Editor: I think our state legislators are completely gutless when it comes to raising taxes -- or else they are underestimating their constituents. I would pass the Linowes commission tax proposal in its entirety or else raise the sales tax to six percent, which will accomplish the same end. I believe that people will pay more taxes for value received.
I realize Gov. William Donald Schaefer has his flaws, but there is no doubt in my mind that he has the best interest of this state in mind at all times. There would be no new stadium without Schaefer. The governor is a "do it now" spender and can show and has shown considerble dynamism in this area. I have a brass sign on my desk which reads "Don't Spend Less, Make More!" The governor is obviously of the same mind.
I am for giving him a free hand and the money he needs, even if it costs me personally another $30,000 a year (which amount would also include any raise in federal taxes).
I want to see the legislature balance the budget, keep Maryland's triple-A bond rating and perhaps make cuts in nonessential spending -- like welfare, for example.
G. Denmead LeViness.
Editor: In his letter appearing in The Sun March 5, Secretary Torrey C. Brown ably defended the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' position regarding the redesign of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art to accommodate environmental concerns raised by the original museum design, including protection of Robbins' Spikerush, a listed, endangered species.
I find it particularly ironic that the Ward Foundation director, Ralph A. Bufano, would take exception to the environmental constraints imposed by the Department of Natural Resources to protect the Chesapeake Bay when the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art is a tribute to the wildlife of the bay and to the Ward brothers, whose appreciation of the bay is reflected in their artistry.
It is also disconcerting that The Sun editors find the price of protecting Robbin's Spikerush "too high" when you generally are supportive of Chesapeake Bay preservation efforts. It seems to be the conventional wisdom that everyone is an environmentalist so long as it won't cost them too much personally.
Unfortunately, we have grown so accustomed to shortchanging environmental protection in the name of economic development that the cost of cleaning up and preserving what little is left will not come cheap.
Editor: It was unfair for the leaders of our legislature to criticize Gov. William Donald Schaefer for his trip to Kuwait. Since the governor is the only viable Democratic candidate for the presidency, it is vital that he have some foreign-policy experience to his credit.
Think of the embarrassment if our governor was to be nominated by default and he was lacking in this vital area in his campaign against George Bush.
R. Roland Brockmeyer.
Dumb or Open Minded?
Editor: You were right in labeling Sen. Janice Piccinini's comment about the proposed gun law as the "Quote of the Day." It just did not go far enough. It should have read "The Dumbest Quote of the Day."
To call the ownership of assault weapons "property rights" and to say that the state has not made a convincing case indicate that she lives in another world. Hasn't she read of the criminal atrocities being committed by assault weapons?
Does she believe that machine guns are needed to kill rabbits and squirrels? Would she go so far as to fight for the rights to own an atomic bomb?
The state doesn't have to prove anything. The facts are right there in the papers and on television every single day. The senator should be made to prove the necessity of assault weapons in society. I'd like to hear that argument from both her and Sen. Phillip E. Jimeno. If the votes of these two can defeat the legislation, then I would like to know how much money these abusers of society have received in contributions from the National Rifle Association. And I would hope that the issue is put on a ballot so that the people can vote on it. Hats off to Gov. William Donald Schaefer for his stand on this issue!
He is trying to save lives.
Malcolm E. Holt.
Editor: The Sun editorial (March 8) concerning the vote on the semi-automatic ban was so filled with distortions and inaccuracies that a proper rebuttal would fill volumes. However, two of your points are particularly ludicrous.
First is the accusation that the senators caved in to pro-gun interests. The opposite is more correct. The senators deserve praise for reaching the correct decision despite heavy pressure from the governor and the major daily press.
The senators realized that this gun control legislation had nothing to do with crime, but rather was a combination of the governor's desire to punish gun owners for his less than %J impressive re-election victory and the daily press' hatred of all firearms.
Second is the personal attack on Sen. Janice Piccinini. The fact that a senator with anti-gun feelings changed that position after listening to testimony should be interpreted as flawed legislation and not flawed judgment.
Pro-gun advocates have long maintained that if people can get past the emotionalism and misperceptions surrounding the gun issue, the facts would show that gun control has nothing to do with crime control. Ms. Piccinini has the qualities that the editorial staff of The Sun should aspire to; an open mind and the intellectual ability to evaluate the evidence.
Anthony J. Franzese.
Helen Bentley Switched
Editor: For simple and clear reasons, many Americans have come to learn that they can't trust their elected officials. Some cheat, some steal, and as we learned last week after talking to Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, for some words are cheap and commitments mean nothing.
As the jobless rates climb to their highest levels in years, Americans faced with unemployment no longer have the same safeguards available during previous recessions. The maximum 26 weeks of unemployment benefits is the shortest in 20 years. In 1974, benefits lasted 65 weeks, in 1983, 49 weeks.
But now, with good jobs almost impossible to find in the Baltimore area, those of us who find ourselves laid off discover a safety net full of holes. Last year, 2 million Americans were out of work so long they exhausted all benefits. This year, the unemployment rate is already twice as high as last year.
As members of the Baltimore Unemployed Council, sponsored by the United Electrical Workers Union, we have been at the Eastpoint and Eutaw Street unemployment offices collecting signatures on petitions that call for the extension of benefits. In two months, we've collected over 6,000 names. On Feb. 26, the council took a busload of unemployed workers to Washington and testified before a hearing of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Unemployment, chaired by Rep. Thomas Downey, D-N.Y.
We supported a bill, introduced by Representatives Downey, Sander Levin, D-Mich., and Don Pease, D-Ohio, that would tap the $8 billion in the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund, money put aside specifically for benefit extensions to states in hard times. The bill will grant an extension of nine extra weeks of benefits to any state with a 6-percent unemployment rate, such as Maryland, 18 weeks for 7 percent, and 26 weeks for an 8-percent rate.
On that same day of the hearings, members of the Baltimore Unemployed Council visited the office of Representative Bentley.
At an earlier meeting at her local office in Dundalk, her aide confidently told a group of us that Mrs. Bentley supported an extension. At her Washington office, Representative Bentley personally assured at least 20 of us that, yes, she definitely was in favor of an extension. We trusted her word. Now we learn we should have gotten it in writing.
Recently, in a column in the Dundalk Eagle, Representative Bentley came out against any extension of unemployment benefits, as it would be too much of a burden on businesses.
At a time when Representative Bentley and others in Washington can find millions to bail out the savings and loan industry and help countries in the Middle East, she has forgotten about the working people in her own district who find themselves in hard times. Thanks for nothing, Mrs. Bentley.
The writers co-chair the Baltimore Unemployed Council.