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Supervisor Mary F. Holtz Delivers State of the Town of Cheektowaga Address

Join The Buffalo News' Cheektowaga reporter TJ Pignataro at noon Thursday from the Millennium Hotel where Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Mary F. Holtz will hold her State of the Town address. Holtz is expected to detail some of the town's accomplishments during 2011 and her vision for the town's future. The address will be held during a membership luncheon for the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce.

How Should West Seneca Use 200 Acres at the Former West Seneca Developmental Center Site?

Join The Buffalo News' West Seneca reporter, TJ Pignataro, who will report from the West Seneca Senior Center at 7 p.m. for this first of four workshops set up to provide information to residents about the future use of 200 acres of property at the site of the former West Seneca Developmental Center.

Live blog from Cheektowaga Town Board meeting

Join Buffalo News' Cheektowaga reporter TJ Pignataro who will conduct the first live blog from Cheektowaga Town Hall at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. The Cheektowaga Town Board will begin by holding a pair of public hearings to get input about its 2012 Community Development Block Grant Program and proposed amendments to the town's parks ordinance. The public hearings will be followed by the town's regular board meeting.

What price anonymity?

   You get a whole different picture of how people feel about things when they don't have to tell you who they are.

   That's partly what makes internet message boards and blogs both interesting and a little frightening. Unburdened by the need to hide behind politeness and civility, people can anonymously spew all kinds of hate.

   That was the point of my column today.

   Do you think anonymity is mostly a good thing, because it allows the rest of us to read a person's honest feelings about something? Or would we be better off if people were forced to identify themselves online and kept some of the more hateful comments to themselves?

   --- Bruce Andriatch

One step completed on long journey

Following a kindergartener through her first year of school was a way to find out what goes on in the classroom, how lofty legislation like No Child Left Behind affects 5- and 6-year-olds, how the budget that residents vote on provides construction paper and paper clips.

It didn't quite go as planned, but we did learn a few things:

You still clean your desk on the last day in school - and you still get to hear a story.

It's hard work to make learning fun.

Although the amount of academics in kindergarten has increased dramatically over the years, kids are still kids. They confound and surprise, they are old before their time while younger than ever, and still like to play silly games.

Thanks to the Scharfs - Peter, Amy, Rebekah and Rachel - for giving us access to their family over the past year so we could give others a glimpse of what goes on in the life of a kindergartener.

— Barbara O'Brien

Read the full story.

Red light cameras and the suburbs

   I'm not sure how I feel about putting cameras at intersections to catch people not stopping at red lights. The concerns that opponents have about privacy and about this being nothing more than a money grab by revenue-starved municipalities are legitimate.

   What I do know is that it strains credulity to believe that Buffalo is the place where safety will be best served by them. I point out in my column today that the suburbs are home to far more dangerous intersections than Buffalo, by virtue of more traffic, more people - collectively - and higher speed limits.

   Would you like to see suburban towns ask for the cameras? Or should they stay in Buffalo and the state's other large cities?

   --- Bruce Andriatch

Read the full story.


D - for downsizing - Day in Evans and West Seneca

   Voters in West Seneca and Evans on Wednesday will decide whether to trim their town boards
to three members, down from five.

   If the measure passes, taxpayers will send a clear message to their elected officials, supporters say, and the people will begin to take back their government. Another plus: Taxes will go down.

   Sure, taxes will go down, but barely, opponents say - saving the average homeowner about the cost of a movie ticket. And residents end up with so few representatives on the town board that the Open Meetings Law would be jeopardized, some government experts say.

   Supporters of the downsizing say that even with five members on the town board, elected officials routinely ignore the law and make backroom deals.

   Whatever Evans and West Seneca residents decide, this week's votes likely will be the first of many in Erie County. Efforts are underway to get a similar referendum on the ballot in November in Alden, Hamburg and Orchard Park.

   If you live in Evans or West Seneca, which way do you plan to vote? If you live somewhere else, what are you hoping will happen in your town?

   --- Mary B. Pasciak

The shot heard 'round Western New York


   I probably was in the Oranges on the locker room side 90 percent of the times I went to the Aud for anything, but for some reason, on this night, I remember sitting lower and closer to the center.

   Clay Schroeder took the shot at the basket to my left. I saw it go in and I cheered as loud as anyone.

   I drive past the Aud on my way to work and, like many of you, as I watch it come down brick by brick the memories of what I saw there come flooding back. But all the concerts, goals and magical moments combined don't eclipse how exciting it was to see a kid, a few years old than I was, win a car.

   So I went searching for the person I knew only as "the kid who made that shot." It turned out he grew up about 2 miles from where I live now. When I found him, he was more than happy to talk about his time in the spotlight.

   Meeting him and talking to him only solidfied that moment as my favorite at the Aud.

   Were you there with me? If not, what moment did you see in person at the Aud that you will never forget?

   --- Bruce Andriatch

Read the full story.

Required to live where you work

   Many local municipalities require that their employees be residents of their town or city. As taxpayer-supported positions, officials argue, these employees should have a vested interest in the communities they serve.

   But while these rules are on the books, they aren't often enforced. This year marks the first year Amherst has actually terminated any employee for the offense, under new pressure from the Town Board.

   Some local governments are reluctant to invest the time and money necessary to track down offenders who might otherwise be doing a good job at work, but happen to sleep in another town.

   That leaves many to wonder whether residency rules are worth the paper they're written on.

   --- Sandra Tan

They had the write stuff

   Write-in votes usually are wasted votes. That's why I was so interested in what happened last week in the Amherst School Board race.

   As I wrote in my column today, two people whose names were not on the ballot won seats. It's hard enough to win an election, but to do it by getting people to forgo the ballot levers in favor of writing down a name on a piece of paper hidden behind a little door is truly impressive.

   It struck me as truly democratic, a way to get around the normal political process that sometimes stops candidates in their tracks.

   --- Bruce Andriatch

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