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Redistricting process in dire need of reform

The League of Women Voters is extremely disappointed with the StateSenate and Assembly maps released by LATFOR, the state's legislatively controlled redistricting commission.

For decades, the league has called for an independent commission to draw fair lines devoid of partisan gerrymandering. Competitive elections are the lifeblood of democracy, and the proposed district lines have been drawn to ensure political incumbency of the parties in power for the next decade. Given the inherent self-interest of the process, it is no surprise that the proposed maps are the subjects of much criticism throughout the state.

The public demand for reform shown over the past year provided a unique opportunity in time to fundamentally alter the redistricting process. The governor has publicly stated that the lines produced by LATFOR are unacceptable and he will consider a veto. We agree. Fixing the redistricting lines for 2012 is essential. But it is not sufficient. It must be coupled with reform to the redistricting process for 2022 and beyond. The 10-year cycles of politicians drawing lines to benefit incumbent legislators and political parties must stop.

We urge citizens of Western New York to comment again when LATFOR returns to Buffalo and to insist on lasting structural redistricting reform for the future.

Joan T. Parks

President, League of Women Voters, Buffalo/Niagara

Janet Massaro

Chair, Redistricting Committee

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It is obvious why voters shun GOP

In his Jan. 29 Another Voice, Russell Gugino asks why people won't enroll as Republicans. He answered his own question when he said low taxes, a strong dollar, etc. President George W. Bush's break to the very rich and the non-taxation of his two wars left us in the mess we are in now. Strong dollars go with a strong industrial base paying American workers instead of overseas jobs.

Freedom to achieve the American Dream? What Republican plan is that -- the trickle-down theory? Is he so naive to believe his own empty slogans when the obvious Republican strategy is to do nothing and wait for President Obama and the American people to fail? Do nothing and blame him. How's that working for you?

John McGlarry

Boston

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We need to protect, not exploit, resources

What is fracking good for? Absolutely nothing if it's going to destroy the earth's natural aquifers that sustain life. I'm not sure if the proponents of fracking realize this, but humans and all other creatures on this earth require clean water to live. I tend to believe they don't, otherwise they wouldn't be pushing this agenda. Fracking proponents tout the fact that it will add jobs. OK, but at whose expense? No job in the world is worth destroying the very life it supports.

Fracking is a process where large amounts of chemicals and water are injected deep into the earth, where they are used to create mini earthquakes that break apart the shale, which releases natural gas. These chemicals are then capable of mixing with the natural aquifers that provide us with water. This process makes that water unsuitable for drinking. The chemical mix that is injected into the shale will also be blown back up out of the earth, and has been known to pollute our streams and rivers, killing fish and other wildlife. Portions of this chemical mix that are captured are then trucked away to someone's back yard for processing and disposal.

Let's start using some common sense and fighting to protect the earth's natural resources, which provide us with life. Let's put people to work by building and installing environmentally safe, renewable resources for our energy needs, and stop putting people to work to destroy the very habitat that sustains our life.

Scott Forster

Colden

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Adding cars to Main won't solve problem

In regard to downtown development, I decry the notion that letting auto traffic on Main Street will be a benefit. Main Street doesn't need more cars, it needs more people! Why not use the several millions suggested for that development to extend the rapid transit line to the Southtowns, the Tonawandas and the airport? That would surely be a better way to bring more people downtown for work, entertainment, etc.

Norma Stevenson

Amherst

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Explorer Scouts did a terrific job at race

I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Cradle Beach 5K Penguin Run, working alongside the Buffalo Police Department's Explorer Scouts. The 35 young men and women volunteers were very polite and well coordinated by a few police officers and looked sharp in their uniforms. The Explorers' professional demeanor was also reflected in their performance, assisting with crowd control and ensuring the safety of runners.

I learned from their leaders that this well-organized team has worked on various types of community projects and is available by contacting Buffalo Police Headquarters. Programs like this truly make a difference where we live and especially in the lives of those who join.

Many law enforcement agencies have Explorer Scouts. Engage them in your next community project. If you're a parent, take a look at the many benefits of having your son or daughter join. The program is about building character and showing Explorers the benefits of pulling together as a community. This team of young people will make a difference on your project, and you can make a difference in their lives.

Mike Hassett

West Seneca

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Where is the outrage over aborted babies?

The outrage over animal cruelty at the Niagara County SPCA saddens me. Where is the outrage over killing millions of babies by abortion? They are subject to more cruelty than a shot into the heart.

Jack Cuthbertson

Orchard Park

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Nearly half of us pay no income tax at all

I am writing in regard to the Jan. 30 News editorial, "Revise the tax code." Shouldn't it have explained the difference between tax rates on investment income, already taxed as income before investment perhaps at 35 percent, capital gains tax and ordinary income tax? Shouldn't it have also opined that 47 percent of Americans pay absolutely no income tax at all? Is this fair?

Craig Thrasher

East Aurora