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Previous Letters to Editor Page

Letters To The Editor must include a name and contact (phone/email) and may be Emailed to
Editor or addressed to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

DeGlopper Memorial News - January 2023

    The DeGlopper Memorial Expansion Committee would like to extend heartfelt thanks for the ongoing support from the community, as well as a special note of appreciation to two Island organizations for their support during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
    Sherry Miller of the Rotary Club became aware of an event called National Wreaths Across America day. The national event's goal is to honor as many veterans as possible by laying wreaths at their place of memorialization. This information prompted Sherry to reach out to us and offer to place wreaths at each of the dedicatory areas within the DeGlopper memorial site. We are pleased that the Rotary took the initiative to volunteer their time to coordinate and fund the cost of the wreaths for this tribute at our Island Memorial.
    Additionally, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of President Eric Fieblekorn, coordinated the effort to light up the site by providing the time, effort, and financial support needed to string up Christmas lights on the evergreens.
    The Charles N. DeGlopper memorial site is a jewel in the center of Grand Island. The prime location demonstrates that we will always remember the sacrifices made daily by those who serve and their families to preserve our freedoms. We encourage you to visit the site at 2333 Grand Island Blvd. and consider the expression of your sentiments by purchasing an inscribed granite stone or a paver. Although supply shortages delayed installation in 2022, we now have an inventory that will allow us to have any stone purchased by February 28, 2023, installed by Memorial Day this year (barring anything unforeseen). Pavers may be inscribed with a tasteful, personal message expressing gratitude for those who serve, or more detailed information honoring a loved one than what is allowable on the Memorial Wall. These memorials are priced for various budgets as follows: 12” x 12” Granite stone - $1,000; 8” x 8” Paver - $375; 4” x 8” Paver - $150.
    Grand Island residents who have served may also have their names inscribed on the Veterans Memorial Wall. The cost is $100 and requires proof of honorable service (DD214), and proof of past or present residency on Grand Island. Forms for pavers or names placed on the Memorial wall are available at the following: DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249, 2121 Grand Island Blvd. and on the website degloppermemorial.org by clicking respectively the tabs: "PAVERS", "MEMORIAL WALL". The memorial committee asks for your continuing support to raise funds needed to complete the handicapped-accessible sidewalks and the ongoing maintenance of the site.
Elsie Martino, Secretary
DeGlopper Memorial Expansion Committee

So Very Sad - January 2023

    Well, this is quite a title for a letter to the editor. Where does it come from, you may ask. Last Monday, January 9th, was a School Board meeting. It was the first of two that I had planned on attending, intending to make some observations. I realized, though, that this would be an utter waste of my time. The Board and administration are not in the least interested in what the public has to say. Anyone who has ever attended one of these meetings can attest to this.
   I was going to go to the two meetings because I had two topics that I wanted to speak about. The first was triggered by Comrade Sean Ryan’s “giving” us $138,000 (of our money) for security upgrades last Fall when he was trolling for votes. Upon hearing that, I recollected that we had a recent capital project, Jan. 2019, that had millions for security upgrades in it. I wondered what ever happened to those funds. It struck me that we NEVER get a detailed accounting of how our capital funds are spent: what were the specifics of the project; how much was the project expected to cost; how much did it actually cost: if it cost more, where did the funds come from; and if less, what was done with the leftover funds. This isn’t an academic exercise. The 1999 capital project received approval for $18.4MM to be spent. Twenty-one million dollars were spent! We were supposed to get new science labs. We didn’t. We did get a third gym that was never mentioned in the lead-up to the vote (accessible only by the elite, I am told.) This project was wreck from the get-go. Almost everyone is unaware of the debacle since the district wasn’t required to provide a detailed accounting to the taxpayers. In a recent project, it came in under budget. Okay, what was done with the remaining funds? Again, we have no idea.
    The second topic I intended to bring up was about the curriculum. Last Fall, I recommended that each and every section of every course have its syllabus, including all materials to be referenced, used, cited, etc., be placed on the curriculum page of the district’s website. This should be a non-controversial recommendation. It is easy to do: the teachers already have their syllabi and there is a kid from BOCES who manages the website. A simple email from the asst. superintendent of curriculum to the faculty followed by their emailing the syllabi back to him is all it would have taken. To date, there is nothing on the website, except for grades 1-5. Shouldn’t the parents and taxpayers know what is being taught? This is a hot-button issue across the country. Why is the district loath to provide this information? They seem to forget that they work for us. Why aren’t others demanding the district provide this information?
    They get away with ignoring the public because so few confront them on a sustained basis. Their strategy is the old rope-a-dope: outlast them. It will be interesting to see how much longer this can persist. Substantially higher taxes will get people’s attention. NY State’s finances are a wreck. Richer school districts, like Grand Island, will see their state aid, if not cut, at least, frozen. Last year Grand Island’s school budget went up the most of any district in Erie or Niagara counties. Its increase was more than double the average increase. That budget was before the impacts of high inflation and a muddling stock market are felt. Most are probably not aware that the State has mandated that all new school buses acquired after 2027 be all-electric, with the fleet being all-electric by 2035. An all-electric bus currently costs $450,000. This is only the beginning of the costs. A garage to house the buses will be needed because in the winter low temperatures drain the batteries. Don’t forget about the back-up generator that will be needed if the electric grid has issues. Where is the electricity going to come from? Anyone who was in WNY the past three weeks, when the sun barely shone and it was either windless or gale-force, knows that “green” energy is a fraud being perpetrated on the public. Why hasn’t the board communicated these issues to the public? Off-the-cuff comments at the unattended board meetings don’t suffice.
    Even though I don’t have any children or grandchildren in the district schools, I am very interested in education and the economic well-being of our community. I can’t do it myself. In fact, as I implied at the beginning, I am finished. There are over 9,000 registered voters on Grand Island. Only 1700+ came out for the budget and trustee’s vote. Robert Strauss, a powerhouse in national Democratic politics for years, once said, "you get the government you deserve." We are witnessing that in our school district. So very sad.
Jim Mulcahy

Every Day is a Blizzard for Many in Our Community Who Rely on Public Transportation - January 2023

    As we continue to recover from the December 2022 Blizzard, we’ve all read stories about people being trapped and unable to leave their homes due extreme weather and the lack of plowed roadways and bridges, as well as shoveled sidewalks and bus stops. Many in the community experienced feelings of anxiety, worrying about loved ones, access to food and inability to get to work and medical appointments. We know based on reporting, that horrifically too many have lost their lives. Imagine if the blizzard never ended, or imagine that the blizzard made transportation impossible for the places you needed to go, and never stopped. As ridiculous as this example might sound, these conditions are an everyday reality for marginalized communities, including the disabled, immigrant, rural, and Black and Brown communities - with or without snow.
    In 1990, the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to create access and equality for our fellow citizens with disabilities, and it created a system for those who couldn’t use buses called “paratransit”. For paratransit advocates like Stephanie Speaker, that minimum standard has never been sufficient to fulfill the needs of the disabled community. The ADA sets a minimum standard of less than a mile on each side of a route for paratransit, and limits times to the same as is served by the fixed route busses in the neighborhood. That leaves a lot of WNY out of reach for paratransit users, and even more on nights, weekends, and holidays, when standard bus service is even more limited.
    In the last five years, the Erie County Clerk’s Office has collected over $100 million from mortgage tax revenue from residential and commercial purchases and sent it to the NFTA for public use. Despite the influx of these funds, transportation does not serve the needs of many in our community. This storm, once again, highlighted the historic inequities in transportation in Western New York. As we talk about changing policies to address these inequities, the public has an opportunity to weigh in on these issues. The Erie County Clerk’s Office and the Western New York Law Center have partnered with Columbia Law School, and other not-for-profits, to launch a survey that would provide feedback to the NFTA regarding people’s experience with paratransit and public transportation. This survey can be accessed at rateyourridewny.com. Your comments can help lift the "travel bans" for persons with disabilities caused by regulation rather than snow.
    As Martin Luther King said, "We are faced with the fact, that tomorrow is today. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, 'Too late'." We need to address the public transportation needs of our community now.
Michael P. Kearns - Erie County Clerk