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Md. transportation needs alternatives to 'tired solutions'Your...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Md. transportation needs alternatives to 'tired solutions'

Your editorial "More money needed for roads, mass Transit" (Jan. 13) trots out the same tired "solutions" to the state's transportation mess that politicians have been dishing up for decades.

These solutions are not likely to solve our problems. They are all enormously expensive and require higher taxes, although the state has a huge surplus.

Rather than alleviating congestion, more highways would increase congestion on roads that feed into highways. Just look at what Interstate 795 has done to the traffic on Route 140 and its feeder roads.

And more rapid transit and light rail lines are prohibitively expensive to build and operate.

Your editorial acknowledges as much when it blames the lack of cash for construction in part on "soaring operating costs" of the subway and light rail.

There are better solutions to our transportation mess, solutions that could dramatically reduce congestion on the highways along with the air pollution that accompanies it without impoverishing taxpayers.

And it won't take years to implement these solutions, either.

State and local governments could encourage telecommuting through a combination of tax incentives and modifications to zoning laws. Many in this information age have no reason to work away from home.

For those who have to commute, state and local governments could encourage the use of alternative transportation. The best way to do this is to make the roads safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. Bike lanes should be constructed on all state highways, heavily traveled county roads and city streets so that cyclists don't have to ride in the main flow of traffic.

Compared with the expense and time required to build highways and rail systems, these solutions are both cost-effective and quick.

Philip R. Manger, Cockeysville

Goodman a role model, like Koufax in his day

We had to respond after reading the letter from Marc Starnes ("Observance of Sabbath could test Maryland team," Jan. 14) about the risks facing the University of Maryland regarding the possibility that Tamir Goodman will be unavailable to play basketball on the Sabbath.

We applaud any athlete who can stand up for his beliefs. After watching the recent NBA lockout, a demonstration of all that is wrong with sports, it is amazing to find an athlete who is more concerned about his beliefs and morals than the almighty dollar. We have no sympathy for wealthy athletes who believe they are due enormous wealth simply because they have unique talents.

A young man with the temerity to adhere to his beliefs is a fine role model for our youth and would be a welcome addition to any athletic team.

Sandy Koufax did the same thing during the World Series because of his ob- servance of the Jewish high holy days. He is remembered fondly for his athleticism and grace and was not chastised for his adherence to his beliefs.

It should also be noted that the University of Maryland recruited Tamir Goodman with full knowledge of his inability to play ball on the Sabbath. Perhaps the school realizes the role athletics can play in a young person's life. It is certainly important to win, but there is only one ultimate winner, and there must be a lesson to be learned beside being No. 1.

Kudos to both the Terps and to Tamir Goodman. We wholeheartedly support their efforts.

Steve Katz, Myra Katz, Baltimore

Long-term care credit could help Medicaid

Your editorial "Tax credit for long-term care" (Jan. 11) raises two concerns over the long-term care tax credit: A) Where will the money come from to fund the tax credit? B) How will it benefit the nation's low-income families?

Both concerns ignore the impact of Medicaid entitlements. While Medicare does not pay the costs of custodial nursing care, Medicaid does. Folks with money transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid; those without money already qualify.

At worst, the long-term care credits would create an economic wash; at best, they'll relieve the burden borne by Medicaid and focus public attention on the need for personal financial responsibility.

Gerald L. Mummey, Lutherville

Responsible developers appreciate the ecology

The Carroll County saga of the bog turtle ("Tiny turtle slows bypass in Carroll," Jan. 14) clarifies the issues surrounding protection of endangered species.

Opposing sides in this local controversy reflect two mentalities in the larger national debate, development and conservation, which frequently have difficulty speaking the same language, much less finding common ground.

Most conservationists' arguments arise not from a misplaced sentimental choice of turtles over people's livelihoods or homes, as some local residents in the Carroll County dispute have perceived. They come instead from opposition to the irrationality of destroying communities environmentally to save them economically only in the very short term, with long-term, irreversible damage to the communities and residents.

Responsible developers recognize the value in understanding ecology and planning for conservation of natural features we cannot afford to lose for the sake of people's health and well-being.

Policy makers must find measures -- ideally, market-based ones -- that will work to balance the legitimate need for development with justifiable concern for the environment. The Endangered Species Act complements such measures when enlightened developers recognize its proven efficacy.

Anthony Cobb, Baltimore

Glendening administration should heed labor on unions

The article "Governor might push labor bill" (Jan. 5) is absolutely on target in its report that collective bargaining legislation is a reward for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which pumped tens of thousands of dollars into Gov. Parris N. Glendening's election campaigns.

On the surface, introducing a bill that codifies the executive order would appear to be a tremendous benefit for state employees. What your article does not mention is that chances are good that this bill will force state workers covered by the executive order to pay a biweekly service fee that would be sent to AFSCME and other international unions.

Based on the number of employees who would be affected, this arrangement could mean at least $6 million to AFSCME, a nice payoff on its investment in Mr. Glendening. And as AFSCME's Sue Esty acknowledged, the bill gives the union an incentive to expand into other areas, such as the university system.

An independent Mason-Dixon poll of state workers found that most employees support collective bargaining but overwhelmingly oppose a mandatory fee. To avoid disaster, Mr. Glendening, the unions and legislators should take heed and listen to the employees.

Henry N. Williams, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

Larry Flynt deserves praise for showing GOP hypocrisy

Although he's not the sort of person I'd normally praise, I thank Larry Flynt for all he's done to expose Republican hypocrisy.

I'm glad Mr. Flynt is taking the position of watchdog. Whether or not people agree with his stance on pornography, everyone should admire his commitment to freedom of speech and investigation of hypocrisy.

Jonathan Nusholtz, Owings Mills

To our readers

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Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 1/17/99

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