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Buffalo needs to stop polluting Niagara River

On March 15, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Buffalo Sewer Authority to reduce water pollution in the Niagara River; 4 billion gallons of sewage and wastewater pollutes the river and its tributaries every year.

That's nearly 11 million gallons every day. The Buffalo Sewer Authority violated its New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permit and was required to submit a plan to reduce sewage discharges by July 2001. It submitted a plan in July 2004, which was three years late and inadequate. Do you see the same pattern I see?

Last year, I attended a Buffalo Common Council meeting where one of the hot topics was fracking. There were many anti-oil/gas people in attendance. During and after talks by several oil/gas industry representatives, opponents jeered and heckled the industry speakers. One Council member emphatically stated his first and foremost priority was the health and safety of Buffalo residents.

Later, the Council formally banned fracking, an activity that has not taken place in Buffalo for 30 or 40 years and likely would not have taken place in the foreseeable future. How tragic -- the city bans fracking but continues to pollute the Niagara River and its tributaries with 4 billion gallons of sewage and wastewater every year.

So much for the health and safety of Buffalo residents, not to mention the businesses and residents outside the city who rely on the Niagara River and its tributaries. It looks like the Council should have banned the Sewer Authority, not fracking. Smoke and mirrors; it is simply and truly sad.

George J. Kubisty

Lancaster

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We should work to keep Sheehan Hospital open

The announcement of the closing of Sheehan Memorial Hospital is a tragedy for the City of Buffalo and Western New York. It seems we have hundreds of thousands of dollars for industrial development agencies to give away to save businesses or build new ones, but not enough money to save a hospital and 150 jobs that will be gone.

This emergency hospital has been in the community for more than 100 years. It provides primary care, alcohol and drug dependency treatment and rehabilitation to some 10,000 patients, both inpatient and outpatient. It serves a community of the poor, the working poor, the unemployed and the disabled through funding from Medicare, Medicaid and people with health insurance.

The question to our politicians, the hospital board and CEO, and the unions, CWA and SEIU, is: Can you get it together and work to get the funding to save this community hospital? Even as I write, those 150 nurses, counselors and administrative employees are working to try to keep the hospital functioning, with hope that monies are coming to keep it open.

Maybe it's time for Buffalo, Erie County and the state and federal governments to dig a little deeper into their money bags to keep this hospital open.

Maybe it's time for America to take care of its own, instead of trying to police the entire world with monies for every two-bit dictator who has his hand out for help. Charity starts at home. It's time for all to pony up the money to save Sheehan Hospital.

Earl A. Frampton

Legislative Chairman

Western New York

CWA Retirees, AFL-CIO

Eden

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Student attendance is out of teachers' control

I am a teacher in a very rural school district in the Adirondacks and was in Buffalo recently visiting family. I have been following the Buffalo Teachers Federation and its response to the attendance policy in the new teacher evaluation system.

I applaud the teachers for standing up for themselves and for what is reasonable and sane. It is ludicrous to be held accountable for students who do not come to class. It is not the teachers' fault or responsibility if students do not attend class. When are parents held accountable? Perhaps property tax rates should depend upon student attendance and performance on state tests. If a student does well on a state test and attends school, parents get a discount. If students do poorly on a test or do not attend school regularly, their parents pay a higher tax rate. If you have no children attending school, you pay a flat rate. I bet you would see changes happen then. It is time parents are held accountable and the school is not expected to fix all of the ills of society.

I hope the BTF does file suit against the state and our governor. Perhaps this will open the door for other districts to follow suit and to challenge this new system that is placing blame and pressure on teachers for things they do not control, a system that has been implemented by the use of bullying techniques by our governor. Do what I say, or else!

Teachers are not afraid of a new evaluation system, but it must be fair and reasonable. The attendance provision in the new system is neither.

Debbie Schilling

Schroon Lake

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No reason to protest demolition of Trico

While walking along Delaware Avenue for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, I could not help noticing the old Cloister restaurant building being torn down. Dismayed, saddened actually, I could only think how readily others are determined to destroy symbols of our heritage. I remember the days when it was a jewel of the avenue, with a steady flow of water running over the clear glass as it catered to the gourmet set. Although out of my price range, I enjoyed the sight of a quite pretty edifice and its grand place in my Buffalo.

Recently, a small uproar has occurred over the planned demolition of the old Trico factory. I cannot join the protests. It was a company that once thrived as a result of an industrious work force, and management's pride in the city. But like many other companies, whose succeeding generations saw such considerations far less important then the quest for increased profits, it made wholesale departures in pursuit of that quest. I have little respect for its legacy or bleak monuments to greed.

I am old enough to remember Buffalo's better days. Its vibrant downtown and Main Street were surely one of the prettiest my wide travels have ever known. Now it is just a ghost of its not-so-long-ago past. I wonder when the parks, museums and remaining cultural institutions will be thought not economically viable and replaced with more income-producing entities?

I am unable to sit by and witness the continuing decimation of my beloved hometown. I left once, true to seek my fortune, but returned because affection was always in my heart. However, in light of current developments, despairing for what it is becoming, I shall leave again and regretfully never return.

John R. McGuire

Buffalo