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Town's elected officials ?must be held accountable

In response to the article "Tonawanda failed to collect sales tax for decades," as a financial professional and a Ken-Ton resident, I am shocked at the lack of professionalism displayed by our elected officials. Based on the accounts reported in The News and other media outlets, it appears that these folks are clueless on how to correctly run an organization. Any individual who has ever looked into buying or starting a business will report that he has checked into the past history of the business as well as the rules and regulations that business is governed by.

The defense is that the town received bad information back in 2000; is it not the job of the town officials to look up and verify the information? To say that "the people before them were doing it this way" is like any 8-year-old saying, "well, Billy is doing it, so should I." Ignorantia juris non excusat Ignorance of the law does not excuse.

A quick Google search on municipalities paying sales tax will provide you with the answer that municipalities that sell goods need to collect and remit taxes for sales of items that consumers could purchase from a non-governmental entity. For these folks to have put the taxpayer monies in jeopardy through pure laziness and ignorance is unacceptable. In the "real world," regardless of what was done before you, as the new owner of a business you are responsible to make certain that you are doing everything legally and correctly. Those in control of the town's finances should be held accountable for such actions.

This is exactly why government should stay out of private business. I hope that New York State conducts an audit of the Town of Tonawanda and, as they would in the real world, holds these elected officials liable and accountable for their ineptitude.

Ann Morelli

Kenmore

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We should be outraged ?over attack on embassy

The News editorial, "Sickening act of cruelty," regarding an abused dog got me thinking about Libya. What happened at our embassy in Benghazi is also a crime that shocks the conscience and one that demands the truth, a full investigation and accountability. The White House and State Department fiddled while our embassy burned. Every American should be outraged.

Elena Booth

Buffalo

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Eliminating smoking? would save many lives

The month of October saw a highly successful campaign to raise awareness of the threat to women imposed by breast cancer. Although we have made impressive inroads against breast cancer, we need to identify means of preventing it, and better means of diminishing the human suffering and death it exacts. We are increasingly able to diminish breast cancer's lethality; we continue to struggle in our search for means to prevent it. Breast examination, whether by mammography or physical examination, makes breast cancer more treatable; it does not prevent breast cancer.

Women in Western New York and the rest of the United States are more likely to develop breast than lung cancer. But breast cancer can be successfully treated; lung cancer is highly lethal. Thus, more women die each year of lung than of breast cancer; last year in Western New York, lung cancer killed 189 women, while breast cancer killed 160.

Lung cancer would be one of the rarest of cancers but for cigarette smoking. The few cases that occur among nonsmoking women usually afflict women who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Other frequently lethal cancers induced by smoking include those of the bladder, colon, head and neck, esophagus and kidney. It is increasingly clear that cancer patients who smoke have a poorer prognosis than nonsmoking patients.

We do, to be sure, need to do a better job of dealing with breast cancer. But the most important single cause of early death among women in our society is cigarette smoking. Eliminating smoking would save more deaths than the discovery of even highly effective means of preventing and treating breast cancer.

James R. Marshall

Senior Vice President, Cancer Prevention and Population Science

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

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Who helps America?in times of trouble?

Whenever there is a disaster anywhere in the world, the United States is there to help with food, clothing, shelter and medical supplies. The National Guard is sent with equipment to help those outside the United States. Where is the help from all the countries that we have helped Europe, Japan, China? Where are the countries that we helped with the tsunami disaster? Where is the help for the East Coast?

James Bible

Cheektowaga

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We must ensure safety? of nation's food supply

Peanuts, pine nuts, spinach and hamburger, oh my! All (in contaminated forms) have seriously injured residents of our community. Now it's "organic spinach and spring mix." Can it sound more healthy or innocent for you?

The New York State Department of Health has reported that 16 of our neighbors have fallen ill from E. coli exposure after consuming the salad mix. Exposure to this pathogen can cause severe diarrheal illness, and can lead to permanent kidney damage and/or death. Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if the number of victims grows.

It appears that the guilty party may be State Garden, a Massachusetts company, leaving us to wonder why a product marketed as "good for you" is actually contaminated with a deadly toxin.

It's hard to gain attention about the issue of food safety, especially in the wake of the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy, but Sandy offers us a perfect comparison. Many believed that a major flood of New York City and the New Jersey coast by a hurricane was just sci-fi hype the stuff of 3-D movies. Now it is a reality.

So it is with the potential of a major outbreak of food-borne illness, stretching far beyond New York and affecting many more people. While our food supply is generally safe, it needs improvement and significant governmental support.

As a litigator of food-borne illness cases, I believe we need broader use of available technology, more FDA and state inspectors of domestic and foreign food products and tougher laws (e.g., the criminalization of grossly negligent institutional behavior). Let's not wait for the next big storm.

Paul V. Nunes

Buffalo