Stop giving away public money for private...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Stop giving away public money for private profit

I read in The Sun on Sunday that clever and sometimes unscrupulous companies are making off with state and county treasure by threatening to move out of state or not locate here ("A business bonanza paid by taxpayers," Oct. 10).

Who would have thought that if you offer to give away the store, someone will take it?

This has been going on for years: state against state, even county against county -- as foolish state and county managers compete to give away public money, present and future.

This type of welfare for corporations cannot ever pay off for governments.

If you run a store and compete entirely on price, a competitor who is fool enough can always sell stuff cheaper -- and whoever can last longer will survive. But no one will make a profit that way.

It is time that this state and all of its subdivisions were legally prohibited from offering any type of subsidy, loan, grant or tax reduction to cause any business to come to the area or stay here.

We have plenty to offer businesses -- good workers, a wonderful state for executives to move to and other advantages. We can compete on those assets.

And when some company comes shaking our tree, we should say, "I'm sorry, we do not feel it is appropriate to give away public treasure for private gain."

Philip L. Marcus, Ellicott City

Incentives only offset Maryland's high costs

How can The Sun expend so much energy griping about tax credits to Maryland businesses ("The Giveaway Game," Oct. 10-12), when it talks so little about the way the Baltimore Ravens have shaken down the state for several hundred million dollars?

Now that the stadium construction work is gone, we've gotten the equivalent of a few new bars for the taxpayers' huge investment in professional football.

In contrast, industrial facilities such as the Rite Aid distribution center, do generate many jobs.

Using tax breaks to recruit business has been very effective for Southern states. In Greenville, S.C., for example, landing the BMW auto and Michelin tire plants transformed a sleepy textile mill town into an economic powerhouse.

Unlike Maryland's poor investment in sports franchises, South Carolina has thousands of high-skill, high-paying jobs to show for its investments.

For years, we've been getting our clock cleaned by Virginia because it is cheaper to do business there.

Our Southern neighbor has a lower tax burden, less crime and less grime. Thus, to lure businesses into Maryland, we must provide special financial incentives.

Unless Maryland becomes the next Silicon Valley (an expensive but profitable location), we will need to compensate for our unfriendly business climate.

David M. Buttner, Baltimore

Larry Young cheated justice

Larry Young is now a member of the onerous elite who have dodged the legal bullet. He has joined the likes of President Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson by cheating justice and the public.

Those who would embrace Mr. Young as a martyr are certainly misled.

Ronald L. Dowling, Baltimore

It seems Larry Young had a jury of his peers -- none of them got it.

Aileen Foard, Severna Park

Don't undermine Waverly's efforts to revive itself

The communities bordering Memorial Stadium are working very hard to invigorate home sales, organize the neighborhoods around street cleanups and reduce the crime on our streets.

So it distressed us to see The Sun erroneously report that two Waverly men were arrested for the shooting of a 12-year-old Hampden boy ("Two arrested, charged in shooting of boy, 12," Oct. 2).

The two men arrested were residents of northwest Baltimore, who had no apparent connection to Waverly.

The Sun loses credibility when it fails to check the facts of such a case and demeans a neighborhood that is turning itself around.

Myles Hoenig

Rick Harris, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, president and vice president of the Waverly Improvement Association.

Poor communication was Mars probe's real problem

Perhaps the blame for the debacle of the Mars Climate Orbiter should not rest solely with the United States' failure to adopt the worldwide metric standard ("Mile wide and a newton short," editorial, Oct. 7).

Transcending that issue is one of communication. Why weren't the NASA scientists talking to and coordinating with the Lockheed Martin engineers?

It would seem to be a pretty basic first step for design teams to agree on standard units of measure.

Linda Loew, Baltimore

Tufaro's drug proposal is legal and has merit

As a lawyer who 30 years ago was a member of the state attorney general's office, I view with some annoyance the comments by Valerie Clouther, counsel to the state Board of Education, on Republican mayoral candidate David Tufaro's drug testing proposal.

After acknowledging that she had not read the proposal, Ms. Clouther expressed qualms about the constitutionality of involuntary drug testing of students ("Tufaro proposes plan to reform city schools," Sept. 22).

In my time, the state's lawyers read proposals before commenting to the press on their validity.

Had she read Mr. Tufaro's proposal, Ms. Clouther would have discovered that it contemplates, first, voluntary testing; then the careful introduction of involuntary testing in schools where principals and parents have approved it.

Had she conducted some research, Ms. Clouther would have found that the Supreme Court in 1995 upheld suspicionless testing of student athletes and that the court had previously upheld suspicionless drug or alcohol testing of some federal employees and of drivers randomly stopped at sobriety checkpoints.

Mr. Tufaro's proposal deserves to be considered on its merits as public policy.

Drug testing in the military is a great, if unpublicized, success story. Mandatory testing is not uncommon in private schools, both here and in England.

At a time when it has been estimated that one out of eight adults in Baltimore suffers from drug addiction, exploration of new approaches to drugs is in order.

George Liebmann, Baltimore

Public TV will miss Rebecca E. Carroll

I read with regret of the passing of Rebecca E. Carroll ("Rebecca E. Carroll, school official, dies," Oct. 2).

Ms. Carroll served as vice chairman of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission throughout the eight years I served on the commission, including the five years when I was chairman.

Mild mannered and soft spoken, she was always the commission member most sensitive to the well being of the staff of Maryland Public Television.

She regularly reminded commission members of our responsibility to provide opportunities to qualified persons of all backgrounds, races and creeds.

Ms. Carroll won great respect from the commission and was recognized as its conscience. Her contribution to public broadcasting will always be missed.

Zelig Robinson, Baltimore

The writer is former chairman of Maryland Public Broadcasting.

To our readers The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

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: 10/15/99

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