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Congress is owned by special interests

It's time to take the "con" out of Congress. Most people know, or should know, how corrupt Congress really is. Many members are just self-serving, grab-everything-you-can politicians. They are controlled by special interest groups that use lobbyists to influence and make deals with the congressmen. The lobbyists are no better. They are usually political has-beens who have connections and access to the politicians in office.

Congress makes the laws and oversees itself. What does that tell you? I am suspicious of any organization that oversees itself. Special deals, closed-door meetings, taxpayer-funded trips, paying big bucks to friends and relatives -- some of whom are also lobbyists -- all the while laughing at the average American who pays their lucrative salaries and benefits. They are part-time workers who accomplish little and look out only for themselves and their friends and relatives. Most congressmen don't have to worry about winning the lottery -- they already have.

I am disappointed, but not surprised, with many of them. They will do just about anything to stay in office. In fact, most start campaigning for re-election as soon as they are elected.

Let's face it, Congress is a mess and will not change. I would like to see the tax reports of all politicians comparing how much money they make over their salary each year. In a perfect society, each person running for office would be allowed a certain amount of money to spend on his campaign; no more. That would level the playing field. The way our system is run now, the most honest, dedicated person in the country would never win an election without money.

Filip R. Caruso

Kenmore

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$100 million contract reveals skewed values

The implication that we should be ecstatic as taxpaying supporters of the Buffalo Bills to have Mario Williams receive a $100 million contract for playing football is outlandish. This from a city ranked as the third poorest in the nation. Even the president of the United States doesn't make that much money. What does this say about our value system?

Political beneficiaries and near total gratuitous media promotion, catering to our baser entertainment desires instead of treating sports and entertainment separately from the news, contribute to our perception the Bills are indispensable.

Places like Albany, Syracuse and Rochester do not support professional football teams and look where the U.S. Postal Service wants to relocate its regional facility. Has the Bills tenure forestalled our manufacturing, business and population decline? Polled, how many businesses and manufacturers have located in Buffalo because of the Bills? How much peripheral community profit is really made from patrons who spend most everything at the stadium?

A lot more citizens of Erie County do not go to the Bills games than do. We all get stuck with the expense and suffer from their rent-free use of county property to post foreign ads against local manufacturers. Continuing endowment of hundreds of millions to a professional football team that does not reciprocate and whose primary concern is for its own profit is a losing proposition. Wouldn't we be much further ahead if our money and enthusiasm were directed toward education and community structure? What's wrong with supporting the UB Bulls and local college teams for those few hours of seasonal entertainment?

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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State is playing games with public education

Donn Esmonde's column, "Schools suffer as State Ed dangles funds," is not just an angry defense of his wife's honorable profession, but lifts a "sagging load" off the shoulders of all Buffalo Public School teachers. In opposition to the invective of many News editorials, Esmonde's journalism hits the sweet spot, true to the challenges of inner-city classroom realities and a drive to the heart exposing public education problems: New York State's Education Department is playing games with Buffalo's future.

The public pays teachers a middle-class salary for what, on the surface, may seem like a losing investment. The Trayvon Martin slaying reminds us of gated communities where wealth and privilege fear being attacked and so defend themselves legally with Stand Your Ground laws and lethally with guns. But wealth and privilege, and the capitalist economy that brings that opportunity to some, fear essentially injustice. When the opportunities for wealth or a decent standard of living are denied to many, especially by race, the "pain in the heart" of that unfairness can, like the dream in Langston Hughes' poem, "explode."

In 1968, the Kerner Commission's "Report on Civil Disorders" observed, "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white -- separate and unequal." Only the American Dream can stave off the coming disaster, and our public school teachers are vocationally committed and taxpayer funded to keep that dream alive and in good working order. So comes our casino-gambling governor and his absolute-monarch education commissioner to turn that dream into a nightmare for public school students.

Maybe the kids would be more inclined to come to school if they had a summer internship to look forward to, or increased social benefits for attendance and grades. Why not bring the area's tremendous college and university talent into the schools for curriculum change and technical skill training, employing and paying our college students to explore their new ideas with veteran faculty? That would be the beginning of a change we really could believe in.

Ray Peterson

Buffalo

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Oil companies want to keep profits high

Republicans are grasping whatever straws they can, and are mouthing their senseless propaganda to win over voters, especially using the current oil/gasoline prices ploy.

Back when President George W. Bush was in office, there were hundreds of oil companies operating in the lucrative Texas oil fields that certainly were enjoying the high prices of oil/gas and reaping a windfall. More than likely most of them are still in business today.

All one has to do to find the staggering number of these independent oil companies is to simply put up the Texas Railroad Commission website, look for the correct tab and lo and behold there is the alphabetical list of the oil companies merrily pumping $100 barrels of oil every day. Does anyone think that they want lower prices? There are so many I didn't want to waste my time counting them.

This slippery little secret is another one of those things that nobody seems to know about, and that the media apparently don't care to report about. But these companies are very important, as they oil-slicked the route to the presidency for both Bushes, and did the same to help Bush purchase the Texas baseball team, and will do the same today.

John Cappelletti

Olean