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Parking Commercial Vehicles in Residential Areas Poses Threat To Public Safety - 2007
By Kevin J. Rung

   Wednesday, May 31, 2007 . . .the Town of Grand Island is one of the very few remaining municipalities in Western New York which has not yet revised its Town Zoning Code to make it illegal to park commericial use vehicles in residentially zoned areas of the town. Under the leadership of Peter McMahon, our Supervisor, and Councilman Dick Crawford, a change to Chapter 49 of the Town Zoning Code has been proposed that would make parking these vehicles illegal.
   McMahon and Crawford's leadership on this issue should be applauded by every property owner and taxpayer on the Island.
   Years ago, when the Island was little more than a rural summer home venue . . . the incidental parking of a truck here or there was of little consequence; however, now that Grand Island is a growing community with new homes in the high six-figure price range, property owners can no longer afford to ignore the elephant in the living room.
   As it now stands, there is no law making it illegal (let that sink in: there is no law making it illegal...) to park a commercial use vehicle on any residential street or in your neighbor's driveway on a residential street in the Town.
   A couple years ago, upon returning home after work, I saw that one of my neighbors on Dolphin Drive had parked an eighteen wheel semi, complete with an ocean freight container on board, on the grass, along side his garage, in full view of anybody driving south down Dolphin at Marlin Drive. I reported this incident to our Town Zoning Office the next day . . . only to learn that what the man had done was perfectly legal! There was no ordinance against it on the Island. At the present time, the property owners on Marlin Drive are treated to the spectacle of a semi tractor regularly parked on the street; a jarringly ugly monstrosity in an otherwise tranquil residential neighborhood.
   Parking huge commercial vehicles in residential areas constitutes a very real and imminent threat to the public safety. The trucks block the view of motorists as well as property owners attempting to back out of driveways, placing children who play in these residential streets, or who ride their bikes there, at risk of being struck and injured. The owners of the trucks run small auxiliary diesel engines to keep the batteries charged and in the process spew diesel fumes into the neighborhood for everyone's enjoyment. The auxiliary engines cycle on and off annoyingly all night long for us all to listen to. Certainly of equal concern is the negative impact that allowing commericial trucks in quiet residential areas has on property values. For most of us, the equity in our homes is a very real component of our personal worth; imagine what would be the effect of attempting to sell your home at the best price, as potential buyers considered that a commercial truck yard existed right out in front of the house. It's not happening in your neighborhood, you say . . .be assured that as it now stands, it could. All of you folks who own three hundred thousand dollar, plus . . . homes in the River Oaks section of the Island may wake up to find an ugly tractor trailer truck parked next door in Joe's driveway one Saturday morning, or worse . . . out in front of his house for you to enjoy, and there is nothing you can do about it.
   There will be a public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Town Zoning Code before this important change can be adopted by the Board for the good of us all. It's important, that as taxpayer and property owner, you take a moment to write to your Town Board and make them aware that you support this proposed change to Chapter 49. It's also important that you watch the newspapers and the Town web site so that you are aware when the Public Hearing will take place, in order to attend to support this important change to the Zoning Code that Pete McMahon and Dick Crawford have proposed for our benefit.
Kevin J. Rung
Dolphin Drive
Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2007

“Not My Kid!” - Drug Use In Our Schools - 2007
By Dan Stinson
Member Community Enrichment Council
Member Adhoc committee “One Island, One Team, One Dream, Drug Free” initiated by the schools

Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2007

   Wednesday, May 23, 2007 . . .Alcohol and drug use, primarily misuse of prescription drugs, does exist on Grand Island and the common resounding response of parents of kids caught red handed is “Not my kid!” Many of us think, even if we don’t say it out loud, “surely not on Grand Island”. Well parents and beloved residents of Grand Island, I can’t say it anymore delicately than, “Wake up and get your head out of the sand!” There are drugs on the island and if it’s not your kid, than whose?
   Think for a moment of ten 8th graders in your neighborhood (including your own children), or friends of your children. Of those, statistics have shown that about four of them have used beer in the last year and two of them got “very bombed”. One of them used liquor and three of them used wine coolers. One to two out of ten used marijuana, one used inhalants and one to two will abuse prescription drugs. We are talking here about 13-year-olds, and when you consider that most full blown alcoholic and drug addicts started using substances at the average age of 13, we have a serious problem here. The statistics only go up with age. Given these numbers, what do you think the odds are that your child is not one of the ones using alcohol or drugs?
   Now maybe some of you parents might be saying, “What’s the big deal, I have the odd beer or smoke the odd joint and it doesn’t affect me in any way”. Granted, many teens will use alcohol or drugs and that’s to be expected. Take a teenager at a party for instance. They’re feeling a little awkward or insecure. Maybe they think they look funny or don’t fit in. Their friend comes over and says, “Come on, have a beer or smoke a joint and you’ll feel better”. They do and it does. Maybe they do so two or three times over the next year, which may still be relatively normal, as far as experimentation goes. But some of them will start to develop an emotional/mental shortcut. Every time they feel a feeling they don’t like, or have a problem they don’t know how to deal with, they say, “I know how to make this go away”. Over time they start to develop large gaps in their mental and emotional development. As a result, problems and consequences compound and grow, and substance assisted coping increases. Eventually over time, the problem snowballs into a full blown addiction.
   Telling kids “Don’t do drugs. Drugs are bad”, doesn’t help. Giving kids information about drugs doesn’t really help either, (although it can’t hurt). What we need to do is address the motivation behind why they are using them, or any other high risk behavior for that matter (such as violence or sexual activity). If we can discover their appeal, we can uncover the deficit in our young people’s lives that warrants their use. After all, isn’t that the real issue here? Shouldn’t all of us want to build a strong sense of identity and worth into their young lives? Don’t we want to leave them a legacy of destiny and purpose that will help them to be integral contributors to their world? Why wouldn’t we want to teach them the skills of problem solving, conflict resolution or healthy relationships, just to name a few? Maybe you as a parent don’t feel equipped to do so, but there are people in our small town that can help and are more then willing to do so. I am one of them and I meet with others on a regular basis. They are community members who truly want to make a difference in our kids’ lives. If you knew these folks like I do, you would want them to be role models to your children, especially over the Paris Hiltons or Lindsay Lohans of our day.
   Parents, save yourself the embarrassment of saying, “Not my child!”, because the response you might get back is, “Then why were they seen buying drugs on school property last week?” Realities like these and the bottle of Alcohol in the vice principal's office are testaments to the trend we are now facing as a community. What will your part as a parent be in turning the tide of this trend?
   It is somebody’s kid!!

Halloween Trick or Treating - Keep It Safe - 2006

By Bridget A. Castillo
Posted Friday, October 6, 2006
   I would like to express my concerns regarding Halloween Trick or Treat for the Town of Grand Island.
   Why couldn’t the town Supervisor declare that Halloween Trick or Treat be celebrated the Saturday afternoon prior to Halloween. It is not safe for our children to celebrate Halloween at night especially with all the violations and attacks on children. The hours that the town declares are not helpful since it does get dark earlier. This would also enable neighbors to enjoy seeing the children. This also would prevent possible attacks on homeowners and property. Parents who are both working now must rush home, feed the children and begin Trick or Treating. Yes, I realize that Trick or Treat is a choice but we all remember how much fun it was when we were children and to deprive children of this fun would be heartbreaking.
   On the Island there are many streets without street lights and it can be very dangerous. No matter if neighbors leave their porch lights on and children are advised to go with parents and carry flashlights. Children tend to run ahead or even venture on their own.
    Children have the opportunity to celebrate Halloween in school on that day. No, I do not think everyone would be happy but at least something would be done to protect our children. This must begin somewhere. Maybe this would encourage other town and cities to follow.
   We must protect our children.
Bridget A. Castillo
Tracey Lane

To Kill an American - 2006
Submitted by Reg Schopp as received from a reader

Written by Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law in Northern Virginia. Mr. Ferrara's commentary was originally published in the National Review on 25 September 2001.

Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006

    You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.
   So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is. So they would know when they found one. (Good one, mate!!!!)
   "An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.
   An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.
   An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.
   In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.
   An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.
   An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world.
   The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.
   An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.
   When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!
   As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything. . .the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.
   The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.
   Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families.
   So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit everywhere, is an American.
   Please keep this going!
   Pass this around the World then pass it around again. It says it all, for all of us!

Chris Jacobs For Senate - 2006

By Rus Thompson
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006
   At this time I am putting my support behind Chris Jacobs for Senate in the 60th district. I put aside what the local Republicans have done to me in this past election, I will always get behind the candidate that can and will do the right job to represent the people.
   Chris is a Republican, and as a Republican he will have the ability to get things done in a Republican controlled Senate. Marc Coppolla is living in dream land thinking that he can do anything in the senate. What did Byron Brown accomplish? Nothing except have a couple streets' names changed.
   All I can do is laugh at the claims Coppolla is making in his radio commercials. He wants to properly represent the district and bring western NY thinking to Albany. If a Democrat had a voice in the senate don't you think Maisello, Nanula and Brown could have done something? They did nothing, just drive around and look at the condition of this district, Niagara Falls and Buffalo are in shambles, boarded up abandoned buildings and homes. So much for doing the work for "working families." All that is is a message to the unions that he will carry their torch and bring their agenda with him. That is baggage we do not need.
   I am asking you to get out there Feb 28th and pull the lever for Chris. Don't write my name in as a lot of you want to do, don't waste the vote on me or Coppolla. I will make my way around to my supporters in Buffalo and the rest of the district and ask them to vote for Chris.

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 Golden Opportunity - 2006

By Jim Mulcahy
Posted Monday, January 30, 2006
   Dr. Ramming announced his resignation as superintendent of the Grand Island School District, effective July 1. This presents the School Board with an excellent opportunity to rethink how the school system is managed.
   Currently, the District, like every other one, is administered by former teachers who have taken some administration courses. They aren’t managers: people don’t go into teaching because they want to run a business. The Grand Island School System is a business; a rather good-size business with expenditures of more than $42 million per year. It is administered by individuals who are well intentioned but do not have the experience in running a real business, that is, one that could go broke. Without this experience, they don’t have any way of measuring the operating efficiency of the District.
   What the District needs is someone with an MBA who understands teaching to be in charge. This would bring a much needed discipline to the budgeting process and, consequently, to the overall operation of the District. It is clear that the current system has no checks or balances to the budgeting process. Who can forget last year’s legerdemain to get a “no tax increase”, oops, a “no tax-rate increase” budget? The appalling deceit of the energy component of the budget blew up in the District’s face. If it wasn’t for the large overrun we, the taxpayers, would never have even been aware of this.
   Even when the operation isn’t as deceitful as last year’s budget process was, it still leaves much to be desired. In 1979 (this lack of financial competence is of long-standing) the District put in a dual-fuel heating system at Kaegebein, replacing a perfectly good heating unit. This was in the days of natural gas shortages. The dual-fuel capability would allow the school to operate if there were curtailments of natural gas. I pointed out that schools were a priority one customer, similar to hospitals and other government agencies. This meant that schools would be among the last curtailed. If the schools were ever curtailed it would mean that it was so cold outside that no parent would send their kid to school anyway. There are other examples.
   My point is not to rehash the past, but to emphasize the need for a manager who will recognize the need for trade-offs. It doesn’t appear that the current process has any mechanism to evaluate options and choose amongst them. The difficulty is that the administrators are not business people who are trained and experienced in making financial decisions. The District can’t provide every possible opportunity to the children. Everyone runs their own household by recognizing the need to make choices. So should the District. It needs someone who knows how to say no.
   I’m sure that this idea will be dismissed out of hand by the School Board. Possibly the Board will state that NYS law requires the superintendent to be an educator. Translated, this means someone who is a lifer in the school systems and has taken the administration courses that keep college level education departments in business. If it is only a law that prevents having a real manager, what is the Board doing to get it changed? If there is no law impeding this, the Board should go this route. With the school tax representing about 60% of our property taxes, it is imperative that we get our monies worth. Here is an opportunity for the Board to bring some real management into an enterprise that has been sorely lacking in management and budgeting skills.

Erie County Library System Observation - 2006

By Jim Mulcahy
Posted Monday, January 16, 2006
   Starting in November, 2004, we were treated to the Erie County budget fiasco. One of the areas where Erie County’s budget was found to be out of whack was the library system. We have more library buildings per capita than just about anywhere else. There were two schools of thought on how to address this. On one side, there was the slash and burn crowd and on the other, the sacred cow crowd. Neither side got its way in the budget struggles. We settled for a Solomonic splitting the difference. Some buildings were closed but not as many as some would have liked.
   The library supporters say that the libraries are very important to our community. I agree. However, I think they are to be used, not to be just a census indicator of our commitment to reading. Next Monday, January 16, 2006 is the Martin Luther King holiday. The libraries are closed. Huh? A day when the largest number of taxpayers are free to use the library it is closed. It is the same for Columbus Day and every other government holiday. Does this make sense to any one? Clearly, it shouldn’t. It appears that, as usual, a taxpayer-funded entity isn’t there for the benefit of its customers but of its employees.
   The whole operating philosophy of the libraries, in my opinion, is wrong. The libraries aren’t being run for the benefit of their customers. Why aren’t the libraries open in the evenings, holidays, and on the weekends when the paying customers, the taxpayers, could actually use them? All of the libraries don’t have to be open every day. Within a region the various branches could rotate days. This would ensure availability without incurring unnecessary expense.
   Some employees may not like the weekend or evening hours. In the private sector where one has to accommodate the customer or go out of business, many people cycle through a weekend or evening shift. That is part of their job. Maybe we need fewer full-time employees of the library system and more part-time employees. In the private sector management would be thinking along these lines. Why can’t the public sector do the same?

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.

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