BTF needs to negotiate ?before millions are lost

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore's parlaying of the transfer of teachers grievance affecting a minuscule number – less than 60 – is an unconscionable ploy and entirely vacant in student focus. (There are more than 3,000 educators in the school district.)

Grievances are routine occurrences in union environments. Negotiations to construct the teachers evaluations, mandated by the state, are an unrelated matter that should not be coupled with the transfers. Additionally, the arbitrator's and judge's assessment that the collective bargaining agreement was violated is weightless relative to the evaluations.

The state's Jan. 17 deadline is rapidly approaching. Approximately 34,000 students attending nearly 60 schools may be deprived of $3.4 million in funding. The union leader's obstinate refusal to negotiate is unacceptable and outrageous!

Katherine Massey



Cuomo must promote? green energy policies

The decision on whether or not to allow "hydraulic fracturing" in New York State is about much more than preventing large-scale water contamination. Equally important is the question of what energy policy future we want to put in place for our state.

Our long-standing energy policy path has encouraged more development and the use of climate-warming fossil fuels. As a result, "never-seen-anything-like-this-before" catastrophically destructive events like superstorm Sandy are occurring with increasing regularity. The property damage alone for New York and New Jersey from that "Frankenstorm" is estimated at $70 billion.

The alternative path would be to actually establish the long-discussed, feasible green energy path that quickly phases out carbon energy. Just as we, as individuals, can decide to build a house that uses green energy such as geothermal heating and, thereby, reap long-term economic benefits, the governor can establish statewide energy development policies that put our whole society on a more beneficial and sustainable footing.

In the midst of the recent devastation wrought by Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo voiced his clear understanding that we humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels. A decision not to allow hydraulic fracturing for fossil fuel in New York State is clearly the right place for the governor to translate that understanding into action. It's not too late to prevent a future that's littered with extreme weather and climate armageddons.

Jim Rauch



Emergency contraception?must be readily available

Health care professionals and reproductive health advocates were dismayed last December when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ruled to restrict access to Plan B, an emergency contraceptive pill effective at preventing unintended pregnancy.

When he first took office, President Obama professed a commitment to base decision-making on science rather than ideology. Since the president won a solid victory in last month's election, in no small part due to women's and young people's votes, it's time to revisit this ill-advised policy choice.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, three of four teen births are the result of unintended pregnancy. Teen pregnancies are at higher risk for dangerous and expensive medical complications for newborn and mother. Children of teen mothers have a higher incidence of arrest and incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of school and becoming teen parents themselves. Teen mothers are far more likely to experience poverty in their lives, and to have second and third unintended pregnancies, resulting in more abortions.

Teens have sex, sometimes spontaneously, and thanks to the general inadequacy of sex education programs in our schools, it is often with little planning or forethought. What good does it do to restrict access to contraception, making it more difficult for them to act responsibly by taking steps to avoid an unwanted, life-altering pregnancy?

Proven safe and effective, emergency contraception is FDA-approved for women of all ages and has been used successfully worldwide for decades. There is no justifiable reason, medical, social or otherwise, to restrict access to emergency contraception. The Obama administration should not wait for the courts to reverse its decision, and act to expand access to emergency contraception without delay.

James Hufnagel



Erie County taxpayers? already overburdened

The attempt to place an ever increasing tax burden on Erie County taxpayers is misguided in this era of job uncertainty and pending federal tax increases. Erie County is becoming an unaffordable place to live. So, the Legislature stood strong and defeated the request to increase taxes. For doing this, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz suggested that they were not adults.

When he was "selling" the increase, he described it as a mere $18 per $100,000 value. But now, with the shoe on the other foot, he went off and pouted about the disaster this will cause Erie County, causing massive cuts in services. Really? Isn't it only 3.4 percent? Maybe Poloncarz is the one who isn't an adult.

Kids, kids, let's all play nice and stop the pain inflicted on the overburdened county taxpayers. Oh, by the way, Chris Collins found a way to hold the line on taxes.

Ron Livecchi

Orchard Park


Require voter ID ?in federal elections

Recently at our local high school my wife and I voted on the school budget. The first thing we had to do before voting was to provide positive identification to verify that we were in fact the individuals we claimed to be.

This made me think of the presidential election and all of the hullabaloo and protests because several states passed laws to require voter identification. The Obama administration was successful in blocking these requirements even though each of those states had made extra effort to make it easy for anyone to get identification at virtually no cost. Subsequently, there is no way to know for certain how many votes may have been cast fraudulently in that election.

So here we are. Identification has to be provided in order to vote on a school budget, but not for a far more important presidential election. Even though there will be four more years before the next presidential election, watch for these same ridiculous arguments to surface again in 2016. Once again, requiring positive ID will be unfair to minorities, it will be too expensive, it will be too far to travel, there will not be enough time before the election and blah, blah, blah.

When identification is needed for almost any transaction today, it is about time the government made voter ID mandatory in all federal elections.

Carmon Becker