Money for waterfront could bring the city many happy returns
The reluctance to provide public funding for completion of the waterfront promenade ("Battle over paying for promenade heats up," Sept. 3) is an example of penny-wise, pound-foolish public policy that will keep Baltimore from achieving its full potential as a first-rate, livable city.
It's a well-documented fact that private investment follows public investment in infrastructure and amenities.
Our suburban competitors know this and businesses and residents flock to jurisdictions where basic investments in roads, streetscape, open space and bike and walking trails are actively used public goods, not incomplete projects subject to endless debate.
Businesses benefit every day from massive subsidies for roads, schools and port facilities. For a substantially smaller investment (one the state would probably be willing to provide), the city could finish the promenade and ensure public access to and enjoyment of one of the city's few indisputable assets.
Do we really care so much if a landowner makes a few dollars of profit because we beautify our shorelines? Are we so stingy as to deny ourselves a pleasant environment just because some developers and corporations taking a substantial risks may benefit financially?
Sure, Baltimore is strapped for cash and needs better schools and more drug treatment slots. But what better way is there to finance needed social services than by increased tax revenues generated by private investment in a beautiful and thriving waterfront?
It's called return on investment and we should embrace it.
Other barriers also block access to the promenade
The Sun cited "one case" of "Thames Point apartments ... refusing to obey city laws requiring public access to their waterfront" by "raising a steel fence" ("Battle over paying for promenade heats up," Sept 3).
This overlooks the locked, spiked gates that block promenaders from the section of the Inner Harbor promenade that passes under the World Trade Center building. These gates are often closed as early as 6 p.m., forcing promenaders to walk around the building.
While I am sure someone can float a reasonable-sounding justification for this, based perhaps on security concerns, is this not also in violation of the city ordinance?
Sutton R. Stokes
I am disappointed that bicycling was not a consideration in the design of the city's 7.5 mile waterfront walkway.
I hope future development in the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and Canton areas will include off-street trails for bicyclists.
Repeal of estate tax would simplify tax code
The president's recent veto of a bill that would have repealed the estate tax represents a missed opportunity to begin a long-overdue simplifying of the tax system ("Clinton vetoes bill aimed at cutting inheritance tax," Sept 1).
Mr. Clinton said the repeal bill would have cost the government $105 billion over 10 years.
This may be true, but it ignores the savings from the Internal Revenue Service's enforcement costs, which would no longer be needed, and the cost of professional advice sought by many Americans who want to avoid this tax legally.
Mr. Clinton's claim that the bill favored the wealthy may be true, but more and more middle-class Americans will have to deal with this tax as the value of their homes and retirement accounts grow to exceed the $1 million threshold for the estate tax set for the year 2006.
Bruce H. Lubich
Don't hold nuclear waste hostage to petty politics
It is all well and good that electric utilities can sue the government over its failure to provide for the disposal of their spent nuclear fuel, but that still leaves fuel at the more than 100 reactors across the country ("Utilities can sue U.S. over buildup of nuclear waste," Sept. 1).
Although the fuel is reasonably safe at reactor sites, it is less secure than it could be. A centralized federal facility, as previously promised by our government, makes tremendous sense. It is impossible to understand, beyond politics, why the Clinton administration vetoed a congressional bill to establish such storage.
We also have the specter of nuclear plants not being able to build extra storage on site because of various state and local issues and actually having to shut down. In these days of short supplies of electricity, that is the last thing we need.
Nuclear waste is too big a concern to be held hostage to petty politics. We need to move along on this problem -- and getting the fuel off the reactor sites would be a big step in the right direction.
Citizen support will keep effort to reform council alive
Thank you for The Sun's editorial "A small setback for good government" (Sept. 2). Its call for continuing citizen pressure to reform the Baltimore City Council was music to the cars of those of us who spent much of our summer on the almost-successful petition drive for nine single-member council districts.
We had hoped to have a public discussion on this proposal between now and Election Day, Nov. 7. It is now our hope that the work of the 15-member commission established by City Council President Sheila Dixon will produce that dialogue.
We also hope that Baltimore voters will be presented with a proposal on the November 2002 ballot that will provide for an accountable and affordable City Council. My observation from canvassing for petition signers at fairs, grocery stores and concerts is that there is considerable citizen support for reforming the council.
Although the referendum drive was initiated by the League of Women Voters, it would not have been possible to turn over 11,000 signatures to the mayor if it had not been for the work of 118 non-league members who submitted petition forms to us.
These citizens were interested in working on a good government issue and deserve the gratitude of us all.
The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of Baltimore.
The GOP's record isn't one of virtue
Republicans keep saying they stand four-square for virtue, morality and integrity. A look at the GOP's record is therefore in order.
Nixon administration operatives broke into offices, spied on opponents, illegally taped phone conversations and obstructed justice. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew took bribes. President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon.
President Ronald Reagan presided over the Iran-contra scandal. When he left office, 138 officials of his administration had been convicted, indicted or investigated for misconduct.
Mr. Reagan and President George Bush falsely denied involvement in the Iran-contra deal. Mr. Bush pardoned six people implicated in the scandal.
Campaign-finance reforms could curb such political wrongdoing, but most leading Republicans oppose it.
The GOP has taken tons of money from tobacco, gun, gambling and other nefarious interests. Many congressional Republicans have then blocked or voted down tobacco and gun legislation that could have saved countless lives and benefited the nation in other ways.
Voters ought to bear in mind that history often repeats.