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Separation of church?and state is essential

In a recent Memorial Day speech in Barker, Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse referred to the United States as a "Christian nation." Obviously, he doesn't understand, or chooses not to honor, the concept of "separation of church and state." Even more alarming is the fact that when I explained to Syracuse that by his rhetoric he is disenfranchising many of his own electorate, he dug further into his position by quoting Patrick Henry, who stated that our country was founded on the "Gospel of Jesus Christ." Henry was not a signatory to the Declaration of Independence nor of our Constitution.

The founders of our country thought separation of church and state important enough to make the first 10 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" the Establishment Clause. The fact that a majority of Americans then and now identify themselves as Christian no more makes this a "Christian nation" than does the fact that the majority of the population is white makes this a "white nation."

James Madison, "father of the Constitution" and author of the Bill of Rights, opposed a bill to use tax funds to teach the "Christian religion." He later vetoed a bill to incorporate an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., on the grounds that it "violates in particular" the First Amendment.

Our representatives are elected to serve all the citizenry, not to serve their personal agendas. Syracuse and his ilk should read the Constitution and keep their personal religious beliefs to themselves.

Amrom Chodos

Kenmore

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Triple-A All-Star events?made Buffalo proud

I had the opportunity to participate in the Triple-A All-Star events last week as a volunteer, spectator and booster. The three days were wonderful! What a joy to see all the fans at each event 14,000-plus at the Home Run Derby, 500 at the gala at Shea's Performing Arts Center, 900 at the luncheon with Tom Seaver and a full house at the Triple-A All-Star game. The organizers are to be commended in their efforts to present a true community happening. Cooperation and involvement from various organizations Shea's, Bills, Sabres, Bisons, Visit Buffalo Niagara, Adams Mark, Buffalo News and many others was exceptional. All made Buffalo proud. Let's not wait another 25 years to have it happen again.

Paul Synor

Elma

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Elma board must put?residents' needs first

Like most people, I work for a living; therefore, I vote people into government office to represent me and my best interests. Unfortunately, this is not what is happening in Elma.

Mixed zoning, which has existed since 1952, has caused problems throughout the town. The Town Board members have admitted this at a recent meeting. Yet nothing has been done to correct the problem. Instead of tightening zoning ordinances or rezoning to protect the residents who are adjacent to industrial zoned areas, they shake their heads and say, "It could have been worse." Interpretation of the zoning code is arbitrary and seems to be used to favor the developer instead of the residents, many of whom have lived in their homes for as long as 60 years.

Many years ago, a Master Plan Committee was established to review the zoning in the town. A survey completed by residents overwhelmingly stated they wanted to preserve the rural atmosphere of the town and keep us from becoming another example of suburban sprawl. Town Board members agreed, yet look what is happening on Bullis, Pound and New Bullis roads. Residents are forced to live with dust and noise pollution because of failure to correct zoning issues. Bullis Road is facing a section of lane widening to accommodate the many trucks that will be entering and exiting the landscaping business going in. Residents face potential chemical fertilizer and diesel fuel contamination and all because the boards are reactive and not proactive.

To make matters worse, there is no consequence to violating zoning or site plan approvals. We have a code, but no penalty to force compliance. Don't we have ordinances to assure the safety of people who live near or in a development?

It is time for Elma residents and not developers to be the first concern of the Town Board. I urge residents to attend board meetings and see what occurs there and how our local government works. Let them know your concerns. Maybe then we will see corrections in our zoning code and better enforcement of them.

Marcia Gliss

Elma

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Courts are required?to record proceedings

A letter to the editor was published on July 6 with the heading, "Recording devices are needed in court." Please be advised that effective June 16, 2008, all town and village courts of New York State have been required to mechanically record all proceedings that come before the court. This is a rule by the chief administrative judge of the courts of New York. Any town or village court that does not employ a court reporter must utilize the recording device that was provided to every court by the Office of Court Administration.

M. William Boller, A.J.S.C.

Supervising judge of the town and village courts, 8th Judicial District

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Conservatives trying?to turn back the clock

As we return to a time when "corporate big bosses" ruled a union-less America strewn with no child labor laws, or health and retirement benefits, or weekends off, it may behoove conservatives and other Obama haters to realize that they are enabling a voyage back to a time many of their moms and dads fought hard and successfully to defy. Their struggle created what was once known as the middle class.

As vets struggled to lift their families from the poverty their parents faced, they organized unions that held the feet of corporate America to the fire for a more secure future for themselves and their children. I am one of those children whose dad fought for a better living wage and health and retirement benefits that are now dissolving into self-inflicted oblivion. It is breathtaking that what is left of the middle class has turned its anger toward itself and away from corporations smiling as they erase the remaining protections once evenly shared by a generation that fought so hard to create them.

Unbelievably, many of the same people who gained lifelong benefits from unions are the voters turning the gun on themselves. By electing people bought and paid for by these corporations, they are surrendering the gains they fought so hard to create. It's startling how they are willing to toss their heirs under the corporate bus by electing people who could not care less what sort of dreams they hold for their children's children.

The most shameful aspect is that many unionized retirees are being so complacent to the death of unions they fought like the dickens to create.

Stephen F. Saracino

Buffalo