-wise to their new offices, and with gas prices at $3.79 per gallon, this adds up. The carriers fill their gas tanks up to three times a week instead of once or twice a week.

OK, you have to sacrifice a little to save a lot, but the offices these carriers are from originally are still open. The post office has to pay rent, electric, heat, phone, Internet, cleaning and now snowplowing for an empty post office. Well, not completely empty. The postmasters are still there selling stamps and making their regular salaries, some more than $80,000. There are also people getting paid in post offices at Model City, Stella Niagara and Niagara University. How is this saving money? The extra gas money alone is a huge expense. The carriers get extra pay for the mileage they drive each week. When you add in all of the extra driving, especially now that the winter weather is here, safety becomes a huge issue. So where are all of the savings?

Jeff Baker



Our country needs leader like Gingrich

If we had the time to conduct some extensive research, I bet we could find a number of past presidents who were divorced, or had mistresses on the side. God bless President Ronald Reagan. Oops! He was divorced. And then there's President John Kennedy. Oops! Rumor has it he played around a lot.

Also, in regard to God-centered people, how many "good Christians" are in jail, or have been convicted of crimes? I bet we'd all be surprised at the numbers.

Religion and personal life can only be referred to so much before you get down to the experience and attitude required to run this "already morally bankrupt" country.

We already have a God-fearing family man running the country, and look where it's gotten us. No place. Now we need a revolutionary. Newt Gingrich is intelligent, experienced and definitely not afraid to run this country the way it needs to be run. Oh, and by the way, he has found the Lord, a family who loves him and a bitter, vindictive ex-wife. (Surprise!)

Bill McMullen

Terri Ferrari

Orchard Park


Eisenhower was right about military complex

What on earth did we expect? After we Americans have spent years and years pouring tons of money and resources into building up the Iraq police and military establishment, we seem surprised when reporters note that Iraq is becoming a police state. That should not have amazed any of us because that is exactly what we were doing.

We should also understand that we are doing the same thing in Afghanistan.

More importantly, I might even observe that we, in our own country, may be heading in the same direction. We are funding and adding more manpower to various new internal security organizations. (For example, the transportation security forces and private security forces that control security at public facilities). We had best look out as we travel down the road toward more security. We may find a police state is also at the end of our current path.

President Dwight Eisenhower was right. He said that we must beware of the military industrial complex. We must heed that advice and those words. Perhaps we should also listen to and support Ron Paul's campaign for president.

Philip J. Kintner