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State needs to raise? minimum wage now

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has announced that the minimum wage issue is now "dead in the water" and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated that its passage is "very dubious." I am writing this letter to express my outrage. New York State has gone for five years without raising the minimum wage. I was the director of one of the largest food pantries in Western New York. I think that qualifies me to speak up for those "working poor." I have contacted the Food Bank of Western New York to verify my statements. The majority of the people who are receiving their free food from food pantries are the working poor.

Since 2006, the people receiving this food has increased 82 percent. It is not a coincidence that the minimum wage has not gone up in the last five years, it is a contributor. Our legislators are making plans to give themselves a raise when they reconvene. It's time for people of faith to speak up and remind our elected officials that it is their responsibility to look out for the needs of the majority, not corporate America or special interest groups.

Let me get down to specific numbers. A person who is supporting a family of three on the minimum wage is earning $888 per month if he or she works 40 hours per week. According to our U.S. government, if a family of three is living on less than $1,650 per month, they are living in poverty. The increase in the minimum wage would simply close that gap.

Our legislators aren't worried about the minimum wage for themselves because they earn around $48 an hour and our governor earns $76 per hour. The corporations have hired lobbyists to fight this legislation and they earn $175 per hour. Most CEOs earn more in one hour than the rest of us earn in a year. This system is out of control. Our elected officials should be working with their citizens to seek equity, not be a part of the inequity.

Bill Roberts

Voice Buffalo

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Buffalo Navy Week ?was a great success

From Sept. 10-17, the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park had the distinct privilege to host the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy for Buffalo Navy Week. One of the most highly anticipated events of 2012, this was the first time the Navy's ships had visited the Great Lakes since 1999 and the first time a Navy Week had come to Buffalo.

For two years, the Naval & Military Park worked in partnership with dozens of municipal, state, federal and provincial agencies, plus a legion of volunteers from the United States and Canada, to bring this unique and spectacular event to town.

This very diverse and dedicated binational team can be proud of its effort, for it proved what remarkable collaboration is possible on the Niagara Frontier. It is estimated that up to 100,000 people came to Canalside to see the visiting ships, talk with the sailors and learn more about the armed forces. Tens of thousands more experienced Buffalo Navy Week across the region, with an estimated 10,000 visitors coming from out of town filling local hotels, restaurants and other cultural attractions.

The Navy should be proud of its extensive outreach, for it seemed it was everywhere conducting demonstrations, performing concerts or doing public service for the community.

As the culmination of this year's bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812 and the "Star Spangled Banner," Buffalo Navy Week was an important opportunity to salute the men and women in uniform throughout history who have defended our cherished freedoms. Buffalo once again lived up to being the City of Good Neighbors and its two bordering nations once again provided an example of diplomatic relations for the rest of the world to follow.

As the region's premier resource for military history, the historic anchor of Buffalo's Canalside and the largest permanent tribute to veterans of its kind in the United States, the Naval & Military Park was honored to help bring Buffalo Navy Week here. We hope the worthy mission accomplished this month is only a prelude to future bicentennial collaborations over the next two years.

Donald A. Alessi

Chairman, Naval & Military Park Board of Directors

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More downsizing is? needed in Ken-Ton

@Body copy rag:I am surprised that I have not seen more opinions regarding the closing of Thomas Jefferson School. Some of my observations are as follows: My kids all graduated from the Ken-Ton system in the '70s. During that era, there were upward of 20,000 students, two high schools and three middle schools. Today our taxes are still supporting these facilities and probably triple the administrative staff, for about 7,000 students. I think more "downsizing" is in order.

We have an Administration Building on Colvin Boulevard in which there are many people with bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and a few doctorates, as well as a Board of Education, yet we have to hire a consulting firm to "facilitate" the adjustment of 270 students from Thomas Jefferson?

Are these "educators" afraid of accountability and responsibility?

Larry DeAeth

Tonawanda

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God should have been ?omitted from platform

In a recent letter on this page, a writer expressed disgust with Democrats for leaving out any reference to God in a draft version of their platform at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Why, in the only western democracy whose Constitution explicitly prohibits the inclusion of religion in government, must so much of our political discourse be God-soaked? What the writer was essentially saying was that her Christian privilege was threatened by the very thought that "her" God was almost left out of what should be a political forum. I doubt that she lost any sleep over the fact that the original platform also made no reference to any of the other Gods that many fellow Americans worship.

Our elected officials have so many vital pressing issues to address that are relevant to all Americans regardless of their religious beliefs, or non-belief for that matter. We should not be concerning ourselves with proclamations of their level of piousness or lack thereof. Those matters should be confined to our religious institutions and the privacy of our homes, as the Founding Fathers envisioned with the First Amendment.

The real disappointment is that the Democrats had the chance to score points with the rapidly growing secular community by leaving out any God reference, but in the end succumbed to the bullying criticisms of a seemingly fragile religious majority that insists on imposing its archaic dogma on the rest of society, and cries foul whenever there is a perceived challenge to their privileged position.

Brian Hourigan

Williamsville