Rocking the Boat
Editor: It is a sad day for the citizens of Maryland when the press makes a conscious decision to report only sensational news. The weekly coverage of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's meetings with constituents concerning their negative comments about his performance is getting old. I have never met the governor, nor have I spoken with him. I would like to say that we finally have a leader who is willing to meet his detractors face to face and discuss issues. No other leader in my lifetime was ever willing, nor were any ever wise enough to do this.
Governor Schaefer has devoted a lifetime to the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland and has never compromised his ethics. He put this dying city back on the path of prosperity and is managing to do the same with the state. His weekly phone calls and visits to various citizens prove that this man listens to everyone.
Here is a man who is not enamored with the title of his office and is not afraid to let people know he has feelings, too. How many times would we look the other way when our name is being vilified and our loved ones are being held up to public ridicule? His combative style is what made other cities take notice at the progress our city was making. Give the man a break.
If you are going to print negative articles about the man, then print his accomplishments. They would far out-number the few mistakes. There is an old saying, "If you are not rocking the boat, you're not paddling." Governor Schaefer is paddling harder and faster than any chief executive this state has ever had and he is making the "me first" generation look bad.
Kelly O. Miller.
Editor: The decision by the Schmoke administration to solve the budget crunch by freezing salaries across the board is a short-sighted, simplistic attempt at finding a quick fix without adequately assessing the full impact of such a move.
I assume that the mayor believes that his approach is even-handed, but that is far from the case.
Furthermore, the unions that represent city employees obviously lack the knowledge and/or leadership to serve as appropriate advocates for their membership.
They appear to have neither brought forth alternatives for consideration nor raised the issue of inequitable impact.
From my perspective as a career teacher who is nearing retirement, the mayor's plan has the worst possible consequences for those who, like myself, have devoted their lives to the education of children.
Because retirement income is tied to our end-of-career salary rate, this year's salary freeze plan has far-reaching implications. For example, according to actuarial tables, the approximately $2,000 that the city plans to save on my salary next year will actually cost me in excess of $75,000 in future lifetime income. It is the retirement system that will realize almost all of the savings at the expense of individual, dedicated educators.
Except for two longevity raises totaling less than $2,000, I reached the top of the Baltimore City teacher salary scale when I was 35 years old.
The only wage increases that I have received since then were the annually negotiated across-the-board increments like those the Mayor has decided to do away with for the coming year. At least the city could have refrained from substantially reducing anticipated retirement income by developing a more carefully thought out strategy than the wage freeze proposal.
Editor: I don't have nearly the problem with Gov. William Donald Schaefer's "antics" as I do with the General Assembly's inability to deal realistically with the needs of Maryland, specifically the Linowes and Barnes commission reports.
Tax reform, as per the Linowes commission, seemed a very fair, even-handed, balanced approach with the only substantial increases in income taxes to those whose incomes were above $100,000. That doesn't strike me as hurting the "middle class" but rather those who contribute large sums of money to political campaigns and/or hire lobbyists. The fact that this legislation cannot get passed speaks to political pettiness on the part of the legislature at the expense of most of Maryland citizens.
That the Barnes commission report -- "2020" -- also can't get through suggests even more influence by the wrong people at the expense of Maryland's future.
Editor: Gen. H. Norman Swarzkopf said that God must have been on the coalition's side because of its remarkable success and its few losses in lives.
Logically, then, he must believe that God was on Iraq's side when it took Kuwait -- and on Hitler's side when Germany overran Poland in 1939.
The general said he was moved by the small loss of human life on the first day of the air attack. Although he also said that every human life is special, his statement must mean that he sees Iraqis as subhuman, for many of them lost their lives that night.
Richard Wendell Fogg.
Editor: The Department of Energy proposes oil exploration of protected areas -- such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rTC the Outer Continental Shelf and the North Slope of Alaska -- a new natural gas pipeline through the Arctic tundra, generating electricity by burning garbage (poor energy efficiency, high levels of toxic pollution), easing regulations on nuclear power, privatization of nuclear waste handling (in order to "reduce government accountability") and increased use of coal-fired power (a major source of global warning and acid rain).
The policy barely mentions conservation, increased fuel efficiency for cars, development of cleaner, safer energy sources.
The oil, nuclear, auto and coal industries will sleep better. But what about us?
Laszlo R. Trazkovich.
Editor: We are totally appalled by the administration's proposed, so-called, energy policy, which apparently consists of further exploiting and depleting petroleum reserves, devastating some of our last environmentally pristine areas and multiplying the risk of nuclear catastrophe by removing barriers to power plant construction.
It is inexcusable that the national energy policy does not adequately support conservation and reliance on clean and renewable energy sources such as solar energy. To say that vigorous support of these alternatives is an unwarranted intrusion on personal liberty (as President Bush has done previously) is a bold-faced lie and a fraud on the people.
What Mr. Bush proposes is just as intrusive as making alternative energy use and conservation more economically competitive. Meanwhile, the administration is mortgaging our descendants' national (and international) birthrights in the name cheap gas and re-election.
A tax on petroleum products to make alternative energy sources and conservation technology economically competitive should be instituted as soon as possible. Revenues should be fully rebated to the poor and middle classes to eliminate any resulting personal hardships.
Alan and Laurie Coltri.
Editor: There was an article on "Buy American" in the B section of your paper March 18. I don't think the city or state should even consider buying foreign. You mentioned caps from China and cranes from Japan, but nothing about State Police helicopters from France.
I would almost be ready to bet that members of the plumbers union use foreign plumbing fixtures and accessories. The United Auto Workers have a lot of room to complain. You need only drive by their parking lot on Broening Highway and look at the foreign cars parked there. The same goes for the parking lot at Bethlehem Steel.
I can truthfully say I look at every label on anything I get ready to buy and that if it doesn't say made in the USA, I put it back. The only exception is electronic products and that's because as far as I know there aren't any made here.
If I'm wrong I would like to hear about it. I am more than ready to pay more for an American-made product. I drive American-made cars and refuse to acknowledge that foreign cars belong on the same road as I do. My wife accuses me of being a radical about this and if she is right, then so be it.
Donald J. Kuebel.
Transportation Jobs Fuel State Economy
Editor: I am appalled by the General Assembly's conduct toward several of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's initiatives, notably the transportation funding bill.
Transportation construction is the engine that drives Maryland's economy. While much of the nation was slipping into recession in 1989 and 1990, Maryland's economy remained strong and vibrant.
During that period, highway construction was in high gear and major new projects were being bid at a rate of two per month.
Since last August -- and the sudden rise in energy prices -- revenue from the sale of gasoline has fallen dramatically.
The higher consumer prices which resulted from the invasion of Kuwait, combined with a crunch in the banking industry, have meant that fewer new vehicles have been sold. This has further depleted sources of transportation funds.
There are no funds available for new transportation construction. The State Highway Administration has not bid any capital improvement projects since November of 1990. The Mass Transit Administration and the Toll Facilities Administration are only bidding new work for which funding is in place.
As Secretary James Lighthizer told the General Assembly recently, there may be no new construction projects until the second half of 1992 without an increase in funds. If we do not have our portion of the money, we also stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds.
The Road Information Program has estimated that 1,700 jobs are created for every $100 million spent in highway construction.
Transportation construction is needed. Montgomery County is gridlocked at rush hour, Anne Arundel County is quickly approaching the same condition.
The north end of the Baltimore beltway and large sections of U.S. 50 from Annapolis to Bowie are presently inadequate, with interchanges that could be characterized as dangerous.
Hundreds of lane-miles of highway are disintegrating. Many of the bridges in the state are classified as deficient.
Action is needed now to save thousands of jobs, help turn the local economy around and possibly save some fledgling firms, ++ which rely on set-asides in construction contracts.
Please do not let the legislative disdain of the governor interfere with working for the good of the state of Maryland.
Christopher R. Tillman.