Public workers have made many sacrifices
In response to the letter stating, "it's time that public workers join the real world," it's time to set the record straight. The teachers to whom he refers are a minuscule fraction of the public sector work force. The vast majority of public servants do not have plastic surgery riders or tiered raises.
I have worked in the public sector for 30 years. I work as hard as anyone in the private sector, and always watched the pocketbooks of taxpayers (of which I am one). Public servants earn an average of 30 percent less than their private sector counterparts. The trade-off originally was a decent benefit and retirement package in lieu of higher wages. In theory, this is a fair trade. However, the trade-offs have been obscured for the past two decades. I have endured several lag pays, a creative budget-balancing strategy that resulted in a loss of several weeks' pay. I was laid off twice during Joel Giambra's "red-green budget" fiasco. I have not had a raise in pay for the past six years.
Public servants have been a part of the "real world" for many more years than most people realize. We have borne more than a fair amount of pain and sacrifice, have been made scapegoats by the media and politicians and have had innumerable budgets balanced on our backs with no end in sight. Please get your facts straight before criticizing the majority based on the benefits of a few.
How can Buffalo region attract new businesses?
With the governor offering the Buffalo Niagara region $1 billion in incentives to lure new businesses to the area, one wonders if that will ever happen. The reason I say that is we are scheduled to lose the main post office on William Street and part of the air base in Niagara Falls.
How do you replace the 700 good-paying jobs at the post office? Ditto with the jobs at the base. If the politicians can't save them, how can we expect them to ever be able to take advantage of the governor's offer? One other thing to consider is the mess in the Buffalo Public School system. Not much of an incentive for a business whose employees have school-age children.
It doesn't make sense to save Trico building
You've got to love preservationists -- lots of big ideas but no gumption or the money to execute. Up until 2005, I was probably better versed on the Trico building than anybody in this town. I represented the developer, Steve McGarvey, in acquiring the property and then formulating and executing a development plan for that building. That facility has not had a roof on it for nearly 10 years -- that's a lot of water freezing and thawing for a lot of years throughout that building. I would estimate that by now the building's structural integrity has been compromised to some degree, and I'm sure many other serious building problems have emerged over the years.
Prior to all this, the number to renovate this facility into a mixed-use office and retail development was well over $30 million. I believe it is easily over $40 million by now. The point is that it is cost-prohibitive to redevelop. The best and highest use is to demolish, followed by new development, without a doubt.
The problem with downtown Buffalo is that we do not know how to get out of our own way. We find a way to put up roadblocks to development that is a no-brainer in other cities our size and larger. A city doesn't get to be great by living in the past. I'm all for the preservation of buildings that are truly worth preserving (i.e. makes logical and economic sense), but it is clearly apparent that many times the so-called preservationists in this town "preserve" simply without method or solid reason to their madness.
Clarke E. Thrasher
Gambler who lost money for cancer care hurt many
Sherry Holcomb gives a somewhat new meaning to the phrase, "like a kid in a candy store."
Hope Lodge is so aptly and beautifully named. A place for her, and others in similar situations, to find solace and a kind of peace after long, emotionally draining days tending to loved ones with serious illnesses.
Rather than spending the time apart from her family in Cortland constructively, making connections with people over hot meals and spending a few hours decompressing in a lovely setting with others before a good night's sleep to strengthen herself for the next day, Holcomb had very different plans for her evenings. She hopped into her car to the nearest ATM to withdraw money from the checking account set up for her son's cancer treatments via a fundraiser and private donations. And then she was off to gamble that money away -- all told, $15,000. And the kid in the candy store was now a woman who subsequently admitted to a years-long gambling problem and was able to withdraw money at will with a four-digit PIN.
A "solitary crime"? No. Hers was a crime that touched the lives of many good people who had done what they could to help a family in a time of need. Just thinking where that money is now is loathsome. That money was meant solely for her son's cancer treatments, and for that reason only. Not to be squandered away at casinos.
Audrey M. Mangan
Letter writer is wrong about Hamburg taxes
On Feb. 20, a letter appeared in The News that cited various facts regarding the Town of Hamburg's taxes. The writer stated that his taxes had risen 4 percent in the last year and 12 percent "since the Republicans took over the town government." This information is inaccurate.
Supervisor Steven Walters was elected in November 2005, he took office on Jan. 1, 2006, and his first proposed budget took effect for 2007. The total tax rate in 2007 was $9.057242; whereas, in 2012 the total tax rate is $9.185945 -- that is an increase of 1.4 percent. Importantly, this increase is not in one year, but over the entire six-year period. In addition, over this same time period, spending has actually been reduced and the town is presently spending less in 2012 than it was in 2005.
While we do not wish to take away or diminish the right of any citizen to voice his opinion, this letter appeared to take political overtones. The town has a proven record of service to our community and fiscal stability. This record is one that is worked for every day by our elected officials, department heads and all town employees. It is a record that can only be accomplished through innovative and forward-thinking initiatives.
We will continue to work as a team to keep our future bright -- we are the town that friendship built.
Hamburg Finance Department