A tax is a tax whatever you call it
"Read my lips, no new taxes." That was the message that the American people spoke loud and clear this last election.
Few will forget that there was one politician who suffered defeat because he violated this principle. Well, it is absolutely amazing that newly elected Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger didn't get the message. Because he just raised the real estate taxes of 80 percent of Baltimore County's homeowners.
Our newly elected Democratic county executive has raised taxes by reducing the discount that Baltimore County homeowners receive for paying their taxes early.
He might not agree that it was a tax increase. Perhaps he would prefer the more politically correct term of "revenue enhancement." But if 80 percent of Baltimore County homeowners pay more real estate taxes, then it is a "tax increase." Who is he kidding?
Now, Mr. Ruppersberger's stated purpose in this tax increase is to encourage more citizens to buy homes and stay in Baltimore County by using this money to reduce settlement costs for new home buyers.
I agree that we must encourage our "upwardly mobile" citizens to stay in Baltimore County. But there are many other ways to do this without creating a larger tax burden on Baltimore County citizens.
Reducing settlement costs by about $300 might encourage someone to make their home in Baltimore County, as opposed to, say, Harford County.
But does increasing real estate taxes for 80 percent of homeowners for the rest of their lives really encourage anyone to want to move into Baltimore County? I don't think so.
Even if President Clinton and U.S. forces succeed in moving United Nations peacekeepers to safe areas in Bosnia, what good are they going to be to anybody if they are holed up in safe areas which could become very unsafe at the whim of either warring faction?
Serbs in Bosnia
It's hard to imagine more consistent ineptitude in the face of terrorism and barbarity than the United Nations' actions in Bosnia.
For three years the policies have sounded like "Alice in Wonderland," while the results have been the tragic loss of innocent life and increased instability.
Bloody war broke out when the recognized nation of Bosnia was invaded by Serbs, in response to which the U.N. sent lightly armed soldiers to "keep the peace."
Noncombatant women and children were tortured, raped and killed, primarily by Serb forces, which forced the Europeans to embargo all arms and other means of self-defense for both the victims and the well-armed Serbian military.
U.N. peacekeepers and diplomats under U.N. protection have been targeted, killed and taken hostage. This caused the U.N. to affirm the rules of engagement that prevent self-defense or retaliatory fire.
As repeated ultimatums are ignored, and the NATO allies are humiliated by the same Serbian thugs who perpetrated ethnic cleansing, the U.S. was told that no military action could be taken to inhibit the spread of conflict or to enforce sanctuaries, due to the presence of peacekeepers.
By now the need to remove the arms embargo from the victims and the peacekeepers from harm's way should be painfully clear.
And the reasons to end blackmail, murder, defiance of international law and pusillanimous vacillation are even more numerous and compelling.
Roger C. Kostmayer
This seems to be a campaign for mayor in Baltimore City with no issues.
We have three intelligent individuals, well educated and each having expertise in his or her own field, but no one is showing his or her integrity to the people of Baltimore City.
First, we hear, "I'm going to be different and tougher for this election." Well, why wasn't he tough in the past? Does the city need someone only to get tough when it is time for election?
Second, we hear, "I can do a better job." Maybe, but does the city need someone to just point fingers or play tit for tat?
Thirdly, we hear, "Well, the business community is after me to run." Does the city need just anyone to run?
Come on. Baltimore City deserves better. Start with some issues:
How about equity raises for teachers, police and fire persons?
How about researching the present laws to see which ones need to be implemented, or amended? Some need to be rewritten to help victims instead of encouraging criminals.
How about taking a hard look as to why businesses are moving out of downtown?
How about lowering property taxes for senior citizens?
How about teaching citizens to be accountable in rental property?
How about encouraging youth to read more in summer with some type of compensation?
This list could go on. All the distraction is just a political game to avoid statements on issues. I feel that people living in Baltimore City are intelligent and would like to hear issues and not just criticisms.
The Sun ran an informative article May 30 about Baltimore's public housing and vacant properties problems. The solution seems easy.
Daniel P. Henson III, housing chief, has a $293 million plan to transform four outdated, dangerous high rise projects. More projects are not the answer. The Murphy Homes and Flag House Court are slated to be demolished.
Currently there are 25,000 homeless families waiting for homes in the city. Use the $293 million and work with existing nonprofit housing organizations to fix up the 27,000 vacant homes throughout the city.
Recover some of the money by giving the homeless families low-cost loans.
Encourage the families to be part of the rehabilitation of their future homes. Doing this can solve the city's problem of public housing and vacant homes.
Eliminating vacant homes will help keep people in the city and make it once again the city of neighborhoods I remember.
Wendy Wilson Bozel
Act of crazies
To use the words of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, I find it grotesque that President Clinton and some elements of the media are trying to connect conservative talk radio and political conservatism in general with the heinous bombing in Oklahoma City.
Such craven political opportunism in the wake of a tragedy is beyond contempt.
But then, what do you expect from an administration which tried to claim that Republicans wanted to starve children after the Congress increased funding for the school lunch program by over 4 percent?
True to form, once the president realized the irresponsibility and indefensibility of his comments, he promptly backtracked and dissembled.
rTC Why is it so hard to accept that the bombing was the act of crazies?
One person apprehended was caught speeding away in a vehicle without a license plate with a gun in plain view of the arresting officer.
Timothy McVeigh apparently also believes that he has a computer chip implanted in his rump so that the Army can track his whereabouts.
The evidence so far indicates that Mr. McVeigh and his cohorts are elements of the loony extremist right.
While one could say that they are closer politically to Rush Limbaugh than to Mario Cuomo, it is a great and ludicrous leap of faith to suggest that Mr. Limbaugh and those of like conviction influenced the actions of McVeigh and his ilk or provided a climate in which such actions are accepted.
Political conservatives and conservative talk radio are no more responsible for the Oklahoma bombing than the 1960s counter-culture and the Beatles were responsible for the Manson family murders, or Greenpeace is responsible for the Unabomber.
Too young to do it
Why is it illegal to vote before the age of 18 and illegal to drink before the age of 18, but not illegal for children to copulate before the age of 18?
George B. Wroe