Baltimore benefited from Schaefer's rule
I have trouble following the logic of Chris Scitti's Jan. 19 letter, which blames Gov. William Donald Schaefer for the decline of Maryland.
He says that Mr. Schaefer did for the state what he did as mayor of Baltimore City. At the same time, he says that Mr. Schaefer is responsible for a loss of jobs.
Does Mr. Scitti believe that we'd be better off without Harborplace, the Convention Center and the Aquarium?
Mr. Scitti goes on to blame the decline of Baltimore on a "tax-and-spend philosophy." Does he believe that we would have halted the decline if the city had cut the police, fire and education budgets to match the suburban tax rates?
I suppose that if I would point to other cities that faced similar declines, he'd blame it on other tax and spend philosophers. Yet the more fiscally conservative center cities -- Cleveland for instance -- have suffered about as much.
A much greater cause of our cities' decline has been the maldistribution of metropolitan resources brought on by an inability to annex suburbs. The power to change that was taken out of the mayor's hands 24 years before Mr. Schaefer took office.
The fact is that as mayor, William Donald Schaefer did a better job of turning Baltimore's fortunes around than any other mayor, here or elsewhere. If other mayors have left their cities in better condition, it's because they've had an easier task of it.
Clinton health plan copies socialism, fascism
In the American Revolution, we fought against taxation without representation. American government was uniquely designed, learning from European mistakes, to provide a democracy which promoted justice and liberty while protecting individual freedom and initiative.
Aside from exalting a particular nation and race, the primary element of fascism is a centralized autocratic government. This includes a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition.
We fought against fascism in World War II, repudiating this political philosophy. But in 1993, although 57 percent voted against William Jefferson Clinton and his radical political platform, he still became our president.
The State of the Union speech is another Clinton menu without the prices. The price for universal health care coverage is not just horrendous in terms of dollars, but in loss of personal choice and quality of care.
Mr. Clinton is bent on transferring huge amounts of power and control to a federal bureaucracy. His brand of universal coverage is highly socialistic; this approach has already failed in Canada, Sweden and England.
It failed because it is flawed in principle, not just in its administration. Researchers have also concluded that it closely resembles a Fascist-totalitarian model (Italy, World War II).
To compile health care prices for his menu, we are talking about an ultimate payroll tax of 10 to 12 percent. Should we pay for the health care of 50,000 drug addicts in Baltimore City, the gay and lesbian community, etc.? No.
Our government and economy must be structured in a way which rewards responsible living and initiative and is consistent with our freedom as Americans.
Thomas H. Mehnert
Pay the piper
Other Voices writer C.W. Gusewelle complains about the abuse the poor cigarette smoker is expected to endure from anti-tobacco zealots ("These punitive taxes are created for your own good," Jan. 19).
I say, too bad. While we all shuffle off this mortal coil at some point, some things give us a lot of trouble in the going. This is particularly true of cigarette smokers, who pass through suffering from cancer, emphysema, heart and circulatory problems, etc. -- all directly traceable to smoking.
Those of us who have smoked and quit, and who don't look back at the smoking days with any particular fondness, say "too bad." You were warned. If you choose not to take heed, then pay the price in increased taxes and higher life insurance premiums.
This has nothing to do with entitlements and everything to do with the concept that there are no free lunches.
James V. McCoy
Where credit is due
In their article on the legal battle between Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg and Theodore G. Venetoulis (Jan. 28), writers Patrick Gilbert and William F. Zorzi Jr. state, "Mr. Venetoulis managed former California Gov. Jerry Brown's upset victory over Jimmy Carter in Maryland's 1976 Democratic presidential primary."
Well, maybe, but not quite. . .
In 1976, Ted was Baltimore county executive and I was the volunteer public relations director for the first Baltimore County Fair. The director of the fair was one of Ted's top aides, now-Rev. P. David Hutchinson, the brother of later County Executive Donald P. Hutchinson.
It was David and not Ted who actually ran the 1976 Brown campaign here.
I was present at the meeting in Towson when Ted decided to send David and two others as emissaries to California to induce the governor into the race.
They were successful, and David proceeded to run on a daily, hands-on basis what turned out to be a campaign that nearly derailed Jimmy Carter, since it was the first loss he'd suffered. It was not, however, enough to deny Carter the Democratic nomination.
I concluded then -- and maintain now -- that had the victory taken place in January rather than May 1976, Governor Brown and not Governor Carter would have been nominated and gone on to defeat Gerald Ford for the presidency, perhaps followed by Ted later.
Although Ted most likely provided strategic direction from behind the scenes, it was David who did the work, just as he did for the Baltimore County Fair up until that time, unlike the-then Sun assertions that Ted ran that as well . . .
Recently a letter writer expressed her displeasure with large trucks tailgating her on the major roads.
I too am distraught when I am tailgated, but I have found a solution to the problem: Simply get out of the left lane.
I know the speed limit is 55 mph, and I certainly defend the right to drive at that speed. But the fact is that most traffic flows at higher speeds on major thruways.
Do yourself and others a favor and find a lane that travels at a speed comfortable for you -- and stay out of the left lane.
avid G. Esmond
Keep the Mechanic
As a Baltimore architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects, I would like to make it clear that the recommendations of the AIA's Urban Design Committee do not reflect the opinions of the entire membership.
Recently, a member of the committee advocated replacing the Morris Mechanic Theater with a 60- to 70-story office and communications tower.
At the start of the recession there were at least 10 office towers on the drawing boards. Today there are several half-empty office towers downtown. The idea of replacing a landmark building like the Mechanic with an overscaled tower of dubious function is patently absurd.
The committee member suggested that this new tower would "add life to the streets." There is plenty of life on the streets around Charles Center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. It is only in the evening that we must maintain activity. A vital performing arts center will do that.
Rather than bring life to the streets, a tower of this scale would be a detriment to Charles Center and Hopkins Plaza. As a jewel of Charles Center, the Mechanic has long served as a sculptural backdrop to the festivals and outdoor concerts that lured people downtown long before Harborplace opened.
The Mechanic is not a perfect building. But as one of the first symbols of Baltimore's "Renaissance," it deserves a chance to be reprogrammed for continued use. Several performing arts organizations have already expressed interest in taking up residence there. Perhaps a consortium of organizations could inhabit the theater and thrive in the way that Broadway theater has for the past 27 years.
Without the success of the Mechanic and the Baltimore Center for Performing Arts, the construction of a new theater at Mount Royal wouldn't be necessary.