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USPS consolidations produce cost savings

Some have questioned how the U.S. Postal Service is saving money when carriers from Wilson, Sanborn and Youngstown now drive slightly farther to get to delivery points as a result of consolidations into nearby post offices. It is true that there are no savings to street delivery costs through carrier location consolidations. However, there are other savings.

First, consolidating carriers from two offices into one allows the USPS to also consolidate clerk work or sorting of the mail. In many cases, what took two people in two offices to complete now takes one person in one office. A clerk from an affected office may be reassigned to another office with vacancies or, if the clerk retires, is not replaced. This reduces work hour costs.

Second, the USPS saves transportation expenses by reducing the number of truck trips to and from the mail processing plant in Buffalo. Trucks can now bring mail to one location for two delivery ZIP codes and gather outgoing mail from two delivery areas with one pickup. Considering post offices receive several drops and pickups per day, less stops and consolidated mail runs equate to savings.

Finally, when the workload of a post office is reduced, the compensation for the postmaster is reduced as well. The postmaster has the option of going to another office to retain the compensation level or taking a level reduction. When the postmaster leaves, the vacancy is posted at the lower compensation level. Though the post office remains open, it costs less to operate.

Over the last several years, the USPS has reduced expenses nationally by $12 billion through consolidations of delivery routes, mail processing sites, administrative positions and carrier work locations. The Western New York portion of those cost reductions are about $45 million.

Karen Mazurkiewicz

WNY Communications Coordinator

U.S. Postal Service

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Western New York has many excellent hotels

Reading Tom Brady's negative comments about Buffalo hotels confirmed my choice to cheer on the New York Giants to win Super Bowl XLVI. Reading Donn Esmonde's Feb. 5 column in The News validating Brady's remarks was downright insulting to the Western New York hospitality community, especially since Esmonde lives here.

Has he visited some of the area hotels and inns to confirm his convictions? Let me enlighten him to the fact that the downtown Adam's Mark, Hyatt Regency and Hampton Inn & Suites all went through extensive renovations and invested millions of dollars into upgrades at all of the properties, both sleeping rooms, meeting space and public areas. The Embassy Suites is fairly new to downtown and is rated high in consumer feedback with 4-star ratings on both Hotels.com and Yelp.com.

The Buffalo airport has shown massive hotel growth with the newest addition -- Courtyard by Marriott which is probably our newest state-of-the-art property right across from the airport. It behooves me that I take the time to share the wonderful things about our city when unkind remarks by strangers are spoken, including its infrastructure, only to read such a condescending opinion of Buffalo by one of our own local reporters. I think Esmonde forgot to mention that Buffalonians are indeed tough, but we are also loyal and true to those who support our city -- namely, the owners of these hotels.

Kathy Hall-Zientek

President, Buffalo Niagara

Travel Professionals

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Chorus board members are unfairly maligned

I am sickened by the actions of a small number of Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus members due to our board's decision not to enter into contract negotiations with Doreen Rao. Rao is a phenomenal conductor, with great artistry, and I'll miss her. But the Take Back our Chorus Committee's public smear campaign of the chorus is shameful.

Our board made this unpopular decision, followed by a vote to honor Rao's contract but discontinue her services for the remaining season. The board wanted to spare her the additional pain of working with us knowing the contract wouldn't be renewed. The board cannot disclose why it made its decision or respond to these attacks; to do so would publicize a human resources matter, damage reputations and expose the chorus to lawsuits.

As a chorus member, I am barraged by emails from the committee with links to its inflammatory public letters that drag our reputation through the mud. I receive anonymously written emails portraying board members to be malicious, power-hungry zealots. Our volunteer board members give 30-plus hours a week to the chorus, in addition to the jobs that put food on their tables. They're addressing the committee's concerns, managing the chorus and looking to members for help navigating these difficult times.

The committee has personally written me that because of the board's decision regarding Rao, its members cannot perform with us until their concerns are resolved. They say we remaining singers should do the same. But their actions are purposefully causing the chorus irreparable harm in terms of reputation and support. I was told they would be happy to meet and discuss these concerns, but when I asked to meet with someone, I received no response from the anonymous email address.

We remaining singers are here to sing, and sing beautifully.

Jennifer Davie, Esq.

Williamsville

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Rao's dismissal is a major loss for city

Yet again the City of Buffalo is deprived of greatness because of the actions and lack of vision of a very few. Under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, this city has been blessed with a world-class orchestra. With Doreen Rao at the helm, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus was emerging as a world-class body of singers. To its listeners, this group has been transformed, and it is wholly due to the knowledge, energy and commitment of Rao. Now these successes and the momentum of her work will remain unfinished.

I began my professional musical career as a soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic 30 years ago. Over the years, I have sung with both organizations many times, as well as many other orchestras and their affiliated choruses. This chorus under the direction of Rao has been most certainly at the top of the heap.

I have had the pleasure of working with this group four times in the past year. At each rehearsal, I marveled at her wise use of time, organization and high energy. She virtually draws the music out of the chorus. Rao is a specialist in working with community symphonic choruses. Her reputation has an international status. It is unlikely she can be replaced. Her presence was a major feather in the cultural hat of Buffalo. It is a shame that the excessive and misdirected actions of the chorus board have blown the feather out.

Brian T. Zunner, D.D.S.

Buffalo