"Beating Gridlock" will be one of the major challenges in both the Baltimore and Washington metro areas during the 1990s. Your editorial (May 7) recognized that a combination of land-use guidelines and traffic standards, transportation management programs and employee incentives is an effective way to combat the growing gridlock in our region.
The lack of transportation infrastructure looms as the biggest impediment to growth and development in this country.
The Chicago Federal Reserve suggested in a recent study that as much as 60 percent of the productivity slump in the U.S. can be attributed to declining investment in "core" infrastructure. Obviously, the recent passage by the Maryland General Assembly of the increased gas tax is an attempt to deal with this problem.
Just as important are initiatives such as the Department of Transportation's CHART program, which is aimed at increasing the efficiency of our existing road systems through improving traffic signaling operations and the faster clearance of accidents from highways.
Sixty precent of all travel on the interstate highway system in urban areas occurs on congested routes, yet it has been demonstrated that traffic flows can be increased by as much as 25 percent through improvements in computerized traffic signaling systems.
Marylanders have a vested interest in insuring that the CHART program is adequately funded and successful, for it is an important part of our approach to gridlock.
Other approaches include increasing densities at metro stations, lowering traffic standards in suburban job centers, adequate parking for existing and light rail lines, van-pooling and transportation management associations.
In addition, the new Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 will play a major role in getting state and local governments as well as major employees to assist in moving more people with fewer cars.
David L. Winstead
The writer is chairman of the Maryland Transportation Commission.
Keep the Block
I'd like to take issue with your April 29 editorial advocating the termination of Baltimore's Block. While I do not frequent the Block and I look upon this type of entertainment with disdain, I believe that Baltimore's Block needs to be given the opportunity to fail without political intervention.
The business owners whose livelihoods are derived from adult entertainment may not be the envy of the city, but surely these businesses should be subject to the forces to the marketplace, just as any other business.
To base an assault on these businesses on the premise that the Block is "in the middle of a desirable redevelopment area" is comparable to saying that the Block is in the way of urban renewal. This is not only subjective, but a dangerous message to the rest of the Baltimore business community.
When government officials are given a free hand in making decisions about what types of privately-owned businesses may be permitted to operate, the very essence of American liberty is at stake.
Inherent in the free-enterprise system is that desirable as well as undesirable businesses will flourish. The real question is: Who decides? Free enterprise is based on the right of the consumer to choose. Let the market decide whether or not Baltimore's Block will survive.
Time for Change
You sure did publicize Alan Keyes' use of campaign money to pay his personal bills. Of course, Barbara Mikulski won't need to do that because we'll pay her bills for her, and then some.
As the campaign for our Senate seat warms up, we can expect to see more of your bias in favor of the liberal, big-government statist and against the conservative.
We should all support Mr. Keyes over Ms. Mikulski if only because politicians, like diapers, need to be changed periodically, and for about the same reasons.
Cal Thomas writes in his April 27 column that all women considering abortion should be forced to look at gruesome pictures of aborted fetuses. Otherwise, so his argument goes, the choice to abort is not an informed one.
He mentions in particular the "uplifting" commercials of children dressed in school uniforms and Halloween costumes "who might have been aborted because of unplanned pregnancies."
Is this image of affluent suburbia truly what comes to Mr. Thomas' mind when he thinks of the issue of abortion? Perhaps it is he who is in need of information.
As a staunch advocate of the pro-choice position, I do not shy away from the agonies of that choice. However, I suggest that the anti-abortion advocates also be forced to look at the realities consequent to their position.
Before writing another such column or blocking another clinic, perhaps they could spend some time in a neo-natal intensive care unit taking care of crack babies; experience the pain of a mother struggling to feed four children with a fifth on the way; deal with poverty, despair and violence as a way of life. These also are choices.
No woman makes this choice lightly. For Mr. Thomas to imply that this procedure is practiced on uninformed women by lying counselors and doctors hopeful of racking up another abortion is as preposterous as it is ignorant.
At pro-choice family planning clinics women are given the facts on all of the available choices by counselors who care about them and every aspect of their lives. At a time of such emotional and physical distress, to present a woman with pictures of gory fetuses has nothing to do with information. It is harassment, pure and simple.
Louise A. Machen
Panel a Farce
The Governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission is a farce, ("Drug commission rejects legalization," May 6). According to the news item in The Sun the commission took "a clear stand on the legalization or decriminalization of drugs . . . after months of study and a round of hearings." This is simply not true.
Inquiring as to how the commission members arrived at this position, I spoke with a staff member on May 5 and was told that "no one" had testified on the legalization issue. The decision to reject drug legalization was conducted in a "closed meeting" and based on "staff recommendations."
Furthermore, the commission adamantly refused to listen to testimony from Marylanders for Drug Policy Reform, a statewide non-profit organization of citizens. Formal requests to testify before the commission on legalization were made by Marylanders for Drug Policy Reform and rejected by the commission for the past two years.
Moreover, Marylanders for Drug Policy Reform has conducted several meetings around the state the past two years and many citizens have voiced strong support for drug legalization and reform.
As a result, during the 1991 General Assembly session, several legislators introduced a joint resolution calling for a commission to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of Maryland's drug policies. The resolution was narrowly defeated by a 9 to 11 vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
As Dr. Bruce K. Alexander of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia wrote in his book entitled "Peaceful Measures: Canada's Way Out of the 'War on Drugs' " (a book the commission members should read), the war on drugs is a real war on people, characterized by temperance-era moralism, militarism, violence and propaganda, the suspension of normal civil rights, secrecy, spying, seizure of property and increased centralization of authority -- all deemed the "rights" of government during wartime. It's time for a change called repeal.
In the meantime, the Governor's Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse gets $1,246,031 every year from general funds and pays $440,699 in salaries for its political position against legalization. All under the guise of protecting citizens from themselves.
Jeffrey A. Schaler
The writer is a former chairman of the Montgomery County Drug Abuse Advisory Council.