Click For Viewpoint 2006

Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
We welcome your opinion. Please include your name and address with all correspondence.
Email Editor or address letters to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

Terrorism - "Big Picture" - 2006

Editor's note: The following has been submitted by Isledegrande.com reader Ed McCaffery. Readers wishing to comment on the following, may do so by emailing to

   The following is a post from a California lawyer that seems to present the "Big Picture" in just the right manner. This is something all Americans should read!

   A Perspective on Iraq War:
   Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat, and had sunk more than four hundred British ships in their convoys between England and America for food and war materials.
   Japan had overrun most of Asia, beginning in 1928, killing millions of civilians throughout China, and impressing millions more as slave labor.
   The US was in an isolationist, pacifist, mood, and most Americans and Congress wanted nothing to do with the European war or the Asian war.
   Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, which had not attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.
   France was not an ally, the Vichy government of France had aligned with its German occupiers. Germany was not an ally, it was an enemy, and Hitler intended to set up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, it was intent on owning and controlling all of Asia. Japan and Germany had long-term ideas of invading Canada and Mexico, and then the United States over the north and south borders, after they had settled control of Asia and Europe.
   America's allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia, and that was about it. There were no other countries of any size or military significance with the will and ability to contribute much or anything to the effort to defeat Hitler's Germany and Japan, and prevent the global dominance of Nazism. And we had to send millions of tons of arms, munitions, and war supplies to Russia, England, and the Canadians, Aussies, Irish, and Scots, because NONE of them could produce all they needed for themselves.
   All of Europe, from Norway to Italy, except Russia in the east, was already under the Nazi heel. America was not prepared for war. America had stood down most of its military after WWI and throughout the depression. At the outbreak of WWII there were army units training with broomsticks over their shoulders because they didn't have guns, and cars with "tank" painted on the doors because they didn't have tanks. And a big chunk of our navy had just been sunk and damaged at Pearl Harbor.
   Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England that was the property of Belgium and was given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler. Actually, Belgium surrendered one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day anyway just to prove they could. Britain had been holding out for two years already in the face of staggering shipping loses and the near-decimation of its air force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later and turning his attention to Russia, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse in the late summer of 1940.
   Russia saved America's butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years until the US got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.
   Russia lost something like 24 million people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow, 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than a million soldiers. Yes, more than a million.
   Had Russia surrendered then, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire campaign against the Brits, then America, and the Nazis would have won that war.
   Had Hitler not made that mistake and invaded England in 1940 or 1941, there would have been no England for the US and the Brits to use as a staging ground to prepare an assault on Nazi Europe. England would not have been able to run its North African campaign to help take a little pressure off Russia while America geared up for battle, and today Europe would very probably be run by the Nazis, the Third Reich, and isolated without any allies (not even the Brits). The US would very probably have had to cede Asia to the Japanese, who were basically Nazis by another name and the world we live in today would be very different and much worse. I say this to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And we are at another one.
   There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so.
   France, Germany, and Russia, have been selling them weapons technology at least as recently as 2002, as have North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan, paid for with billions of dollars Saddam Hussein skimmed from the "Oil For Food" program administered by the UN with the complicity of Kofi Annan and his son.
   The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs - they believe that Islam, a radically conservative form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world, and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.
   There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East - for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win - the Inquisition, or the Reformation.
   If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, and the OPEC oil. The US, European, and Asian economies, the techno-industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC - not an OPEC dominated by the well-educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.
   You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want jobs? You want the dollar to be worth anything? You better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses and the Islamic Reformation wins.
   If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.
   We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We cannot do it nowhere. And we cannot do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time and place of our choosing, in Iraq.
   Not in New York, not in London, or Paris, or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we did and are doing two very important things.
   (1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is a terrorist.
   Saddam is, or was, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than a million Iraqis and two million Iranians.
   (2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad guys there and the ones we get there, we won't have to get here, or anywhere else. We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.
   The European nations could have done this, but they didn't, and they won't. The so-called "Coalition Forces" are, in most cases, little more than a "Token Force" to keep face with the US. And once attacked, like the train bombing in Madrid, they pull their forces and run for home. We now know that rather than opposing the rise of the Jihad, the French, Germans, and Russians were selling them arms - we have found more than a million tons of weapons and munitions in Iraq. If Iraq was not a threat to anyone, why did Saddam need a million tons of weapons? And Iraq was paying for French, German, and Russian arms with money skimmed from the UN Oil For Food Program (supervised by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his son) that was supposed to pay for food, medicine, and education, for Iraqi children.
   World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a "whimper" in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 - a 17 year war - and was followed by another decade of US occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again . a 27 year war.
   World War II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year's GDP - adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars, WWII cost America more than 400,000 killed in action, and nearly 100,000 missing in action.
   The Iraq war has, so far, cost the US about $180 billion, which is roughly what 9/11 cost New York. It has also cost over 2,300 American lives, which is roughly 2/3 of the lives that the Jihad snuffed on 9/11. But the cost of not fighting and winning WWII would have been unimaginably greater - a world now dominated by German and Japanese Nazism.
   Americans have a short attention span now, conditioned I suppose by 1 hour TV shows and 2-hour movies in which everything comes out okay.
   The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.
   If we do this thing in Iraq successfully, it is probable that the Reformation will ultimately prevail. Many Muslims in the Middle East hope it will. We will be there to support it. It has begun in some countries, Libya, for instance. And Dubai. And Saudi Arabia. If we fail, the Inquisition will probably prevail, and terrorism from Islam will be with us for all the foreseeable future, because the Inquisition, or Jihad, believes they are called by Allah to kill all the Infidels, and that death in Jihad is glorious.
   The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. It will not go away if we ignore it.
   If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an "England" in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless we prevent them. Or somebody does.
   The Iraq war is expensive, and uncertain, yes. But the consequences of not fighting it and winning it will be horrifically greater. We have four options -
   1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
   2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
   3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America. 4. Or we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest of Europe. It will be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier then.
   Yes, the Jihadis say that they look forward to an Islamic America. If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.
   We can be defeatist peace-activists as anti-war types seem to be, and concede, surrender, to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them.
   The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.
   Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.
   In the 20th century, it was Western democracy vs. communism, and before that Western democracy vs. Nazism, and before that Western democracy vs. German Imperialism. Western democracy won, three times, but it wasn't cheap, fun, nice, easy, or quick. Indeed, the wars against German Imperialism (WWI), Nazi Imperialism (WWII), and communist imperialism (the 40-year Cold War that included the Vietnam Battle, commonly called the Vietnam War, but itself a major battle in a larger war) covered almost the entire century.
   The first major war of the 21st Century is the war between Western Judeo/Christian Civilization and Wahhabi Islam. It may last a few more years, or most of this century. It will last until the Wahhabi branch of Islam fades away, or gives up its ambitions for regional and global dominance and Jihad, or until Western Civilization gives in to the Jihad.
   Senator John Kerry, in the debates and almost daily, makes 3 scary claims:
   1. We went to Iraq without enough troops.
   We went with the troops the US military wanted We went with the troop levels General Tommy Franks asked for. We deposed Saddam in 30 days with light casualties, much lighter than we expected.
   The real problem in Iraq is that we are trying to be nice - we are trying to fight a minority of the population that is Jihadi, and trying to avoid killing the large majority that is not. We could flatten Fallujah in minutes with a flight of B52s, or seconds with one nuclear cruise missile - but we don't. We're trying to do brain surgery, not amputate the patient's head. The Jihadis amputate heads.
   2. We went to Iraq with too little planning.
   This is a specious argument. It supposes that if we had just had "the right plan" the war would have been easy, cheap, quick, and clean. That is not an option. It is a guerrilla war against a determined enemy, and no such war ever has been or ever will be easy, cheap, quick, and clean. This is not TV.
   3. We proved ourselves incapable of governing and providing security.
   This too is a specious argument. It was never our intention to govern and provide security. It was our intention from the beginning to do just enough to enable the Iraqis to develop a representative government and their own military and police forces to provide their own security, and that is happening. The US and the Brits and other countries there have trained over 100,000 Iraqi police and military, now, and will have trained more than 200,000 by the end of next year. We are in the process of transitioning operational control for security back to Iraq.
   It will take time. It will not go with no hitches. This is not TV.
   Remember, perspective is everything, and America's schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.
   The Cold war lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Forty-two years. Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany.
   World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the US still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50 million people, maybe more than 100 million people, depending on which estimates you accept.
   The US has taken more than 2,000 KIA in Iraq in 3 years. The US took more than 4,000 Killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism. In WWII the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week for four years. Most of the individual battles of WWII lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.
   But the stakes are at least as high . . a world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms, or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).
   I do not understand why the American Left does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis. In America, absolutely, but nowhere else.
   300,000 Iraqi bodies in mass graves in Iraq are not our problem The US population is about twelve times that of Iraq, so let's multiply 300,000 by twelve. What would you think if there were 3,600,000 American bodies in mass graves in America because of George Bush? Would you hope for another country to help liberate America?
   "Peace Activists" always seem to demonstrate where it's safe, in America.
   Why don't we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places in the world that really need peace activism the most?
   The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy.
   If the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. Everywhere the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. And American Liberals just don't get it.
   Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and lawyer living in Northern California. Please consider passing along copies of this to students in high school, college and university as it contains information about the American past that is very meaningful TODAY - - History about America that very likely is completely unknown by them (and their instructors, too). By being denied the facts and truth of our history, they are at a decided disadvantage when it comes to reasoning and thinking through the issues of today. They are prime targets for misinformation campaigns beamed at enlisting them in causes and beliefs that are special interest agenda driven.

Fire Chief, Lieutenant Critical Of Buffalo News Report - 2005

Editor's note: The following letters were sent to Buffalo News reporter Emma D. Sapong and also submitted to the Grand Island E-News at Isledegrande.com. The letters are in reference to a Buffalo News article by Ms. Sapong published on November 25, 2005.
"2006 Budget With Tax Hikes Is Approved" for her story.

   It is more than just a little disconcerting to see a lack of “fair and balanced” reporting from you and your paper regarding the 2006 Grand Island budget. Specifically, I am directing my comments to your quote of town councilman Daniel Robillard regarding the Fire Company. I am a lieutenant for the Grand Island Fire Company, and obviously am distressed that a lame duck politician would make such baseless statements as, “(I do) not approve of financial management of the fire department.” More importantly, I am distressed that you would report these charges from a politician who just lost his re-election bid without even giving the Grand Island Fire Company an opportunity to respond. Finally, as a highly active member (I will have responded to over 400 fire and EMS calls this year), I can verify that our administrative and executive boards as well as their members are of impeccable character and that the finances of the organization are run very responsibly.
   I realize there is an attraction to report such flagrant and inflammatory statements, and I further realize you have every right to report such statements. However, I believe you also have the responsibility to allow the organization besmirched by those statements an opportunity to respond. In this case, you failed to do that. As a result, even though the statement is baseless, the Grand Island Fire Company will be left to defend itself to all residents who read your publication (Buffalo News) and accept it as “the truth.”
Lieutenant Mark Sadkowski
Grand Island Fire Company

   My name is Chris Soluri, a member of the Grand Island Fire Company and yes I am equally as dissatisfied with your article as Mark Sadkowski is!!!! Attached you'll see 2 letters that were sent to the local Island paper as well as 2 attachments. One attachment is an article from another misinformed reporter and the second attachment is a break down of the exact figures pulled out of the town budget appropriations for 2005 and 2006 and you'll see exactly where the "increases" really are in percentages....I thank you for your time in reading this and I hope this sheds light on the truth of the Grand Island Town Budget. If you have any questions regarding any of the attached info please call me at (716) 531-8900 cell or home at (716)775-4775. I look forward to hearing from you and reading the correction in the paper.
2nd Assistant Chief Christopher Soluri
Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rus Thompson Speaks Out - 2005

By Rus Thompson
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005
   Is political change a necessary precursor to economic revival? Edward V. Regan thinks so, and he's got the resume to back up the conviction.
   Absolutely, the political machine cares only about itself and how powerful it can be. The days of government for and by the people are gone. Now are the days of greed and ultimate control and power ie; the political machine.
   When real reform candidates are out there like us, we are stomped on, silenced and smeared by them. Why? because we are working for change and they are worried about losing their jobs. It would be a different story if the private sector was thriving, instead it is dying and they know they cannot make the money and benefits unless they have the government jobs.
   Real reformers will have to be apart from the "Party politics" and a history of working with both sides of the aisle. I can only look back at my own 10+ years of being involved in local politics. As a Conservative I was involved in the endorsements of various candidates. I worked to get both sides elected, I watched both sides and was not shy about criticizing either when they made decisions that were more about themselves vs.the greater good of the people.
   Where has that gotten me? As an integral part of the tax revolt, co-founder of Primary Challenge, 3rd in the creation of Free Buffalo and leading the reform movement in the 10th district, I have been from the top candidate for County Legislature to the loser of the primary. I was endorsed by Davis and Calabrease just to have that ripped from me by the local committee chairman of the Republicans. I was told in no uncertain terms, "You can have the endorsement over my dead body", nice, real nice.
   Feb. 12th my picture was on the front page of the Grand Island Record and the Kenmore Record Advertiser as announcing my campaign to run against 25-year incumbent Chuck Swanick. I attended every leg meeting from December to June, was there when Swanick voted for the sales tax increase and voiced my disgust with his decision. Two months later he announced his retirement clearing the path for my run for his seat.
   I have the fresh ideas, I have a platform for change that was hijacked by the Republicans. Isn't it funny how their platform for change came out after my two-hour meeting with Carl Calabrease.
   When real change comes, they work against it. I am not giving up as they would like, never have never will. Where have you been during my struggle? Has the Buffalo News interviewed me? NO. Yet I have been on every TV station trying to get the message out. I will pursue this race as a write-in candidate. Did you realize that the registered "Blanks" can change the face of politics in Erie County? There are 8000 in the 10th district, if they got off their apathy and "Vote" they can change the direction of this fractured, disgruntled district.
Rus Thompson
Grand Island, NY
   Editor's note: Click for
"Write-in Vote Instructions"

It’s Déjà vu All Over Again - 2005

By Jim Mulcahy
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2005
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." ~ Lewis Carroll
   It seems that a number of our fellow taxpayers are scratching their heads as they peruse their recent school tax bills. They had expected to have the same tax bill as last year, since the Budget approved in June was touted as having ‘no tax increase’. The School System has had to post an explanation on their website as to why ‘no tax increase’ didn’t mean no tax increase.
   Their answer is that the Board only guaranteed that the tax rate would be held constant. The citizenry may be excused for thinking that we were lead to believe that there wasn’t going to be an increase in their tax bill. Below is the headline and first paragraph of the Board’s decision to put forth a budget that “does not raise taxes” – their words. As you can see the headline reads “…does not raise taxes”. Mr. Goris’ comment at the end of the paragraph: “- no tax increase.” reinforces the impression that our tax bills were going to remain constant. Only once does the phrase “tax rate” appear.
Press Release
June 2, 2005

Amended Budget Does Not Raise Taxes
   The Grand Island Board of Education has decided to place a new budget, which does not raise the tax rate, before the voters later this month. This decision was reached after the Board listened to a presentation by district administrators about budget scenarios and possible cuts. The presentation was followed by a period of public comment, where 22 speakers addressed the Board. Most urged the Board to draft a new budget that maintained strong academic, music, art, and sports programs but did not raise taxes. The Board then went to work, cutting $392,619 from the budget that was rejected by the voters on May 17. Dave Goris, Board President, stated, “The amended budget preserves most of what the community values – academics, low K-4 class sizes, sports, music, and art – while giving those who addressed the Board on Tuesday what they asked for – no tax increase.” A list of the cuts that were made is found below.

   The recent column on the School District website states that there are two variables that determine the tax bill: 1) the tax rate and 2) the assessed value of the property. They are rationalizing the increase by saying that the assessed value is higher. The example shown has the effective assessed value going up. This higher amount is multiplied by the so-called 0% increase tax rate. Surprise, surprise: one gets a larger amount than if the assessed value were smaller. Brilliant! For an individual property this is true, if there had been improvements made in the preceding year, but in the aggregate there is a third component that is fixed: the total budget that was approved. The algebra is simple: (tax rate) * (total assessed value) = budget. The budget is fixed (isn’t it?), so a higher assessed value would imply a lower tax rate.
   You will notice that the approved budget amount is conveniently ignored in their discussion. This is the dirty little secret of property taxes. As long as the total assessed valuation in the community is increasing the taxing entity rakes in more revenue than they told the taxpayers they needed to run the place. As such, the School District is going to have more money to spend than was budgeted for or approved. So much for cuts to get a zero tax increase. The District will respond that the State Equalization Rate is different and that the Star Credit adjustment is different. But, so what? They asked for and received voter support for a fixed amount of money. Whether one doubles the assessed valuation and halves the tax rate or vice versa, the revenues collected should equal the amount approved.
   The Board and District officials need to be asked why they weren’t consistent in using the phrase “no tax rate increase” rather than saying more often than not, “no tax increase”? We have a right to know how much additional revenue they are collecting versus what was assumed in the budget process; that is, how much higher is the actual assessed valuation compared to the assessed valuation that was used to determine the 0% increase tax rate? Did anyone on the Board or in the Administration realize that this was going to occur? If yes, why wasn’t anyone told?
   Last Spring I said that the revised budget that was subsequently approved was a slap in our faces. I said that one would never be able to determine if there were cuts. At that time I chose not to respond to the vilification directed at me. I don’t intend to start now. However, it is clear that the points I made were correct with respect to the Board and District’s fiduciary stewardship.

Relicensing Niagara Falls Power Project - 2005

By Jim Mulcahy
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005
   The January 24, 2005, edition of the Buffalo News has an article about the relicensing of the Niagara Falls power project: “Relicensing bonanza eyed.” Since then, the feeding frenzy has only increased. Every special interest is bellying up to the bar to get a handout. The sad thing is that, in my opinion, no one is going to be satisfied. Now, I have some experience in the area of utilities and their regulation. I was a senior economist/rate of return analyst for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio; a senior consultant in the Energy & Utilities Group for Data Resources (DRI), and a senior financial analyst in the treasury dept. of Consolidated Natural Gas Co. I know energy.
   The fact that the Niagara Falls hydroelectric facility is nearby but WNYers do not get enough (whatever that means) of the relatively cheap-to-produce power rankles local business owners, in particular, as well as many homeowners. And horrors of horrors, some is sold out of state. The Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas believes that the Power Authority makes enough profits from the Falls project to substantially lower rates for business and residential customers in a thirty-mile radius of the plant. (How many members of the Chamber would agree to do this with their businesses?) Basic economics tells us that property thirty-one miles from the plant will fall in value while property within thirty miles will increase, especially of those that contemplate using lots of electricity. I believe that this solution and the other desired solution: selling all of the output from the hydro plant at below market rates to businesses in WNY, are both wrong.
   Let me (quickly) address the issue of out-of-state sales. The ten percent out of state sales requirement was part and parcel of the enabling legislation creating the Niagara Power authority. Is anyone shocked that there was politics going on? I agree that the out of state sales are unseemly, but not for the reasons suggested. I might add that selling power to Vermont, which doesn’t have industry that competes with WNY and relies on imported oil, is better than selling power to the City of Cleveland municipal power company. This was the case in the late 1970s/early 1980s. I challenged a Power Authority spokesman at that time on the logic of this: effectively substituting hydro for American coal instead of imported oil at the height of OPEC II. Needless to say, the response was a standard “you just don’t understand”. Oh, but I do, all too well.
   Turning now to the main issue of selling power anywhere outside of WNY. For arguments sake, let’s say that WNY could have access to all of the power that the hydro plant could produce. Does that imply that we should try to woo companies to WNY with the enticement of cheap electricity? I submit that it does not. We must keep in mind there is a finite amount of power capable of being allocated. If the only attraction, that is, the only economic advantage that we offer is cheap power what will happen when these firms try to expand? There will be no more cheap power. We will have already allocated every last kWh. Guess what, these firms will expand elsewhere. There is nothing to justify their staying here.
    Also, how should the power be allocated among those firms (and homeowners) that want it? I can assure you everyone will want cheaper energy. Do we dangle it in front of newcomers, or do we give to those firms that stayed here in spite of high-energy costs? This is economics 101: if you don’t use the price system – supply and demand – then resources will have to be allocated by some other means. It can be done by lottery, age, or, that all-time favorite, political clout. Which will it be? It has to be something.
   Let me suggest an alternative. In WNY energy costs aren’t necessarily a problem. If one isn’t an energy-intensive business, it is not the critical problem, by any means. However, there is a cost that is a problem to everyone in this part of the state whether they are a business or a homeowner. That is taxes. Property taxes, which are an overhead cost, must be paid regardless of one’s income or sales volume. I might point out that a not insignificant portion of one’s utility bill consists of taxes.
   I now come to my proposed solution. We should think of the Power Authority as a private company. Forget this “public, non-profit” nonsense. Can you tell which power lines belong to the Power Authority, Niagara Mohawk, or NYSEG? I didn’t think so. Neither can I. Nothing would be different about the hydro plant if the Power Authority sold it to a private producer except it would have a different nameplate on the front door? Both enterprises would be using a scarce resource; the escarpment and the land behind it, to produce electricity. We would tax the private producer, but we don’t the Power Authority. Why not? We should. They should pay the same property taxes on all of their facilities in WNY that NiMo would pay, as well as being charged the same sales and gross receipts taxes that the private companies pay. The taxes generated should be used to lower property taxes across the board in WNY, particularly Niagara County. They were the big losers when the Power Authority replaced the tax-paying Niagara Mohawk plant.
   Electricity, like any other good, should be sold to the highest bidder, whether in WNY or not, to ensure that it gets used in its highest-valued use and is used efficiently. If this is done, it will generate substantial revenues. We can stop fretting about “sending” this power to NYC. In fact, we should encourage them to bid up the price. It will increase the tax revenue. More importantly, ALL WNYers would benefit from this lowering of property taxes, not just those who use lots of electricity and threaten to leave if they don’t get cheap power. What makes them more deserving than anybody else?
   Likewise, we have the spectacle of Rep. Brian Higgins threatening the Power Authority unless he gets a pound of flesh for his pet projects. Why? If this resource “belongs” to WNYers then let each and everyone decide how to spend his or her share of it. Hasn’t the sad litany of fiasco after fiasco by our political “leaders” shown us that they are not the ones to make decisions for us?

Curses, Caught In The Act! (Again, I may add.) - 2005

By Jim Mulcahy
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005
   In the Wednesday, September 7, 2005, edition of the Buffalo News on page B3, there is news brief about the Grand Island Schools. It is a small, innocuous piece, so you may have missed it. It seems that the increase in energy costs due to hurricane Katrina may cause the District’s energy costs to be forty percent higher than budgeted for. As an economist and finance expert working in the energy field in one capacity or another for a decade, I appreciate the difficulty in forecasting prices. As such, the fact that the district’s costs were going to be higher than projected in March and April wouldn’t be especially newsworthy: a rhapsody on dog bites man theme.
   However, the third paragraph, which I’m sure the District officials would have rather not seen printed, points out the budget legerdemain that I spoke of this spring as they went through contortions to present a balanced budget. Specifically, the district spent $960,000 on energy costs in the 2004-2005 fiscal year which ended June 30, 2005. Guess how much they budgeted for this year? If you haven’t seen the News article, I’m sure, knowing what we all know about where energy prices have been trending for the past year, that everyone would have come up with an amount in excess of $960,000. Most would probably have estimated the amount to be noticeably larger. Au contraire! They budgeted, I’m not making this up – it is in paragraph three of the News article, $956,000. Huh? What line of reasoning would cause one to budget a smaller amount, given what we have experienced with prices in the preceding year. To wit: the wellhead price of natural gas was higher in every month of their last fiscal year than in the corresponding month of the previous one, except for one month where it was $.01 lower.
   Being skeptical of their budgeting process, I have an answer. This was an area where they could cut the budget so as to make the zero percent property tax goal. If prices went up, that wouldn’t be their fault. I would agree if the budget process hadn’t been such a sham. They had to know that the $956,000 figure was ridiculously low. (Mr. Dallessandro is transportation manager of a south towns school district. I wonder what they budgeted, or he requested, and why.) The only reason to do that was to present a budget that wouldn’t imply a tax hike. They could have been honest and put in a reasonable estimate, but that would have required them to make real cuts. As I said last June, the revised budget was a slap in our faces. Little did I know at the time just what sort of fiscal chicanery was going on.
   Given this episode, I believe we must require the Board to put copies of the budget that we are to vote on in the public library and at Town Hall thirty days in advance of the vote as well as put PDF files on their website and the Isledegrande.com website. Going the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) route is not acceptable as there are too many ways for them to stall and delay. Our school taxes are the largest component of our property taxes. If we really want to protect the values of our properties and educate the children, we need to have much more honest stewardship than this.

“A Battle Won” - 2005

By Jim Mulcahy
Posted Thursday, September 6, 2005
   There was a collective sigh of relief, quickly followed by much back-slapping and rejoicing in WNY when the Niagara Falls Air Base was removed from the BRAC commission list of bases recommended to be closed. Jobs were saved and the area will continue to be the recipient of Federal largess. The Base, though, is not a growth industry nor is it an engine of growth.
   No one asked, much less had answered, the question, “at what cost did we ‘win’ this battle?” In economics the key concept is that of cost, specifically, opportunity cost. This is the value of the best alternative that was foregone in order to undertake the chosen option. For instance, students have the option of watching TV or studying. The opportunity cost of TV watching is reduced future income possibilities due to being ignorant.
   One should ask what did we forego by keeping the airbase? It has excellent runways: both long and strong to carry the heavy cargo planes the military uses. It has excellent radar, again for military needs. What else could they have been used for? How about an airport for charter flights or other long distance flights using 747s and other large jets that are incapable of using Buffalo International? How about as an aircraft maintenance facility as there are many good technicians there now? Clearly, these aren’t going to occur with the military there.
   What else was foregone? How about more restaurants and hotels in the Niagara Falls area as people come to see the Falls. Americans might not have to travel to Toronto to get direct flights to overseas locations and nearby Canadians wouldn’t have to slog their way to Toronto, either. Also, there might be sufficient rationale to extend the Colvin extension so that it connects with the LaSalle expressway, providing a more direct route from Niagara Falls to Amherst and the Tonawandas.
   I don’t know the answer to which alternative is the best. I do know, though, that the alternatives should have been discussed and evaluated. Most communities that have had military installations closed have done better without them than they did with them. Why didn’t we consider that possibility, rather than defaulting to the chicken little theory of base closings?

Campaign to Elect Rus Thompson - 2005

By Rus Thompson
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2005
   The Campaign to Elect Rus Thompson has submitted petitions to the Erie County Board of Elections, to challenge the Erie County Conservative Party endorsement of Michelle Iannello, for the 10th Legislative seat. Thompson was a Conservative for 13 years before he registered as a Republican to primary 26-year incumbent Chuck Swanick, who has since dropped out of the race. Thompson will be on the Republican ballot, in addition to being a Write-In candidate on the Conservative line, for the September 13th Primary Election.
   Julianne Thompson, Conservative and spokesman for the Thompson campaign has said, "The Conservative Party leadership clearly does not represent us. They have voted to endorse Byron Brown for Mayor of the City of Buffalo, who voted for the largest tax increase in the history of New York State, and who has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, demonstrating they are interested in neither fiscal nor socially conservative values. With the endorsement of Iannello, who has publicly stated she intends to vote for a yet another property tax increase, the leadership has made it clear they are no different than the other major parties, elevating politics and patronage over principle."

Bare Bones School System Not For Grand Island
Writer Critical Of Weaver, Mulcahy Viewpoint - 2005
By Chuck Goris

June 23, 2005
   The current debate over the school budget vote, the outcome of which will determine whether this community continues to offer its children a quality, well rounded education or saddles them with a “bare bones” school system that reflects what one might expect to find in the rural South, has seen the “anti budget passage people” energized by two individuals, Bob Weaver and James Mulcahy. While both of these gentlemen have an absolute right to express their opinion on any subject they choose, to me it is morally wrong to express an opinion in such a way as to disguise “opinion” as “fact.” You, the reader decide which is which as you read on.
   Mr. Weaver the now admitted author of the infamous yellow card has kept his message straight (in that it stuck to the subject matter) and business like. While the message was straight, I think it contained what I would consider inaccuracies and/or misleading half truths depending on how one read ”the card.” The legions of opponents and still unnamed business opponents that he claims support his position make me suspicious of who these people are and what is their agenda? The one glaring inaccuracy is the claim that the tax last year was higher than the announced increase. If he knew how to read the tax bill he would see that the increase was the same as announced by the Board prior to the budget vote. Frankly, I am surprised that a successful business man like Mr. Weaver wouldn’t readily understand his tax bill.
   The other individual, Mr. Mulcahy, is a whole different story. The reported comments that he has made at School Board meetings and particularly the article he wrote which was published in the May 27th issue of The Dispatch and a subsequent article he published on the Isledegrande web site on June 6th remind me of the comment in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.” The May 27th article rambled on and on and on and on about all the things he would do but other than his own opinion he did not offer a single shred of concrete evidence that his ideas were practical and would be of benefit to the taxpayers and/or the students. If second guessing were a college major, he would certainly be a master of the subject. The article also stoops to name calling by referring to the teachers as “this privileged class.”
   Later he accuses the school district officials of having an “overblown sense of entitlement” and at another point he refers to “the entitlement class” when talking about the board and administration. When one reads this multi column “opinion piece,” one must wonder if this gentleman has any clue as to the complexities of today’s education system and the myriad of reports, and other paper work mandated by the State and Federal Governments. Did he ever read and understand the woes of the Buffalo School System a number of years ago where late and missing paper work caused the loss of millions and millions of dollars of State aid to that financially hurting System? And if I recall correctly, the bulk of the lost money was non recoverable after the fact.
   The article on Isledegrande continued the spewing of what I would class as venom towards the District, its administrators and the Board and in my opinion Mr. Mulcahy just wants to get his way regardless of its immediate negative effect on the kids in our schools. He asks the question of the school board “one has to wonder how well they understand the budget.” In the next paragraph he proves HE doesn’t understand it when he plays around with numbers and can’t come up with why the numbers don’t work to his liking so he implies the Board and Administration will not really make the cuts proposed and will cover it up. The last I knew playing with the books was illegal. If he really knew what was going on, he should be well aware that the District has strict controls and records of who is spending what and for what reason. Any of this very detailed information is available under the Freedom of Information Law to any citizen upon request by filing a FOIL form. Implying that the Board would act in an unethical way is mud slinging at its lowest. These people spend many, many hours for ZERO compensation and deserve better than to be sullied with innuendoes such as, “who could tell?”
   It is interesting to note that this gentleman has plenty of time to throw stones and unsubstantiated ideas around but to my knowledge has never been a candidate for the Board. Maybe working “for free” doesn’t appeal to him. It’s much easier to second guess people than to spend the time necessary to dig into the problems, get answers and make decisions from an educated base, but then again that’s work.
   The article concludes with a plea to get out and vote No and suggesting that the voters follow the lead of the French in their defeating the European Constitution thereby sending a message to “the privileged class.” Now isn’t that a great idea, the last time I knew the French and their actions were hardly considered role models by most people in this country. I would suggest the voters come out in force and vote YES on the budget and the transportation issue, the latter of which even Mr. Mulcahy favored, to be sure the children of this Island continue to receive a quality, well rounded education. These kids are the future of our nation and being one dimensional in education doesn’t give them a shot at being great future leaders. Make and take the time to get out and vote YES!
   In closing, please note that while my son is president of the Grand Island School Board, the comments and opinions expressed herein are solely mine and have not been discussed with him or any member of the School Board.

School District Transportation Issue - 2005
By Jack Burns, Supervisor For Transportation

June 23, 2005
   As Supervisor for Transportation, when I ride on the school buses, I tell the students my name, that I am in charge of the buses and I then go over the bus safety rules. Inevitably the younger students think that I own the buses. As resident of Grand Island since 1957 and a taxpayer, I am a supervisor/owner. I do set the record straight and I tell the students that I along with their parents and taxpayers own the buses. This is important because for whatever reason a taxpayer may feel disenfranchised, they are still legally responsible for the safe operation of the school buses.
   When I became supervisor in 1982, transportation was in a free fall decline. It took a tremendous amount of work by all of the employees, to stabilize the bus fleet and operation. First on my triage agenda, was to improve the bus fleet. At that time, twenty percent of the buses were placed out of service by the New York State Department of Transportation due to rotted floor supports. There were many other examples, including having a wheel rot off of a bus.
   With no bus replacement program, not only was the bus fleet in poor condition, there was nominal state aid. At that time a school district could receive up to ninety percent state aid on the purchase of a new school bus. In order to receive the maximum aid at least one run of every bus in the fleet, had to be scheduled at maximum capacity with students that live more that a mile and a half from school. Students that lived under a mile and a half were not counted. When you look at the demographics of Grand Island, the only way I could achieve increased allowable capacity, was by eliminating off-Island, High School and Middle School runs. As a result, a total of eight HS/MS buses were eliminated.
   School Board Policy states students that are in kindergarten and first grade may walk up to 2 tenths of a mile to a bus stop. Grades 3-5 may walk up to 3 tenths of a mile and grades 6-12 may walk up to 5 tenths of a mile. In comparison to other suburban school districts, our students walk greater distances than students of similar schools, by requiring students to walk the maximum distance to corner stops, it cut down on the length of the bus runs.
   This resulted in fewer buses, higher allowable capacity, and ninety percent state aid. Today, no one wants to walk five miles up hill in the snow to school. From grandparents baby-sitting their grandchildren, to pregnant mothers living in new houses, every one seems to want the bus stop in front of their house. The School Board plans on reviewing Transportation Policy. It would be a good time to voice your concerns.
   With state aid in place and with the support of the school board, school administration, and the taxpayers, the District started a school bus replacement program. The District has 69 buses. The life expectancy of a large bus is 10-12 years and 8 years for a small bus. Nationwide, schools and contractors replace 10% of their fleet each year. On average, Grand Island needs to replace 5-7 buses each year. Today, the State has eliminated student distance requirements, but has offset this with a reduction in state aid. Currently Grand Island receives .662% state aid on operation and new bus replacement cost.
   Another reason to replace buses is to reduce the amount of pollution students, employees, and the community breathes. A new school bus engine produces one-eighth the pollution than that of a 12-year-old bus. This year I applied for and received from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a $60,000.00 grant to retrofit 36 newer buses with diesel oxidation catalyst mufflers. These mufflers reduce exhaust particulate by 30-40%.
   With a bus replacement program, you maintain local tax stability by eliminating roller coaster bus purchases and associated tax rates. A Bond Anticipation Note requires five years to pay off a school bus purchase. When one years bus purchase is paid off another years bus purchase takes its place, again the State pays .662% of the cost of the bus and interest. Some voters have stated that they want the District to run more like the private sector. In my opinion, the district’s bus replacement program is private sector management 101. By voting yes on the school bus replacement program, your state taxes will support Grand Island in maintaining a safe and cost effective bus fleet, other wise your state taxes are buying buses for some other community.
   The District has a three-tiered high school/elementary/middle school scheduled. This allows for multiple use of buses. The number of elementary school buses determines the District’s fleet size. There are twice as many elementary buses as there are High School/Middle School buses. In terms of bus schedules, people think that capacity is the main issue. In reality, it is time. Regardless of the number of students on a bus, it takes so much time for the afternoon High School bus to travel from the High School to Fix Road, down Fix to West River, up West River to Love, down Love road and arrive at Kaegebein safely on time. This is the same for other high school buses and for the elementary school buses arriving at the Middle School on time. High School buses are generally scheduled heavy with the knowledge that a number of students will drive to school. In the afternoon, a great number of students stay after school. As a result, morning buses have a higher number of students than in the afternoon. Bus drivers receive two hours pay to drive a High school/elementary run or a elementary/ Middle School run. Though it will not reduce wages or the size of the bus fleet, cost savings can be achieved by eliminating High School or Middle school buses. In general, buses have 30-35 minutes to cover Grand Island and then make it to their next school safely on time. A schedule that requires the driver to rush is unsafe. In planning bus schedules you also have to consider additional time for driving in the snow and winter darkness and the extra time it takes a substitute bus driver. Every summer I review all of the bus schedules and make the necessary changes.
   Since 1982 our school bus fleet has traveled over 15 million miles. The buses stop approximately 750,000 times a year to pick up or drop off students. School buses have a safety record second to none. It is safer for your child to ride the school bus than for you to drive them to school. Statistically, when you consider the number of variables that school transportation deals with each day, there is a high-risk exposure. State statistics show that kindergarten through third grade students have the greatest risk of being run over by their own bus, on the afternoon trip home, on bright sunny days, during the winter months. This has been proven on Grand Island three times. In 1958, on the second day that Huth Road School was open, a kindergarten student was run over and killed as she crossed in front of her school bus on Bedell Road. On April 24, 1964, a kindergarten student died when he was run over by the rear tires as he walked back along the bus on Baseline. On February 14, 1973 a Huth Road kindergarten student crossing in front of his bus on Harvey Road, was struck and killed by his bus. When I determine bus stops, or make bus purchase decisions, this is paramount on my mind. In this job, you can’t be 99.9% safe. You have to be 100% safe. Bus schedules are a balance of many factors. So if you are ever stuck behind a school bus and you are wondering why it stops so much, we are addressing students walking along side of the bus and/or minimizing the number of students crossing in front of the bus.
   In 1982 the bus fleet consisted of about 49 buses. Today we have 69 buses. This is the direct result of individual and new housing developments on Grand Island and the additional services required of the school district and the town as a result of new development. This includes wheel chair buses and the additional buses required to reopen Sidway as a District wide k-1 school. Grand Island transports 2,986 public school students. Per Section 3635 of New York State Education Law, the district is required to transport 508 non-public students, including St. Stephen's students, to 27 requested non-public schools. We also transport 50 special education students to 26 off-Island schools.
   The five regular buses scheduled to be replaced this year are 1993 model year buses with an average 140,000 miles. The two wheelchair buses are 1990-1991 model year buses with an average 194,000 miles. In my judgment, it is time to replace these buses.
   I hope that the above information was helpful. If you have any questions o the budget, state aid, bus replacement or transportation policy, please contact me at 773-8890 or jburns@k-12.ginet.org. It is important that we don’t go back to the way we were. Please vote yes for the budget and the bus proposition.

Former AP Student Comments - 2005
By Patrick R. Elmes, L.P.

June 23, 2005
   There had been a published request to send comments to the school board from former AP students regarding the efficacy of that program, facing possible budget cuts. I am a "way" former AP student and graduate of GIHS.
   I support AP programs. They reflect a progressive and supportive community through its dedication to education. I have found that they provide an atmosphere of mutual goals between dedicated science students and faculty, at a pace that fits that group. Anything less is like placing a student a grade level back and stagnating their appropriate level of learning and even future motivations.
   Personally, AP programs, particularly biology and chemistry, set my career choices in motion and prepared me to excel beyond my own expectations in learning confidence, college and current vocation. My hat is off to dedicated teachers like Patmos and Bessel. Advanced Placement is not about getting ahead of others or a substitute for college, but an enhancement and exploitation of discovered talent of children, and allowing that to foster greater things.
   Is it economically feasible to continue AP courses? Since I'm not a current resident, I just don't have a dog in this hunt. It is up to you and the taxpayers of Grand Island. I really don't have a right to an opinion on the budget issue. I can, however, offer my appreciation for an outstanding program through the years and express my disappointment at its possible demise.

Voting NO Will Not Change Anything - 2005
By Barbara Swagler

Posted June 21, 2005
Dear Editor,
   I write to you in regard to the situation with the school budget. There have been many articles about the old budget, the new budget, the yellow postcard, the facts and the fiction of all of these things. I think there are a few things that haven’t been said. Who are we as a town, if we can not stick together and support our children, their futures and our future as a community?
   Would you have chosen Grand Island to live and bring up your family if the school district was not a strong one and had such a good reputation? That reputation is built on many things: academics, sports, music, clubs and above all, our community. Our school and its reputation are only as strong as we are as a community. Do you really think that if our schools go into a contingent budget new families and new businesses will look at us? I think they will go elsewhere. Why would they pay for a school that can not provide a well-rounded education for their families?
   To the people who voted against the budget in May, I ask you to think about the children who will be affected by a contingent budget. It won’t be the administration, teachers, or even Erie County that will pay, it will be our 5-year-old Kindergartners to the 18-year-old seniors. I understand that taxes, gas prices and food costs are high; but is compromising our children’s futures the way to solve that? I say no.
   In order for us to change things you must begin to participate in your community, your school, your church and your world around you. You must start going to school board, town board, Rotary, PTA and other community groups' meetings. You must take the time to investigate what is really happening and not take our community for granted. There are many teachers in the schools who would love your involvement in their classrooms. All you have to do is ask. My point is that voting NO will not change anything. It will only make it much worse. Become involved… Don’t just rely on those who are always there.
   Please, for the sake of our children and our community, Vote Yes on June 28th.

Exercise Right To Make Opinions Known By Voting June 28th - June 2005

By Dennis and Carol Dzielski
Posted June 21, 2005
   We continue to be amazed by the ongoing misrepresentations of the majority of residents who voted against the Grand Island School Budget. In print and at various public meetings we have been described as "cowards," "uninformed," "anti-education," and "anti-children." Unfortunate references have been made to a "group of taxpayers dressed in yellow sheets with pointed hoods." In the latest reported diatribe an individual chose to perpetuate the elitist stereotype of "ignorant rednecks" when referring to the residents of Grand Island.
   In a recent opinion piece, citizens were lectured to about rights, responsibilities, and critical thinking. It was written that "freedom of speech allows us to state our opinions without retribution." We were informed that we have the right to protest and vote. However, the writer then proceeded to chastise "a select few" as "greedy" and "selfish" because we obviously did not reach the same conclusions as the author of the article. So much for all the lofty words about our rights.
   Another Letter to the Editor assured voters that "how you vote is your personal decision." Then the author went on to malign the opposition as "a few abrasive individuals with a concealed agenda that is destructive for the community." So much for respecting the rights of others to come to their own decisions without being attacked.
   Current events have illustrated how difficult it is to reach a consensus regarding the reliability of budget information and projections, particularly when dealing with millions of dollars and multiple levels of bureaucracy. However, no matter the result of the budget re-vote, we know that the overall school budget spending will be INCREASED. Even if the tax rate increase is zero percent, the overall school budget will increase spending by at least 5.3 percent. If a contingency budget is adopted, the overall school budget will still increase spending by at lease 3.24 percent. Using our 37 years experience as Grand Island residents we can predict with certainty that no matter the dire predictions, or outcome of the re-vote, the sky will not fall, the Island will not sink, and next year the Grand Island School District will once again demand more money. We encourage the 1,890 voters and many more, to ignore the insults and personal attacks and once again exercise your right to make your opinions known by voting on June 28th.

Resident Urges Voters To Pass School Budget - 2005
By Tracey Kozlowski

Posted June 16, 2005
   I found the defeat of the Grand Island School District budget on May 17 disturbing and surprised with the number of people who truly don't understand what they were voting for or against.
   Teachers' and administrators' contractual arrangements will not be changed by a "no" vote. Hence the word contract. Programs have not been added in the new budget, in fact cuts have been made. Much of the increase is due to state mandated retirement contributions, utility increases, etc., over which the board has no control but must still pay. I think the board did a commendable job in keeping the tax increase low while maintaining the exemplary programs for which Grand Island has come to be known. Unfortunately, their explanations of the budget to the public fell short of their other efforts.
   Our current school tax rate is $35.64 per $1000 of assessed value. As proposed, that rate would have increased to $36.24. For a home assessed at $150,000 it would have been an increase of $90 per year. That's less than 25 cents per day! I bet that's much less than your cell phone bill. Are our children worth it? I known mine are even if I'd have to cancel my cell phone to pay the tax! But we voted that budget down, so this way you could keep your cell phone but will our children still have one of the most recognized music programs in the state? Bussing? Kindergarten? Sports? How about the attention of his or her teacher who may have so many students in class that yours falls through the cracks?
   Business First ranked Grand Island #16 out of 97 districts, up from 39th, in the mid 90s, yet our spending was rated 27th. This means 26 districts spend more but only 15 are better! I understand and agree with the argument that increasing taxes can lower property value, but a higher ranked school district increases it! Unfortunately, this costs money. How can we expect to continue to get better and attract investors to the island without our own investment?
   And just a quick note about the school bus proposition. Did you know that of the proposed expenditure, over 66% is reimbursed by the state? The remaining 34% is already being paid by us on current busses, so why not upgrade to newer buses at the same rate we're already paying? Regardless of how you vote in Grand Island YOUR state tax dollars will be reimbursing bus expenditures all over the state, why not use it here?
   We have an obligation to inform ourselves of the facts so the resulting decisions are both intelligent and responsible. Conjecture and opinions of those on the soccer field should be left there. The revised budget to be voted on June 28th has made some cuts to provide us with ZERO tax increase. Defeating this budget would be at the expense of a great number of the quality programs that are provided in the school district. Programs that not only effect students' education but this community and YOUR property value as well, which absolutely depend on the continued improvement and recognition a quality school district can provide. On June 28th please don't make the same mistake we made on May 17!

Response To Fred Mellon And Mr. Mulcahy - 2005
By Rosemary Bahgat

Posted June 16, 2005
   Mr. Mellon, did you happen to notice in the budget that was defeated that 9 teacher positions were eliminated? This is in addition to the teachers that were eliminated in earlier years. These teachers do not have an easy job. Have you seen the things that the state is requiring these children to learn? First graders are now counting from a negative number line, doing fractions, and reading what my daughter (who is now in fourth grade) had to read in second grade. These classrooms also include children who have Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities whom are required to keep up with the rest of the children. By the way, my daughter, entering 5th grade, will probably start the school year off with at least 26, and probably more, children in a class. Please, if you would like to do anything constructive, please come back to Grand Island and help out in the classrooms so that you see what these teachers and children have to do on a daily basis. I don’t believe you have the complete picture, not even living on the Island anymore. Perhaps your time should be better spent on your local school district that probably is at least a year behind in difficulty as to what our children in New York State have to learn. A friend of mine recently moved to the Carolinas, and while living here her child was struggling in our school district and placed in a special ed classroom. In his new Southern school, this child was not in a special class – in fact he was ahead of all the other students in his class!
   Mr. Mulcahy, what is your ultimate concern? That this district has three too many secretaries and an “overpaid” superintendent, director of curriculum, and director of finance? If this school district were to get rid of all three of these administrators, and the three “too” many secretaries, the total would amount to about $445,000. If you and your other collaborators vote this budget down, where will the other MILLION dollars come from in order to meet the contingency budget? Of course from the teachers! Secondly, did you happen to see in the Buffalo News that the little district of Fredonia, NY which has ONE HALF the amount of students that we do, approved their Budget Director position with a $75,827 salary and an Assistant High School Principal with a $70,000 salary? I wonder what they do all day long with half the staff and half the number of children in their district? So, if you think these three administrative positions are too overpaid, by approximately $25,000 per year (even compared to a district ½ of our size), that only makes $75,000 plus the maybe $90,000 for the secretarial help totaling $165,000 in savings. In your mindset, saving this amount of money this year is worth getting rid of all after school activities, full day kindergarten, gym classes, art classes, music classes, library time, remedial classes, AP classes, in addition to increasing class sizes yet again? I believe it is YOU Mr. Mulcahy who should be ashamed of himself. Good luck in selling your home since no one will want to move to Grand Island. Remember the Indian problem when houses around here wouldn’t sell? Do you think that perhaps your housing assessments have gone up because the value of your homes have gone up? Or is your hidden agenda to continue fighting these budgets so that we have terrible schools and no one will want to live here, your housing values will drop, and then all of your taxes will go down?

Resident Speaks Out On Tavern's "Ridiculous Guardrail" - 2005
By JoAnn Vanderheite

Posted June 16, 2005
Editor's Note: This letter was send to Erie County Legislator Charles M. Swanick.
Dear Mr. Swanick,
   I am appalled by the action taken against Mr. Donald Turner of Turner's Port of Call, 997 East River Rd., Grand Island in erecting the ridiculous "guardrail" in front of his business thereby restricting proper parking and deliberately inhibiting his business. Anyone can see that it is the equivalent of a "spite fence" with vindictive and punitive intent. Pressure from disgruntled neighbors should more carefully be considered when it affects any business that contributes to the Island economy. Turner's has long been a pleasurable spot to enjoy the river and company in the summer. I am a retired school teacher who grew up on the Island as well as a property owner and taxpayers who expects to enjoy and patronize the few remaining Island landmarks. It makes me sick to see such blatant action taken against Turner's Furthermore, it is an unsafe situation causing motorists to slow down and maneuver in the middle of the road to gain access to what's left of the parking lot. With only one point of entrance, in an emergency situation it would be almost impossible to remove cars parked or give access to fire vehicles. Obviously the safety of the patrons of Turner's was not considered either.
   Since this is the type of action you support, I am delighted to hear of your impending retirement from office. It is also interesting to me that in this instance you did not pose for a publicity photo next to the fence.

"No Vote" Did Nothing To Effect Salaries of Teachers, Administrators - 2005
By Anne Blonski

Posted June 16, 2005
   I am a Grand Island parent, and a Buffalo teacher, and I want you to know that your “no” vote did nothing to effect the salaries of the teachers or the administrators. All you did was take away from the children.
   As a parent, I am angry and frustrated. I’m angry because this budget is about the children. I’m frustrated because we’re letting propaganda decide our children’s futures. I can’t imagine not voting for my child’s education. We have a very good school system, but it will never be great if our classes get any bigger or we cut vital programs that make up the whole educational experience. Our Sports and Music programs are second to none. Our sports teams are continually honored with the Scholar Athlete awards. This is awarded for the students academic standing along with their dedication to the sport. Our Music program is also continually presented with awards for their excellence.
   These programs give our children experiences they don’t get in the classroom.
   As a teacher, I am also frustrated and angry by the things being said about teachers. We dedicate our lives to teaching your children. How can it be okay for a professional basketball player with a high school education or a football player to make millions of dollars? Yet, you want to penalize me because it has taken me 18 years of education, 24 years of teaching and many extra hours of in-services to achieve the salary I earn.
   Come walk a day in my shoes before you judge my colleagues and me.
   I’ve listened to the School Board and I have read the letters being printed in the local publications. I have heard many wise people speak who wanted a revote so we may continue providing our children with the great opportunities we are lucky to be offered. As for the lady who thinks there should be no AP classes, I would never want to deny your child the services he needs so don’t deny my child what he needs to reach his goals. When we visit colleges, they tell my son, that the amount of AP classes does matter. It certainly mattered for my older son’s admission to R.I.T. As for the mentoring we have an excellent Internship program at the High School supervised by a great teacher, Mrs. Frisoni where the students are offered the opportunity to volunteer in the community. Many of the students go to Huth and Kaegebein and work in the classrooms.
   And do you really think it’s alright for your school to be cleaned every other day? Ask the students and teachers how that would make them feel. I think it’s pitiful.
   I love being a Grand Island resident and a teacher. I only hope that this community will start listening to what is important. My husband and I have raised two wonderful young men on Grand Island because we have been able to give them all of the opportunities Grand Island provides: academics (including AP subjects), music, and sports. I can’t imagine any one of these being eliminated.

Athletic Director Reflects On Budget Vote - 2005
By Jon Roth

Posted June 6, 2005
   During my 32 years in the Grand Island School District, I have never felt so down and helpless as I did the night the school budget was voted down.
   As a 30-year taxpayer, I felt a 2.8% tax rate increase was fair and in line with the other Erie County school districts.
   Obviously there was another message in regards to salaries, health benefits and personal attacks. I'm not dismissing any of these issues, but it should not belong in a conversation with the budget process, but addressed at a later time.
   The Interscholastic Athletic Program at GI is without question one of the elite and most successful programs in WNY. It didn't happen overnight. It took years and years of support from the community, BOE and past and present superintendents to establish this outstanding sports program, which includes 7th and 8th grade Modified sports, Junior Varsity and Varsity sports teams and cheerleading.
   To see all 54 sports teams, 70 MS, HS, and Elementary school intramurals (which is over 1,300 students participating, 57 coaches of which 95% are school district employees, GI residents or alumni) be eliminated, would be a shame.
   I've talked to many parents in the last week and many still think if we go to a Contingency Budget - we can find a way to fund sports, NOT TRUE!
   I've been involved in many budget meetings over the years and unfortunately our current Athletic Budget could not be funded under a Contingency Budget.
   I hope my loyalty and integrity speaks for itself, when I say the District has no hidden funds, and does not have Grant money to fund sports. If any kind of outside fundraising took place, the Sports Program would be a mere shadow of the current Athletic Program.
   My biggest disappointment May 17th was not the number of NO votes, but the number or lack of YES VOTES.
   I can only hope that everyone now understands the crisis this District is in, which may include additional cuts in: transportation, athletics, music, equipment and uniforms, class size, elementary, MS & HS intramurals, just to name a few.
   As a resident, teacher, coach, community, youth volunteer and Athletic Director for the past 30 years, my recommendation to the BOE is make the necessary cuts to give this community, who has always been supportive, a 0% tax rate increase and a 2nd chance to vote!!

This Is A Slap In The Face - 2005
By James M. Mulcahy

Posted June 6, 2005
   After the defeat of the school budget on May 17th, Mr. Ramming, the superintendent, asserted that the proposed tax increase wasn’t a slap in the face of the tax payers. The amended budget being proposed by the School Board is a slap in the face. One has to wonder how well they understand the budget that they want to saddle the taxpayers with.
   The budget for our consideration on June 28th has $392,619 of cuts that implies no increase to the property tax rate. Below are the proposed cuts.

EQUIPMENT   $111,431.00
MAIL CARRIER - RED. HOURS   $12,820.00
4 CLEANERS   $80,000.00
NURSE TO HALF-TIME   $14,100.00
MUSIC SUPPLIES   $10,000.00
TOTAL CUTS   $392,619.00
BUDGET TOTAL FOR REVOTE   $42,764,295.00

   Notice anything? The “cuts” amount to 0.9% of the budget. Notice anything else? I know the suspense is killing you. There are no; as in none; zero; nada; cuts in the administrative budget. The disgusting sense of entitlement continues apace. No sharing of secretaries is even being proposed.
   It is transparently clear: the children are NOT the main priority of this administration. Their cushy existence is their only concern. What is the Board thinking? I’ve identified on numerous occasions hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be cut without impacting the children. Instead we are being told that if we don’t approve this travesty that we are anti-children and that we will revert to the stone age.
   In a letter last week, a Mr. Kaplan pointed out that our reserve should be $800,000. (This is current amount.) It was only $7,000 three years ago. Keep in mind that many of the current Board were responsible for the draining of the reserve. Does anyone really believe that they will see that spending is kept under control?
   Dollars to donuts, at the end of the next fiscal year none of these cuts will have been carried through. Who could tell? Does anyone know what the original amount was? If not, how can you tell if the cuts were implemented, even assuming they showed us the books at the end of the year? Want to bet that the reserve will be used to fund these things?
   In my opinion, it is a moral obligation to vote no on this budget. I know some who voted no in May are going wobbly because there is no tax increase. They are worried about the vengeance that the administration will wreak on the children if they don’t get their way. Don’t blink. Force the issue: either the Board and administration are truly for the children or they are not. By voting no on the budget, their hand will be forced. If they do the right thing, great. If not, they should be removed, post haste.
   Again, the new, improved budget IS a slap in our faces. They are counting on fatigue and a zero increase in the tax rate to slide this abomination through. There are no meaningful cuts. Next year we will be asked to increase this year’s bloated budget because there was no increase in 2005. This is pathetic. No business or household can run like this. The sacred cow status must end. The school system is impervious to all of the economic forces that we face. It is about time they received a little dose of reality.
   Get your friends, come out and vote no. It won’t be the end of the world. The defeat of the European Constitution by the French and Dutch sent a clear message to the privileged class: the high priesthood days are over. Do the same here on Grand Island.

Superintendent Ramming’s Salary - 2005

By Richard J. McCowan
Posted June 6, 2005
   The pathological budget crisis in Erie County has angered many of us. Be cautious, however, about generalizing from county problems to the school district. It is expensive to operate a school district, but the Grand Island schools are efficient and effective. Unfair attacks, using children as pawns, will cause irreparable damage to the school district and the community, which will lower property values significantly.
   I refer specifically to the recent school budget defeat and questions about Dr. Thomas Ramming. I do not know why a few people have raised these question, but their attacks are unfair and vicious. As a superintendent he has a reputation of high integrity who is committed to serving Grand Island children.
   Consider his salary within the perspective of these factors.
• Dr. Ramming’s starting salary of $130,000, slightly higher than his salary as an assistant superintendent in Williamsville, has increased 7% since 2002.
• Compared with other Erie County superintendents, his salary and fringe benefits fall within the average range.
• Grand Island does not pay for his medical insurance.
• Before he became superintendent, the district paid attorney fees totaling $15,000 a year for "general personnel" responsibilities. Dr. Ramming assumed those responsibilities and saved the District $15,000.
• Issues raised about his schedule are unfair. Occasionally he works out during lunch when he has late meetings in the district. After an 8-hour day, he leaves at 3:30 PM 13 days during a semester to teach a graduate course at SUNY at Buffalo, frequently returning to the district for evening activities. Superintendents put in long days and cannot be accused of working “banker’s hours.”
   The Grand Island school district is a large, complex organization that places heavy demands on the superintendent.   Salaries in private organizations of comparable size and complexity as the school system are usually much larger than those paid to Grand Island administrators.    With a budget of $42 million and 560 employees, the district is the largest “business” in the community.    Each day the school district operates a transportation system for 3400 public and private school students transporting students to over 60 schools in Erie and Niagara Counties. This department independently is larger than most businesses on the Island.    Each day the district provides cafeteria service for 3200 students which is probably more customers than Grand Island restaurants serve in a week.   With 3200 students the school district has more “customers” each day than any of the local shopping malls, and it provides more services for these children than these malls.   The district provides educational support services for private school students such as remedial speech, health services, and psychological testing.    The school district has fewer district and building level administrators than most Erie County school districts. Schools with enrollments as large as Sidway, Huth Road, and Kaegebein usually have assistant principals and most high schools with over 1000 students have two assistant principals. Grand Island high school has one assistant principal. (Note that the State Education Department is currently considering a plan that will mandate assistant principals in elementary schools with enrollments comparable to our elementary schools.)
   How you vote on the school budget is your personal decision, but do not be misled by a few abrasive individuals with a concealed, personal agenda that is destructive for the community.

Primary Challenge Severs Ties With Janet Pope Schumer - 2005

By Rus Thompson
Posted June 6, 2005
   She jumped ship, accepted the endorsement of the Republicans and as part of the deal she had to join the committee..
   We had concerns as soon as she refused to carry Rob Stoklosa's petitions.
   At the same time Rus Thompson was denied the endorsement of the Republicans. I was never interviewed by any committee except the Conservatives. After repeated requests for an interview, via Phone calls, email, and snail mail neither the Republicans or Independent parties responded or interviewed me. Isn't it the reasonable responsibility of the parties to interview all candidates that request it.
   The Independent Party has endorsed Ianello.. The Republicans endorsed Bill Naab. I must be a real threat to the system.
   I was allowed to give a 5 minute speech tonight but, there was only 17 of the 120 district committee members there. That falls far short of a quorum.
   The Republicans have made the same mistake they did 2 years ago when they did not endorse Kevin Hardwick and then actively campaigned against him in vicious smear campaign after he won the Primary.
   They have chosen part of the broken system as have all the major parties.
Editor's Note: Rus Thompson's intentions are to run for County Legislature.

My Opinion - 2005

By Fred Mellon
419 Hunter Point Dr.
Indian Trail NC 28079

   I see that the school board has shown the citizens a new budget that will have no tax increase with a budget of $42,764,295. This is only a 5.3% spending increase over last year's budget of $40,612,262. I assume that also means nobody's assessment went up. So where did the extra money come from? Population growth, increased enrollment? It's great to see the population coming back to Erie County. Oh and it was just discovered a previous loan is done, which was forgotten about or just not disclosed, so the school can now do the buses without a tax increase but keep up the spending!
   I also see there is no attempt to lower the number of teachers, helpers or their benefits. Maybe the cleaners, mail carriers, nurses, etc... should unionize!
   Great job Grand Island School Board!
Posted 6/6/05

Residents Address Passage of School Budget - June 2005

By Dennis and Carol Dzielski
   During the May 23rd Grand Island School Board meeting and in several recent newspaper articles there has been much whining and gnashing of teeth about the now infamous yellow post card that was sponsored by "a group of taxpayers." In fact, at the May 23rd meeting one Board member bemoaned the supposed disadvantage of the School District because it cannot advocate for the passage of the School Budget. However, no one bothered to mention the powerful influence of the New York State United Teachers' union (NYSUT) and their well-co-ordinated strategies to ensure the passage of school budgets throughout New York State. NYSUT represents teachers, school-related professionals, higher education faculty, professionals in education and health care, and retirees.
   The May 26, 2005 NYSUT publication, NEW YORK TEACHER, boasts about how their efforts resulted in an 83.5% statewide School Budget approval rate. For example, they spent $1 million on a television ad campaign that predicted the catastrophic cuts that would have to be made if budgets failed. (Does this sound familiar?) One of the techniques they advocated was sponsoring various activities at schools during the budget vote to attract sympathetic, positive voters. (Does this sound familiar?) Union members were also encouraged to send letters, man phone banks, pass out fliers, attend meetings, be vocal, and become active in their own school districts. (Some are even known to try to influence voters through their students.) NYSUT advised School Boards and teachers to work together to pass School Budgets. (Who works together with the taxpayers?) They even boasted that the union solidarity helped "tip the scales in many places where budgets passed by a handful of votes." (We bet that there are no re-votes scheduled in those school districts!) The article reported that their more than 525,000 members represent a tremendous voting bloc. However, they neglected to also mention their access to unlimited funding made available through required union dues that are deducted from the wages that are financed by the taxpayers. Isn't that ironic! NYSUT was particularly happy that more budgets passed in Erie County than predicted thanks to their so-called pro-education activists. Obviously some districts upset the NYSUT plans because as we know three budgets were defeated. But not to worry, because it was reported that the State NYSUT President has offered the statewide union's assistance to any local leaders who want to mount re-vote campaigns. So much for the inability of the Grand Island School District to get its message out!
   At previous Board meetings speakers were restricted to the three-minute comment rule, and Board members refused to answer any questions or engage in a dialogue with the attendees. This is the way the May 23rd meeting began. However, when the Board realized that it has a predominately "friendly" audience, they were more than willing to answer questions and allow extended conversations among supportive commentators especially if they worked for a school district. We would like to know who represents the so-called "uninformed public" as described by Board President Mr. David Goris? Obviously Mr. Goris came to the May 23rd meeting prepared to call for a re-vote, as he read a statement that totally disregarded the will of the 62% of the voters who opposed the School Budget. It seems that these voters cannot possibly understand how hard it is to work for the Grand Island School District. The 1,890 voters who voted "NO" must have cushy jobs in the real world, and they certainly have never been in a school, been a student themselves, or have any students, or educators in their families or among their friends. Because surely they would understand how difficult it is to get by on an ever-increasing $43.2 million budget. It was inferred that the "ignorant people" who voted against the budget were unable to separate fact from fiction as they were easily coerced by a simple yellow post card. If only they had listened to the Board members and read all the information provided by the School District and union they would have voted the "right way." These hard-hearted individuals do not understand that it is always 'FOR THE CHILDREN' except when it affects the salary and benefits of school personnel or their personal pet projects.
   We do not believe that insulting the 62% of Grand Island residents who voted against the budget is the way to advance a positive agenda. Insinuating sinister motives for people's actions is also non-productive. We hope that Mr. Weaver and his group of taxpayers continue to promote public awareness. Someone has to help represent the taxpayers and concerned citizens of Grand Island. Unfortunately, we do not have an organization that can compete with the money and influence of the education establishment. Rather than hearing Mr. Goris say: "Your time is up.", we would rather hear him say: "Your taxes are going down!".
Posted 6/2/05

Dangers of Contingency Budget - May 2005

By Richard J. McCowan
   I don’t like paying taxes any more than anyone else, but of all the taxes I do pay, I get the most benefit from the local education tax. I’ve had four children graduate from Grand Island, and I want my seven grandchildren who live on the Island to get a decent education. Every kid on Grand Island has a right to attend the good, improving school system we currently have.
   It would be a tragedy to degrade the schools by forcing the district to cut $1.4 million in a contingency budget. The cuts that would result would cause incalculable harm. If sports, band, and activities are eliminated, college applications of every senior will be severely weakened, thus limiting scholarships and the quality of the colleges to which they are admitted. If guidance counselors are eliminated, who would help seniors select colleges and process their applications. What decent human being would deprive children with severe reading deficits of remedial reading and eliminate any chance they would have to succeed in school? This is beyond tragic. It would be criminal.
   Cuts of this magnitude would damage to the community’s reputation severely. What family with children would buy a house in a town with an educational program stripped below minimal levels? Property values would drop dramatically, and the real estate market would revert to the stagnation that existed when the Seneca lawsuit was still active.
   Superintendent Thomas Ramming has been subjected to very unfair criticism in the local papers. I will elaborate on this point on another occasion, but the community must recognize that he is a good superintendent, particularly in these troubling times. If the district lost him, try to imagine how difficult it would be to recruit a decent superintendent with a crippling contingency budget.
   A Chinese proverb says that “Once you make a false step, a hundred lifetimes cannot redeem it.” If Grand Island doesn’t reverse this vote and approve the budget it may not take 100 lifetimes, but it will take a very long time to rebuild the shattered reputation of the community.
Posted 5/31/05

Budget Defeat a Wake up Call [Yeah, right!] - May 2005

By James Mulcahy
   “Budget Defeat a Wake up Call” was the headline of the lead article on the School System’s web site last Thursday. It appears, though, that whoever wrote the headline either didn’t read the article or hoped that no one else would. The article gave an excellent impersonation of Jake Blue of the Blues Brothers: “It isn’t our fault!”
   The defeat was blamed on Erie County’s tax woes. Really? Only three school budgets lost last Tuesday. Only one, Grand Island, had the voters do the Bristol Stomp on it. Mr. Ramming was quoted as saying, “a 2.8% increase was not a slap in the face to Grand Island voters.” Does this mean that last year’s 8.59% increase which was well in excess of the rate of inflation was a slap in our faces. Given the lack of willingness by the Board and Administration to ferret out waste, it was a slap.
   At Monday evening’s Board meeting it was clear that the Board, the Administration, and their supporters believed, with an intensity that would have made a fundamentalist blush, that the ‘yellow’ postcard sent out was the whole explanation for the defeat. Trust me, it wasn’t. It is impossible for them to envisage a scenario where the public didn’t hang on their every word. One teacher was heard to say, last week, that “only ignorant people voted against the budget.” This typifies the utter contempt this privileged class has for anyone who will question anything they do.
   The usual litany of woes was recycled: health insurance; pension costs; and transportation. Either the State or OPEC is to blame. (El Nino got a pass.) However, the Board and the Administration negotiated the contracts that provided the gold-plated health insurance and the salaries that lead to the high pension costs. Yes, the stock market has been relatively weak since 9/11 but when the pensions were over funded and no contributions required, taxes didn’t decline. No, instead new expenditures were included that now are considered part of each year’s previously funded sacrosanct expenses that must be increased. The transportation issue of busing children to over sixty public and private schools is a bit disingenuous. The costs to the school system would be even higher if all of those children showed up on your doorstep instead of opting to go to other schools. Besides, it is their money.
   There is a paragraph about the capital budget. As one of the most vocal of those expressing concern about its management, I can tell you that this paragraph is meaningless, to say nothing of being totally irrelevant to the issue of this year’s operating budget. But since Mr. Ramming brought it up, we questioned not only how it was spent but also, more importantly, how it was going to be spent. All of the problems were brought to the Board’s attention in advance of one shovel of dirt being turned. Yes, the architect has been fired. Why wasn’t he fired in 2001? His inability to manage this project was not only a concern of ours, but of the State Ed. Dept. back 2001. The last sentence in this paragraph is a classic: “I [Mr. Ramming] can safely say that taxpayer money is completely accounted for.” Saying the taxpayers’ money is completely accounted for is not synonymous with saying that it was spent on what the taxpayers voted for or that we received top value for our expenditures. We know it wasn’t and we didn’t. We have a gym with a roof that leaks that we didn’t vote for; a music room with acoustics that need at least $60,000 of corrections; and no science labs, which we did vote for that will cost at least $350,000 to provide. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and the District ran an adding machine while the taxpayers got burned. Just beautiful. By the way, we still haven’t been told what the award was our “award-winning energy conservation project" won or who the awarding body was.
   Now we come to the typical low-level extortion that we hear every time the Board and Administration don’t get their way. The horror stories about how the world as we know it will come to an end. The list includes cutting expenditures on musical instruments: why are we buying those, anyway? If parents want their children to learn an instrument they can either buy or rent one. Field trips are to be cut, we’re told. So? The key thread, though, was the children will pay! What pathetic bullies.
   Many of the attendees spoke in favor of resubmitting the budget, which is their right. The implicit and, in many cases, explicit theme running through their statements is that we will be hurting the children if we go to a contingency budget. (This is, of course, what the Board and Administration want us to think.) They must believe that there isn’t any waste in the budget. I disagree. It is chocked full of waste and self-aggrandizing spending.
   Let us look at places to cut. Not one mention, anywhere, has been made of the administrative overhead. The school district officials have an overblown sense of entitlement.
   As I have said many times before, we don’t need an asst. superintendent of curriculum. The state sets the curriculum; we have a superintendent, principals, asst. principals, dept. heads, and teachers. They should be able to figure it out; if not, why are they teaching our children? $110,000+ is a lot of money to pay for power point presentations.
   We have an asst. superintendent for business at $110,000+ also. This is 40% more than one would have to pay for a good CPA in this area.
   We have a principal slot at Sidway for at least $97,500. Again, this is a pure waste of money. It is being filled, in the interim at a cost of $350/day, I understand.
   It doesn’t stop there. I mentioned entitlements above. The superintendent, the asst. superintendents of curriculum and business, and the director of athletics each have their own secretary. The director of pupil personnel has two secretaries. There are two accounts payable clerks plus a treasurer. There is a personnel clerk for certified personnel and one for uncertified personnel. These latter two positions used to be filled by one person. We have a switchboard operator. We also have a communications consultant. Can’t the Administration write its own material? If not, go see an English teacher.
   In this day and age of emails, voice mail, and spreadsheet, database and word processing packages, as well as having a switchboard operator, it is hard to believe that we need all of this “help”. What do they do all day? Again, nothing in the “Wake Up Call” column mentioned any cutbacks or adjustments by the head honchos around this place. This is where you start. Nice headlines like “Wake Up Call” aren’t substitutes for making hard decisions.
   The high priesthood attitude is appalling. They believe that taxpayers are nothing more than a bunch of yahoos who should leave things to their betters. May be, but the folks running our school system aren’t our betters. They have never seen an expenditure that they didn’t think should be increased.
   Voting down the budget again will really be a wake up call. This time maybe they will get up. The Board will be forced to choose between the children or the entitlement class. Let’s see if they really put the children first. Clearly, a yes vote just keeps us with business as usual: a smug administration and mediocre academic results for the money we spend. Being for education is not equivalent to giving the board and Administration a blank check. They have been terrible stewards of our money.
   One last thing: In 1998 the Republicans in the House of Representatives were heavily favored to add substantially to their majority. They didn’t; in fact, they lost five seats. Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House, accepted responsibility, and resigned. If the School District were a Parliamentary system, the crushing defeat suffered at the polls last Tuesday would have caused the government to resign and call for new elections. I believe that the five incumbent Board members should do the honorable thing and resign with new elections being held. Their stewardship was given a massive vote of no confidence.
Posted 5/31/05

Thompson Responds To Iannello Endorsement - May 2005

By Rus Thompson
   I will challenge that endorsement... The county or local Independent party never interviewed me, Never responded to my calls, emails or letters. It is their reasonable responsibility to the people to interview all candidates seeking a public office.
   To completely ignore an announced candidate is the height of arrogance.
   I will Primary her on that line.
Posted 5/31/05

Resident Addresses Threat of Air Base Closing,
Invites Others To Assist In Retaining Efforts - May 2005

By Patricia Akinbami
   It was a great relief when the Air Force base got its first reprieve from being closed ten years ago. I have always felt pride and pleasure in seeing the service planes flying over our area, and found the air shows magnificent. It was also satisfying to know that that its many good jobs brought a healthy infusion of financial support to our part of Western New York, as well as the wonderful people whose careers made them part of our community.
   It is shocking that the threat looms again, especially with the current threat of terrorism. This base, and the National Guard contingent we have here, are crucial to our security in the light of our proximity to the northern border and the power facilities that even New York City depends on. The proposed move to Arkansas and or Maine, despite their weather drawbacks, and the danger of an over dependence on perhaps a single facility, does not seem to be in the best interest of the nation. "Our" base also boasts a stellar recruitment record.
   Local citizens have been invited to assist in the efforts to retain the 914th Air Wing and National Guard by writing to the Base Realigment and Closure Commission. Letters are being collected at this address: NIMAC, P.O. Box 231, Niagara Falls, NY 14304-0231. The base closure commission meets in Buffalo on June 27. Community support does matter.

Negative Comments On Schools Superintendent Addressed - 2005
By Mary Kulak, Regency Drive

May 25, 2005
   First off, I’d like to comment about all the negative comments I’ve been hearing about Dr. Ramming. This vote had nothing to do with whether or not you like him and if you thought it was about that, you were misinformed.
   As far as the comments about him teaching at UB - we should consider it a feather in our cap that we have a superintendent of a caliber that a University would want him on their faculty. Regarding the hours he works, he is in management. People in management do not work 9 to 5 everyday. Dr. Ramming is here at 7:30 a.m. for meetings, I’ve seen him here at 5:30 p.m. for meetings, I’ve seen him here at 9 p.m. for school events. I have a feeling if he were an hourly employee, people would really be unhappy about his salary!
   That being said, my concern is where cuts will have to be made. I would suggest we stop over educating our high school students at the expense of our elementary and middle school students. We do not need to offer AP courses, these students have passed the mandatory courses prescribed by the state and are looking to get college credits while in high school. That means we are helping to pay their college tuition while utilizing teachers who might better have smaller classes of those who still need to pass the state mandated tests. Let’s stop pushing college into our high school. If these students have time to fill in their schedules, I would like to propose a new program - service to others. Let’s use them in our elementary schools to mentor to the younger students. We certainly face bigger class sizes in the future, why not use some of our high school students to help in the classrooms. Who better to teach 5th graders about power point presentations than a high school student. They could be invaluable in the libraries helping kids do research and write reports. Many Sidway teachers utilize parents for extra hands in the classroom. I propose we do it district wide. Maybe some of the senior citizens who don’t see why it requires so much to run schools today would like to volunteer time to go in, share their expertise and see what goes on. These necessary cuts could be turned into a win-win situation.
   If you aren’t happy about paying more school taxes, look at your cell phone bill and ask yourself where the 25% taxes go and what you get for it. We are talking about our children and their futures here. Get involved. Come to meetings, ask questions, understand what you are voting on. Remember, numbers can be manipulated. It’s sad so many people took that yellow card and assumed what they were reading was the whole truth.

Work Within A Budget, Bring In Volunteers - 2005
By Francine Hirtreiter

May 25, 2005
   This whole Budget crisis is very crazy, and this is exactly how I look at it. Everyone and I mean everyone has a budget, from the country, to the individual states, to the counties, to families. If you have only so much money, deal with it the best you can, (I can't ask my boss for more money because my budget is bigger.) I am going to say this directly to the school board who got the big NO. You have a budget, work with it. You say there will have to be cuts that are going to effect the children who are our future. How about getting volunteers, for cafeterias, sport coaches, clerical help, library techs, academic intervention and remedial instructors. Many people are going to school for such occupations. How about getting them in as co-ops and cutting costs (those people volunteering would have the "moral" of wanting to help). These are schools "teaching environments."
    I have a child in the elementary school and when I go in every week to volunteer to the class, I am greeted by clerical staff that are so grumpy, and they must sit on their personality for the 8 hours they are there. And to think our children have to face that on a continuous basis really is sad! I love the school and the education is outstanding but the clerical staff (secretaries) they are getting paid and seems they have no desire to even be there. Which brings me to my point again. Bring Volunteers or Co-ops in and they are the ones who will have an open mind, and heart, and want to help.

“Group of Taxpayers” Should Have Identified Themselves On the "Vote No" Yellow Postcards - 2005
By Chuck Goris

May 23, 2005
   Last Friday (May 13, 2005) it appears that all Grand Island addresses received a large YELLOW postcard urging a No vote on the school budget. Since this letter is written before the actual vote, the outcome of the budget vote isn’t known at this time and isn’t the issue this letter addresses.
   The issue is accountability of the “group of taxpayers” who paid for the mailing. The dictionary definition of YELLOW is a color or cowardice. In my opinion the “group of taxpayers” exhibited cowardice of the first order by hiding their names by using “group of taxpayers” to describe the card’s origin. While I don’t agree with their position, I have absolutely no problem with the card being sent. Whoever these people are, they have every right to express their opinion and position on this or any other matter.
   Their lack of willingness to stand up as individuals for their position certainly flies in the face of the accountability we try to teach our children. Garbage, like this card, sends a message, “if you believe something, spread the word but don’t let anybody know it’s you, use something real clever like “group of taxpayers” to hide behind.. When one isn’t willing to stand up, as an individual, for their position it is reasonable to conclude they may well be ashamed of that position and like an everyday coward, hide behind a name like “group of taxpayers”. How sad. What’s next, people in yellow sheets with pointed hoods anonymously handing out flyers at Tops or the Plaza? I hope not.
   In closing, please note that while my son is President of the Grand Island School Board, the comments and opinions expressed herein are solely mine and have not been discussed with him or any member of the School Board.
Posted 5/23/05

Absentee Superintendent? - May 2005

By Cherie C. Miller, 1965 West River Road
   Why is our school superintendent, Dr. Thomas Ramming, leaving the District early on Thursdays to teach at the University of Buffalo? Isn't his $151,000 salary enough money to keep him here on the job? I searched the UB web site (www.buffalo.edu) and found out that he is teaching an early afternoon class and is also using his Grand Island School District office number and email for graduate students to contact him. At least Dr. Karmazin, who also leaves early, on Wednesdays to teach an early afternoon class does not have her Grand Island School District office phone number and email on the University's web site. Why are we providing office space and clerical support for his second job? I also learned from employees at the Grand Island Holiday Inn that Dr. Ramming can be found several days a week in the fitness center during the middle of his work day. Some school district employees shared with me that he has also taken several vacation days while our schools are in session. Why is he allowed to be away from his office regularly while being paid handsomely with our tax dollars? While our School District has made some improvements, there is still much work to be done by a leader who is present and working side by side with the staff instead of delegating all of his responsibilities away. I heard that he doesn't even conduct his own Superintendent hearings. They are delegated to another administrator. So can someone from the District please tell me what Dr. Ramming does all day to warrant his incredible salary? For $151,000 lets get someone in that position who knows how to work with people, is active in the community, and does the job right. I wonder how many school board members read the article that appeared on may 1st in the Buffalo News on the Superintendent of the Niagara Falls School District. Maybe we need to look for someone who shares Dr. Carmen Granto's commitment to the schools and community.
Posted 5/23/05

Response To Mellon's Opinion On Taxes - 2005
By Robin Vertino

Posted May 20, 2005
   I would like to express my opinion on the school budget and respond to Mr. Mellon as follows:
In response to Mr. Mellon's statement:

"That is only the TAX RATE INCREASE for the budget not the spending increase. The only time they show the spending increase is when it is less than the Tax Rate Increase. I think there should be a truth in budget law always showing spending and tax rate #'s."

   The New York State Education Law requires all school districts to mail a School District Budget Notice to all residents of their district. This notice includes the total budgeted amount for the current budget and the proposed budget, the increase in the proposed budget and the percentage increase in the proposed budget (not the proposed tax rate increase). This notice was included in the school publication, the Bridge, which was mailed to every resident, along with the other pertinent budget information. The percent increase in the budget was not hidden by any means.

My Opinion On Taxes - 2005
Fred Mellon

Posted May 19, 2005
   I lived on Grand Island for about 22 years and still miss the great place and great people. I greatly enjoy the isledegrande news. One great feature is to be able to look back to the old issues. I saw the recent school budget up for vote today and realized how much I don't miss the taxes of New York, Erie County, Grand Island and the School taxes. I used the old issues and some basic math to see what has happened since I left the lovely Island. I see the spending went from $34,964,063 for 2001-2002 to $35,991,736 in 2002-2003 (a 3% spending increase) to 40,612,262 in 2004-2005 (a 13% spending increase) to now maybe $43,756,914 a spending increase of about 8% + another 1.5% for busses which somehow isn't part of the budget.
   Soon average spending is going up 8% a year (what is the population growth?). While the projected tax rate #'s don't really show the spending increase. Like this year they give the citizens a warm feeling that the increase is only 2.8%. That is only the TAX RATE INCREASE for the budget not the spending increase. The only time they show the spending increase is when it is less than the Tax Rate Increase. I think there should be a truth in budget law always showing spending and tax rate #'s.
   I want to thank the isledegrande for giving the citizens the ability to see the history. The citizens only have to use that great education given to figure out the facts.

People Are Frustrated, Upset With Ways Things Are Done - 2005
By Michael A. Judd

Posted March 3, 2005
January 1, 2005
To whom it may concern:
   Many people are frustrated & upset with the way things are done in our Community. There are reasons for it and we can do something about it:
• Are you frustrated with the way decision making happens in Albany?
The State Constitution prescribes it.
• Are you frustrated with the State Budget being late so many years and the “trickle down” affect it has on our Communities & School System?
The State Constitution allows it.
• Are you frustrated with the “3 person” decision making in such a large and diverse State has in Albany & our lack of input into the system?
The State Constitution dictates it.
• Are you frustrated with the way things are funded and Albany’s ever increasing requirement for unfounded mandates?
The State Constitution allows it.
• Are you frustrated with the inability to not be able to recall incompetent elected officials?
The State Constitution protects them.
• Are you frustrated with the lack of accountability of Charter Municipalities carry on their affairs in a renegade, irresponsible, and incompetent manor?
The State Constitution tolerates it.
• Are you frustrated with the way “too much” government is dictated & the way we are strapped with layers of unnecessary and sometimes inept representatives and don’t have Professional Managers (that are trained in our own tax subsidized University system but are unable to hire & are employed elsewhere)?
The State Constitution mandates it.
   In 1997 we had a referendum to have a State Constructional Convention That could change things & put us on the right tract. It was voted down primarily people thought “it would cost too much”. How can we not “afford” these changes? Is the “status quo” really working? The next scheduled referendum is 2017 for a 2020 State Constructional Convention. In light of what’s going on around us we can’t wait that long. It’s time to get things changed now. Let’s get started.

Response To Media Coverage Of Frank Cannata - 2005
By Chuck Goris

February 16, 2005
   I think Reg wrote an excellent Editorial about Frank Cannata and all the good he has done over the years. I have known Frank over the same period of years and seen many of the same things the Editorial mentioned. I have also seen first hand how he related to the kids at Sidway when he spoke at their plays and musicals, how they reacted when he would go from table to table in the lunch room when I was there for Grand Parents Days.
   The print and video media seem to have chosen Frank as there local "sensationalism" story and thus given Grand Island more column space and air time to one individual than they have given to everything else combined that has happened on the Island in the past year or more. I agree 100% that it is the duty of the media to report everything that happens, a duty that in my opinion they fall far short of fulfilling in many cases. For example, consider the series of articles the Buffalo News ran last week about Mr. Cannata.
   In this series, the News dug up three items in Frank's past and published information dating back to 1999. Mind you this was over 45 days after the first story had been published so one might suspect that perhaps they had gotten a tip from someone who had an ax to grind with Frank. Be this as it may, the real point is why didn't the News publish these stories when they happened, not 5- 6 years later? If they did, it is hard to believe no one from the Island read about it. Had they done their job then, the current situation with drug use might never have occurred. Alcohol is an addiction that I recall hearing can lead to drug use if left untreated. People need help in these situations but if no one knows of the problem, how can anyone help? No news is not necessarily good news, quite the opposite in this case.
   Frank is a fine man who needs help, professional and from friends and family. I think his past good things should not be forgotten, I'd hate to think that we as a community would let Shakespeare's words of 400+ years apply to Frank......" The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones."

Island Resident Responds To Publisher - 2005
By Kelly Gast

February 17, 2005
   I can understand why you or anyone would want to support Frank Cannata, but how can you? I agree 100% that his church family should be supportive of Frank and help him to rehabilitate and get through this difficult time.
   But how can an admitted drug abuser stand in front of students who believe in the philosophy of the DARE program? It's hypocritical and it's wrong. Allowing him to resume his position of authority in the district would be a mockery of everything parents teach their children about alcohol and drugs. What kind of lesson would we be sending our children and students? That, well, as long as you've done a few good things in your life, you can get away with abusing drugs and alcohol from time to time? There's no doubt he has done a lot of good in our community. But how can he be trusted to teach our children morals when he in fact doesn't practice them?
   Frank Cannata should be treated the same way the rest of us would be if we were in his position - and that is the way he is being treated now. Unfortunately for him, it is becoming as Reg Schopp suggests, quite the media spectacle - simply because he was so well known in our community. He did many wonderful things for many families over the years, and touched the lives of people I know. Nobody disputes that. But it just doesn't justify his behavior. It's simply not enough.

Benefit Of the Doubt - Publisher's Response - 2005
By Reg Schopp, Publisher

February 8, 2005
   As publisher of IsledeGrande, I am compelled to take a stand on this issue. . . .
   When I created IsledeGrande seven years ago, I accepted a certain responsibility to present the news, honestly and without bias. As a resident of Grand Island for fifty years, a parent and now a grandparent of children who have grown to know Frank Cannata as a principal and a friend, I understand the charges that are pending against Frank. Of course I am concerned, but I have witnessed years of dedicated service to the community. From the time he taught piano to my son, served on the school board, sang at my daughter's wedding, he has demonstrated nothing but respect for me and my family. I have many friends who are parents of children that attended Sidway under his direction and grew to love Frank and his exceptional concern for his students. I only wish that we could all step back and look at the positives, instead of focusing on allegations. News is news and because of his dedicated service, it is as if he is being judged to a higher standard. I want to be fair, but it appears to me that there is a level of sensationalism regarding these allegations that I am very disturbed about. Please, let us not be too quick to judge. Look at the record and the outstanding contribution Frank has made to our community.
   Responses to Mr. Schopp
rms@giecom.net are welcome.

Your response is welcome. Email Editor or address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

Library Board Of Trustees Grateful For Support - 2005
By Richard M. Earne

January 13, 2005
Dear Sirs:
   The members of the Board of Trustees of the Grand Island Memorial Library would like to express their appreciation to all the library supporters who worked diligently to keep the library open during the current budget crisis.
   Many Islanders wrote letters, made phone calls, attended hearings and much more. We particularly want to thank the Friends of the Library, the library patrons and the members of book clubs on the Island for showing their loyalty and concern. The library staff, as well, continued to provide competent and cheerful service, despite some very trying times, including not knowing if they would be employed.
   Our thanks also go to "Isledegrande.com" for the excellent coverage given to the library's needs in the midst of the budget battle. You helped to keep our citizens informed in a very detailed and professional manner.
   Although we have had to decrease our hours, the library will continue to be open to serve all of Grand Island. You have shown how much the library means to you. We will do our best to fulfill your library needs in the coming year.
Very truly yours,
Richard M. Earne

Big Thank You to All Friends, Businesses, Schools & Organizations - 2005
By Emily Rallo

   January 18, 2005 . . .I just wanted to express my sincere thanks to all who contributed to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my behalf for the Walt Disney World Marathon. The generosity of the people of Grand Island was amazing & with all of your help, I met my fund raising goal. With your support we hope to one day find a cure for blood cancers. As a whole, those who ran for the Leukemia Society in the Walt Disney World Marathon raised 6.4 million dollars. Thank you again, and by the way....I made it to the finish!!
Emily Rallo - First Time Marathoner
Click Emily Rallo for previous article

Grand Island Schools Capital Project - 2005
By James M. Mulcahy

   January 11, 2005 . . .I believe that the taxpayers of Grand Island need to know the details of what I believe to be the gross mismanagement of the $18.4MM Capital Project that they approved in 1999. This project is going to add over $300 per year to our tax bills. The tax burden in New York State is just that: burdensome. In WNY it is even worse than the average. We don’t need to layer on additional dollars due to mismanagement.
   I am using this venue to communicate because the School Board only permits one to speak for three minutes at its bi-monthly meetings. Turnout, understandably given the inability to have a conversation with the Board, is pathetic at best. If it weren’t for the fact that High School students are required to attend one School Board and one Town Board meeting the attendance wouldn’t make double-digits.
   My writing style is terse, on a good day. This column is no exception. There is nothing shaded or nuanced in my presentation. I don’t apologize for that. I just want to make it clear, upfront, that I don’t intend to be verbose.
   Let me start with a little history for those who don’t know the sequence of events; for those who may have forgotten; and those who may have wished to forget. I’ve numbered the paragraphs as I will be referring back to some later on.
   For complete story, click James Mulcahy.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Email Editor or address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Discharging Employee For Single Indiscretion Is Serious Matter - 2004
    By Eric Stefik, Las Vegas, NV

       December 10, 2004 . . . This is to comment on the firing of the bus driver who evidently criticized John Kerry's alleged position on abortion. There is little question that this is not a topic best discussed with relatively young children on a school bus, but discharging an employee for a single indiscretion is a serious matter also. Without prior warnings, in fact, it would be exercising an excessive degree of discipline. Employees sometimes show a lack of judgment in their actions on the job, but an "off with their head" response will do little to maintain essential relations between staff in general and management.
    Editor's Note: Eric Stefik is a former Island resident

    Parent Appreciates Removal Of Bus Driver - 2004
    Karen Rose

       December 7, 2004 . . . As a parent of a 3rd grader, I fully agree with the Grand Island School District for firing my daughter’s bus driver, Julianne Thompson. Before the election, my 8-year-old came home and told us she was not voting for John Kerry because he kills babies! Where in the world would an- 8-year old get that kind of information when this topic was never discussed in our home? As it turns out, she mentioned that her bus driver told the children on her bus this on at least one occasion. This is NOT appropriate, freedom of speech or not, to be telling our children this kind of information, regardless of their age. In fact, these children were between the ages of seven and ten! I, as a concerned parent of 2 children, feel that Ms. Thompson was very inconsiderate of our young children and the long term effects this "one time conversation" will have on them. I know it has affected my daughter as she has brought this disturbing conversation up several times. Thanks for opening a can of worms for all of us whose children were on your bus!!

    Hunting Season Is Here, Hunters Beware! - 2004
    Chuck Berlinger Jr.

       November 6, 2004 . . . Now that hunting season is upon us once again, many Island hunters are putting up tree stands to prepare for their hunt. I bought a new 16’ tall, 75 lb., 2 person tree stand and placed it on my neighbor's property across from my house off Warner Dr. I know that the stand was there on Wednesday evening 11/3 because another neighbor had used it. On Friday afternoon I noticed that the tree stand was stolen. I had put the stand up around October 10th with the help of two neighbors due to its weight and height. It took the three of us over an hour to get it put up securely against the tree. We all thought it would be a safe spot, being approximately 500 feet behind his house and approximately 250 feet inside his rear property line but we were wrong! The stand was placed in an open area without many trees, just brush, and visible from the houses. One word of caution to the person, or more likely people who took the stand, make sure you buy a safety harness before using your newly acquired goods! You left my safety harness at the top of the tree and I’d hate to see you fall during the excitement of seeing that big buck prancing by on opening day from my stand. Any one who knows of somebody in the Sandy Beach, Huth Rd, Stony Point and East River area who just “acquired” a new tree stand, please pass the information on to the Erie County Sheriff or Grand Island Police or contact me. If recovered from your information there will be a small reward.

    Is It Time To file A Lawsuit Against Albany? - 2004
    Rus Thompson

       November 5, 2004 . . .While the majority of the country is moving forward, New York is still in reverse. The same old people, with the same old baggage are once more on their way back to Albany. Their Mission this time, Reform Albany, in other words, "to fix what they broke" ...
       20 years and 2000 re-election campaigns only 30 incumbents have been defeated and not one on time budget... Their #1 job is to pass a budget. And they are going back to fix and reform the legislative process?
       The Albany legislators continue to circumvent the law and fool the people. We do not have a representative form of government as designed. In reality we have a dictatorship, a three men in a room dictatorship. I wish I could sit down with everyone in the state and explain it. Funny thing is, when I have a chance to talk to people with an open mind it's fairly easy to get them to understand. But to put into words on a website it hard.
       Our dictators are Sheldon Silver, Joe Bruno and the governor, name of the governor doesn't matter, they all serve in the same capacity just happens this term's Gov De Jour is Pataki, last one was Mario Cuomo...
       The individual legislators are virtually useless. We don't need them. If we want to keep this form of government, we can save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by eliminating the Assembly and Senate, all their staff, their lawyers and their special perks.
       It is time that we file a lawsuit to regain representative government in New York State. I am absolutely serious about this.
       It is absolutely useless to send these people back to this form of government. The individual assemblyman and senator are powerless and are cut out of the legislative process so we have no voice. Legislators only support what their political leaders tell them to support.
       The leaders are Silver and Bruno. They and they only control everything in their individual houses. Since each has total control of each piece of legislation that is introduced in their own house, each has equal to the Governor concerning legislative matters.
       The leader of each house also appoints the committee chairman and can remove and appoint a chair at any time, there by controlling each committee and the outcome.
       So when we hear that something is stuck in a "committee" we should know who controls the committee and it's not the chairman, it's Silver or Bruno. The chairman serves only at the pleasure of the leader.
       The Brennan report found that the State's legislative committees do little real work, have few hearings on Bills and release almost no reports to its members making voting decisions.
       The leader also appoints all staff, attorneys and appoints members from their own party to the committee. The leader controls pork barrel funding and re-election campaign funds.
       So to be a successful legislator all you have to do is suck up to your leader, do what he tells you to do. Then you will get pork money for your district and re-elected. Talk about incumbent protection.
       So why, why do we even need all the senators and assemblymen. If they go back and vote for the same leaders and same process, we need to file a lawsuit to regain representative government in New York State.
       The economy of New York State is not the President's fault as the democrats would like you to believe. The economy was lousy here when Bill Clinton was in office.
       We have missed every upswing in the national economy for decades and the only place that is responsible is Albany. The only people responsible for the disastrous condition of this state is all the people we have sent to represent us to Albany.
       I would like to thank The Brennan report and Duane Motley from New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms for the information.
       I will discuss the congressional races and ridiculous districts that have been forced upon us in my next update.

    50th Anniversary Aboard The Grand Lady A Wonderful Time - 2004
    By Laureen Zelonis Hess

    October 16, 2004
       My parents and their guests had a wonderful time aboard The Grand Lady last Saturday night. I would recommend that cruise to everyone. We had our party in the captain's club dining room (so cozy) which is right behind where the captain is operating the ship. You can speak to him through the sliding glass window. Rick Deegan is the captain and he is a very nice person. His wife is on the staff as is one of his daughters. We had a dinner cruise and the food was excellent. The dessert, peanut butter cup pie, was to die for. The bartender, Adam, was very good and turns out he lives down the road from my sister on East River. The music was so nice, a man who played guitar and other music and sang. After the sunset, which was gorgeous, it was so pretty seeing all the lights from Buffalo and some of the bars on the river. Flower A Day did our arrangement and it was so pretty. We also had a cake made from TOPS and for someone who doesn't like cake, I'll have to tell you it was delicious. What a nice combination and all keeping business on Grand Island!

    Laureen Zelonis Hess from The Woodlands, TX

    The Value Of HOSPICE - 2004
    By Richard Shorty Vanthoff

    August 31, 2004
       While it is still fresh in my mind [senior moment] I want to tell all those who don’t know the value of HOSPICE.
       Our mother was put on HOSPICE by her doctor about two or three months ago because of congestive heart failure. Two days after his appointment HOSPICE contacted us and the wheels and deliveries started. About every day or so a nurse or therapist or oxygen delivery was at her door. It is so hard to believe that there are so many caring people out there who are as concerned about Ma as we were, but are also guiding us through this difficult time.
       She was only at home for a week or two and they decided she needed 24-7 care which we were not able to give her. That afternoon Rural ambulance picked her up and took her to Como Blvd. where they have a place for 22 terminally ill patients. We had two meetings with the staff and they kept us abreast of all that was going on. My sister and I were concerned that they would not keep her there because most people only live a week and they said Ma would probably live three weeks. Her fear was to go into a nursing home, and we didn’t want that either. She would rally one day and go the other way the next. We were all confused.
       HOSPICE looked in on her every 15 minutes even when we were there. They are a class act. She was fed only what she would eat, which was not very much, and given anything to keep her comfortable. She was never in pain.
       With all the caring they did for Ma, my sister and I didn’t notice they were doing just as much for us. When she finally passed on at 88, we were prepared and our minds were much clearer because of their help. God bless you, HOSPICE.
       Don’t ever be afraid to put a loved one in HOSPICE, because they will do more for them than you could ever do.
       Please make donations to HOSPICE of WNY so they can keep up this good work.
    Editor's Note: Millie F. Vanthoff was a life-long Grand Island resident, born on December 23, 1915 and died on August 26, 2004. Donations may be made to Hospice Buffalo, 225 Como Park Blvd., Buffalo 14227.

    Grand Island Jr. Vikings Thank Community - 2004
    By Grand Island Jr. Vikings Football/Cheerleading Organization

    Click photo for larger view
    August 19, 2004
       The Grand Island Jr. Vikings Chicken BBQ on Tues. Aug 17th was a great success. Over 650 dinners were sold. Thanks to all players and cheerleaders for your support in selling tickets. And thanks to everyone for stopping by. It was a great time.

    When The Angels Came to Our Place - 2004
    By Jonathan Rogers

    Editor's Note: Jonathan Rogers, a Niagara Falls resident, writes of "one little band of angels" who visited him two years ago. His story is about the help provided by the Reach Niagara Falls Workcamp of 2002 who returned again this past summer 2004. Youth groups from all over the country including the youth of Trinity UM Church worked together in his home and in the surrounding neighborhoods both times.

    August 19, 2004
       Three years ago we moved to this old house in this wasteland of littered, potholed streets, boarded up stores and vandalized houses overgrown with weeds. It seems like the people in our neighborhood are also potholed, boarded up and vandalized, some seem to be abandoned. Everybody is down and out, there is a lot of poverty. Few jobs are available and they are all low paying. Many people are on welfare and disability. Some deal drugs, some use drugs, many do both. When they come out they walk all slack and hunched over. The first year we moved here we had two murders within a hundred feet of our house. One, they dragged a blood soaked sofa out and left it in the lane where it remained for weeks. Lost count of the fires. The area reeks of discouragement, depression, despair, resignation, apathy, all the grim stuff. Occasionally there is an emotional outbreak in the late night hours. It feels almost like an improvement.
       Suddenly angels descended on our house and started measuring, cutting, sawing and hammering. They would call out to one another, they would laugh out loud, they sang songs. Their voices rang, our neighbors could hear them, their heavenly voices echoed down the lane and across the road into the derelict cars, the piles of garbage and the caved-in garages. One of the angels took a fragment of drywall and wrote "Outreach Work Camp" on our front walk with a big drawing of a cross. They took their breaks and their lunches and their devotions on our front veranda in plain view. They were shining even in broad daylight.
       One of our neighbors came over and stood in the heavenly light, grinning. He just smiled away and made a few gestures with his hand and sort of tilted his head questioningly towards the divine ruckus. I tried to explain that they were working on my house but he was not listening to me. He just stood there in rapture. That was my first indication that they were actually angels, it was not just my imagination. The sorrowful lady in the back of the building next door came out from time to time to stand with her infant child. She, too, had a rapturous expression and so did the kid. Once, after a few moments, she said "Are these, um...are they...?" I said yes. The people who passed by our house, sometimes pushing supermarket carts, stopped looking down and instead they looked up at the radiant beings and smiled. Now, weeks later, when those same people come along they look up and meet my eyes and smile and nod their heads. One of the car hulks that was there when we moved here is no longer there. The people in the house down from us have totally cleaned up their whole back yard, cut down the overgrowth. You can see right in where they now have a white plastic table and four chairs. The guy who lives on the corner who wears a permanent look of defeat and harbors a pit bull, saw me and waved. Waved. The guy who manages the building next door has cut the lawn three or four times. He never cut the lawn before till it was a jungle. He waved too, not at me, he did not see me, he waved to some passers by. They waved and smiled. There has been an atmospheric change, a tonal shift towards the light and bright in the whole area. No money, no new legislation, no police. All because of one little band of angels.

    Warning - 3-year-old Boy Choked To Death While Eating Popcorn At NYC Movie Theater - 2004
    The following has been submitted by Island resident Steven Stouter, a paramedic with the Grand Island Fire Company and father of two preschool boys.

       August 18, 2004 . . .
    Click Here for story. Steven has added guidelines for young people and babies.

    Zonta Club Expresses Appreciation - 2004
    By Lyn Laman and Maria Burns

    August 12, 2004
       On behalf of the members of Zonta Club of Grand Island, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended and supported our Chiavetta's Chicken Dinner on Tuesday, August 3, 2004 at Town Common. "It was a tremendous success."
       Our thanks also goes out to all of our members who worked so hard and gave their time and efforts in making this all possible.
       A special thanks to Linda Tufillaro, Recreation Director for The Town of Grand Island, and her staff for going above and beyond her duties as we couldn't have done this without her help. Dennis Albert, Youth Court Director, and his staff also gave tremendous help and we thank them all. Jim Linenfelser and Kevin Koch were a great help as they provided the muscles we needed.
       A big thank you to The Ramblin Lou Family Band for the wonderful entertainment and advertising.
       We would like to thank everyone who helped in our advertising, HSBC, and Isledegrande.com.
       Thank you to Supervisor Peter McMahon and all of the members of the Grand Island Town Board for their support.
       Thanks to Chiavetta's Catering Service for a delicious dinner!!
       Hats Off to the citizens of Grand Island who took the time to join in on the fun, as this is what makes Grand Island a GRAND PLACE TO LIVE...........
    Lyn Laman
    Maria Burns

    Citizen Disappointed In July 19, 2004 Town Board Decision To Approve New Zoning Code - 2004
    By Ed Anderson

    July 20, 2004
       I am very disappointed in the decision of our Supervisor and town board on Monday night, July 19, to vote to approve proposed new zoning based on a July 19 zoning map that the average citizen never had a chance to see or comment on, in the normal public hearing process. This map was nowhere to be found, not in the meeting, or downstairs outside the engineering office, or in our public library. I wonder why?
       Gone are the days of adequate open debate. Now most things are done in executive session. Our present town board prides itself in rushed meetings that only last 40 minutes. Our town board has got the idea that they can do whatever they want. For example, approximately 20 neighbors opposed proposed zoning in the Edgewater area, but our town board chose to ignore them.
       This vote on zoning needs to be done over again, this time, properly, after a public hearing on the July 19 map, that is still not finalized as of July 20.
    Ed Anderson
    Cell: 716-861-0762
    Fax: 716-773-1299
    e-mail: ewanderson11@msn.com

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Email
    Editor or address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Wear Red On Fridays - 2004
    The following, ideas of Nadia Jensen, have been submitted by Island resident, Judy Polizzi.

    July 15, 2004
       "My name is Nadia Jensen and I have an idea.
       Please take 5 minutes to read my email and then help me if you can: Here's some history behind this idea: When Norway was occupied by Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as a way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening in their country, that they didn't like having their freedom taken away by the Nazis.
       My great aunt, Karin Knudson Myrstad, was one of the women who knit red caps for her children and others. Similarly, in Denmark, women knit red-white-and blue caps (colors of the Allies) for the very same reason.
       The result was that whenever Norwegians and Danes left their homes --to go to the store, to work, etc, they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed what was going on in their country. As you know, both countries organized effective Resistance efforts and changed history -- everything that happened began simply by wearing red!!!! (or the colors of the Allies, in Denmark)
    Wear Red on Fridays.....
    We plan to do this EVERY Friday until all our troops return home. It has come to my attention that quite a few Americans support our troops, but as usual, we are the silent majority. We are not "organized" to really reflect who we are, nor our opinions. We would like to start a grass roots movement using the membership of the Special Operations Association and the Special Forces Association to recognize Americans who support our troops.
       My idea is not just to stand on street corners once or twice, not to carry signs in a rally, or even to carry our flag in parades. It's much simpler than that. We need to inform the local VFWs and American Legion, our local press, local TV, and even continue carrying the message up to the national levels as we start to get this going. Our idea of showing our solidarity and support for our troops is that starting Friday and continuing on each and every Friday, that we and every red blooded American who supports our young men and women, WEAR SOMETHING RED .We can do this untill they are all home.
       If every one will share this with other friends, family members, acquaintances, fellow workers, country club friends, neighbors, any place you gather, I guarantee you that it will not be long before the USA will be covered in RED - much to the disdain of the un-American rallyers. Let's get the word out and lead by example; wear RED on Fridays. Thanks for your time and consideration of my proposal."
       "I intend to send this out to everyone on my e-mail list; hopefully you will too. Please forward this to everyone you know!!" the Isledegrande.com reader said this week.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Email
    Editor or address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Estate Recovery Provision - New York State Medicaid Program - 2004
    The following has been submitted by a reader who has asked to remain anonymous.

    July 1, 2004
       We ask this question to all of our senior Grand Island residents and property owners. How many of you are aware of the Estate Recovery Provision in the New York State Medicaid Program? Most of you will probably say, "What's that and how does it affect me." Well if you own property and plan to pass it on to your heirs some day, I say you should become aware of this provision especially if you think your health someday could deteriorate to a point where you or your spouse will have to take advantage of nursing home care under the Medicaid program.
    ElderLawAnswers.com provides a very good explanation of New York State's Medicaid program and outlines what the impact can be on your estate should you and/or your spouse need nursing home care under Medicaid. I suggest you click here and read ElderLawAnswers, then talk with a local Elder Law attorney as to how you can protect yourself and your estate in the advent you should need Medicaid Nursing Home Assistance in the future.

    Zonta Club Thanks Supporters - 2004
       On behalf of the members of Zonta Club of Grand Island, we would like to thank all of the people who stopped by our booth and bought tickets for our basket raffle at the Isle Craft Show this weekend June 26-27. Thank you for your support.
       We also would like to thank the committee for allowing us to continue to have a booth for this wonderful event and congratulate the committee on such a superb job they continue to do each year.
       On a personal note, we would like to thank all of the members who made baskets and all who donated certificates and articles to make baskets. The baskets were beautiful. We also would like to thank the people who are not members of Zonta who were so very kind to donate baskets also. Thank you everyone. Finally, a very special thanks to the members who gave a tremendous amount of their time to work this weekend. All of their effort and hard work was truly appreciated !!!! GREAT JOB !!!!!!.
    Maria Burns
    Barbara Nowakowski

    Grand Crafts Committee Expresses Appreciation - 2004
       We would like to thank everyone who pitched in to make the Grand Crafts on the Island another year of success. Registration and activities for the children were ably handled by Betty Lantz, Debby Laramee, Diane Lipp, and Mrs. Cynthia Wynne’s Grand Island High School Art Club. Linda Tufillaro and Jim Linenfelser provided essential support. We appreciate the talented crafters and organizations who participated this year.
       Special thanks to our capable committee – Sue Berger, Barb Wilson, and Mary Neuhaus. We appreciate all your volunteered time and effort. Without the vision and foresight of former Supervisor Jim Pax, we would not have this beautiful Town Commons Park setting.
       Congratulations to Brielle Backlund, who is the lucky winner of the guessing game 462 gumballs. Thanks to everyone who attended and enjoyed a grand time on the Island. Hope to see you next year.
    Robin Swedish and Kathy Smith
    Co-chairs of Grand Crafts on the Island

    Donors Of Annual DAV Forget Me Not Fund Drive Thanked - 2004
    By Paul Kane, Commander, DAV Chapter #168

       June 29, 2004 . . .The Disabled American Veterans, Grand Island Chapter #168 sends many thanks to the generous citizens who made a donation to the Annual Forget Me Not Fund Drive. Your contributions will be used to help disabled Veterans with transportation to and from medical appointments at the Vets Hospital and will also be used to help Veterans in need. These funds are used locally. The DAV Transportation Network is available to Veterans by appointment. Call 716-862-6544 for further information. The Clothing Locker is also maintained at the Hospital. Items of clothing in good condition may be donated. Call Dick Kloc at 716-862-6544. Volunteers are needed to drive the vans and the Hospital is always in need of volunteers to aide patients to and from their daily appointments at the VAMC in Buffalo. To volunteer, call Mark Francis, Director of Voluntary Services, at 716-862-8667.

    Proper American Flag Etiquette In Time For the 4th - 2004
    By Perry Figliotti

       June 24, 2004 . . . The US Coast Guard Auxiliary had the privilege of being near the front of last year's Grand Island 4th of July Parade. It was wonderful to see such a large, enthusiastic audience along the parade route applauding the many participants.
       With this year's 4th of July Parade fast approaching, this may be a good time to review proper flag etiquette since it is a topic that is rarely discussed (or followed).
       The following information is based on United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10 titled Patriotic Customs.
    §177. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag
    During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

       I look forward to seeing an even larger crowd at this year's (sunny) 4th of July Parade.
    Perry Figliotti

    Relay For Life Chair Thanks Volunteers - 2004
    By Mary Dunbar-Daluisio

       June 23, 2004 . . .Last but certainly not least I want to personally thank the committee who made the Relay such a success. In alphabetical order: Scott Bastian (Banking), Ted Bates (survivor), Mandy Becker (school), Cheryl Chamberlain (school), Sandy Cook (luminaria), Dennis Donovan (food), Daneen Gallagher (entertainment) Arlene Larry (luminaria), Peter McMahon, Dr. Thomas Ramming (super), Gary Roesch (co-chair), Christine Ryshkus (survivor), Bonnie Sciuk and Liz Wilbert (registration)
       And the warmest thank you to the care given to the Survivors by Sue Berger and her crew.
       Words cannot express my gratitude to all. We all chipped in and came out such winners. It shows what a Grand place our Island is to live in. If anyone was moved enough by the event, I encourage you to please think about joining the committee for next year. It seems to bring you closer to your neighbors.

    American Cancer Society Relay For Life Volunteers Thanked - 2004
    By Mary Dunbar-Daluisio and Gary Roesch, Co-chairmen

       June 16, 2004 . . .We would like to express our appreciation to all who participated in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life held last Friday and Saturday at the high school track.
       An absolutely amazing group of Grand Islanders from toddlers to senior citizens gave of their time and energy raising money for a great cause. The opening ceremony, the lighting of memorial luminary candles, the bagpiper, the many people of all ages walking round and round the track, the many groups who set up shop in the infield - the entire event was heartwarming.
       Many times during the night-long walk comments were made about the wonderful young people who took such an active part in the fund raising. It was rewarding to work with the group of approximately twelve organizers who did a fabulous job of pulling this event together. A heartfelt thank you to all! We hope with the huge success of this event to have even greater participation next year.

    VFW Thanks Buddy Poppy Driver Supporters - 2004

       June 2, 2004 . . .The officers and members of the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Post 9249 wish to thank the generous folks on Grand Island for their "HUGE" support during the annual "Buddy Poppy Drive" held the past weekend. Your great support helped the Veterans of Foreign Wars meet their goal. The Buddy Poppy serves to remind us of the sacrifice made by our Fallen Heros and helps support the National Home for Widows and Orphans of Deceased Veterans.

    DAV Thanks Boy Scout Troop 630 - 2004

       June 2, 2004 . . .The Disabled American Veterans of Grand Island wishes to thank Boy Scout Troop 630 for participating in the Memorial Day services. Scout Andrew Donahue acted as Flag Bearer for the members of the DAV during the services held at the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Post Pavilion. Due to the rain the services were moved from DeGlopper Memorial Park to the VFW Post Pavilion. The Veterans are proud to have so many Grand Islanders in attendance in honor of our fallen heroes.
       The Boy Scout Troop under the direction of Mr. Jim Bates will assist the DAV in the Independence Day Parade. Travis Zuric and Jacob Paszkiewicz will carry the DAV colors in the parade.

    Thank You To the Grand Island Community - 2004
    By David C. Goris,
    President, Board of Education

       May 24, 2004 . . .On behalf of the Grand Island Board of Education and the students who attend our public schools, I want to express our thanks for your support by voting on May 18th to pass the School Budget. With this support we will be able to maintain the scholastic, athletic and artistic programs, which make Grand Island schools a higher quality school system in Western New York. In addition we are moving to complete the current capital project including the upgrade to our technology infrastructure to meet the information needs of the 21st century. We will continue to look for and adopt new and creative ways to improve student achievement and the overall operation of the school district. Again thank you for the support and opportunity to serve this community.
    David C. Goris
    Board of Education
    Grand Island Central School District

    Making a Dream Come True - 2004
    By Edward A. (Ted) Rayhill, MD
    Medical Director, Grand Island Fire Company

       May 20, 2004 . . .This Saturday evening, May the 15, the Grand Island Fire Company will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Emergency Medical Response Service.
       This is a very personal date for me and a dream come true.
       I was fortunate to have helped in the organization and training of the original group. The Board of Directors and members of the Grand Island Fire Company, were and continue to be, very generous and supportive of the EMRS.
       It is my understanding that we were the first of many such services in Western New York.
       I humbly suggest that we are still the best.
       In these stressful times, with the continual threat of terrorism, these men and women will be our first responders wherever, God forbid, such a disaster occurs.
       It would be a very nice gesture if every citizen in our Island community would salute the fine men and women who volunteer.
       Tip your hat, give a salute or send a check. Whatever you do, please remember the privilege we all share living in homes secured by such dedicated individuals.
       In December 2003, my wife needed their help. They were at our door before I could even get to it. The responders did not know which one of us to treat first.
       It has been my privilege to have served as their guiding physician these many years.
       I am very proud to be a life member of the Grand Island Fire Company.
    Edward A. (Ted) Rayhill, MD

    Thank You To Supporters of American Legion Mother's Day Basket Sale - 2004
    By Joe Synakowski, 1st Vice Commander and Membership Chairman, American Legion Post 1346

       May 12, 2004 . . .The officers and members of the Grand Island American Legion Post 1346 send a huge thank you to the folks of Grand Island for their support of the Annual Mother's Day Hanging Basket Sale.
       The American Legion of Grand Island is growing and would like to extend an invitation to all veterans to join our ranks. Contact Joe Synakowski at 773-4180 or Shorty Vanthoff at 773-7915 for information on joining the largest Veterans organization in the world.
       Meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Loyal Order of the Moose meeting room, 2524 Grand Island Blvd. We are here to help our Veterans and our Community. Thanks again for your support.
    Joe Synakowski

    Thank You To The Members Of The Grand Island Citizens Corps Council - 2004
    By Frank B. Brusino, Chairman Grand Island Citizens Corps Council

       April 21, 2004 . . .I was greatly honored when invited to meet President of the United States, George W. Bush, on his recent visit to Buffalo. He thanked me for the leadership role I have taken in the Grand Island Citizens Corps Council. My response to his recognition and thanks was that I have done nothing alone. There are several members of our Citizens Corps who also serve our community. Steve Stouter, Dan McMahon, Hank Carroll, Greg Butcher, Ron Warner, Carol Jones and Dorothy Bitner are examples of those who have taken on leadership roles in their areas of expertise and have been with the council since its inception. I am grateful for their contribution to the effort to keep America safe and their willingness to take care of themselves, family and neighbors in an emergency. In addition, all of our town officials have been supportive of our efforts.
       In the near future, Grand Island is conducting a CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) training in order to do just that...teach persons to take care of themselves in an emergency.
       Again, thanks to all on the Citizens Corps Council of Grand Island for your time and community dedication.
    Frank B. Brusino

    Response To "Frustrated Police Officers" - 2004
    By Patrick R. Elmes, L.P.

    March 22, 2004
       Regarding our frustrated officers, Jeepers Teddy, I believe that is called "the law." I understand their frustration but it goes both ways. Putting a guilt trip on citizens who are doing what they feel is best, with proper application of the law, is a weak and dangerous approach. Resources are expended all the time to gain eventual remedy to a situation. We don't, however, ask citizens to make that determination themselves, before, they call 911. Funny, when they used to toss my car without my permission or a warrant, they weren't nearly so uptight about my inconvenience as a long haired teen. They're letter needs to be addressed to the NY State Legislature, not a guilt trip on citizens who were unaware of the whole picture.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Email
    Editor or address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Frustrated Police Officers - 2004
    By Erie County Sheriff's Dept. Detectives Fred C. Vincent, Douglas Burke and Terence Guenot

    March 15, 2004
       On Monday, March 15, 2004, while working for the Erie County Sheriff's Department, we received a 911 call from a distraught homeowner saying, "My house is being robbed." The call was dispatched to the Patrols on duty in Grand Island and Deputies Guenot and Burke responded accordingly, traveling at high rates of speed to the call.
       Upon arriving at the call within minutes, they were informed by the complainant that the suspect ran into the field. Deputy Guenot along with his K-9 partner, Rikor, followed footprints in the mud into the field. Deputy Burke along with Investigator Franz from the State Park Police interviewed the victim. Grand Island Animal Control Officer Greg Butcher took up a post on the opposite side of the field.
       The Sheriff's Department Air One was dispatched to the area in an attempt to apprehend the suspects. Detective Vincent noticed a vehicle going slowly in the area and saw the vehicle stop and two subjects get into the vehicle. The vehicle was stopped and the driver, the father of one of the suspects, attempted to make a police report saying his son just had his vehicle stolen up "the road." The suspects along with the father were taken back to complainant's residence to have the subjects identified by the complainant. Upon arriving at the scene the complainant identified the suspects as the ones leaving the scene, but the father of the suspect knew the complainant. After talking to the complainant, he then said that he was not interested in pressing charges as he knows the people involved.
       All the police officers involved had risked their lives in an attempt to catch the persons responsible for the complainant's panic call for assistance, but only received an "I know the people involved," not caring about the officers who risked their lives in helping him.
       Unfortunately, in 90% of the crimes committed, they are committed by people who know the victims. When citizens call, we respond, but we also need the citizens who need help to respond to the police by prosecuting the criminals when they are caught in the act. Not only did we have five police officers, a K-9 dog, and a helicopter respond to the scene, but numerous people on the roadways were put in harms way. The only thing accomplished was that numerous people put their lives on the line and two criminals were released.

    Ez-Pass Class Action - 2004
    By Brian and Debbie Boychuck

    March 15, 2004
        Just a quick note about the class action against E-Z Pass.
       I am a former Grand Island resident.
       A point is being missed here.
       When E-Z Pass was introduced, the thruway authority required you to keep $10.00 in your account to cover the cost of the transponder should you lose it. Now they say that if you do not turn in that same transponder you have to pay them $25.00. How did the cost of that same $10.00 transponder increase to $25.00? What's to stop them from saying it's now worth $100.00, or $1,000.00.
       I now live in PA and I am experiencing problems with the E-Z Pass system here also. If you go through the toll booth, and their equipment does not detect your transponder, they charge the maximim toll plus a $25.00 administration fee plus a $5.00 fee because they identified your vehicle using their license recognition camera. Usually, you have to dispute these charges stating that you are an E-Z Pass customer and the administration fees are dropped and you are charged the correct toll, but the $5.00 fee remains. It does not matter if the toll equipment was faulty, you are still charged.
       All the turnpike authority has to do is turn off their equipment at a toll lane and collect $5.00 from each of the thousands of vehicles that travel through it.
       I think there will be many more class action suits launched against E-Z Pass once people realize they are being (legally) fleeced.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    A Farewell From The Town Clerk
    By Nancy J. Samrany

    December 29, 2003
       In these last days of my being the Town Clerk of the Town of Grand Island I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to all the residents for the wonderful years I have spent serving the community as your Clerk.
       I want to, in particular, thank my predecessor Rita De Glopper who provided me the opportunity to succeed her in this office and for the example she set that I tried to follow in doing my best for the Town of Grand Island.
       While I have enjoyed the years as the Town Clerk I point out with a sense of pride that for the last four years my office has successfully incorporated the tax collection, water billing collection process into our daily operation.
       I am leaving with a certain amount of sadness because I know I will miss the daily contact with all of you. However, I will still be around. Grand Island is our home and I will see you at the grocery store, church or the hardware store. So be sure to say hello.
       Thanks again for all the wonderful memories, may God bless you all and to all I wish a “Happy, healthy New Year”!

    Swanick Thanks Voters
    By Chuck Swanick

    October 2, 2003
       I just wanted to take a moment to thank the voters in the 10th district who re-elected me to the Erie County Legislature.
       This election was unique in many ways and perhaps the most difficult of my career. Winning an election under normal circumstances is a difficult task and this year proved to be anything but normal.
       When I made my decision to run despite incredible odds, it was based on the support I received from residents who reached out to me through visits, phone calls and e-mails telling me to press on.
       For 23 years I have made serving the constituents of the 10th District my number one priority. My focus has always been about delivering for the community - ensuring that residents of Grand Island, the Town of Tonawanda, City of Tonawanda and the Village of Kenmore continue to have access to the county services that they require and deserve.
       I am grateful and humbled by this win but also inspired to continue my work as a full-time legislator meeting residents and learning their needs and concerns, and trying my hardest to make sure those needs and concerns are addressed. This is what I enjoy most – knowing that, at the end of the day, I’ve touched someone’s life. That was something I was not ready to give up and thanks to you, the voters, I can continue doing what I love.
       Thank you again.
    Chuck Swanick

    EZ Pass Problems - "Continued" - 2003
    By Patrick Kelly

       October 2, 2003 . . . While many people enjoy the convenience of not having to carry small change and having to roll down their car windows to travel over the bridges to Grand Island, or the toll booths on the thruway, the bloom has been coming off the "rose" of convenience for some time now.
       Over the past few months a large amount of tag holders, both on the Island and in Buffalo and Niagara Falls have been fined $23.00 per tag for supposedly not returning their old tags after being issued new ones by the Thruway Authority. In New York State 1.4 million tags are being replaced. These people were fined even though the Thruway Authority is well aware of the fact that whoever was hired to handle the return of these tags dumped them in the garbage without logging them in. This information was provided to me by local politicians familiar with the problem. The end result is a litany of abuse by the Thruway Authority, particularly to the residents of Grand Island.
       Some examples are an elderly lady who kept $10 in her EZ Pass account as she rarely left the Island except to visit her doctor, when she was "fined" $23.00 even though she returned the tag in the manner specified, her account went to a negative balance and her "privileges" were immediately revoked and she must now pay $.50 to visit her doctor.
       Then there is the lady who received a letter saying that her husband had exceeded the speed limit while going through the toll booths. When she called and explained that her husband had been dead for ten years this unelected authority demanded that she produce a death certificate. Then there are the people who, because they rarely use a particular vehicle, had the "computer" decide that they had lost their tag, and refused to recind their decision even after the tag was produced.
       The one that really hit home for me was the lady who called and said that the authority had given her an extremely hard time when she tried to replace the tag on her son's car. She didn't have his pin number and he was in the service, in Iraq fighting a war, but that appeared to make no difference to this agency.
       The office hours of the office on Grand Island are inconvenient and they will not accept tags that are brought in so you must mail them in the envelope provided by the authority, and then you may very well be billed for not returning your tag. In the past they have, under different circumstances, accepted the return of tags at the GI Office, but one of my neighbors returned 3 tags, in person to this office. They accepted the tags but would not give him a receipt, and guess what? Shortly thereafter he got a bill from EZ Pass for three "lost tags" and they wanted him to produce the receipt the office wouldn't give him as proof he turned them in. He was billed $69.00.
       If you call the Buffalo office you will be told one thing, if calling Albany you will be told something different. Now remember this. Even if the authority decides you are right and agrees to refund the money taken illegally from your charge account or checking account, the money will not go there, it will go to your EZ Pass account.
       The time has long passed when something must be done to restore Due Process and Judicial Review to the residents of Grand Island, as the last time I looked at a map we were still part of the United States and afforded the protections of citizens as outlined and well defined in the Constitution of the United States. As of now we do not have them. Thruway Authority has never truly recognized the unique geographical position of Grand Island as being accessable only by the Thruway and the question of the legality of charging us to get to and from our homes has never been adequately explored legally. All that aside, the system is convenient. It is the administration of the system that is broken. There can and must be a judicial mechanism put in place so that people accused by a faulty computer can have their case heard by an impartial judiciary not associated with the Thruway Authority, whose decisions are legally binding. I would call upon our elected officials at all levels to address this problem immediately, and with something more substantial than the usual political cliches. We want action, not more smoke and mirrors. Any politicians who fail to address this issue directly are going to have a very hard time asking for votes on Grand Island in the future! Those people who are complaining about the subjugation of rights by those laws implemented to protect us from more terrorism ought to think about EZ Pass and the fact that they want to go nationwide with a non-elected agency that knows where you live, your Social Security number, your marital status, your credit card/checking account numbers, when you leave your home and when you return! If they can't get it right after ten years, when can we expect that this system will become user friendly?
    To contact Patrick Kelly, email him at
    boomboom1@adelphia.net all call 773-4373. For a previous submission on the subject of EZ Pass, click EZ Pass 9/18/03.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Veteran Urges Support of Local Veterans Organizations
    By Richard (Shorty) Vanthoff

       September 18, 2003 . . . With the loss of over a million members in the last 10 years, because our people are passing away, veterans are losing clout with politicians, who are passing legislation that is doing us more harm than good. They either drafted us or asked us to join to defend our great country, but now they are trying to take the benefits that we earned away from us. Don't let it happen.
       It is time we stand up and demand to be counted as we did when we put our lives on the line. Stop this legislation that will take away our benefits. Joining a veterans organization is a great way to start. It puts numbers where we need them. For very small yearly dues, veterans can stand up and be counted.
       I joined the service because I felt it was the right thing to do to help protect the country that I love. Now I'm too old to fight that way. But I can show where I stand by joining a veterans organization so my voice can still be heard. Don't procrastinate. Talk to someone from a veterans organization and find out what it takes to join. Uncle Sam wants and needs you again.

    Attention Grand Island Residents - EZ Pass Problems and Class Action Lawsuit
    By Pat Kelly

       September 18, 2003 . . .If you have been fined $25.00 or more by EZ Pass for allegedly failing to return your expired tag even though you did in fact return it in the manner specified by EZ Pass and you wish to be party to a Class Action Lawsuit please contact Pat Kelly at 773-4373. The residents of Grand Island should not have to repeatedly go through elected representatives to resolve problems with EZ Pass. There can and must be a system put in place wherein Island residents would have the opportunity to dispute claims by EZ Pass that result in either the loss of privileges or money. I have talked to far too many people who have had $25 taken out of their credit card/checking account, this thievery amounts to an additional charge for using the bridges and it is illegal. This suit will be prepared with the assistance of the town attorney to insure that it meets all the legal requirements of NYS Law.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Resident Says Swanick Is Dedicated Public Servant
    By John Trianda

       Last week I received a mailing from a contender for the September (2003) Primary claiming that Chuck Swanick gets "full-time pay for a part-time job." Let us be fair to Mr. Swanick. He happens to be a dedicated public servant. He is a progressive voice on the County Legislature, without compromising fiscal responsibility. He also finds time to respond to concerns of his constituents.
       In my neighborhood, there was a case of a dead tree overhanging the roadway, that in spite of a number of complaints, was only removed after Mr. Swanick was notified. There was no action on a deteriorating deer carcass on the roadside until Mr. Swanick was contacted. A contractor in a private deal with a resident, dumped some fill in a front yard and left it in a pile. Following a complaint, Mr. Swanick spent two hours of a Saturday afternoon physically shoveling to level the pile of earth.
       Mr. Swanick has worked closely with many of our community organizations. He has also be available to help our Town Board in various Town projects. Mr. Swanick has served well, he deserves respect.
       A longtime Island resident, John Trianda has served on the Town Planning Board for many years and has been an active member of the community.

    A Chance To See Mars
    From a Friend

       Never again in your (or my) lifetime will the Red Planet be so spectacular. This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years but it may be as long as 60,000 years. The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification, Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye.
       Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August Mars will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m. But by the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That's pretty convenient when it comes to seeing something that no human has seen in recorded history.
       So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this! No one alive today will ever see this again.

    'Give The 'Gift Of Life'
    The Rev. Nick Linde - Niagara Falls, NY

    Rev. Nick Linde, a former resident of Grand Island, Class of 1967, and pastor of Colonial Village Presbyterian Church, Town of Niagara, has written the following, which was published in a recent issue of the Niagara Gazette.
       I write to you with a pressing need for life-giving platelets and for blood products for those of us who have been diagnosed with and are being treated for cancer. While my exprience is at Roswell Park Cancer Institute as one who used to donate platelets to the Red Cross, I have to believe that their need is just as great.
       Allow me to introduce myself and help us put a name and face to cancer. My name is the Rev. Nick Linde, I am the pastor of Colonial Village Presbyterian Church in the Town of Niagara.
       It might just as well be Don or Karl, or Nate or Emily. Whether from the inner city of Buffalo or one of its many suburbs and yes even from neighboring states. I am a white 50-something male, but let me tell you cancer is no respecter of persons: African-American, Native American, male or female, young or old alike from 70-somethings to 20-somethings. The need for life-giving blood products is great. I have even seen the face of cancer on young children. It is enough to break one's heart.
       I am grateful that my family and friends in the community and the church have risen to the occasion and are giving platelets in my name. Whether or not you know someone who is currently being treated, as I am for leukemia, the need is there for you to come and donate "the Gift of Life."
       According to statistics at RPCI, there is "an annual need for over 6,000 units of red blood cells and platelets (the blood component responsible for clotting)." If you give the gift of life with someone in mind or simply become a universal donor, you are helping to save a life.
       My 18 years as a pastor on the Niagara Frontier has taught me that our community rises to meet a pressing need. The summer, while a time for vacations or to simply relax, remember that the need for blood-products does not take a vacation. As in my case I am enjoying life at what I am calling "summer camp" at RPCI. I make my trek daily to the clinic, which is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The staff at Roswell is great and I thank God for each one of them.
       I urge you to call Roswell Park or the American Red Cross and volunteer to give the Gift of Life. I know in my heart of hearts that if our friends and family on the Niagara Frontier are able that you will rise to meet this most pressing need. May God bless your gift and please remember to pray for us as we pray for each other

    Baseline/Staley Intersection Needs Three-light Traffic Signal
    By Frederick Claus

       June 19, 2003 . . .I would like to draw attention to the intersection of Baseline and Staley roads. With the businesses that are on Staley and the close proximity to the thruway, this road has become very busy with a lot of off-island traffic. This has resulted in many accidents, and I feel that the time is long overdue for the addition of a three-light traffic signal.
       The many accidents that have occured at this intercetion prove that this flashing red light is not doing the job it was installed to do. Drivers on the Staley Road side feel they have an opportunity to just go through the light before the oncoming traffic approaches. Most of the time these drivers are wrong and wind up causing accidents. No matter how common this type of traffic signal is, there are the select few who are from off Grand Island and are not aware that the flashing red light is only on Staley. Some consider this a four way stop, not aware that those on Baseline have the right of way.
       The most recent accident at this intersection was Tuesday evening and involved three cars. The most badly damaged vehicle contained a woman and her 3 year old daughter, and 2 year old son. When fire company personnel arrived on the scene the car seat for the 2-year old was laying on it's side still strapped in. This accident I am told was caused by a driver failing to yield at a stop sign. This driver was from off Grand Island.
       I ask the officials this. What is being done about this intersection? Have you all considered putting up a traffic signal other than the flashing one currently there? It can be seen that this signal is not doing the job it should be. If not, then how many accidents have to occur at this location before you even consider replacing this with a conventional traffic signal.
    Frederick Claus
  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Thank You To All Who Participated
    Legislator Charles M. Swanick

    Legislator Charles M. Swanick, the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, and Town of Grand Island Police Services would like to thank everyone who participated in our Open House and flag pole dedication last Saturday.
       We were able to finger print over forty small children and check several child car seats, in addition to having a demonstration by the Mounted Patrol, the ATV Squad and personal inspection of the Sheriff’s Department helicopter.
       With special thanks going to Bob & Tim Rockwood from Rockwood Collision, Tops Markets and John Simon owner of Super Gas who considerately donated items and personal time to make this event a success.
       As well as the Grand Island Dispatch who kindly allowed our visitors to park in their lot. We have already begun the plans for next years “Open House”.
       Thanks Again!
    Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick
    Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan
    Town Supervisor Pete McMahon

    Art Club Mural Demolished in Senior Cafeteria
    By Chris Wozniak

    When I went to the art society meeting this May at the Grand Island High School Senior Cafeteria, I was shocked and overwhelmed when I noticed that in the process of remodeling the Senior Cafeteria they had destroyed the art mural. This mural was half completed when I attended Grand Island High School. The work of students from 1998 - 2001 had been eliminated. I always entered the Senior Cafeteria when I came back just to see the progress of the mural and the art teachers. I was astonished at what the art club had accomplished with completion of the wall. As of now I don’t have any photographs of the mural or anything to remember it by. This mural was the foundation for the club and was a way of getting the students recognized for their artistic talents. It was something they gave to the High School and to the community. The hard work, dedication and involvement that took four years to complete is all gone, destroyed and there is nothing that can replace it.
    Chris Wozniak
  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    American Legion Appreciates Support of Flower Sale
    By Richard (Shorty) Vanthoff

    Dear Fellow Islanders,
       Let me take a few moments to thank you for the great support we had on our first annual hanging plant sale. It was more than we ever felt it would be and it is because of you.
       It was a long two days for many of us (retired), but the outcome was well worth the effort. We are hoping this will be the first of many Mother's Day plant sales. We would also like to thank the VFW for allowing us to use their grounds.
       On another note, the American Legion Post 1346 has small flags for deceased veterans' graves (free). Anyone who would like to put a flag on a grave is asked to contact Richard (Shorty) Vanthoff at 773-7915.

    Get Ready Grand Island!
    By 'Grand Crafts on the Island' Committee

       Grand Crafts on the Island is a committee of five women who organized the Sesquicentennial Craft Show last June and due to its success will hold an annual craft show every June. We are hosting our second annual show under this new business name on June 28-29, 2003 in the Town Commons with plenty of crafters, live music, food and featuring the "Art on Wheels" exhibition. Robin Swedish formed this committee as a Sesquicentennial event last June with the dedicated help of Chairwoman Kathy Smith, Advertising Coordinator Susan Berger (Flower A Day) and Food Coordinators Barb Wilson and Mary Neuhaus. For information on this event call Robin Swedish, 773-1100 or Kathy Smith, 773-5081.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc. Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Comments Presented to the 2/10/03 Grand Island Planning Board
    By Michael A. Judd
    February 8, 2003
    Town Hall
    2255 Baseline Rd.
    Grand Island, New York 14072
    Attn: Planning Board
    Re: Site Plan Revision 2548 Love Rd.
    Ladies & Gentlemen:
    The following are my comments presented to the 2/10/03 Grand Island Planning Board:

    I don’t have the answer on whether this Site Plan is adequate but it is certainly better than what was previously presented.

    However; there are too many unknowns to make a rational decision. This process of getting Site Plan approval before the appropriate environmental review is the proverbial “putting the cart before the horse”. There are major factors to be considered. I would urge the Planning Board to reject any Site Plan concerning this project until a proper Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement covering all facts are presented. This argument isn’t about a Site Plan, but about a process.

    Is the purpose of the previously approved Special Zoning, even though mandated provisions such as landscape buffering clearly have not been met and issues like property values [which are the barometer of community character] are questionable, to open a door for anyone granted Special Zoning to do whatever they want? That is clearly the case here and the question most people have is “what’s next”?


    Michael A. Judd
  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Hoyt Opposed To Peace Bridge Here
    By Sam Hoyt, Member of Assembly
    Dear Editor:
       I want to assure the residents of Grand Island that I am strongly opposed to any proposal that would locate a Peace Bridge plaza on Grand Island, or that would shunt traffic across the Island to a separate processing facility. As acknowledged by Jake Lamb of the Peace Bridge Expansion Project at last week’s presentation, the project team will not recommend retaining the two alternatives that cross the Island. I do however support the proposed alternative that would land in Tonawanda, and advocate the pursuit of this location concurrent with capacity and plaza improvements at the current Peace Bridge site.
       My support for this crossing site is based on several considerations, but most importantly that pursuing this site provides the most significant long-term benefits to our region and to Grand Island. Traffic projections have shown that a crossing at this site will likely draw traffic from the Niagara Falls bridges. This will offer a direct benefit to Island residents, as it will divert these trucks which currently travel through the Island from Niagara Falls to reach other Thruway connections and will significantly reduce congestion on the Grand Island bridges.
       The Tonawanda crossing offers significantly improved roadway connections with the I-190, the I-290 and the I-90, as well as the proposed mid-peninsula highway in Ontario. This will enable our region to capitalize on cross-border trade routes, while eliminating much of the deleterious health and social impacts on the lower west side, as the Tonawanda crossing lands in an industrial, rather than a densely populated residential, area. Finally, I advocate that we explore building a tunnel at the Tonawanda crossing rather than a bridge, which will address the environmental issues that have been raised regarding a bridge at this site.
       In conclusion, it is my firm belief that this plan is the best for our long term regional planning – thinking about the big picture – and will best enable us to accomplish our local and regional goals. I encourage you to learn more about this proposal and to become involved in the ongoing public workshops.

  • Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Lighten Up Molly, Lighten Up!
    By Ray Pauley, Fix Road resident

       If the American public, Congress and the United Nations understand and support President Bush's initiatives, why is it so hard for Molly Ivins and other naysayers to climb aboard?
       This perennial Bush bashing banshee would prefer to waste time rehashing ancient Texas oil strategies, etc., ad nauseum.
       She should have figured out by now that George Bush didn't invent corporate greed, and is actually one of the few presidents to insist on legal accountability for such transgressions.
       Molly, give it a rest and get up to speed with the rest of us who have confidence and trust in our country's leadership.

    Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Guest Editorial
    Peace Bridge On Grand Island Unacceptable
    By Liz Lutnick

       Nov. 21, 2002. . .The Peace Bridge Authority is currently considering five locations for International truck traffic crossings that would greatly affect the way of life on Grand Island.
       Two of the locations under consideration are directly on Grand Island, three are south of Grand Island in Tonawanda crossing through Strawberry and Motor boat Island (two are bridges, one a tunnel).
       All these options would be a disaster for Grand Island for traffic, aesthetics, wildlife-environmental concerns, emergency preparedness, and our property values. I urge you to make your voice heard by contacting:
    NY State Assembly Sam Hoyt
    General Donovan State Office Building
    125 Main Street
    Buffalo, NY 14203
    NY State Senator Byron Brown
    Room 213
    65 Court Street
    Buffalo, NY 14202
       There is a critical meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on December 7, 2002 at WNED in Buffalo. The locations will be put to vote and I urge you to attend and let them know that this is unacceptable to us as Grand Islanders.
       Our town council is aware of this and is against it, but if higher authorities desire these locations, our town council would be powerless in preventing this disaster. It is our reponsibility to stop this absurdity.
       If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact our town council. Thank you.
    Liz Lutnick

    Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc.
    Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072

    Guest Editorial
    When is One Chamber of Commerce Not Enough?
    By Joelle Logue
       Aug. 5, 2002. . . Our hats off to Dr. Charles Rader whose commitment to Grand Island has been consistent over the past decade. His latest offer of free space and equipment in IsleChem to the Supervisor's Economic Development Committee is most generous, and the opportunity should not be missed. What is missing though is a unified, collaborative front by a joined Economic Development Committee and the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.
       When the Supervisor's Economic Development Committee was first formed, Chairman and then Councilman Mike Heftka met regularly with members of the Chamber of Commerce in a collaborative effort to spur business growth and wellness. Not much was accomplished in those early years, but some informative workshops were provided by Heftka who is employed by the Small Business Development Center.
       Suddenly, those original Chamber members he met with were out of the Chamber but still members of the Committee. Only one Chamber member currently belongs to the Committee and that is Vice President Gary Astridge who was absent from the presentation by the Committee to the town board Monday.
       With the emphasis on an incubator site gone from the Economic Development Committee's plan, the new goals and initiatives proposed closely resemble those usually reserved for a Chamber of Commerce. A marketing brochure, visibility at trade shows, maintaining a database on demographics and resources, promoting and attracting new business are at the heart of any Chamber's mission.
       To have two different offices, especially for this size town, trying to duplicate services seems silly at a time when consolidation of resources and regional approaches are in vogue. Seems to me the Supervisor's Economic Development Committee should exist to empower an existing Chamber and make it an effective tool in attracting new business and maintaining businesses already here. If the Chamber is failing to provide needed services to the business community wouldn't it be better to help fix what is wrong rather than establish a second Chamber-like office which can only confuse the public and further fragment the Island?
       Questions arise as to who is going to man the office at IsleChem and what, if any, relationship will the office have with the Chamber? There's only so much promotion money to go around. Do we really want two disparate groups splitting up the pot of an already too meager fund. God knows there's a lot that Grand Island must do to market itself and unless we have town officials, the Chamber and the Economic Development Committee on the same page implementing incentives and making sense of zoning and infrastructure, Grand Island will continue to deteriorate as a place to do business.

    Guest Editorials are not necessarily the 'viewpoint' of the management at Isledegrande.com and GIECOM.Net Inc. Your response is welcome. Address to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072.

    Other Grand Island Pages to Visit:
    Churches | Email Directory | Government | Groups
    GIHS Grad List | Guestbook | Please sign in! | Local Artists | Photo Album | Town History | Useful Links
    | Website Design | Wildlife | Isledegrande's Home Page | GIECOM.NET'S Home Page  
    Please Email News Releases to Teddy Linenfelser, Thank You.

    IsledeGrande.com is sponsored by
    GIECOM.NET 1869 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, New York, 14072-1803 USA
    Copyright © 1995-2005 All rights reserved.