Clothing shouldn't keep? people out of voting booth

I had an unpleasant experience when I voted in the 2012 primary. Upon entering my polling place, it was strongly implied to me by an election inspector that I wouldn't be allowed to vote because of how I was dressed. I was wearing a particular candidate's shirt but at no time did I verbally or physically promote any candidate. Another election inspector said the same thing, so I entered a bathroom and turned my T-shirt inside out. I was then granted permission to vote.

I later called the Erie County Board of Elections to express my disappointment in how I was treated because of how I was dressed. I didn't actively campaign or promote any particular candidate. My thoughts were heard, but I don't think the commissioner or the election inspectors fully understand what happened was wrong.

I later saw on television two candidates at their polling places, both wearing clothing that would be described by the election inspectors at my polling place as "political." Neither was hassled and both were granted permission to vote.

Voting is the building block of our democracy. As a former election inspector, I understand how important it is to participate in the political process. While I eventually was able to vote, I felt I faced an unprecedented hurdle that could hinder voting and discourage political participation.

Accusing a voter of campaigning at a polling place based on her clothing sends the wrong message. As long as voters follow the policies in place, their choice of dress shouldn't factor into whether they're allowed to vote. We should protect and promote our rights to vote rather than diminish and disenfranchise voters. I will vote in the general election, but apparently will have to ponder what to wear before heading to the polls.

Dee Vitrano



Church group played ?a big role in walkway

Recently a Buffalo News article related the fact that an agreement was reached between the City of Lackawanna and Delta Development to provide a walkway, crosswalk and appropriate signage to protect the safety of senior citizens who live in the Victory Ridge Apartments. There was a missing fact in the story. An important part of the story was that an inter-parish social justice committee from three Catholic parishes in Lackawanna had been working since last January to advance this effort on behalf of these citizens. The committee members believed that this work was part of the church's mission to work for justice in the larger community and, in doing so, to bring the values of the gospel to the world.

Kathleen Heffern

Town of Tonawanda


Cuomo should veto? SUM coverage bill

I am responding to the editorial, "Insurance gap needs to be filled," which encouraged drivers to purchase supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist (SUM) coverage. SUM coverage can be an appropriate option, but is not always necessary. There is no simple formula that makes sense for everyone. Whether or not a person should buy SUM coverage, and if so how much, depends on one's individual circumstances.

SUM coverage is readily available at different monetary levels. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs legislation passed in the waning hours of the session, those options would be severely limited. The legislation would force individuals to opt out of SUM coverage as opposed to the current, transparent process of opting in. The opt-out mechanism will prove very confusing – tricking people into purchasing coverage that is supposed to be optional. This bill also applies to small businesses, roping them into this bad public policy that would only drive up costs.

Many different types of coverage are available to protect drivers and their passengers in the event of an auto accident. Personal injury protection is automatically part of an auto policy and provides $50,000 per person. Additional personal injury protection and optional basic economic loss can also be purchased. In addition, there are other types of insurance that apply, namely workers' compensation and health insurance.

The main difference between SUM coverage and other types of insurance is that SUM includes pain and suffering awards. Trial lawyers thrive on suing for pain and suffering, so it is no surprise they are strongly pushing for this legislation.

Our customers deserve to choose what types of coverage are most appropriate for them. SUM coverage is just one of many options. I ask Cuomo to veto this legislation that is anti-consumer and bad for small businesses.

Ellen Melchionni


New York Insurance Association


Pornography should not be viewed in public library

Last week, I had the occasion to visit one of our Erie County public libraries. While passing one of the computers that was in use, I was shocked and appalled to see a couple looking at pornographic images on the screen in full view of other patrons. When I approached the head librarian to complain, her comment was, and I quote, "We must not and cannot deny the constitutional rights of our visitors to view any material, even pornographic, unless there is a complaint."

Yes, one has the choice and the right to view pornography in an appropriate setting, an adult book store, theater or in the privacy of one's home. But to be viewing such material in a public library with not just adults present, but with young children being inadvertently exposed to such material, is unconscionable.

Jim Williams



It's time to remove? dangerous Skyway

The removal of the dated and sometimes dangerous Skyway bridge is an idea whose time has come. Congressman Brian Higgins is once again in the lead for an important proposal that can only enhance the quality of life for all of Western New York. Donn Esmonde's recent column clearly underlines the existing defects. The State Department of Transportation should seriously consider not only their well-placed arguments, but also the safety of the thousands of commuters who travel this anachronistic structure daily.

I remember the shock and sadness of this community at the loss of lives, including that of a former student, in one of the numerous mishaps on this outdated edifice. Trying to merge onto or off of the Skyway at rush hour has been an unnerving crap-shoot for years, as thousands of commuters can attest to.

Increased vehicle volume over the years has overwhelmed the ability of the state and city's signal light system to provide efficient and safe traffic flow. Ask any commuter who has waited for numerous signal changes to move several yards ahead. And don't get me started on the impact of expected and unexpected snowfalls on an already overburdened system. Prudent fiscal planning and sensible unity of communication between levels of government can lead to a desirable outcome and traffic safety for our entire community. The time is now.

Tim Ellis