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Unbiased review needed ?before fracking begins

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly stated that fracking decisions will be based upon scientific review of fracking. Yet without complete review of the environmental impact study and without input about health issues, he has accepted the recently submitted fracking guidelines from the Department of Environmental Conservation for consideration.

This makes absolutely no sense. How can you put together a sound package of regulatory recommendations without the facts being available? Studies that look at health, environment and safety require time, expertise and patience. Effects are not instantaneously felt or apparent. Change must be gathered over time, compared with known data, assessed for variables and then interpreted without bias. The time allocated for the health review is an insult to the residents of New York.

I want to live in New York, but I don't want to live in a state that disregards the health and safety of its residents or its natural environment. The arbitrary numbers in the proposed regulation are just that, arbitrary. There is no scientific data to support distances and amounts in the proposed regulations. Keeping wells 500 feet from a water supply; where did that number come from? What scientific undertaking has supported 500 feet rather than 200 or 1,000 feet? The proposed regulations are filled with these arbitrary recommendations. New Yorkers know that fracking will change forever the face of the state. The beauty, the Great Lakes water, the agricultural industry, dairy, recreation and the health of residents are all on the fracking sacrificial table. The gas and oil companies will make money, so will some selected land owners, so will campaign funds.

There is no legitimate reason to rush this decision, unless the data that are just now coming to light from states that have been fracking for several years are so damning or questionable that it's a race to the finish line.

Paula Calleri

Colden

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Successful schools rely? on student population

A recent editorial posited the need for more and better testing and teacher evaluation. I am sure that this is a completely wrong approach. Testing and teacher evaluation will not improve schools. Successful schools depend on student population.

A given classroom can withstand one enrolled pupil who has trouble behaving. Adding more disruptive or violent students leads to an increasingly intolerable situation. Similarly, the number of non-learners present has a tipping point. Teachers will instinctively strive to help students with learning problems. In the process, the pace of the class slows and less is taught.

The concerned public has long known how to combat the problem of schools that contain too many problem students. Throughout educational history, the only demonstrable means of successfully overcoming this has been to separate good students out. I submit to you that the flight to the suburbs, private schools, limited admission public schools and charter schools are means developed to do just that.

There was a time when the Buffalo schools were among the best in the nation. Now they have been deserted by the prosperous middle and upper classes, leaving behind that pool of students from which they have escaped. It is inevitable that these schools show less academic achievement with poor attendance, poor test scores, high dropout rates and tremendous discipline problems. No matter if we close buildings, play musical chairs with the staff or threaten teachers, this pool of disadvantaged students remains.

However, I think it is wrong to consider the schools they populate as being "failing" schools. These schools still serve as the single best avenue for students escaping poverty. We need to be thankful that there are dedicated teachers willing to serve under these adverse conditions who keep alive the diminishing American Dream of rising above being born poor.

William M. Rich

Williamsville

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Cuomo should promote? proper code of conduct

Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes that one path to better government is to increase our taxes to allow public financing of election campaigns. He is being supported by a coalition of groups attempting to persuade our state politicians to pass this legislation.

What Cuomo should be proposing is a code of conduct that prohibits election campaign tactics including smear, hypocrisy, outlandish claims and deception. American voters need to realize that increasing taxes will not change behavior that is degrading our government.

Most organizations avoid these tactics, including our schools, licensed physicians, licensed engineers, Lions and Rotary clubs, businesses and newspapers. In my opinion, our political parties should adopt the behavior of these organizations before asking us to finance their election campaigns. Our political parties have degraded America and caused our current economic problems.

Michael F. Patterson

Clarence Center

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Citizens' right to vote ?must not be subverted

My father, Michele, was born in the 19th century, a subject in a country virtually owned by two people, the king and queen. He was proudly naturalized a U.S. citizen in 1927 and radiated that pride whenever he donned his only suit and walked eight blocks to the firehouse to vote. He never missed an election, whatever his health or the weather; and each time he reminded me: "I came across the ocean down in steerage, and that old boat brought me from Michele the subject to Michele the citizen. I got something to say, and every time I vote, this country she give me the right to say it!"

He deeply appreciated this country, for the rights and responsibilities like voting. For Michele, the right to vote was the supreme protective barrier between his new democracy and his old monarchy; between being a subject and being a citizen.

What would Michele think today about Republicans' assault on his cherished right to vote? In at least nine key states, Republicans have maneuvered to deny the right to vote to thousands of citizens whom they fear would otherwise vote against them. I think there is no more certain way to destroy American democracy strike at its heart, deny the vote to targeted people. Make no mistake, it is the Republicans who are doing it. They cannot bring back the monarchy, but certainly Republicans prefer rule by the elite, the powerful, the moneyed minority. Michele understood that the right to vote is our defensive line, our barrier between democracy and totalitarian regimes. Were he here, he would tell these Republicans, in more colorful language, "stop messing with my vote!"

Anthony M. Graziano

Buffalo