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Honor Arlen, Bennett? with naming of theater

I have often admired the way New York City respects theater playwrights, composers, critics, producers and even patrons by naming a theater in their honor. Neil Simon, Helen Hayes, Brooks Atkinson and even Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis are a few who share this honor. And so I must wonder why there is nothing in Buffalo that recognizes the contributions of two talented individuals, Harold Arlen and Michael Bennett, both born in Buffalo. There is a small caricature-like depiction of Bennett that hangs in some obscure walkway, but sadly doesn't even face Main Street's Theater District. This hardly seems a worthy honor for someone who has won seven Tony Awards and was nominated for an additional 11.

Both men have accomplishments that are far too lengthy to print. Arlen was a composer of popular music, having written more than 500 songs, including "Over the Rainbow," for which he won an Oscar. Bennett was a musical theater director, writer, choreographer and dancer. His most famous accomplishments include "Dreamgirls" and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "A Chorus Line."

With all the renewed talk about the former Studio Arena Theatre coming back to life, perhaps this would be an opportune time to consider renaming the once-troubled theater after one of these individuals. Having trouble deciding which one to name it for? How about "Arlen-Bennett Theater"? I couldn't think of a nicer way to pay long-overdue tribute to two of Buffalo's finest.

Susan M. Costanza

Buffalo

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Bat deaths upset ?balance of nature

On July 18, The News published an editorial cartoon showing a scientist telling the superhero Batman about the lack of real bats and that Batman has to make up for them. I found this funny, but sadly, it's true. I'm glad that cartoonist Tom Toles realizes the serious epidemic that is killing bat populations around us, white nose syndrome. Bats eat trillions of insects every year. As bats die off because of the white nose syndrome epidemic, pests thrive. This disease upsets the balance of nature because bats are the natural predators of annoying insects.

Unfortunately, Batman can't take the place of our flying friends, so we should conserve the lives of our native bats and work to find a cure for white nose syndrome.

Joseph Arno

Clarence Center

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It's important to move? School Board elections

In 2010, only 6,256 people voted in the Buffalo School Board elections held in May. A News editorial recently endorsed changing this election from May to the November general election, which is something that I proposed in two consecutive legislative sessions. This change would increase voter turnout and save taxpayers money.

The School Board helps determine the overall quality of education by both setting the standards for teaching and creating the budgets that govern the teacher-student ratio. Perhaps of most importance, it appointed the new superintendent who will run the 30,000-student district. Buffalo needs to improve its educational system to compete in the state and the nation for good jobs and a sound, growing economy.

The Senate voted to pass my bill, S.2478A, on May 15 and also passed it in 2011. This bill would save taxpayers $100,000 because now elections would be held once in November instead of a separate election in May. This legislation died both years in the Assembly.

One must wonder how such essential school tasks can fall to a body elected by less than 4.1 percent of the population. Why do we as citizens accept the will of a small majority, probably strongly influenced by powerful interest groups? If our children's futures are at stake, should not more people be involved in the selection of those who will decide how we spend our money and who is entrusted with educating these young minds?

I will continue to work to get this done, and I will again push my colleagues in the Assembly to support this measure. I get it, the Senate gets it, but the Assembly still does not. Please contact your Assembly members today and get them on board.

Sen. Mark Grisanti

New York State Senate

60th District

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Person who shot cat?must be prosecuted

I am just saddened by the cruelty of some individual or individuals who shot an arrow point blank at Tommy, someone's beloved pet cat in Lackawanna. The attack on this defenseless, innocent animal caused it needless pain and necessitated that it be euthanized. The SPCA serving Erie County is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible. Whoever did this cruel deed needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Nancy Mariani

Kenmore

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Rice would be wise choice?for Romney running mate

There has been a great deal of speculation as to who Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate for the 2012 presidential election. Condoleezza Rice is the ideal choice for vice president and would bring several strong qualities to the GOP ticket.

Recently, it was reported that Romney is seriously considering Rice to be his running mate and this news ignited both positive and negative reactions from Republicans and conservatives. As a Republican and Rice supporter, I am very disappointed in the negative reaction. I am appalled by the narrow mindedness of the conservative right to disqualify a remarkable woman from running for vice president over the single issue of abortion.

When Rice's name surfaced, immediately the far right of the Republican Party threw a hissy fit about her alleged pro-choice stance. A few years back in an interview with CBS, Rice was asked about her stance on abortion and her answer was simple: She felt that the issue was personal and she didn't feel the government should play a role in such a difficult decision. Rice added that she believed partial-birth abortion shouldn't be an option under any circumstances and she, like most Americans, would prefer to see fewer abortions. I really don't see her statement as confirmation that she is pro-choice. If anything, Rice is stating that the government's role is to stay out of people's lives. Isn't that the cornerstone of conservatism? The ability to make informed decisions and have individual rights and responsibilities? Wasn't that the reason for those tea parties?

Bottom line, the Republicans will not win elections if they make social issues such as abortion and gay marriage the central focus. The GOP needs to tackle issues such as global terrorism, the economy and education. These are areas that Rice would be a leading voice, not to mention her presence on Romney's ticket would capture support from women, independents and African-American voters.

Steve Metzger

Buffalo