Using phone shouldn't be such a headache
The Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce is concerned over the need for new telephone area codes, which will have a great impact on businesses and citizens of this state.
Based on our understanding of the two alternatives, we support the "overlay" solution. It would provide the best long-range solution to creating additional telephone numbers, as well as having the least negative impact on the business community for the following reasons:
* Fewer businesses and residential customers would be impacted with an "overlay" solution, as existing customers would not have to change their numbers or area codes. This is of particular importance to businesses due to the significant cost to be incurred in reprinting stationery, advertising, repainting vehicles, reprogramming cellular phones and office equipment, etc.
* The 1992 addition of the 410 area code was to have provided additional capacity for the next 20 years. We are now considering adding two new area codes in just five years. The explosive growth in technology will continue, so additional area codes will be needed in the not so distant future. The overlay solution would provide a less disruptive and less costly way to accommodate the need for additional area codes.
* The alternative "geographic" proposal puts Baltimore County and Baltimore City into different area codes at a time in which our businesses need a sense of regionalism, not separateness.
We are not totally happy with either plan, in light of the fact that 10-digit dialing will soon become a way of life. However, the ability of business customers to retain their existing telephone numbers, and therefore minimize the disruption and cost to their business, causes us to favor the "overlay" plan.
Terry M. Rubenstein
The writer is chairman of the board of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.
No golden parachute for Packwood
The recent departure of Sen. Bob Packwood should lay to rest the canard that public officials are rewarded more liberally in retirement than their counterparts in industry.
Senator Packwood, admittedly under serious charges of sexual misconduct, will leave with a limited pension for his 27 years in the Senate, having never attained an annual salary of $150,000.
The recent departure under similar allegations of executives from corporations have resulted not only in substantial pensions, many times in the high five figures, but also golden retirement parachutes totaling millions.
While the average citizen may not empathize and even begrudge the $50,000 to $100,000 given to retiring public officials as an annual pension, this pales into insignificance when compared to the multimillions willingly awarded to less deserving executives in major corporations.
While the lower echelons in business may not be rewarded adequately, certainly no one should shed any tears for retiring top executives in corporations.
Didn't need to take auto test
I recently received a notice from the Motor Vehicle Administration that it was time to bring in my 1995 car for an emissions test. I felt it was a raw deal since the car is less than a year old and tests are required every two years. However, the next day I had the test.
Two weeks later I received a letter saying it was a mistake and I didn't need the test. My question is, do I get a free test next time or do I subtract the cost of the test from my 1995 income tax?
William D. Townsend
Gambling story was not fully told
That was an interesting, lengthy letter from Bert Winterbottom (Saturday Mail Box, Sept. 9, "What Casino Gambling Has Done for Joliet, Ill."). Here, as they say, is the rest of the story.
I was raised in Las Vegas. My father was a compulsive gambler. My mother and I were a burden to the state of Nevada for several years. Our home was repossessed with just $1,500 left on the mortgage. This is not an isolated incident.
When my mother's health improved, she worked as a maid at the MGM Grand Hotel. More than one housekeeper has discovered a dead body in a room, usually from suicide, but murder was also common.
Several times she was offered money to let a prostitute and her client use a room for "a few minutes." Prostitutes, con-artists and pickpockets go hand in hand with casinos.
The saturation point has been reached on the East Coast. According to the gambling industry's newsletter, "Atlantic City Action," gaming was down 10 percent in Atlantic City in 1993 and placing other casinos in the area would likely bring it down further.
Casinos are failing. Harrah's and three riverboats in New Orleans have recently closed. In Las Vegas, the MGM Grand just laid off more than 1,000 people. The El Rancho, Main Street Station and Dunes have recently closed; each closing added hundreds to the unemployment rolls.
A 1992 Gallup survey found what researchers describe as a "cooling off" in the nation's enthusiasm for gambling. Only 40 percent approved of gambling in major cities, 64 percent agreed that gambling "encourages people who can least afford it to squander their money," 62 percent believed it "opened the door for organized crime," 58 percent thought gambling "can make compulsive gamblers out of people who would never participate in illegal gambling."
According to a 1990 study by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in 1988 there were approximately 50,000 pathological gamblers in Maryland and an additional 80,000 problem gamblers.
With casinos in Maryland, many of the problem gamblers would become pathological. Think of the families that would be destroyed.
Gamblers Anonymous reports 61 percent of its members have admitted to crimes, 28 percent were delinquent in paying Maryland taxes, 33 percent wrote bad checks, 37 percent stole money and 20 percent committed forgery.
In the first three years of legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City, that city went from 50th in the country in per capita crime to first. After a dozen years, crime there has risen by 230 percent, requiring the city to increase its police budget by 300 percent.
More desirable employers will be scared away. In 1954, Howard Hughes was asked if he was planning to relocate his aircraft plant to the area. Hughes replied, "No, the gaming casinos and ** never-ending supply of free whiskey to the gamers would make it highly impractical.
Especially if those gamers were employees of mine. I'm not about to compete with blackjack, craps, and the slot machines at their easy disposal."
At last month's task force hearing, a casino lobbyist stated that jobs start at $10-$12 per hour. Oooh! Aaah! An Aug. 13 article in the Las Vegas Sun states, "Yet wages in the service sector, which makes up 47.7 percent of employment, are typically lower than other industries' $6.50, $7.50, $8.50 an hour."
Mr. Winterbottom said, "The city and the state should look upon the gaming industry as they would any other industrial or business prospect."
I agree, but how many other prospects ruin lives to the extent that casinos and riverboats do? Other than an open-air radioactive dump site, that is.
Please look past the glitter and hype and see what casinos will actually cost Maryland and, more importantly, Marylanders. Don't sacrifice people for profit.
Kimberly S. Roman