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It's time to revise state law? on college charge-back cost

As far back as the 1980s, during my tenure as interim president of Erie Community College, the topic of charge-back cost was discussed by the ECC board of trustees. The cost to the college and to the county was simply too much to bear, and something had to be done.

Among the possible solutions considered was to reimburse the other community colleges in cases where Erie Community College did not offer the program of the student's choice.

However, there is no compelling reason why students would have to go outside of the district if ECC offers the curriculum of their choice. One of the original goals of the community college movement was to provide students with an education in their own community. This seemed to be a solution that would have saved the county thousands of dollars.

Now that this has become a matter of concern again, it may behoove the county to consider this alternative.

Oscar Smukler

Former interim president

Erie Community College

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Wage increase will cause?a loss of job opportunities

In a recent Another Voice, Rev. Frank Raines III claims that raising the federal minimum wage to $9.80 an hour will lead to "the creation of 4,700 new jobs." ("Congress has moral obligation to approve increase," Sept. 3 News.) While the reverend's sermons are surely inspiring, his command of economics leaves something to be desired.

Businesses that hire entry-level employees and pay them the minimum wage think restaurants or grocery stores keep a few cents in profit from each sales dollar and can't just absorb the cost of a mandated wage hike. When they can't raise prices on cost-conscious customers, they're forced to do more with less; that means more customer self-service and fewer job opportunities for the least-experienced employees.

The research backs this up. According to economists at the University of California-Irvine and the Federal Reserve Board, 85 percent of the most credible studies from the last two decades point to a loss of job opportunities (rather than an increase) following a wage hike.

Michael Saltsman

Research Fellow

Employment Policies Institute

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Obama, Romney disregard? protection of civil liberties

While watching the news the other day, and hearing the normal everyday sound bites of gaffes and generic economy talk, I started to think about what has not been talked about extensively in this campaign. It seems to me two issues have been under-reported by the media, and rarely talked about by the candidates, and that is defense and protection of civil liberties. I wondered why that was, and I realized that it is because both candidates have nearly the same views on these issues, and neither candidate is a staunch supporter of a more restrained defense budget or for the protection of civil liberties.

For all the talk of how President Obama and Mitt Romney are so different, their views of civil liberties and defense make them seem similar, and not in a positive way. Both candidates support the indefinite detention of Americans without trial, the unconstitutional Patriot Act, which includes warrantless wiretaps and sneak-and-peek warrants, and intervention in Libya. Romney is OK with torture and Obama just kills people with drone attacks on sovereign nations. Obama has ordered and Romney is OK with the killing of American citizens abroad without trial (Anwar al-Awlaki and his son). Both support the increased militarization of American police forces, larger military budgets and a continuing of the failed war on drugs, which is the longest war in U.S. history. And I doubt either would keep us out of Iran; Obama would just wait a little longer than Romney.

These important issues are getting no play, because neither Romney nor Obama wants to defend his views on either, because if the American public was educated about them, voters would be disgusted with what has happened with our once great country and its protection of civil rights.

James Kozlowski

Tonawanda

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Let's help local program ?trying to promote reading

While I was heartened to see The News article "Book bus driven by literacy" in the Sept. 5 edition of the paper, it also saddens me to know we have a local book source here in Buffalo that is providing the same opportunity to kids, yet struggles for donations and funding.

The program is "Reach out and Read." It is a national program that runs out of Northwest Buffalo Community Health Care Center on Lawn Avenue. Like many not-for-profit organizations, its funding has been slashed to the point of non-existence. The group relies on donations and support from local groups like the Lions Clubs, Rotary, etc., as well as personal donations.

I happen to know that the local regional coordinator for "Reach out and Read" volunteers and receives no salary for her time and effort. She does this in addition to her full-time job as a pediatric nurse practitioner. Why? Because she believes every child should have books, no matter what his or her socio-economic background. This wonderful program is just inches away from dissolving. How can we let this happen? After all, isn't reading fundamental?

Karen A. Kirst

Boston

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Foes of Obama do not? speak for all Americans

With the political season being in full swing, we can expect to see and hear many disturbing messages from both sides of the campaign. Nothing, however, is quite as distressing to me as the political signs that are cropping up around the community. These signs state, "America Against Obama."

I take great offense at these signs, not because they are anti-Obama but because they attempt to speak for me, an American. If the signs read, "America Against Romney," they would also upset me. Those who are posting these signs have no right to include me in their statements. To say "America Against Obama" is to imply that all Americans oppose his re-election. Instead, I think the signs should specify exactly for whom they speak, as in, "Conservative America Against Obama" or "Right-wing America Against Obama." I would say the same if the signs pointed in the other direction. Then they would best state, "Liberal America Against Romney."

Due to the heated emotions that surround presidential elections, I doubt that those who place these placards in their yards will take heed of my complaint. I am, however, about as American as you can get without being indigenous (my ancestry on both sides of my family traces back to before the Revolutionary War), so I ask respectfully that people do not speak for me.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Hulsing

Wales Center