War KillsEditor: I wish the people who...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

War Kills

Editor: I wish the people who are supporting the war would understand that those of us who do not agree with them are not in any way against the troops who are caught in this mess.

War is messy. It kills and maims soldiers and civilians. It starves and orphans children. It destroys beautiful cities which have been built by man and have stood for centuries. It poisons the earth and the atmosphere. It tears families apart. I know. I was a child in war torn Germany. What we see on television now of war coverage has nothing to do with the realities. It is a foolish, deceptive spectacle, designed to entertain and to purposefully leave out all the essential facts of lethal conflict.

My participation in a peace demonstration means that I believe the U.S. should continue to seek a peaceful solution even now rather than risk more lives on all sides of the issue. It means I want those folks in that hostile desert to come home to America before many more of them will be killed and hurt and imprisoned. Is that being against them? Is that being un-American?

Elke Straub.

Baltimore.

PAC Power

Editor: C. Fraser Smith's Jan. 30 article regarding political action committee donations to state legislators during the last election cycle, 1986-1990, revealed, not surprisingly, that groups opposed to no-fault automobile insurance legislation -- principally lawyers and doctors -- contributed more than $544,000, almost one-sixth of all PAC giving.

There could be no more revealing and dramatic evidence of the uphill battle that no-fault legislation faces in the General Assembly. It explains why Senate President Thomas V. Miller, Jr., an attorney, who received more PAC money than any other state legislator ($100,773), refused to allow a member of the State Senate to participate as a member of the Governor's Commission on Insurance last year.

No one can deny that lawyers are necessary in certain automobile accident injury claims, but they are not a necessity in many of the fender-bender accidents that occur. In these instances, attorney involvement adds significantly and unnecessarily to the cost of insurance claims.

One goal of no-fault is to ensure that a greater percentage of premium dollars is spent on compensating accident victims with a lesser percentage going to attorneys' fees and court costs. Reducing unnecessary attorney involvement is not the only answer to lowering overall insurance costs. But it is a significant part of a solution that is made much more difficult to achieve by the mountain of PAC contributions.

John Leopold.

Pasadena.

The writer is a former member of the General Assembly.

Art Should Be for All

Editor: The decision by the Baltimore Museum of Art to sell tickets to the Monet exhibition Oct. 13 through Jan. 19, 1992, shocks me.

It seems to me that those who can afford a $6.50 charge and who have engagement calendars a year in advance will do well, but what about the general public? They will lose out.

Who came up with this plan to deal with expected crowds? There is still time to rethink the plan and with imagination and organization hold a major exhibition for all the public.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington does this many times a year and does it well.

Martha Sweatman.

Baltimore.

Schaefer's Pay

Editor: You had it right: "In recessionary times, payroll costs must fall."

Before Gov. William Donald Schaefer forces state employees to work a longer work-week for the same amount of pay, shouldn't he lead by example and rescind his own $35,000 pay raise?

Greg Colburn.

Baltimore.

Israel

Editor: All applaud the extraordinary restraint of Israel in not responding militarily to Iraq's Scud attacks on residential neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. An article in The Sun on January 24 referred to Israel's request for an additional $13 billion in aid over five years. Of this sum, $3 billion would be compensation for war damages and $10 billion to help resettle Soviet Jews.

The reason Israel has been urged to exercise restraint is because it is felt that an attack on Iraq by Israel might disrupt the anti-Iraq coalition. It would be difficult to imagine any act more apt to anger the Arab nations than to have the United States finance the resettlement of Soviet Jews in Israel.

Charles C. Fenwick.

Glyndon.

American Dream

Editor: I'd like to respond to two of the letters you've printed about the Linowes recommendations. One is from John V. Martin, who objects to the proposed property tax on cars and boats. It's logical for those who use the highways to pay for their upkeep, he says.

Should a person who has to drive an eight-year-old car 30 miles a day to a low-paying job pay more than a person who keeps his Lexus in its kennel, except when he goes out for sushi? When something needs doing badly, surely the logical thing is to tax those who can afford to pay.

Letter writer Robert H. Rueter also objects to the proposed tax. There's already a sales tax on cars over $30,000 and boats over $100,000. This tax is hitting the middle class, not the rich, he says. The great American dream is being crushed.

I don't myself believe that "the middle class" can afford the luxuries Mr. Rueter mentions. If they can, though, they have no business whining about high taxes. If in this world of hunger and privation the great American dream is to own a $30,000 car or a $100,000 boat, the great American dream is an obscenity which ought to be crushed.

Paul Romney.

Baltimore.

Stupid Stamp

Editor: How stupid for the U.S. Postal Services board to permit a 29-cent stamp instead of a 30-cent one. One more penny would simplify bookkeeping, work load and stamp dispensing machines.

I don't see their reasoning. I think the public would go for the 30-cent stamp over the 29-cent one.

Emma MacAllister.

Bel Air.

Barnes Bill: Wrong Environmental Assumptions

Editor: The Sun has printed several editorials and letters recently that portray the proposed Barnes commission legislation as strict growth management and environment protection legislation. I believe that portrayal to be inaccurate. The Barnes bill in its present form is neither protective of the environment, nor would it manage growth other than to insure vastly more of it throughout Maryland.

The Barnes bill, if passed, would require that future growth in Maryland be placed in designated growth centers with minimum densities of 3.5 dwelling units per acre. That would be far greater than in Columbia where 2.2 dwelling units per acre is the average. Land outside the growth centers would be zoned for low density, such as one house per 20 acres.

But -- and this is a very key point -- every five years the growth centers would have to be re-evaluated and expanded to accommodate new growth. The low density land would be converted to high density as needed for more growth.

In other words, the Barnes bill would essentially ratchet-up density in Maryland and then successively expand high-density development without limit. There is no provision anywhere in the bill that requires permanent preservation of sensitive areas, rural areas or any type of open space. The Maryland of 2020 under Barnes could literally be one big development.

Even the basic premise of the Barnes bill, that suburban sprawl is environmentally harmful, is wrong. In fact, the quality of the bay improved during one of the most intense periods of sprawl development in history (1985-1990).

Likewise in Howard County, the quality of the Little Patuxent River improved over the same period.

Low-density sprawl development can actually be environmentally beneficial, because the adverse effects of development are spread out (diluted) as opposed to concentrated. The Barnes bill starts with a wrong assumption and predictably ends up with very wrong recommendations.

Maryland needs good growth management and strong environmental protection. The Barnes bill would provide exactly the opposite and should not be passed into law without a very major rewriting.

John W. Taylor.

Highland.

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