State must put an end? to rising Thruway tolls

A recent article about the Thruway toll increase for trucks of 45 percent was described by the Thruway Authority as "modest." It is likely that a rise in tolls for autos will soon follow, having not been ruled out by the authority.

At the public hearing held in Buffalo, a speaker quoting an organization called FAIR spoke of broken promises. Money that had been allocated for projects in Western New York somehow got diverted downstate. I spoke of the other broken promises. I recall one that said after a set number of years, there would be no tolls on the Thruway.

Another speaker said there were more than 500 administrators, supervisors and managers within the Thruway framework – almost one per mile. None of the three Thruway representatives present reacted to this statement, nor did they refute it. Perhaps it is true.

In a handout distributed that evening, the authority stated that even with the increase in tolls, the Thruway tolls would still be less than toll roads in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. What they did not say was that the tolls would be higher than all the other 47 states, some of which have no toll roads. It was suggested that perhaps those states should be called and asked, "How do you do it?" The stretch from Buffalo to Ripley, about 70 miles, costs me more in tolls than the remaining tolls combined through seven states in the 1,200-mile trip to Florida. (Fuel is also more expensive here than those other seven states, but that's an entirely different story.)

The handout also touted the safety of the Thruway, but then compared it to all other highways, not just interstates. This smacks of smoke-and-mirror chicanery and is deceiving, if not dishonest. We cannot continue the "business as usual" way of doing things. Many aspects of New York State's public agencies and authorities have to be fully scrutinized.

Peter J. Plumpis



Priest's reputation? unfairly maligned

As a parishioner of St. Anthony's Church in Buffalo for 16 years, I would like to respond to the recent letter attacking the Catholic Church and demeaning the reputation of Father Secondo Casarotto. The writer ignores totally the fact that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and not in the media. Casarotto was never arrested, tried or given an opportunity to defend himself. Yet he has been slandered with unsubstantiated accusations.

I assume the writer is a practicing Catholic who doesn't bear any malice in his heart for Casarotto or Father Benedict Groeschel, but I found very little charity and compassion for them or the Catholic Church.

Bonita Huntz



Posting calorie counts ?is great for consumers

McDonald's, the nation's bastion for fast food, super-sizing and meals on the run, recently announced that it will post calories for all items on both menu boards and drive-through menus.

As the region's leading health plan, we applaud the McDonald's action. The calorie postings will help all of us make informed decisions. Beyond the obvious increased awareness about nutrition and daily recommended calorie intake, there is another potential positive outcome from this action.

Going forward, we will know that we can choose lower-calorie, even "healthier" food at McDonald's. Oatmeal for breakfast, a salad with low-calorie dressing for lunch, sliced apples (15 calories) instead of fries (230 calories) for the Happy Meal, a grilled sandwich without cheese or fat-heavy dressings and sauce are all viable options. In addition, those tempting sugar-laden fruit and chocolate beverages all come in small, medium or large, and hopefully more of us will now downsize our beverage of choice, and save hundreds of calories while doing so.

Fast food is a way of life. But it doesn't mean that we have to surrender our health. And if we start choosing healthier options, the restaurants will have good reason to make more selections available.

At BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, our mantra has become "healthy changes everything." This isn't just a slogan, it's our inspirational call for each of us to take and make small steps to healthy.

Researchers state that if we don't change our lifestyle, a child born today will be part of the first generation in U.S. history to have a shorter lifespan than the previous generation. This is 100 percent preventable through our own actions and lifestyle choices.

Gretchen Fierle

Vice President, CCO

BlueCross BlueShield of WNY


New voter ID laws will? disenfranchise millions

You have got to hand it to the Republicans. Having doubts that your candidate can win? No problem. Pass new voter registration laws designed to disenfranchise those who are more likely to have difficulties obtaining the correct, necessary documentation. And who are these individuals? According to all reports, even those provided by some of the Republicans themselves, they are the minorities, the elderly, students and poor people. And guess what? These are the people more likely to vote Democrat.

Now, it doesn't surprise me that people like Karl Rove and the Koch brothers will do anything to prevent President Obama's re-election. What bothers me most is the lack of outcry by even the very few moderate Republicans whose desire to win appears to have trumped the ultimate fairness of the American people.

Don't be influenced by bad analogies. You need ID to get on a plane, however, traveling is not a right, voting is. In Pennsylvania, in the last 10 years, officials found 10 cases of fraudulent vote. This means that to avoid 10 cases of fraud, millions will be disenfranchised. I hope that if the Democrats lose in the courts they have a Plan B, or this will be another stolen election – remember Gore versus Bush? – our great country can ill afford.

Andre Toth



Islamic protesters ?use any excuse to riot

It is clear to anyone except, perhaps, those in the media that the protests by Islamic groups have little or nothing to do with an obscure, unseen film and everything to do with demonstrating against the United States on any flimsy excuse they can find. If it had not been a trailer on the Internet, it would have been a nasty remark by some sidewalk orator or a joke overheard by two people who took it as anti-Muslim.

To repeat, on the front page, the canard about the film being the cause of the protests shows ignorance of facts. It also encourages more talk about banning anything offensive to Muslim sensibilities, encourages pundits to call for the persons who made the film to be prosecuted for incitement and leads to equating stupid movie productions or cartoons to murdering people and setting fire to buildings.

Dorothy Wynne