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Loss of Father Joe? will be felt forever

In the tragic passing of Father Joe Moreno, Western New York has truly lost one of its nicest people. The hundreds of people who attended his wake and funeral are a testament to what a kind and loving man he was. He did so much for so many people.

For us at St. Lawrence, he was a Godsend. After surviving our last pastor asking for and being relieved of his duties there and church consolidations, we stayed open under the devoted leadership of Deacon Paul and Mary, his wife. They asked for Father Joe to help and he became ours.

Father Joe never "preached." His sermons were always stories about helping and loving. He made you feel comfortable because he led by example. You couldn't help but get involved in one of his projects.

At St. Lawrence, the loss of Father Joe will be felt forever. He meant so much and did so much for us. We are a small church, but operate many ministries (clinic for kids, St. Vincent de Paul, food pantry). Father Joe, with many dedicated volunteers, made it possible for so many people to get help. In tribute, we have named our food pantry for him. I ask that all of his friends remember us and pray for us. Because of Father Joe and you, our pantry serves 450 people a month. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, this is the time when Father Joe was at his best.

I don't think it matters why, but questions remain. Why would "downtown" take Father Joe away from us (and St. Mary's), away from all that he loved and who loved him? At St. Lawrence he was minutes from anywhere. To have everything taken away from him, and told to go wait for assignment, was just plain wrong. The bishop and his "spin doctor" can say what they want. Having to leave us hurt Father Joe very much. He needed us, maybe as much as we needed him.

Jim Barrett

Cheektowaga

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Small county tax hikes? support vital programs

Many people are complaining about the county executive's budget. We have been very fortunate to be a site for Erie County to host the DSS Workforce Development Program for the past year. The program is not only vital to the Seneca-Babcock Community Association but to other non-profits, such as Autumn Wood Senior Center, Computers for Children, Seneca Street Church, Cazenovia Baptist Church, Cazenovia Park and the Mayor's Clean Sweep Team.

We would like to convey our support for the DSS Workforce Development Program. It has proven to be an essential force for growth in economic development and is vital to the continued resurgence of the economy.

The recession has brought focus to the issue of workforce investment and development. With many individuals out of work or underemployed, now is the time to support such programs. We can all agree that these extraordinary times require an extraordinary effort to get clients back to work, and this program is leading the charge in that effort.

Households are facing impossible choices among food, home heating, gasoline, rent, medicine and other basic needs. Many continue to struggle with hunger, as documented by food hardship data collected by Gallup and analyzed by the Food Research and Action Center. Nearly one in five individuals said there were times they didn't have enough money to buy food in 2011. We have had many clients within the last year obtain their GED, find employment and receive valuable training, such as money management, resume building and job skills training, all necessary tools and skills to succeed during tough economic times.

Small tax hikes provide valuable programming like the Workforce Development Program, Operation PrimeTime and funding for our free library system. It will pay off in the end.

Brian Pilarski

Executive Director, Seneca-Babcock Community Association

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We need to reform ?our electoral system

Election Day is Nov. 6. We should all know by now that this election at the national and local level is driven by money. It may be the key issue, because, the axiom "those who got the gold make the rules" changes not only who can afford to represent the people, but how we are represented. Many people understand how damaging the flood of political money is to our democracy. What they are not sure of is what can be done about it. Therefore, campaign finance reform has to be the top priority at the state and local level as we move forward. We all must take responsibility to help educate ourselves and our neighbors to reform our electoral system.

Here in New York, the momentum is building with help from some elected officials to lower the state's sky-high contribution limits and close loopholes that allow individuals and companies to give even more than the high limits. We must make rules that require full and meaningful disclosures from campaign contributors and disclosure of who is paying for independent campaign ads and materials and also provide public funding in some form, perhaps encouraging small dollar donations. Organizations like Common Cause, Citizen Action and the League of Women Voters are doing the hard work of educating the public.
Make your voices count. Get involved. The time is now.

Judith M. Metzger

Williamsville

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Why are election issues? so polarizing in America?

Why can't we all be assured that no matter who is president, there will be an effort to provide equality for all?

Why must some of us worry and flaunt our opinions when it should be a slam dunk that women get equal pay for equal work and are well represented in all facets of politics and the economy; the gap between the rich and the poor equalizes; those who want to marry are able to marry; all Americans can receive health coverage; those who are able to get into college may attend with reasonable loan debts; math and science education will provide scholars in these areas who, of course, can read and write well; and our military will rank No. 1 without exorbitant and unnecessary costs and be better known as a peace keeper than a war monger, yet prepared to defend America?

The list could go on. Why must the aforementioned actions be so controversial and polarizing?

Marguerite Battaglia

Buffalo

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Neither candidate? is offering solutions

The myriad letter writers, both Democrat and Republican, who pedantically submit why the presidential candidate they oppose is unqualified for the office would serve themselves well to read the op-ed column by Robert Samuelson that appeared in the Oct. 20 News.

He succinctly elucidates why neither candidate is offering solutions to our economic tribulations. And this avoidance filters down to congressional and state legislator candidates, who violate their primary obligation, a representative democracy. Common to both parties' candidates is an allegiance to forces that will get them elected (or more abusively, re-elected, e.g. resistance to term limits, free political mailings).

On the same day, on the same page, an op-ed by Susan Estrich enumerates why this year there are clear policy differences between the two candidates that might well determine the direction of the country in the future. She and the partisan letter writers should accept that without compromise and an educated understanding of the data, all of the hollow policies proffered by Democrats and Republicans are non-starters.

Gary Vickers

Amherst