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BGE's rate cuts don't do Maryland consumers...


BGE's rate cuts don't do Maryland consumers any favors

The Sun reported only half of the issues about the appeal the Mid-Atlantic Power Supply Association (MAPSA) asked for ("Cheaper electricity held hostage," editorial, July 19).

The reason that the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. can offer a low rate for electricity for the next few years is that it stands to collect $528 million from Maryland ratepayers for stranded costs -- money BGE invested in "generation assets" that it has not been allowed to charge ratepayers.

Now, not only is the Maryland ratepayer going to pay BGE for these stranded costs, we are going to let BGE keep its investments, and it will continue to bill us for their use for many years.

If Maryland ratepayers must pay stranded costs they should not pay more than the market value for these facilities.

If the basic electric rate was more competitive and the stranded costs were made up with the sale of the facilities, ratepayers would be better off, with more competitive prices and more competition.

Larry Le Doyen


The writer is executive director of the Maryland Alliance for Fair Competition.

Nursing profession gets bad treatment

The letter from Candice Blankenship ("Nursing shortage merely symptom of catastrophe," June 28) stated very well the under-recognized importance of nursing in the delivery of health care.

As a physician, I see nurses shoulder the burdens of human misery every day. They have up-to-date equipment and training in the latest medical advances. However, no technology can distance nurses from the raw impact of caring for the sickest of the sick.

And nurses are not likely to experience job satisfaction when they don't have the resources to do the job.

Nurses are correct to object to managed care cutting staffs. They are correct to demand proper wages for the enormous responsibility they routinely take on.

Dr. Frederick E. Knowles


Medicaid should cover prescription drug costs

Why is it necessary to cover prescription drugs with Medicare? Why not expand Medicaid to cover prescriptions for people who really need help?

Perhaps some of the money extorted from smokers should be used for this purpose. Was not "health" the reason given for the extortion?

Ruby M. Lam


Raises for Congress don't help poor, elderly

I see, by a tiny article in the newspaper, that members of Congress voted themselves a raise ("House votes to give members $3,800 raise," July 21). This will cost taxpayers $2.5 million a year. That $2.5 million would be a big help in paying some part of the bill for prescription drugs for the elderly and impoverished.

It is my opinion that only we, the electorate, should have the power to grant our representatives a raise.

Goldie Wolf


Why go to Maine to find light opera?

While I enjoyed Myron Beckenstein's article about the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Hancock County, Maine ("Very model of a G&S; company," July 14), I wonder why The Sun chose to profile an out-of-town company on the day Baltimore's Young Victorian Theater Company opened its own annual G&S; production here.

Young Vic has been producing Gilbert and Sullivan operettas for 30 years, and it sounds almost identical to the Maine company profiled.

Our local troupe would have benefited from at least a mention in The Sun.

Richard R. Espey


Dredging project would benefit port, state

I have received many calls in the past few days from my friends in the Baltimore maritime community advising me that Rep. Wayne Gilchrest is basing his opposition to the deepening of the C&D; Canal on a statement attributed to me in an article published in The Sun in 1998.

Apparently, my comments have been interpreted to suggest that the port of Baltimore should not continue to pursue the container business and therefore does not need to deepen the canal.

A quick review of the strategic plan developed during my watch as the port administration executive director would indicate differently.

In fact, a few months before I left the port, I decided to pursue the Maersk/Sea-Land container business even though I fully understood the huge amount of resources the endeavor would require.

That decision was not a difficult one. Container business had already been clearly identified as an important goal in the strategic plan. It represented 70 percent of the port's total cargo, and the state had already invested millions of dollars into Seagirt Marine Terminal. So it made sense to aggressively go after the container business.

And, I was consistently a strong advocate for the C&D; Canal deepening project.

Let me also state for the record that I am a strong advocate for the environment. I'm certain everyone would agree that the canal must be deepened in an environmentally responsible way.

But I also believe that with all of the checks and balances, the port and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can work closely with appropriate regulatory agencies and community-based organizations to fashion an environmentally sound project.

Is the long-term viability of the port of Baltimore important to Maryland? I think most Marylanders know the answer to that question. And since I believe the canal's deepening is vital to keep the port competitive and has broader economic benefits, I have always believed that the real issue is who will pay for it.

Therefore, a basic premise is that the canal deepening project has to move forward and someone has to pay for it.

Congress has already authorized this project. If it moves forward, the federal government would pay for about 75 percent of it.

This is appropriate since the canal, like all other projects involving federal channels, involves a national interest. Therefore, the port of Baltimore has an opportunity to leverage federal funds for this vital project.

Every other major port in the U.S. leverages federal funds for dredging projects. Without federal funding for the C&D; Canal, the state would have to seriously consider funding the entire project.

As long as Marylanders believe the port is important to their economy and that everything reasonable should be done to keep it viable, it makes no sense for Marylanders to oppose this project.

Maryland's entire congressional delegation, including Mr. Gilchrest, and Gov. Parris N. Glendening's administration should be united and unwavering in their support for this vital project.

Tay Yoshitani Oakland, Calif.

The writer is deputy executive director of the port of Oakland, Calif., and a former executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.

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