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Launch the reforms. Hold the sweeteners.

   Editorials in today's Buffalo News Opinion section want action from a lawmaker who officially does not work for us, and some refusal to act from some lawmakers who only act as though they don't work for us.

- Get airline reforms done - Buffalo News EditorialOberstar
   If you know anybody who lives in Duluth, Grand Rapids or International Falls, Minn., tell them they need to call or e-mail their congressman. Right now.
James L. Oberstar [right] is a Democrat who represents the 8th District of Minnesota. The folks there have elected him to that post 17 times now, so presumably they feel he’s doing a good job for them. But to the people of Western New York, and to the people all over the country who fly on commuter airlines, Oberstar is a keen disappointment.
   The rest of us care because, in addition to being a gentleman from Minnesota, Oberstar is chairman of the
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. And, in that role, Oberstar has been a primary roadblock on the road to winning congressional approval of some needed reforms of the way airlines screen, hire and train their pilots.
   To contact Oberstar via his official website, you have to have (or pretend to have) a ZIP code from his district. More welcoming to outsiders' comments might be the folks at The Duluth News Tribune or the International Falls Daily Journal.

- No 'benefit sweeteners' - Buffalo News Editorial
   A New York Legislature that now cannot balance a budget to save its life is astoundingly considering a ream of bills that would make it that much harder to balance state budgets in the future.

   If it passes any of them, it will be up to Gov. David A. Paterson to show a little more of the good sense he often has demonstrated and veto them one by one. Otherwise, it will only add to the number of times that future legislators — and taxpayers — will shake their heads and ask of their forebears, "What were they thinking?"
   Known in Albany as "benefit sweeteners," the 24 different proposals now before members of the
Assembly and the Senate would increase the health and pension benefits offered to various strata of state and local government employees.
   Individually, the bills would do such things as offer new state-paid pension benefits to employees who do not now have them, allow employees to collect full pensions with
fewer years of service, boost the size of death benefits paid to the survivors of state employees and presume that all kinds of ailments, from heart disease to staph infections, were job-related disabilities.

    Maybe Rep. Oberstar will want to watch this:

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News


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