Tax for transportation should not be needed...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Tax for transportation should not be needed with budget surplus

Even with the tobacco settlement money to come in and large budget surpluses, we are asked to pay more taxes. Forget lowering the tax rate or giving rebates as other states are doing, Maryland wants to increase its gas or sales tax.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening opposed a gasoline tax increase during his campaign, but now he proposes an increase saying, "We did not say no gas tax." ("Sales tax rise agreed," Jan. 9). Maryland has one of the highest gasoline taxes in the mid-Atlantic region.

Now House Speaker Casper Taylor wants to increase the sales tax.

Did either of these gentlemen have the courage to make these commitments during their re-election campaigns?

Do we want a tax increase to build a new system that would need constant subsidies by taxpayers? We have transit systems in Baltimore that have never been self-sufficient. We spent millions of taxpayer dollars to build a light rail station for Ravens games. Do we need more white elephants?

Thomas Jennings, Baltimore

I feel that the state should give the budget surplus money back in some way, such as air conditioning and repairing old schools in Maryland.

These buildings tend to really look bad on the inside. Ceiling tiles are dirty or are missing, walls are discolored, and a ton of bulbs are burned out.

Another way the state could give back the money is to reduce the sales and income taxes.

My third option is for the state to just do nothing and save the surplus for a depression or disaster.

Timothy Leyhe, Baltimore

During the recent state election campaign, opponents discussed tax-cut ideas. Now, less than three months after the election, all the talk is how best to increase our taxes, although we have a budget surplus.

Perhaps people are not interested in the impeachment process because they cannot conceive of any politician telling the truth.

Larry Johnston, Monkton

School breakfast proposal feeds parental apathy

This is in response to the Jan. 3 article ("Meal plan for schools may expand," Jan. 6) on the group that wants the state to pay $5 million to provide free breakfast to students, regardless of poverty level.

Most would agree that eating breakfast not only is healthy, but provides fuel for learning and performing tasks for a good portion of one's day. I hope the Center for Poverty Solutions did not invest too much money and effort to arrive at this conclusion.

Unfortunately, the center now wants the state to spend public funds for performing a parent's role: getting children up in the morning early enough to ensure that they eat breakfast. It is also the parent's role to take action at home if the child is "tardy, absent-minded and disruptive in class." Funding a care package at school is not solving the home problem.

Proponents are wrong in counting breakfast for schoolchildren as a commodity like textbooks, which are a public responsibility in public schools.

The state should not spend money on another social experiment attempting to solve a symptom and not a cause.

Charles Herr Baltimore

Cuba under former ruler was no paradise for Cubans

There's one glaring omission in the Perspective article by Tracey Eaton and Alfredo Corchado "Chaotic change in Cuba" (Jan. 10) regarding what Cuba was like 40 years ago under the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Let me remind you what I saw back in 1956 when my unit of the Marines pulled into Havana Harbor for shore leave.

I was sick with dysentery the entire time and took to eating spaghetti out of a can because it was the cleanest source of food I could find.

Havana was an armed camp, with Batista's troops everywhere. We were warned to keep clear of them, and most of us did. Cuba had several socioeconomic classes. I remember the super-rich and the incredibly poor, who lived in shacks. The poor loved us because we threw away more stuff than they had.

Cuba has nowhere near as much tourism and affluence as it had then. Luxury hotels were packed, and people were everywhere. Tourists came for gambling, booze and the opposite sex.

Fidel Castro is Fidel Castro, and Cuba is Cuba. It is not a paradise. But Batista was Batista, and no amount of demonization of the current government will change that.

Randall Miller Bethany, Beach, Del.

Education, more dialogue needed on drug problem

I am surprised that former DEA Special Agent Joseph L. Molyneux did not raise the "heroin in the candy store" argument in his letter ("Agents make the sacrifices in nation's 'war on drugs,' " Jan. 9) about Michael Massing and his book, "The Fix."

Contrary to Mr. Molyneux's statements, education is the key to solving the drug problem. It should start with our knowing what we are talking about.

The drug war is a failure. It is time to end this self-destructive war on our own people, starting with the repeal of marijuana prohibition.

We need open, honest and informed dialogue on drug law reform. I do not condone or support drug abuse, but what we are doing today is destructive and counterproductive.

Rob Ryan, Salisbury

Morgan art collection is not school's property

Those who made donations to Morgan State University's James E. Lewis Museum of Art may be astounded to learn that their public gifts are the university's private holdings ("State audit faults Morgan," Jan. 8).

I suspect that the museum's founder, James E. Lewis, would share their consternation. Virtually single-handedly, he labored to compile the collection. As it grew in size and value, he, together with the museum's director, Gabriel Tenabe, and volunteer Virginia Richardson labored to catalog the collection. Even back in the 1980s, Lewis feared that someone might view the collection as his or her private turf.

University officials' characterization of the holdings as private has reinforced Lewis' apprehensions.

It is difficult to understand how Morgan's president could believe that "Everything is in order" if no gifts since 1996 have been logged. And if that is so, and if no one can state with certainty how large the collection is, how could he speculate that the auditors overvalued it by $1.4 million?

Rather than paint a misleading rosy picture or implicate innocent individuals, would not Morgan officials be better advised to cooperate in identifying the problems and provide Mr. Tenabe with the staff he needs to address them? Knowing that is being done would provide considerable reassurance to future donors.

Martin A. Dyer, Baltimore

The Sun's view correct on 21st century's start

A letter published in The Sun ("This is only next to last year of the 20th century," Jan. 5) took The Sun to task for claiming that the next century will begin on Jan. 1, 2000.

Actually, The Sun was correct. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the modern calendar was developed in the 6th century by Dionysius who began numbering years at 532 A.D., based on the general belief that the year of Jesus' birth was 1 B.C. The year following 1 B.C. was 1 A.D., thus 2,000 years from the birth of Jesus is the year 2000, not 2001.

Therefore, it is correct to celebrate the beginning of the 21st century on Jan. 1, 2000.

Michael Shackleford, Baltimore

Stella Maris patients receive quality care

I write in response to your editorial in which you refer to Stella Maris "Nursing homes faces crackdown on care," Dec. 21).

I have been a volunteer at Stella Maris for more than 20 years, and I take exception to your reference to Stella Maris about a violation that has been corrected.

In my years at Stella Maris, I have found that it is staffed by dedicated people, from the chief administrative officer to the nurses and aides on all floors. The care received by the residents at Stella Maris is outstanding.

Francis X. Prenger, Baltimore

Pub Date: 1/13/99

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