Man should be charged in teen's fatal shooting

I must be watching too many of these forensic whodunits. I believe that the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin by the overzealous "neighborhood watchman," George Zimmerman, may eventually prove to have been manslaughter, according to the audio evidence I've heard so far. However, trying to prove intention for a charge of first- or second-degree murder will be difficult.

Troubled minds are not necessarily confused minds. Hate crimes often go unsolved due to the clear-thinking cunning of the hater. In this case, Zimmerman contacted 911 to report someone acting suspiciously; anticipating a future crime would occur. If he intended to act on instinct as a vigilante, why did call 911?

Most callers to 911 have already experienced the crime they are reporting. After giving a few nervous answers, the callers often fear for their safety and have the urge to hide; but not Zimmerman. Ignoring the command to not follow the teen, he anxiously pursued him anyway. Most callers to 911 do not have a gun in their possession when affected by a crime, and they certainly do not pursue the criminals.

If Zimmerman had acted on his own and had not called 911, he likely would have been arrested and held for questioning. He may deviously have used 911 as his alibi. With no eyewitnesses and just hearsay evidence, it will be nearly impossible to prove intent. If the authorities charge Zimmerman with first- or second-degree murder, he'll walk; just like Casey Anthony. If they charge him with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, justice may not be served but the chances for a conviction are greater.

I fear that the parents of this innocent young man will not receive the justice they deserve, but to charge Zimmerman with murder is too risky. He must be made to pay something for taking the life of an innocent teen. So I say: Book 'em, Danno.

Robert J. Wegrzynowski



Don't blame teachers for loss of state funds

The Erie County Council of Teacher Union Presidents stands in support of the position taken by the Buffalo Teachers Federation that student attendance is a factor that should be considered in teacher evaluation scores. The state law on the evaluation process clearly indicates that school districts and teacher bargaining units will collectively bargain a portion of the evaluation process to meet the specific needs and nuances within an individual school district. This is exactly what the BTF did, acting in compliance with the law. It is not a simplistic evaluation system, as some commentaries have stated, but a complex and comprehensive program that will be used to evaluate classroom teachers.

Evaluation and accountability of teachers is not a new thing, as many might believe. It has been in place in schools for decades. The difference now is that there are politically motivated agendas forcing policies that suit well-funded special interest profiteers, such as those on Wall Street. Who will be their nexttarget so that they may continue to line their pockets on the backs of the average worker?

It is the state commissioner of education who is at fault for denying this plan, which was crafted within the scope of the law, and it is he who is overstepping his bounds of authority in an attempt to supersede the collective bargaining process. If Buffalo schools are denied the much-needed funds of the school improvement grant, it is not the fault of the BTF, the Buffalo School Board or the residents of Buffalo; rather, the lone point of aim should be directed where the onus lies: the commissioner of education.

This letter is supported by more than 20 members of local bargaining units representative of school districts in Erie County.

Ron Sesnie

President, Erie County Council

of Teacher Union Presidents


Unnecessary articles hurt development plan

The News articles concerning the development of Our Lady of Lourdes Church and adjoining properties, and our legally located dumpster in front of our landlocked building at 520 Main St., were absolutely unnecessary and ridiculous. Who cares what Paul Snyder thinks?

By publishing the misstated opinion quotes of Darius Pridgen and the asinine remarks of Crystal Peoples, the article made our assemblage of the St. Paul Mall properties a political issue, encouraging homeowners to put up roadblocks to our redevelopment of dysfunctional property. The News killed any opportunity we had to redevelop the church property.

No, the property owners are not entitled to know our intentions. They are entitled only to the market value of their property. The part of the site that we purchased so far cost us three to four times the market value, which is now money down the drain.

Carl Paladino

CEO, Ellicott Development Co.



Use of disparaging term shows poor judgment

Normally when I hear the word "paddy wagon" in casual conversation, I laugh and think about the old joke about how people don't know why they call it a paddy wagon. Is it because of the Irish hooligans riding in the back, or the Irish cops who are driving? It's a bad joke and a bigoted term.

So I was taken aback when I heard that phrase from Buffalo Common Council Member Darius Pridgen in a recent interview. I think it shows poor judgment on the part of an ordained minister to use such an insensitive and biased figure of speech. Even more discouraging is that it demonstrates this Common Council member's ignorance to the proper terminology regarding city resources.

Either way, it was sad to hear a man who has made a name for himself lifting up the oppressed and representing the downtrodden use the term to disparage the heritage of others in this community.

Larry McMahon



Crosswalk markings need freshening up

There are crosswalks throughout the city that should be better maintained. Elmwood Avenue in particular needs improvements, since it is one of the heavier-trafficked stretches in the city. The white crosswalks are worn out, and in some spots are barely visible. This makes it hard for pedestrians to know where to cross, and confusing for motorists to know where to slow down.

Remarking them in clearly visible and durable yellow lines or red pavers will make the city a more desirable place to live and to visit. For a small investment, these improvements could ultimately increase the city's income. Dealing with these issues, as well as making other streetscape improvements, will make our streets safer and friendlier for both pedestrians and motorists.

Tim Scanlon