Volunteers keep alive? great Buffalo tradition

On Saturday, I plan to attend West Side Rowing Club's 100th Anniversary Celebration. It will be a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and teammates.

Anticipating the event brings back memories of steel mill rows and conditioning runs, sunny days and sudden squalls off the lake, race festivities on the Black Rock Channel, and rewarding trips to St. Catharines and Washington. We learned the sport and a lot about ourselves. We had the chance to work out with world-class athletes (on conditioning runs with Jim "Chick" Hewson – we ran, he race-walked). We saw leadership and team-building at work from coaches like John Bennett and Charlie Fontana and oarsmen like Jim McMullen, Jim Wynne, Sonny Fox, Bob Uhl and Bobby Sauerwein, all great role models. We learned to ask more of ourselves than we might otherwise from men like these. The West Side experience also made possible college scholarships for many over the years (including, in my day, several from Hutchinson Tech, Bishop Timon and my old school, Bishop Fallon). We alumni owe much to WSRC.

The announcement of the 100th Anniversary Celebration promises there will be "no boring speeches," which is a safe harbor from having to thank so many who make it all happen. WSRC's success is due in large part to the selfless contributions of time and talent of volunteers like Bill Fleming, Doc Schaab, Bob Uhl and many others. Volunteering continues to this day and with some, like the Cotters and Schaabs, it's a family affair. You won't find their names on buildings or even on the website, but many of these West Siders have put in over 50 years of volunteer work and have earned our gratitude for keeping alive a great Buffalo tradition.

Jerry Van de Water

WSRC 1956-'63, Bishop Fallon Crew

Flowery Branch, Ga.


Williamsville schools? could do a better job

On Aug. 19, The News had a graphic in the paper analyzing Williamsville School statistics. As a former teacher and current city resident, I have heard the endless derision from the 'burbs about how superior suburban education is. I am curious as to why Williamsville gets a free pass on the mockery and ridicule.

According to the numbers, Williamsville spends more than $14,000 per student, has only 10 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch, 2 percent of the students are learning with limited English and less than 10 percent of students are in a special education program. To enhance these numbers, the school has a 96 percent attendance rate. In spite of all of these statistical advantages, Williamsville manages a graduation rate of only 92.6 percent. Residents should be outraged, not boastful!

How is it that one of the school districts that is consistently held up as an example of great education can't even manage to get its graduation rate as high as its attendance rate? Stop pointing at the city and telling us how inferior our education is. Clearly the numbers do not bear this out.

Wayne Brown



Senior citizens must? stand up and be heard

The senior population is growing and demographics are on our side. The older population increased 11.2 percent from 1997 to 2007. Americans ages 65 and older now number 37.9 million. On average, we retire at 64 and can expect to live another 16 years. It is estimated there are more than 500,000 union retirees in our state. We can be a formidable agent for good government and senior rights in our community if we work together; priorities have included actions to protect Social Security, Medicare, retiree pensions and health care benefits.

The power of dedicated retirees cannot be underestimated. Act as community ambassadors and effectively promote the needs and interests of retirees and working people. Seniors are respected and have outstanding voting records.

That is why this presidential election is so important; the issues are clear and seniors hold the key to how our government will govern. Private and public sector run businesses want us to believe we must learn to live with less – killing the American dream. Let's not be the last to retire.

Roger Chenez



Obama did not remove? work rules from welfare

I was dismayed to see the publication of a blatantly untrue op-ed from a Heritage Foundation writer in the Aug. 19 Viewpoints section. In it, the writer made the statement that President Obama had written a memo that removed the work requirements from welfare. This assertion is untrue. It has been fact checked by numerous news organizations and has been found as lacking any manner of truth. Politifact gave it its worst rating, "Pants on Fire" as did the Washington Post (four pinnochios)., a non-partisan website, also found no validity in the statement.

Any reading of the directive itself should put an end to this argument. The directive clearly states, "The secretary is only interested in approving waivers if the state can explain in a compelling fashion why the proposed approach may be a more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits."

How can that be construed as gutting the work requirement? Put aside the facts that these waivers were requested by Republican governors, and that similar waivers were requested by Gov. Mitt Romney back in 2005. The evidence is clear that Obama's memo does not in any way take the work requirement out of welfare. The fact is this memo's purpose is to increase the employment rate for those on welfare. That fact is indisputable.

Joel G. Rait



President deserves? another four years

Mitt Romney's ideas are the same as President George W. Bush's ideas, which were responsible for the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Trickle-down economics didn't work then and it won't work now. President Obama saved the auto industry, which is back on its feet with people providing for their families. He also got Osama bin Laden, who would be planning his next attack.

The health care reform the president passed prevents insurance companies from capping your coverage because you have a pre-existing condition. Seniors have saved hundreds on prescription drugs and young people can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. Obama has doubled Pell grants, helping 4 million students afford education. He fought for tax cuts for working families and small businesses, not for a tax cut for himself and billionaires like Romney. Obama fought for equal pay for equal work and signed the Fair Pay Act. He did it for women who are now breadwinners for their families. I will vote for Obama. He deserves another four years to get us out of the mess it took Bush eight years to create.

Diana Notaro