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Letters to Artvoice


I’d like to respond to a couple of issues in your article (“An Army of Kids,” Artvoice v5n4).

1. “An Army memorandum from 1999 (Cadet Command Policy memorandum 50, dated March 30, 1999) stated that JROTC’s main objective is ‘to do everything possible to influence young, impressionable people under [JROTC] control to enlist in the Army.’”

Paragraph 1-5 of Army Cadet Command Regulation 145-2, dated 1 May 2005, clearly states that JROTC’s mission is to motivate young people to become better citizens.

Further, JROTC does not “control” any student, nor does it force students to wear the uniform. That has been and always will be optional for the student.

2. “Meanwhile, the district’s JROTC program cost a total of $850,000 this school year, $266,000 of which was reimbursed by the Department of Defense. That means that, this year alone, Buffalo taxpayers spent $584,000 on the JROTC program, an elective course. That money could be used to re-hire eight or nine teachers, with benefits.”

All uniforms, textbooks, computers and equipment items are paid for by the Army. Additionally, the Army pays for half the salary of each instructor. The instructor salary is based on what he/she would make on active duty, minus his/her retirement pay. There are two instructors here at this school including me, and our district pays less than $60,000 a year for both of us, one reason why having us here is attractive to the district. Camp, drill meets, community service events are paid for by either fund-raisers or the Army. I think your statement above is misleading and uninformed.

You took the time to interview and support one disgruntled parent who wants to use JROTC to bash the Bush administration and the war in Iraq (that’s really the underlying issue here). I guess it’s better to feed his daughter’s self-esteem than to instill in her some discipline and values, things that will help her become a productive adult.

If you want to hear the real story about JROTC, why not talk to the students who benefit from it, whose parents support it and who go on to have successful college and adult careers? Talk to some fourth year JROTC cadets and their parents. Give both sides a chance to speak.

On another note, I spent 26 years of my life defending the very freedom you take for granted when you publish this kind of message. We serve our country so that people like you don’t have to.

Command Sergeant Major Larry D. Smith, Retired

Senior Army Instructor, Mount Diablo High School JROTC

Mount Diablo, California


After reading a pretty good article about the heroic Sergeant Patrick Hart (“Bave Hart,” Artvoice v5n10), courageous enough to live by his convictions and beliefs—all of which were once American ideals, while we were still a democracy—of which so few Americans seem capable these days, I then had to suffer for two weeks through four letters from Republican Party wackos, even one from Texas, as well as a “soldier” ordered to write a letter from “Iraq” who wrote about loyalty.

Let us get this clear: George Bush is a traitor. He has broken his oath of office and commited high crimes and misdemeanors. He has been disloyal to the Constitution of the United States and to the people for which it stands. He wasn’t even properly elected president—ever. Consequently no soldier has any ethical obligation to fight in his dirty colonial war.

It is “soldiers” like Hans Kroetsch who are the cowards, killing Iraqi children and their mothers and grandparents for sport (“speedbumps,” as one soldier described the children he killed to Hart, and there is plenty of supporting evidence in the media from other countries that such opinions are commonplace among American troops of occupation).

We don’t owe any loyalty to cowardly propagandists like Kroetsch and Tim Galvin or “J.E.” from Texas. They are not Americans.

And frankly I am getting really p.o.-ed that so-called “alternative” newspapers print such rubbish. The Republican Party already has a propaganda sheet here, it’s called the Buffalo News.

You people at Artvoice had better decide what side you’re on. There is nothing inherently “alternative” about rock’n’roll. The “Log-Cabin” Republicans proved that neocons can be gay. Movies are movies—Mel Gibson makes them, and now Arnold Schwarzenegger is killing imprisoned convicts because he doesn’t trust the color of their skin—but he’s still friends with Oprah Winfrey and right-wing feminist Condoleeza Rice.

If this is alternative, we should rather be dead. What happened to the spirit of freedom—is that just a cigarette brand sold on Indian land now?

Screw Kroetsch from wherever and “J.E.” from Texas. You don’t owe them publication of their letters. You don’t owe Republicans or right-wingers anything. But you owe your long-time social-ethical readers something—honesty always, but good judgment as well.

Don’t think readers haven’t noticed your right-ward drift over the past year. You’re bound to lose your core audience—try selling advertisement then.

E. John Winner


Reading the letters of Artvoice v5n11, the writer of the first letter, who calls Pat Hart “coward” for making the decision he made, signs his name as “J-E.” It seems J-E is the coward: He couldn’t even sign his full name to the letter.

J-E sounds like several types of typical fools which exist in our society, all rolled up into one person: the fanatic; the judge (and jury) of others’ motive(s) and/or consciousness without having ever met the person they’re judging to hear that person’s reasoning behind a decision/action/lack of action they take; and the type who’s ready to lynch a person who thinks differently from himself.

For Pat Hart to take the stand he has requires courage and obviously much thought before he made his choice.

How J-E can call Pat Hart a coward after Pat already spent so many years in the military, fighting (not sitting behind a desk), is beyond me.

An oath is not binding when one’s conscience dictates it is morally wrong to keep such an oath, regardless of whether others disagree, since we have to live with our own consciences. One has to be true to one’s higher principles despite the agreement/disagreement of others. I cannot even count on my fingers and toes how many times I went (foolishly) wrong by sticking to certain oaths I made and should have broken—oaths I realized the Lord Himself would have wanted me to break.

I might also add that I know some men who stuck it out in Vietnam, and because of their staying (and killing), such experiences added up and “snapped” them, later causing them to kill other US citizens because they had become so desensitized to doing so, and someone had made them angry.

I’m not arguing against or for the war itself, but rather for Pat’s right as a human being to make the choice to follow what his conscience—not yours or mine—is dictating to him. It may be a much more brave act for him to have made the choice he’s made than to go along with the choice J-E believes he should have made.

S’alagram-S’ila Swami



Kudos to Nancy Pollina for articulating so well the travesty being created once again by Hans Mobius (“Letters to AV,” Artvoice v5n10). Hans Mobius should be ashamed of himself for his attempt to turn the corner of Elmwood and Forest into commercial real estate that will not serve the needs or wants of the neighborhood at large. And shame on Karl Frizlen for presenting this design that would ruin, if not destroy, part of the charm of what makes Elmwood Elmwood.

Hans Mobius has attempted this tactic before when trying to sell to Walgreen’s years back. If it weren’t for people like Nancy Pollina speaking up against such proposals, Elmwood would most certainly become a long corridor of strip malls. Just look at Delaware Avenue north of Amherst Street.

Jaime M. Roussard




I write in response to “Sweet Nothings” (“Casino Chronicles #5,” Artvoice v5n10).

The new second span of the Peace Bridge must be built on the north side of the existing one and should also resemble its unique design as well. Fort Porter and Front Park should also be restored using the plans of the New Millenium Group.

Also, the proposed Ambassador Niagara Bridge should be allowed to proceed, using the Christian Menn design and having the cables electrically heated with a backup generator to prevent dangerous ice chunks from forming and falling. Route 198 should be rerouted west of Grant Street into a parkway to connect to this bridge and its proposed conversion to a parkway east of Grant to the intersection of Parkside Avenue, Agassiz Circle and Humboldt Parkway. Interstate 190 should also be torn up and replaced by a parkway from the I-290 split, with the parkway following Ontario, Niagara and Seventh streets, and Busti Avenue and streets along downtown, the Inner Harbor and the Cobblestone District. The Erie Canal should also be restored and rewatered between the Commercial Slip and south end of the Black Rock Channel, and between the north end of the channel and Tonawanda.

As for the casino, it is not such a good idea and the Seneca Nation should instead use the nine acres and any additional lands for professional sports, similar to how the Mohegan Nation in Connecticut owns an arena and franchises of the WNBA and Arena Football. One possibility could be for a soccer/lacrosse stadium for a United Soccer Leagues second division men’s team, a USL W-League or Women’s Premier Soccer League women’s soccer team and Major League Lacrosse team. There would also be the future possibility of women’s pro lacrosse, if the owners of the Rochester Rattlers, Rhinos and Lady Rhinos would drop their territorial rights.

Other possibilites for that site would be a softball stadium and a franchise of the National Pro Fastpitch women’s professional softball league or a small indoor sports venue to substitute the one being proposed for West Seneca. The Senecas may be improving Niagara Falls, but they are also destroying many established businesses there, essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul, and we do not need that with a casino in Buffalo.

Kevin F. Yost