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Professionalism rising in public relations field

As a communication professor who is active in national public relations circles, I disagree with the assertion that public relations is a "generalist" occupation as noted in the April 15 article, "Are there high-paying jobs for generalists?"

Public relations demands not only strong writing skills, but communication research skills and the ability to do strategic communication planning. Also, the Public Relations Society of America is collaborating with other PR organizations on an entry-level credential, Principles of Accreditation in Public Relations, which will be available soon for college seniors who have taken public relations courses and have passed the accreditation test. The society anticipates that employers will embrace this credential for new PR practitioners as a sign of professionalism.

Competition for jobs in public relations is intense, as I know from former students -- PR majors -- who have applied for positions. Many PR job ads call for a bachelor's degree in communication as a minimum requirement, including public relations courses and internships. Local PR practitioners who are guest speakers in my classes emphasize the increasing professionalism of the public relations field, urging students to complete their degrees in public relations and do several PR internships.

The U.S. Department of Labor reinforces this idea of professionalism in its annual Occupational Outlook Handbook (www.bls.gov/oco/), where it notes that public relations management positions generally require a bachelor's degree in public relations, communication or journalism. Several colleges in Western New York, including my own, have these degree programs; students interested in public relations would be well-advised to enroll in one as preparation for a rewarding career in the field.

Deborah A. Silverman, APR

Associate Chair, Communication Department, Buffalo State College

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Let's return water flows to more natural levels

On behalf of the Buffalo Audubon Society, and our hundreds of members who spend time and money bird watching along Lake Ontario, I am calling on the International Joint Commission to return water flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to more natural levels and to enhance bird habitat around the lake by approving plan BV7.

The United States and Canada created the IJC to cooperatively manage our shared lake and river systems wisely and to protect them for the benefit of today's citizens and future generations. Plan BV7 is a balanced approach to managing Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River water levels and flows. It has been developed over the course of a decade with input from all interested parties. The plan is supported by more than 27 organizations representing bird conservation, waterfowl hunting, fishing, recreational boating and environmental concerns.

This plan builds off of the Great Lakes Compact, which The News has supported in the past, and the successful state legislation passed last year to implement its key provisions. Now that we're keeping water in the lakes, this plan will ensure proper management to protect the health of the entire Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River ecosystem.

The Great Lakes are truly the lifeblood of our region, and their health is critical to the long-term economic recovery of Western New York. Plan BV7 will benefit not only the environment, but numerous other interests. Recreational boating, hunting, fishing, low-cost and low-carbon hydroelectric production and cost-effective shipping all are strengthened under this new approach to regulation.

Enhancing Lake Ontario's environment and providing for more recreational opportunities is a win-win, which is why we urge the IJC to approve this plan, and for all of our neighbors in Western New York to support its balanced approach.

Loren H. Smith

Executive Director, Buffalo

Audubon Society, North Java

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It's time to cut the fat, consolidate districts

Donn Esmonde and an April 13 letter writer are to be commended for their views on consolidation of school districts. I share their concerns, especially after learning that other states in our great country have larger school districts and, in many cases, only one district per county. Why is it that whenever a district is in a budget crisis, it is always the teachers or programs that are affected, not administrators? Schools are for educating our children, not for providing guaranteed employment for layers of administrators with bloated salaries.

Private industry and business have responded to the recent economic recession by developing more efficient procedures and, dare I use the word, consolidating positions and services. Are school districts and their administrators exempt from this? These multiple layers of administrators and multiple school districts need to be dealt with in order to put our children first!

Residents cannot afford continually rising taxes. As it is, many people on fixed incomes deny themselves everyday basics to pay for health-related services. I know this only too well because of my volunteer activities with my church food pantry. Let's cut the fat and force people in power to reform school districts before more damage is done. Our children and local taxpayers deserve better. Someone needs to take the bull by the horns and make school boards and administrators accountable. The leadership should be coming from the governor and our state legislators, not from newspaper columnists!

Dolores Stefanacci

West Seneca

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Grass-roots movement fighting for democracy

Corporations cannot raise families, administer CPR, put out fires, enlist the armed forces or vote. Only people can do these things, and only people are given the inalienable rights conferred by the Constitution. Yet, pursuant to the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court has given corporations essentially unlimited power to "buy" elections, with little to no disclosure. It is up to "we, the people" to let our elected representatives know that this is unacceptable -- our democracy is not for sale.

Grass-roots movements are growing throughout the country with the goal of seeking a constitutional amendment that would make it clear that only human beings are entitled to the individual protections provided by the Constitution, and would establish a fire wall between our government and the corrosive effects of special interest cash. Concerted efforts are being made to encourage governmental bodies to pass resolutions calling for a ballot question that would instruct Congress to pass, and State Legislatures to ratify, such an amendment.

In a recent column, Denise Jewell Gee expressed a pessimistic opinion of the hoi polloi. I disagree. I firmly believe that "we, the people," united, can make our voices heard and make this amendment a reality. To restore trust and integrity in our elections and in our government and to preserve democratic ideals for posterity, we can settle for nothing less.

Barbara Rogers

Hamburg