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

Thanks From St. Stephen's Parish Players - July 2010

   The St. Stephen's Parish Players wish to extend a big "THANK YOU" to the gentleman that leaped into action to help when our '57 Belair blew a radiator hose in the middle of Saturday's parade. After hearing the loud 'pop', several spectators rushed over to push. This spontaneous pit crew was assembled and ready before the steam cloud dissipated. They stayed with the car until it was safely parked at the end of the parade route. Their generous efforts kept the parade moving along 'without a hitch'.

"Ride for Roswell" - June 2010

Dear Friends and Family -
   For the sixth year, I plan to raise funds to support cancer research and patient care programs at Roswell Park Cancer Institute by riding my bike in the Annual "Ride for Roswell" on June 26, 2010. I hope you will consider supporting me this year as I ride for Roswell Park! I will be doing the 30-mile River Ride and my goal is to raise at least $1,500.
   One out of two men and one in three women in America will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Most of us know someone who has successfully battled cancer. We also know someone who has had their life taken by it. The Ride For Roswell is an annual celebration of community support for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and a safe and healthy day of cycling fun for riders, teams, cancer survivors, and supporters.
   The money I raise will help researchers and physicians better understand the causes of cancer and discover new methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
   Give to My Ride Effort:
   Please support me as generously as possible as I cycle on behalf of cancer patients.
   1) Online: You can make an online donation by using this link and then click on the "CLICK HERE to Donate To My Ride" box on the right side.
   2) By mail: If you prefer to donate by check, cash or money order, mail to The Ride For Roswell, PO Box 644, Buffalo, NY 14240-0644. (Remember to include my name in the memo field).
   3) By phone: Call 716-THE-RIDE (843-7433) and ask a Ride Coordinator to assist you with a donation.
   Thank you again for considering a donation and helping me to support Roswell Park’s mission to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Every donation, large or small, makes a big difference and is very much appreciated!
Sue Braun
Posted June 17, 2010

DAV Forget Me Not Sale Results - June 2010

   On Saturday, May 29 the Disabled American Veterans, Grand Island Chapter 168 NY, offered "Forget-Me-Nots" for donations at the Wal-Mart in Niagara Falls. Americans and Canadians, young and old, contributed. Our thanks to everyone.
   The funds partly purchase and operate the DAV Transportation vans at the Buffalo VA Hospital. The "walking wounded" - veterans who cannot nor should not, drive cars, but yet don't need the complicated and expensive wheel-chair vans (paid by taxes) - are served by the DAV vans (funded by public giving and riven by volunteers).
   What was most remarkable was the help given by Wal-Mart associates, especially door greeter Bonnie Iassic in providing water, umbrellas, sun creme and courteous concern all day, as did manager Lori Zambotti, to our people outside the sun-baked entrance. Other Wal-Mart associates - we were not able to catch the names - gave extra assistance. Much of our success was due to their efforts.
   We are very grateful to all. Thank you, Niagara Falls Wal-Mart associates.
Albert "Burt" Payne
Commander DAV 168NY
Posted June 10, 2010

What Questions? - June 2010

      The May 28, 2010 edition of the Island Dispatch had an article on the International Baccalaureate (IB) program the school board is intent upon shoving down our throats. It was the lead article, taking up three columns above the fold on the front page and continuing on page nine. Why is this worth commenting on, you may ask. The article continues the Dispatch’s policy(?) of only publishing pieces that are in sync with the wishes of the school administration. I didn’t attend this most recent public forum pushing the IB program because the board and administration aren’t interested in opposing views. Neither is the Dispatch, for that matter. If there were any dissenting voices at this presentation you wouldn’t have heard about it there.
      It is dripping with irony that in the article the point is pushed that “the students question everything [in the IB program].” This is coming from an administration that ignores those pesky questions from taxpayers and intimidates faculty who question decisions. One is tempted to ask why hasn’t the board “questioned everything” about the IB program instead of lapping up what the administration ladles out? One is further tempted to ask, “why aren’t the current faculty encouraging their students to question everything, now.” If the same faculty who aren’t doing this now teach the IB courses what leads one to believe that anything will be different? Conversely, if the faculty are already encouraging questions, then what is the necessity for the (expensive) IB program. If the faculty aren’t encouraging questions does this mean that we are going to hire new faculty to teach these courses and fire the current faculty, and, at what cost? How’s this for questioning things? Dollars to donuts, questions like these were never raised or, if they were, answered.
      There is a 4,000 word essay required that will be assessed (read: graded) locally and by examiners in Cardiff, Wales. [note: this article is 864 words long, so the required essay doesn’t seem that special.) Do these examiners live permanently in Cardiff or, as is more likely, do they convene there to grade these papers? Being cynical about this whole boondoggle, locating the examiners in Cardiff is just a smokescreen to get a junket to Europe paid for by the taxpayers. (Why doesn’t the IB set up an assessment center in Lackawanna?)
      The inanity continues on page nine where the following paragraph appeared:
      Teacher training for IB for this academic year was funded in large part through grant monies. $37,000 was spent, with $25,000 of that coming from a grant. Christmann contrasted that figure with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that is spent annually for student vocational training at BOCES.
      The first sentence is notable for what it doesn’t say. The second is nonsensical, but that has come to be expected from Christmann. The district is spending money on teacher training for a program that does not have anything resembling community backing. This is being done at a time when the state is broke. It gets better. The $25,000 grant really wasn’t a grant. I don’t know about you but when someone says “we’ve received a grant” I usually think in terms of some foundation or other benefactor digging into their jeans to provide the funds. Not so with this grant. It comes from Senator Antoine Thompson’s slush fund that the legislature gives themselves to buy votes. In plain terms, it is our tax dollars coming through a different portal. This is coming from a state that is cutting back on aid to schools because it is broke. We reduce state aid for ongoing programs, while we give money so that the administration can waste it away on fad programs. Brilliant. Kafka couldn’t make this stuff up.
      The second sentence is another of Christmann’s comparing apples to guacamole. The BOCES expenditures pay for faculty to teach students for a full academic year. How that can be compared to the expenditures on teacher training in a pilot program escapes me. Where was a question on this?
      Everything is wrong with this IB program. Why the Dispatch and others aren’t ‘questioning everything’ escapes me. In 2002 when I warned about the problems with the capital project (it turned out to be worse than I had predicted) I was met with contempt and obfuscation by the board and superintendent. I made the observation to a Buffalo News reporter that the only possible reason he wasn’t investigating my charges was that he just couldn’t believe that the district was lying. He agreed! Here is a news flash: this board and administration lie, as did that one. We need to demand answers to all of our questions. Don’t let them have a free pass with these public forums which are nothing more than Potemkin Villages. They don’t merit a free pass. Force them to give detailed estimates of the total costs. Make them explain why we want to go forward with this when Fairfax County in Virginia cancelled it as did Lewiston-Porter. Williamsville passed on it. We need to have real answers to our questions and concerns, not just harrumphs we get. After all, it is our money.
Jim Mulcahy
Posted June 3, 2010

ReTree WNY Volunteers Thanked - May 2010

      A sincere and heartfelt thanks goes out to the nearly fifty volunteers who showed up on Saturday morning, May 8, 2010 to plant trees for Grand Island’s sixth ReTree WNY planting day. It was the most challenging weather we’ve had yet but the wind and rain could not deter these dedicated citizens! Everyone from young children to seasoned citizens came out to help. Many who came were veterans of past plantings but we saw several new faces. Twenty trees were planted at Ed Ball Park on the corner of Love and Stony Point Roads and fifteen were placed at Tower Park on Carl Road. Because of the heavy rain on Friday night, some spots needed water baled out by the bucketsful before the trees could be planted. The mud was deep and every task required extra time because the ground was so wet and the wind was so strong. Due to incredible perseverance, in spite of the challenges, we were able to finish by 11:30 AM before the heavier rain, stronger wind and colder temperatures arrived. THANKS to everyone who helped for making a big challenge into a huge success!! Hope to see you all, and other new helpers, in November for the fall planting.
Mary Cooke
Grand Island Councilwoman
Posted May 13, 2010

Yes, It's Okay To Write My Name In For School Board - May 2010

      As I am sure readers of this page are aware, I have been urged to run for the school board as a write-in candidate. I have agreed to do so. Why didn’t I run as a normal candidate with my name on the ballot for all to see, you may ask? I didn’t think that there were that many who agreed with me. I have found out that, to the contrary, many, many, do agree with me.
      It is clear that the board needs a shaking up. The majority of the members, who are all decent folks, appear to defer most (all?) of the presentations and analyses to Messrs. Christmann and Little. I continue to find lies in these presentations. Yes, lies, not typos, but bald-faced lies. This continues a pattern that emerged when Paul Field was superintendent and Dick McGowan was president of the board. It is time to put a stop to it. They refuse to answer questions. Previous boards may not have always liked the questions posed but they had the decency to answer them.
      As Pat Akinbami has written elsewhere on these pages the teachers are intimidated into not speaking out individually for fear of retribution. Mr. Christmann, in one case of retribution, was asked why it occurred, said, “because I can.” Would any of you like to work in such an atmosphere?
      I am not naïve enough to believe that everyone will agree with every position I take. However, I believe that everyone would come to see that every decision and position I take is in the long-run best interests of Grand Island as a whole, and not some subset of it.
      As you are aware I am totally opposed to this International Baccalaureate program being foisted upon us. It would benefit a miniscule number of students, at best. I don’t see any similar effort towards developing or encouraging students to go into any of the following professions: electrician, plumber, carpenter, operating engineer, auto mechanic, mason, etc. Our society needs these skills and not everyone has an interest in going to college. Why isn’t any attention being paid to their needs and desires. Their parents are taxpayers, too. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not opposed to advanced education. I have a MBA in finance and accounting from the University of Chicago and a MA in economics, with all of the coursework completed for a Ph.D., from The Ohio State University. After all of that, I was enrolled in The Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults at the University of Chicago: a Great Books program. I have also taught at the collegiate level in the past. My personal library totals almost 3,000 volumes. If anything, one would expect me to come down on the side of more college prep.)
      So, if you want real change in the way the board operates, write my name in on May 18th. If you REALLY want me on the board write my name in and don’t vote for anyone else. That will enhance my chances of being elected. Also, tell your friends.
Thank you for your support.
Jim Mulcahy
Posted May 6, 2010

Resident Addresses International Baccalaureate - April 2010

      The International Baccalaureate Organization (IB) was initiated by the United Nations to provide educational uniformity for a mobile student population. But when IB became a “nonprofit” in 1986, it set its aim to expand itself by ten per cent a year, and it has become quite profitable. We are becoming one of its latest customers with almost no public scrutiny of this major curriculum change, the most significant one in the district’s history. Several taxpayers have spoken in opposition to IB, and none in favor that I know of. IB is a HIGH SCHOOL, not college program. The Grand Island Teachers took out ads in the Island Dispatch and Grand Island Pennysaver in which they opposed IB because it would benefit few students, while compromising programs of proven worth, such as the more flexible and bargain priced Advanced Placement program. The AP program is the gold standard which would be harmed by combining its classes with IB classes, a possibility being strongly considered.
      Retired teacher Joan Droit was told by local college professors that the Advanced Placement program was more effective in attaining college credits than the IB. Current teachers dare not register their individual disapproval of IB, citing the “involuntary transfer of highly qualified and experienced teachers” which has occurred in our district.
      Be sure to attend the school board Candidates’ Night whenever it is scheduled. The two new candidates oppose installing IB, and one of them has researched its costs, which are much higher than acknowledged to date. The $9,600 annual school membership fee is just the start. Typically a school like ours would pay at least $80,000 a year just for the high school part of the IB program.
       What about the way the proposed budget is constructed? The supposedly untouchable reserve funds that could not be used on the Capital Project now get tapped to keep the tax increase low (this time). But if the budget is rejected, the contingency budget, we are told, would be a lot higher. Is this a way to “persuade” the taxpayers who oppose IB to just give in?
       Our superintendent and school board, disregarding teacher disapproval and the experiences of our sister suburban high schools, seem determined to proceed. Their rejoinder that “Grand Island is unique and does not follow anybody” is obvious nonsense because we are following the schools that previously bought into the International Baccalaureate program.
       IB did not bring increased achievement to the 15 struggling Chicago public schools that implemented the IB program over the past twelve years. More pertinent is the fact that IB also did not advance the accomplishments of the students of a very good high school like ours, Cherry Hill West, in New Jersey. Their superintendent, following the public’s wishes, withdrew the school from IB after 8 years. This is just one example.
      There is nothing magical about IB except that it can make tax money disappear.
Patricia Akinbami
Posted April 29, 2010

Proposed Write-In Vote For School Board - April 2010

       On May 18th Grand Islanders will be asked to go to the polls to vote on the proposed School Budget. Equally important is the opportunity to vote for members of the School Board. Two of the candidates are incumbents while two others are new.
       As Grand Islanders it is in our best interest to elect School Board members who will have the requirements of our children's education at Grand Island's schools in mind when issues are considered and voted upon. It is equally important that School Board members be ever mindful of the fact, that the money for spending initiatives, which they may vote upon, comes out of the pockets of every property owner in the community.
      I would like to propose that all Grand Islanders write in Mr. James Mulcahy's name as a candidate for the Grand Island School Board. As a voter....you have that option; it isn't necessary to vote only for those candidates who are listed. The process is simple....simply write in Mr. James Mulcahy.
       I have read Mr. Mulcahy's many letters to this e-journal dealing with the spending of property owners' money....and I am impressed with his preparation and knowledge of the issues.
       I am confident he would act on behalf of our children's best interests and do it in a fiscally responsible manner on our behalf.
       Please join with me, and write in Mr. James Mulcahy when you vote on the 18th.
Kevin J. Rung
Dolphin Drive.
Posted April 27, 2010

Donations Needed For Eagle Project - April 2010

      As a 14-year-old Life Scout it is my goal to complete my Eagle Project by the end of June 2010. I have chosen a project that will help the entire Grand Island community and many visitors to Grand Island. The project that I have created will be an Information Kiosk at Grand Island’s Veterans Park. This kiosk will have space to place a large map so that Visitors and Guests to the park will be able to locate the appropriate field that they are visiting. The need for this project is especially heavy during Soccer, Baseball and Football seasons.
      My project will cost approximately $1200. I would appreciate a donation to help me with my project. Your donation may be made out to Troop 630. All donations will be recognized on a permanent plaque placed on the kiosk. This will be visible by all visitors to the information kiosk. If you have any questions regarding my project, please contact me at 773-8056 or email bswagler@verizon.net. Thank you for your anticipated participation in my project.
Christopher Sean Swagler
Life Scout Troop 630
Posted April 22, 2010

To Friends, Family of Frank Eldridge - April 2010

      We would like to send a big thank you to everyone who came and supported Frank and his family at our recent benefit. We had such a great success and could not have done it without you. We want to give special thanks to Art and Kelly Mallwitz, who went above and beyond to make sure our benefit was a success. We would also like to thank the VFW Post 9249 for holding a fish fry to benefit the family. Thank you to all the businesses who donated and to everyone else who contributed.
Thank you again
The Eldridge Family
Posted April 15, 2010

Mulcahy Questions Dispatch Article - 2010

   I was reading the Island Dispatch recently. It was the week after the March 22nd school board meeting. It had an article about the meeting where it discussed the budget cuts that are expected to be made this year. The presentation by Ms. Battaglia from the City of Buffalo school system espousing the virtues of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum was also reported on. What wasn’t mentioned, though, was the fact that four senior citizens spoke out against the IB program. One would have thought that everyone there just held hands and sang kumbaya at this board meeting, so devoid was the reporting of any of the friction or discord that took place.
   I, of course, spoke up which wasn’t mentioned either. I pointed out that the district’s website still contained the totally erroneous figure of interest savings due to its A1 bond rating, relative to an A2 rating. It had said that the savings on a $1,000,000 15-year bond would have been $100,000. I reminded them that this amount wasn’t even close; the true figure is $8,000. Mr. Little acknowledged that it was incorrect and would be corrected. Well, not exactly, it was changed but to $10,000, so they could still use the $100,000 figure if they had borrowed $10,000,000. Why they didn’t use a $100,000,000 borrowing figure so they could say that the savings would be $1,000,000 eludes me.
   I’m reproducing the statement from their powerpoint slide here:
    Based on the District’s strong financial position with healthy reserve levels that have increased from near zero four (4) years ago, the Grand Island Central School District is upgraded from an A-2 status to our highest level of A-1. In today’s market, this translates into ten (10) basis points on a borrowing which would save the taxpayers $100,000 for each million dollars borrowed on a 15-year bond. A $10,000,000 borrowing, because of our increased reserves and strong budgeting, would save taxpayers $1,000,000 in today’s market. Conservative reserve estimates have assisted the district with meeting revenue projections under the current economic environment which includes decreases in interest income and lowered sales tax distributions.
   I reproduced it for the purpose of focusing your attention on the second part of my comments that evening. The first sentence above ends with “…is upgraded from an A-2 status to our highest level of A-1.” (note: it should read A1, not A-1: A1 is a bond rating; A-1 is a steak sauce.) I asked about the bond rating. Specifically, I asked when the rating was cut? I was met with confused stares; Mr. Little said they would have to get back to me. They clearly weren’t aware of any ratings cut. I persisted, though. I mentioned that I was confused, also, because the above slide had referred to a ratings increase. There was agreement that that was correct. I then asked if that was the case why did they tell the public at October 8, 2009 forum pitching the $47.3MM capital project that:
   Due to the District’s record of strong financial planning, it has the highest bond rating of AAA which then gives it the lowest borrowing rate with banks. [from slide 23 of that presentation]
   Hmm. Here it says we have a AAA rating, while on February 23, 2010, we were told that we were at our highest level of A-1 [sic]. Since they were sticking by the A1 as the correct rating, then there is only one conclusion that can drawn from the statement in the October 8, 2009, document. It was a total fabrication (you can substitute any synonym of your choice).
   HWhy do I go to the trouble of writing this up, you may ask? Good question, I’m glad you asked. Twofold: first, is to inform the public that the sanitized version of events that is being reported in the Dispatch should be taken with a shaker of salt. More importantly, though, is what this deception by the administration (they are the ones who prepare the documents, not the board) should tell us about their integrity on issues that directly affect all of us. Just as they changed the proposition numbering on the capital reserve fund issue three years ago after I had written in opposition to it, so did they grossly overstate the credit quality of the district. This could have only been done to make them appear to be fiscally and financially competent and prudent. If they have to go to these extremes to get their way do we really want to trust them when it comes to substantial expenditures of funds such as the IB program boondoggle? You know where I stand.
Jim Mulcahy
Posted April 8, 2010

Van Helsing, Where Are You When We Need You? - 2010

   The school district is out and about touting its plan to add a new program, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum (IB), at, initially, the high school and tomorrow, who knows where. It is a bad idea to add this at any time but today it has to appear insane to any competent observer. Implementing the IB program will require choices to be made. Should the district add staff at a cost to the taxpayers or reallocate existing staff to the program, to the detriment of the non-IB student body? Clearly, either choice is unappealing: raising taxes in a state that is broke by any meaningful definition of the word and whose fiscal outlook is bleak for at least the next decade is an extremely bad option. Taking teachers away from students to teach decidedly smaller classes, which border on tutorials, doesn’t seem fair or rational, either, especially since this will imply larger class sizes for the remaining students.
   Why do it, then. The statement was made at the March 22nd board meeting that the IB is superior to the AP (Advanced Placement) program because, among other things, the AP program teaches to the tests. Of course it does. So will the IB program. The incentive structure is the same. Faculty will be evaluated by both parents and the administration on the pass rate. Since it is likely that the same folks would be teaching the IB program as do the AP why would one expect their motivations to be any different? So, in effect, we will change the nameplate, spend lots of money, and get a similar result: teaching to the exam.
   I’ve mentioned Thomas Sowell’s take on this program elsewhere; he has labeled it a "junk program." He has also written that “Parents in Fairfax, Virginia, have succeeded in getting rid of one of the endless series of fad programs that distract American public schools from real education in real subjects. Like most fad programs, this one had a high-sounding name: The International Baccalaureate Curriculum.” This is coming from an individual who has given substantial thought to the state of education in America. The reference to it being a “fad” came to mind at that March 22nd board meeting when Ms. Battaglia, who the superintendent brought in to regale us with its virtues, said, and I’m paraphrasing, “that clearly everyone knows that we need to be more international as Tom Friedman has pointed in his book, The World is Flat.” She received a lot of knowing head nods from the board members and administration. Is it really that clear? Edward Leamer, a professor of economics, management, and statistics at UCLA, and an expert on international trade, wrote a long review of Friedman’s book, 44 pages including bibliography. The title was “A flat world, a level playing field, a small world after all or none of the above? A Review of Thomas L. Friedman’s The World is Flat”. His take is decidedly different from Friedman’s. His review can be found in the Journal of Economic Literature, March 2007, published by the American Economic Association. Ms. Battaglia’s comment is a good example of why these programs are worse than useless. People get swept up on whatever is the current craze with no reflection whatsoever, even though they think they are critically assessing things! They just parrot the current biases of self-proclaimed literati.
   If one adds up the pluses and subtracts the minuses of this program, the case for it isn’t compelling, to say the least. There is clearly no upside for the taxpayers and none to speak of for the vast majority of students. Speaking of the vast majority of students, why is all of the effort devoted to college prep? Education includes the various trade skills necessary in our society. Skilled plumbers, electricians, carpenters or masons are very valuable. They will become even more so if we shove everyone into thinking that college is the only path to success. Given the rotten results elsewhere, by which I mean the disillusionment of the students who dropped out of the program so that school districts such as Lewiston-Porter have shut it down, I expect even those who sign up initially will wind up with buyer’s remorse here, too.
   Why, then, is the board so hell-bent on going forward with it? Is it a case of the emperor’s new clothes, where no one will ask, “Why do we want to do this?” Is it because individual members are reticent about speaking against it because they think the tsunami is already rushing towards shore? Or have there been a few advocates who have cowed the others to going along for fear of appearing to be yokels who didn’t understand the great and glorious value of this program. My money is on the latter. As I have said elsewhere, Cui Bono – who benefits? The tenacity with which the superintendent and board president are pushing this forces one to ask, WHY? What is in it for them, personally, since no else seems to gain from it. The board should drive stake through the heart of this monstrosity, once and for all.
Jim Mulcahy
Posted April 8, 2010

Dysfunctional Albany - April 2010

    Grand Island is surrounded by construction this year like never before. This year the DOT and the Thruway Authority have both chosen to reconstruct the 190/290 over passes and ramps (DOT), the LaSalle Expressway on/off ramps and bridges (DOT) and to top it off the Thruway Authority is now reconstructing the North bound, South Grand Island bridge and continued their projects rebuilding the concrete piers and replacing frozen bearings on both south bridges. This project is in its second year yet I was criticized as a fear monger when I pointed out exactly the same work they are doing now.
   This construction surrounding Grand Island is a perfect example of the dysfunctional Albany and the lack of communication. The DOT and NYSTA do not communicate and do not coordinate construction projects. Had the Legislature passed the Grand Island Toll Bill 2 years ago this all would be done by one agency, the DOT. Why is Senator Antoine Thompson holding up this Bill? Could it be that Donna Luh has influenced him by being his contact person to collect campaign contributions?
   Some thing stinks to high heaven and we living in and around Grand Island are suffering and punished once again because of our inept, dysfunctional legislature. What a scam we are paying for.
Rus Thompson
Posted April 1, 2010

Assemblyman Hoyt - Veteran's Park Tower - March 2010

Dear Friends:
      March 30, 2010 . . . Thank you all for coming to this hearing on potential locations for a Verizon cell phone tower in Grand Island. Hearings like these are an important part of the process that allow citizens to voice their concerns, and I appreciate all of the input I have received from my constituents on this topic over the past few weeks. I’m sorry I could not be here this morning because of my obligations in Albany, but I have asked my staff member, Joe McMahon, to say a few words on my behalf.
      I would first like to acknowledge that we are here today because there has been a clear need for additional cell phone towers in Grand Island in order to improve coverage, particularly toward the north end of the island. I recognize that the particular site of the proposed tower at Veterans Park is a contentious one, but I want to mention that this discussion has now been going on for three years, well beyond the Town Board’s deadline for action. The longer we continue to debate the limited number of locations that fit legal safety requirements and Verizon’s service requirements, the longer this process will take without any improvement in coverage for area residents.
      With that said, I do join with those in opposition to the placement of a cell phone tower in Veterans Park. Veterans Park is the largest park in Grand Island and one of the most frequently used. Residents enjoy it for year-round use, with youth sports like soccer, baseball and softball, basketball, and volleyball in the summer and skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing in the winter. I have heard from many of my constituents who are upset about the potential loss of space in this great community resource, as well as aesthetic and potential safety concerns.
      As you may know, the placement of a cell phone tower in park space would require an act of the State Legislature, traditionally proposed by the members of the Assembly and Senate in whose district the structure would be located. As the elected member of Assembly who represents Grand Island, I am not prepared to introduce such a bill at this point due to the overwhelming opposition to the project that has been brought to my attention. Further, if a bill were proposed by another member for whatever reason, it would come before the Assembly’s Local Governments Committee, of which I am the Chair. It would be up to my discretion whether to place it on the committee’s agenda, and at this point, I would not be willing to do so.
      I am by no means opposed to the idea of an additional cell phone tower in general. I believe that the residents of Grand Island should have the same level of coverage as other areas of Western New York. I do have reservations, however, about the placement of a tower and accompanying generator on park land, disrupting the use of a valued community resource. I hope that the Grand Island Town Board will be able to reach a compromise with Verizon for a location that will best serve the needs of all parties involved.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Posted March 30, 2010

Preservation of Veteran's Park - March 2010

      March 30, 2010 . . . 'Citizens of Grand Island, The Friends & Neighbors for the Preservation of Veteran's Park would like to alert you to a proposed cell tower by Verizon Cellular to be placed in Veteran's Park where our children play soccer, baseball, football, basketball, and so many more recreational activities. On March 27, 2010, we voiced our concerns to the Town Board at the public hearing on this subject. Now we need your help! By 12 Noon this Friday, April 2, 2010, all public comments on this subject must be received by the Town Board. So please email or mail your opposition to this proposed intrusion into our Town Park to the Town Board this week. Thank you!
Brian Sweet
Posted March 30, 2010

Supervisor McMahon Addresses New Staley Roundabout - March 2010

      March 18, 2010 . . .In response to questions I have been receiving regarding the round about, the Town Engineer, Highway Superintendent, members of their staff and I attended a NYS Department of Transportation briefing on Monday afternoon, March 15.
      The project is expected to begin early in April although DOT employees were on the site yesterday. The first thing that you will notice is that the utilities (electric, gas, water and sewer lines) will be moved back, away from the road, to accommodate the roundabout. Actual construction will follow almost immediately. There will be a truck detour which directs trucks to use the Whitehaven Road exit from the I-190 to avoid the construction zone. Once the construction is complete, trucks will have no problem negotiating the roundabout.
      During the construction there will be some changes in traffic patterns. Temporary pavement will be used to allow continuous traffic flow during the work. There will undoubtedly be some delays associated with the construction. If it's feasible, I suggest that you use the Whitehaven Road interchange to access the I-190.
      The roundabout will reduce the possible conflict points (places where traffic conflicts or crosses another lane of traffic) from 32 to 6. In addition, the nature of the accidents will be changed from head on and t-bone to side to side which will significantly reduce the severity. Finally, the speeds at which any accident occurs will be much lower.
      I have personally monitored the intersection during periods when the South Grand Island Bridge was backed up. The size of the backup depends on the length of time that the bridge is closed or traffic flow is reduced. During my observations, I noticed that about 50% of the time, vehicles entering the intersection from Staley Road will block the northbound lanes of Grand Island Blvd. The rest of the time, even though southbound traffic is stopped or very slow, northbound flows at speed.
      I believe that there will be tie ups at the intersection when something happens on the South Bridge, regardless of the configuration of the intersection. I also believe that there is some degree of "fear of change" which will rapidly disappear when we become familiar with the new roundabout. I visited the Village of Hamburg and talked to dozens of people who use their roundabouts. Most of them expressed early concerns about how they would work. All of them express satisfaction now that they are in place and being used daily.
      If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I'll be happy to answer your questions. If I don't know the answer, I'll get one from the DOT or the contractor on the project.
Peter McMahon
Supervisor, Town of Grand Island, NY
Posted March 18, 2010

Can We Afford More Wine Outlets? - 2010

   As you may know, Gov. Paterson has proposed to raise additional revenue by allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores and other outlets. If our legislature approves – it’s part of the proposed 2010-2011 New York budget - it would open up thousands of additional outlets where youths might gain access to wine.
   Consider that:
   Approx. 823,000 underage youth in New York drink each year.
   Underage drinking costs New York’s citizens $3.2 billion every year. Our government should be working to reduce this problem, not make it worse.
   In Florida, California, and Texas – where wine is sold everywhere – the rate of alcohol related fatalities is more than double that of New York, and TRIPLE FOR THOSE UNDER AGE 21!
   Clearly, underage drinking is a problem. Recent incidents right here in our community should serve to raise our awareness. So we find it difficult to understand how the Governor’s proposal comports with state agencies’ and community organizations’ efforts to mitigate the damage caused by underage drinking and educate and protect our youth.
   Even more difficult to comprehend is the position taken by the New York State United Teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, the Alliance for Quality Education, and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity; education related organizations that are on record as supporting the increase in outlets for wine. Are they thinking of our youth?
   The Governor’s proposal is a direct threat to the survival of our small business. So we obviously have a vested interest in the outcome, and, some will say, a biased opinion in the matter. We’ll concede that point, and strongly urge Island residents to form their own opinions. Then let their elected representatives know what they think.
   Yes, it might be convenient to get wine at Wilson Farms, Tops, Rite-Aid or Noco, but will it be worth it?
Rose Liquor Store
Mike Hachee
Posted March 11, 2010

Faddish, Expensive International Baccalaureate - 2010

   At the February 23 budget forum hosted by the School Board we heard about the rising costs of salaries, energy, and unfunded government mandates. We have also been hearing about the coming drastic cuts in state aid to school districts. The question is how we are to deal with the coming budget gap: raise taxes, make some cuts, or both. Exactly 68 “possible budget reductions” were listed on the handout, with none including dollar amounts or seriously discussed. And let us not forget all the issues contained in the Capital Project which have yet to be dealt with. That proposal was voted down, but will surely be resurrected in the future. Incidentally the whole project could have been done with NO added tax levy, using the $2 Million categorized by the board as the “Unappropriated Unreserved Fund Balance.” What better use of the money if the Board considered their proposal worthwhile? The Board has added more than $15 Million to the reserve funds over the last 5 years, so $2 Million is certainly not “irreplaceable.”
   What was addressed by several speakers, two for their entire three minute allotments, was the newly adopted International Baccalaureate. This “programme” was listed as costing us $12,179.55 so far-- not counting the $25,000 grant (tax money) paid out by State Senator Antoine Thompson. But even if we got some state funds every year (are we really going to count on that?) the future costs will be much higher, NOT LOWER. This is because there is an annual subscription fee of $9,600 for the Diploma Programme alone, with many additional fees and expenses. There are always out of town trips for IB teacher training, salaries for the needed substitute teachers, salaries for IB coordinators and CAS and Extended Essay advisors, periodic IBO evaluation visits (now $3500 each time) and special required IB materials and office space. Extra classrooms may be required—the IBO decides. (From their website: “The programmes of the IBO should not be marginal in the IB World School.”) Hundreds of dollars are paid for each student’s exam taking, and thousands more for a school district to mail exams abroad for grading.
   A district like ours, located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, dropped IB after 8 years because out of 400 seniors only 3 got IB diplomas. The certificates for the “standard level” courses are worthless. That’s what the voters in Fairfax, Virginia also decided when they dropped IB. Closer to home, the Lewiston-Porter district eliminated IB years ago, and Williamsville, deciding that the AP program was more worthwhile, rejected IB. Couldn’t we just learn from the other suburban districts around us, and skip the faddish and expensive IB? Let’s capitalize on the excellence we have, and prudently use our funds to maintain it
Patricia Akinbami
Posted March 11, 2010

Cui Bono? - 2010

   I used to teach economics. When we studied various policy proposals or actions that seemed irrational I always said that they, the students, shouldn’t presume the action was irrational. While it may seem irrational from the point of view of an outside observer, one needs to ask cui bono? This is Latin for “who benefits?” It is usually the case that actions that appear to be inexplicable to those on the outside are perfectly rational once one understands the motivations of the insiders.
   I bring this up because the school board is planning on having a presentation of the International Baccalaureate program (IB) later this month. This is an exceptionally dumb (this is the technical term) program. It duplicates the Advanced Placement (AP) program already in place, but is more restrictive. One is compelled to ask , Why isn’t the AP program being funded instead of this boondoggle?
   Conservative commentator and, arguably, our most prominent public intellectual, Thomas Sowell (Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago and currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University) has labeled it a "junk program." He has also written that “Parents in Fairfax, Virginia, have succeeded in getting rid of one of the endless series of fad programs that distract American public schools from real education in real subjects. Like most fad programs, this one had a high-sounding name: The International Baccalaureate Curriculum.” Unfortunately, Grand Island is being teed up to be next in implementing this nonsense. We need to ask, cui bono.
   Even a cursory glance would show that this program is a waste of time and money. Former school board member Lee Cohen thinks the program is wasteful and duplicative. Mrs. Cohen, for those who are unaware, had never seen an expenditure she didn’t like until this one. That, in itself, should speak volumes about the inanity of the IB program. So why are the school board and Mr. Christmann still pushing it. We need to keep in mind that resources devoted to the IB program mean less devoted to everything else at the schools.
   The $47MM capital project that the taxpayers voted down overwhelmingly last November included many (most?) costs that were specifically due to the IB program. Mr. Little’s (the school board president) firm, Cannon Design, is the architectural/engineering firm for the project. Since they get a fee that is a percentage of the total cost, Mr. Little has a vested interest in seeing to it that everything and the kitchen sink are included in this project. (Remember, cui bono?) Of course, that would be a bit too bald-faced, especially after the NY State Controller, in his recent audit, questioned the potential for a conflict of interest for Mr. Little, due to his being employed at Cannon. The Controller, after listening to Mr. Little and his superior’s explanations decided there wasn’t a conflict. Given the unwillingness to abide by the taxpayers' rejection of the spending splurge, I wonder if the Controller would take the same view today. Instead, the capital project will be justified by including things like the IB. If we approve the IB, then, voila, we must of necessity, approve the capital project. Who is pushing the IB? Mr. Christmann, of course. How many conferences, etc. in Geneva, Switzerland, home of the IB, are the Grand Island taxpayers going to have to foot the bill for if this program gets implemented?
   Mrs. Cohen listed a number of expenses that would necessarily be incurred for the IB program. These didn’t even include the capital costs mentioned above. Of course, Messrs. Christmann and Little disputed her numbers with a lot of harrumphing. These didn’t give any estimates of their own. We were left with the impression that her estimates were wildly exaggerated on the high side.
   There is an easy way to see who is correct. Let school board present its measure of the cost which is, of course, below Mrs. Cohen’s. Then let them sign an agreement that legally obligates them and the administration to personally pay for any and all expenses associated with the IB program above this amount. And I mean all: pencils, paper clips, faxing, paper, trips, capital costs, you name it. Does anybody think they would agree to this? I certainly don’t because they are being disingenuous in the extreme. As Mr. Sowell has written elsewhere, "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."
   I know that people believe I am unnecessarily critical of the board and the superintendent. I, of course, don’t feel that way. I believe that their interests are not necessarily in concert with those of the taxpayers, teachers, or students. Let me give an example of what I consider to be their attempts at sleight-of-hand. At the February 23, 2010 Budget forum presentation, the following was one of their powerpoint slides’
Moody’s Financial Audit Report
   Based on the District’s strong financial position with healthy reserve levels that have increased from near zero four (4) years ago, the Grand Island Central School District is upgraded from an A-2 status to our highest level of A-1. In today’s market, this translates into ten (10) basis points on a borrowing which would save the taxpayers $100,000 for each million dollars borrowed on a 15-year bond. A $10,000,000 borrowing, because of our increased reserves and strong budgeting, would save taxpayers $1,000,000 in today’s market. Conservative reserve estimates have assisted the district with meeting revenue projections under the current economic environment which includes decreases in interest income and lowered sales tax distributions.

   Wow! Maybe these guys should be running the Federal Reserve. Seriously, for those who attended this forum, it was clear that their presentation had been worked on and rehearsed considerably. It was a very choreographed event. As such, it is nigh on impossible that anything was overlooked or in error. Therefore, one can only explain the egregious “errors” as deliberate. I am referring to the purported savings of $100,000 on a $1,000,000 15-year bond. One percent of $1,000,000 is $10,000. Ten basis points equals one-tenth of one percent, or $1,000 in this case. If the bond was of a ‘bullet’ variety where only interest is paid during the 15-year term and the principal is paid at the end of the term, the savings would be $15,000. School bonds are typically of the sinking fund variety where 1/15 would be paid off each year. In this case, the savings would amount to $8,000, spread over the 15 years. The $100,000 saving on the million dollar bond is bogus. There are only two explanations for such a colossal error: ignorance in the extreme, in which case one should be more than reticent about having them handle the school’s finances, or deliberate deceit. As I said, they had clearly devoted much effort to this show in order to make themselves look competent. This slide was put in with these numbers to imply that they are doing a great job; just look at all of the money we are saving. It didn’t occur to them that somebody may actually know something about finance and have the audacity to call them on their charade. No sleight-of-hand or bald-faced lie is beneath them when it comes to pushing their agenda.
   Do we really want to let people who will go to these extremes to get their way get their way? As I said at the start, cui bono?
Jim Mulcahy
Posted March 11, 2010

Customer Appreciates Schopp's Customer Service - 2010

   Thank you so much for helping me this past Columbus Day weekend. I first found your website when looking for Celtic style wedding bands back in 2005. I was so excited to see that you had a store just outside of Buffalo. My fiancé and I went to your store and you drew up a custom design for us incorporating Celtic knots and our initials. I was so surprised how quickly the rings were made and shipped to me. I couldn't believe you could get such good quality work at such an affordable price. I absolutely loved our rings!
   A couple years later, my husband lost his ring in a river and I contacted you again. You still had our design on file and re-made his wedding band within a week or two. After having our 1st child my knuckles had swelled so much that my rings would not fit me. I knew that I would need you to resize or remake my wedding ring, I only wished that I had waited to let you resize my engagement ring too. I made the mistake of taking my engagement ring to a local jeweler and after leaving it with them several times, they not only resized it wrong, but they loosened the diamonds and made a total wreck of the band. I was very upset.
   Luckily, my husband and I were up in Buffalo the next week, and you were nice enough to see me that Saturday, even though you were very busy. You not only resized my wedding band, but you fixed the mess that the other jeweler made to my engagement ring, all in under an hour. I couldn't believe that you were able to resize my wedding band a whole size and a half without having to alter the custom pattern. As I was paying, I made a small comment about contacting you in the future for a pendant design, and without hesitation you whipped out a piece of paper and designed one on the spot.
   I have never had such great customer service from any company before. I will never go anywhere else for jewelry repairs or custom jewelry. You are an angel. Thank you again for all that you did that day and for making time for me on a busy day.
--Laurie Zalitach
Editor's Note: Reg Schopp is owner of deSignet International, a custom jewelry business on Grand Island, NY.
Posted February 18, 2010

School Forum Feb. 23rd - 2010

   Tuesday, February 23, 2010 the Grand Island School Board is hosting a forum at 7:00 pm at the High School. Postcards with the information were sent to all Island residences. This is the opportunity for people to give feedback to our School Board about what is important to us.
   School board members are volunteers who put in countless hours to oversee our school district. They are our neighbors, and they need to hear from us. People are quick to complain about cuts after they are made, but they don’t care to put in the time or effort to be part of the process. This board must decide how to cut the budget gap for next year. They don’t know what we value – is it academics or extra curricular? If we don’t give them guidance, they will be forced to prioritize expenses without community input and our students will have to live with the consequences.
   If the decision is made to cut AP classes or sports, and your child isn’t allowed the opportunity to participate in something, you have to be honest about whether you advocated for them and their interests. Budgets are complicated. The headlines are often misleading. The neighbor who is giving you information may not be accurate. The only way you can really know what is going on is to attend yourself and hear the information first hand. Let your voice be heard. This is not a regular school board meeting where the public is only heard during voice of the people. This is a forum where everyone can speak.
    I have talked to so many people who didn’t really understand the capital project; but didn’t bother to find out. Many of these same people check their email several times a day and do lots of research on the activity or school they are interested in putting their child in, but when it comes to our school district, they leave it to the school board. When we complain about the system, but fail to participate in the process, we are getting what we deserve. These people are doing the best they can for us and deserve our support and gratitude for doing a job we don’t care to do. They are asking for our input.
   We have all heard the teachers want a fair contract. We may not all agree on what “fair” is. The website Seethroughny.org lists teacher salaries for the district. Look for yourself and see whether you think this district is paying a fair wage. Look at the contract (also available on the same site) and see if you think it is reasonable. Let the board know what you think is fair. It is your tax dollars supporting this contract.
   The time has come for all of us to quit speculating and actually get out and get answers for ourselves. When we hear people passing along misinformation, we need to call them out and find out if they actually attended a forum or let their voice be heard. Be part of the process. Show our students we care about their education. Attend the forum and participate in the process. Otherwise, don’t complain.
Mary Kulak
Regency Drive
Posted February 18, 2010

School Budget/School Forum Addressed - 2010

   Recently, Grand Island property owners and taxpayers received an invitation to attend a School Budget Forum to "provide input" concerning the..."direction the residents wish to go: whether to make cuts (and what to cut) and/or raise taxes to preserve programs and staff."
   At its most basic level the decision that the School Board... elected by the folks on Grand Island to make these difficult decisions must make... is simply this: what positions and programs within the school district are we compelled to eliminate...in order to still be in compliance with the law imposed by a runaway State Legislature regarding mandates imposed on us; and given the requirement of compliance with these mandates... what positions and programs do we cut so that school taxes....which are already too high....are not raised again? It's that simple.
   This is not an issue concerning whether to increase taxes, or eliminate school staff.... many of whom live on Grand Island; that is only corollary to the bigger problem.
   The School Board and the Superintendent might not have been placed in the hot seat of having to make this decision....had the process of levying taxes on property owners not been subjected to the léger de main of "consistently overestimated expenses and underestimated revenues " in the past which resulted from the fact that "district officials did not prepare reasonable budgets for 2004 -2005 through 2007 - 2008."
    Anyone who is reading this on his computer can Google: Grand Island New York School District Audit and click on Grand Island CCD.indd. The State Comptroller's audit of the Grand Island School System is right there for every taxpayer and property owner to see. It contains damning information about the mishandling of our money resulting in a grossly bloated reserve fund which should have been refunded to the taxpayers....and now the Board and Superintendent come skipping up to us to ask if they should raise taxes again . It gets better. The same report raises disturbing questions about the employment of the school board president by the architectural firm, Cannon Design...the outfit which stood to benefit greatly had the taxpayers allowed the 47 million dollar capital budget to pass.
   At the Budget Forum on Monday....there will be any number of people with a vested interest, who will try to make the case that fellow Grand Islanders will lose their jobs if taxes aren't increased.....and all manner of blame will be heaped on Governor Patterson for proposing cuts in State Education funding. The Board hopes this covering fire will allow them to run and hide behind another tax increase.
   In fact, the real issue... is that Grand Island property owners and taxpayers, whose children attend Grand Island schools, have been fleeced already, with taxes inappropriately assessed in response to budgets inappropriately prepared by people elected to watch over these things for us. Now.....these people should be required to make the uncomfortable decision which they face: Cut positions and programs to the bare minimum required by mandates imposed by the State Legislature...and do it without raising another penny of tax levy. You've got plenty of our money in your squirreled-away reserve fund already.
Kevin J. Rung
Dolphin Drive
Posted February 18, 2010

Relay For Life Team Extends Appreciation - 2010

    The Grand Island Relay for Life team, "Racing Toward a Cure", would like to thank Friends, Family and the Public for helping us support the American Cancer Society through our fundraising Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, Feb 7th at the Knights of Columbus. We had a lot of fun raising approximately $1000.00! Special thanks to McMahon's Family Restaurant, Tops Grand Island and Senator Antoine Thompson for their generous donations! Hope to see you all next year!
Lisa Hodge
Team Captain
Racing Toward a Cure
Posted February 11, 2010

Kudos to Dick & Jenny’s - 2010

    Kudos to Dick & Jenny's for a wonderful "Fine Dining Experience" on New Year's Eve. The food, ambiance, and excellent service deserve note in this paper. It was especially nice to see the place was full of good friends and neighbors. I have already let my mainland friends know that the next time we dine out, it will be at Dick & Jenny's.
Diane Dinsmore
Posted January 14, 2010

Inaccurate Information Reported by the G.I. Dispatch Regarding State Building Aid Reimbursement Rates - 2010

   The January 8, 2010 Island Dispatch article reporting on a recent Grand Island Board of Education discussion contained very inaccurate information which I hope to clarify in this letter. In particular, the headline “State Drops Project Reimbursement Rate” is a totally false statement.
   What was stated was that the State Education Department is considering proposing a reduction in building aid to the New York State Legislature. A bill would then have to be created and sponsored in both the Assembly and Senate which, if passed, would then have to be signed by the Governor. This possible outcome affecting all schools in New York State is not even at step one yet which is a proposal by the Governor to make the reduction in his 2010-11 budget recommendations. His budget will not be revealed until Tuesday, January 19, 2010.
   If a reduction is included, the NYS legislators would have to approve the cut. On Monday, January 11th I was in Albany and met with a number of legislators. Their collective response (I am not portraying this as good or bad but rather how it is) was that currently many legislators are not listening to the Governor and certainly then not following his leadership.
   In summary, the state has not done anything to change the building aid formula. We remain at 80% and will remain at this rate unless and until the legislature acts; and the legislature may very well choose not to make a change. Should the change be made there would be a period of time between the adoption date and the effective date with any project approved by the community locked in to the applicable rate at the time of the vote.
   Finally the total amount of building aid in the state budget is nearly $2.3 billion. These dollars are being used to reimburse school districts for past community approved projects. Based on projects approved or possibly approved in the 2009-10 school year, the building aid figure is tentatively planned to increase by $222 million or a 9.8% increase to over $2.5 billion.
   As always, should any community member have any questions or comments I would encourage him or her to contact me by phone at 773-8801 or by email (see District Web site at www.k12.ginet.org).
Robert Christmann
School Superintendent
Grand Island Central School District
Posted January 14, 2010

School District Capitol Project - 2010

   At the January 4 School Board it was apparent that Superintendent Christmann thinks that the $47M Capitol Project was rejected because of a communication problem. Of course it's not as simple as that. I have my personal preferred changes, as other surely have theirs. There is also widespread concern over the state's fiscal condition. but whatever proposal is forthcoming from the School Board, the taxpayers have the right to expect, or at the very least, that critical infrastructure issues are addressed, along with any agreed on "extras," with NO added tax levy. Kenmore passed an even larger capitol project without added taxes.
   As an entertaining and enlightening exercise, I encourage everyone to Google "Grand Island NY School District audit," to get to the official audit by the New York State Comptroller. Well into it you will see that over the past five years the Grand Island District has amassed over $12M in various reserve funds, an amount the Comptroller deemed excessive. This was due to consistently "overestimating expenditures and underestimating reserves," and it was suggested that the taxpayers should be compensated for being overtaxed.
   Some might say that with the upcoming cuts in state aid, we should just keep on adding $2M a year to District reserve funds even if it means also paying out another $2M for the capitol project. But note that the state government points to some districts' large reserves as justification for reducing state aid." So we should tap some of that reserve money now. Our $2M tax contribution to the capitol project has already been paid.

Patricia Akinbami
Posted January 14, 2010

Veteran Appreciates Isledegrande.com, Promotes Donations - 2009

Dear Editor,
As we welcome in the New Year, I thought about the Grand Island News as presented by IsledeGrande.com. I thought about the articles and pictures sent in by the many folks and organizations and those who read the latest news of the happenings on Grand Island. Then I think of what it would be like if we no longer would be able to receive this great means of communication. I am hoping it does not come to an end.
The thought of not getting the Town Hall News, the many notices of coming events, the Fire Reports, the Veterans notices, Chamber of Commerce notices, news of our Parks Dept., events, school news, reunions, and just about every thing that happens on the Island. Is covered on a timely basis. There is no other means of getting this kind of service.
Although it is “ FREE” on the WEB it is done at considerable cost to the sponsor Giecom.Net. The costs are partially covered by Ads placed by the local businesses but are not enough to cover the entire cost. Isledegrande.com has requested donations to help keep this service to the people of Grand Island, former residents who have left the Island ,the Servicemen and Women in far places. The donors and organizations who have stepped forward to help, are thanked and we would appreciate help from the many other users of this great service. The call for help is posted on the weekly NEWS PAGE. Give it your consideration !!!! Tell Your Friends !!! KEEP IT GOING !!!!!!!!!
Joe Synakowski
Disabled American Veterans Grand Island Chapter # 168
Grand Island American Legion Post #1346
Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Post # 9249 Veterans Of Foreign Wars

Toll Hike Takes Effect Sunday - 2009

   This was a controversial issue last year at this time. Last year the Thruway Authority announced the increase and people came unglued as did the politicians. Well, they played it up to be anyway. Even Paterson came out against it. Of course it happened and now this year it will happen again most likely without any fanfare except by us.
    The Thruway Authority continues to do what they want to do as they are held unaccountable to anyone. The politicians who supposedly represent Western New York are powerless to do anything, or they choose NOT to do anything. They don’t want to upset the applecart, after all although they refuse to acknowledge it, downstate dominates the legislature, our WNY delegation refuses to unite and stand up for US, so what ever NY City wants, NY City gets. Major problem is we have NO ONE standing up to FIGHT for us. How can we when we are represented by a majority of cowards, neither Party will work with the other and most importantly…… they have been bought off by the powerful downstate unions that want more influence up here and the proof was in the Hoyt/Thompson IDA reform Bill that will bury us in union demanded wages, benefits and costs that will make it further unaffordable to do anything here in WNY, but I digress.
   We are surrounded by roads we have to pay double for. The commuter tax is charged at the Grand Island tolls, Lackawana and the Williamsville toll booths. These roads are our only thoroughfare and we pay dearly for the use of them. We are taxed on each and every gallon of gasoline we buy 18.4 cents per-gallon, we pay more gas taxes at the pump than any other state. We pay taxes that are focused on roads and bridges yet our politicians use these funds for everything but roads. Our infrastructure is falling apart yet the costs have grown out of control.
   I just returned from a trip to Massachusetts. It cost me $28.70 both ways so I paid $57.40 for the privilege of driving across this state on what has been labeled the most expensive thruway in the Northeast.
   In Mass? I paid $4.20 on the Mass Pike. Sure there is a difference in mileage but broken down by the mile the difference is astounding. New york is close to .10 cents a mile. Massachusetts is less than .02 cents a mile. To top it off the Mass Pike is in much better condition than the New York State Thruway. What an insult.
   Come Sunday, drivers across New York State will be paying more to use the state Thruway system. A five percent toll hike takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning. As our Giselle Phelps reports it’s hard to find any Western New Yorkers who agree with the increase.
Rus Thompson
Posted January 7, 2010