Section 8 program does not work well
The Section 8 housing program problem is a many-headed dragon. While all program participants do not cause problems, the arrival of one problem property is often the first step in a downward spiral for first a block and then a neighborhood.
This program poorly serves both the certificate holders and the communities. The true winners are often absentee landlords who are guaranteed a higher rent than the market would normally bear.
Complaints concerning problem properties often lead to an orgy of bureaucratic finger-pointing which never assigns blame or resolves the difficulty. Concerned neighbors who have tried to resolve situations through the system eventually give up because there is no accountability.
We are being forced to watch the Department of Housing and Community Development fiddle while Baltimore crumbles, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Both the responsible certificate holders and impacted neighbors need to join forces and demand a system that works for the benefit of all parties.
Carol A. Hartke
Criticism aired toward judge's dog decision
This letter is to express outrage at the unjust decision of Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr. of the District Court of Maryland to return an abused dog to its negligent owner, Scott T. Eckrote.
Certainly, there were occasions when Mr. Eckrote was responsible and loving as a dog owner, which family and friends testified. However, a person who has a history of making this same mistake several times should be denied the return of the animal.
Scott Eckrote is clearly an individual who does not deserve the love and affection that a dog provides. He has demonstrated irresponsibility, cruelty and bad judgment too many times and that's not even counting the drug allegations.
7+ A dog is a privilege and a gift to own.
The world beyond Lexington Terrace
Dan Rodricks' column on Lexington Terrace and Barbara McKinney are a study in contrasts and constraints.
Ms. McKinney sees beauty amid the perceived negatives of her environment, but she is like a young bird in a nest and a moth in a cocoon. Lexington Terrace is her refuge and her limitation. Her comfort zone contributes to complacency.
Today's world is far from perfect and the damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead philosophy of the Gingrichites contributes to the anxieties of those who are not in power. The Barbara McKinneys must realize that the bird is forced from the nest to discover the majesty of flight; the moth breaks the cocoon to be transformed into a creature of beauty and those who fail can also fly.
Those who oppose the movement of the poor from their pockets of poverty fail to recognize the potential of the Barbara
McKinneys who have not seen the New Jerusalem.
Too hasty school closings
After three years of living in Baltimore County, I cannot any longer continue suppressing my feelings toward the school administration, specifically the persons who make the school closing decisions.
Are these people from planet Earth? Schools in our area are closed with less white stuff on the ground than one might see from a person with a bad case of dandruff.
Is this the type of behavior we really want to convey to our kids -- giving up at the slightest hint of adversity?
I've lived in other parts of the country, other non-snow-belt areas, which would scoff at Baltimore County's decision-making process. These districts care no less for their pupils' safety than our county.
This whole situation gives one pause to think about the causes for other underlying problems that plague our schools today.
Bell Atlantic's claims challenged
On Dec. 18 you published a letter by Daniel J. Whelan, !B president of Bell Atlantic-Maryland, under a misleading headline labeling long-distance companies as "greedy."
Mr. Whelan supported a position on pending federal legislation which he claimed to be beneficial to residential consumers. Mr. Whelan, as CEO of the local monopoly provider of telephone service, is hardly an unbiased observer and certainly does not speak for the residential consumer.
The Maryland legislature created the Office of People's Counsel to fulfill that role. The counsel and the national organization which represents the interests of consumers at the federal level, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, both have consistently taken positions on pending federal telecommunications legislation opposed to those taken by Bell Atlantic.
NASUCA and the people's counsel have pressed Congress to remove provisions from the pending federal legislation which would prevent the Maryland Public Service Commission from regulating Bell Atlantic's monopoly profits; which would give Bell Atlantic greater leeway to purchase cable TV companies in Maryland; which would pre-empt state regulatory authority over policies implementing competition; which would not provide for a strong enough commitment to universal service, and which would permit premature entry by Bell Atlantic into the long-distance market. These provisions are not in the best interests of residential consumers, yet are strongly advocated by Bell Atlantic.
There are also a number of specific statements in Mr. Whelan's letter which need to be corrected.
He claims that the prices Bell Atlantic charges to local customers are lower than the costs of providing them service. This is untrue. Evidence filed by Bell Atlantic itself in a case currently pending before the Maryland Public Service Commission demonstrates that the provision of residential local phone service is a very profitable line of business for Bell Atlantic within Maryland.
Mr. Whelan does not explain that the charges made by Bell Atlantic to long-distance carriers have subsidies built into them which far exceed what is required to provide local phone service in the few high-cost areas in Maryland.
These unnecessarily high charges by Bell Atlantic to long distance carriers are passed on to all consumers. All of the money winds up in Bell Atlantic's pocket.
In addition, these high charges fix at unnecessarily high levels the minimum price at which a long-distance carrier can offer local and toll services in competition with Bell Atlantic in Maryland. This process prevents effective competition, helps to preserve Bell Atlantic's monopoly and provides "subsidies" which are largely unnecessary and which are only available to Bell Atlantic.
The solution to these problems is to bring the prices for services which must be purchased from Bell Atlantic by its competitors closer to cost and then to set up a universal service fund available to all phone companies to support phone services in the few high cost areas in the state.
The result would be lower rates for all consumers and a jump start for effective competition.
Michael J. Travieso
8, The writer is Maryland people's counsel.