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Key annexation would initiate a long processThe...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Key annexation would initiate a long process

The Key Property annexation is much more than a financial decision ("Village delays Key vote," Sept. 7).

It's a long-term commitment from the Columbia Association (CA) to the prospective residents of Emerson and to the current residents of Columbia.

Before your CA Council representative votes on the issue, ask him or her the following:

How does this addition fit into his or her vision of Columbia?

How will the annexation contribute to Columbia in non-financial ways?

What additional steps will CA need to integrate the new neighborhood into Columbia, even though it's three miles away?

How will CA staff manage this major project and continue to focus on current needs while adjusting to a new president?

How will CA prioritize resources for the rest of Columbia while building facilities in Laurel?

How many additional employees does CA plan to hire to support the development of the Key Property while it maintains the rest of Columbia?

If your representatives can answer all of these questions credibly, then encourage them to support the annexation process.

Otherwise, tell them that it's not right for Columbia and that we shouldn't do it, even if it does make money.

Ultimately this decision should be about quality of life in Columbia, not financial projections.

Cabell Greenwood

River Hill

More arrests won't stop drug-related crime

Baltimore police Commissioner Edward T. Norris' recent letter was obviously well-intentioned, and I wish him the greatest success in what must be one of the toughest jobs in the country ("Why the city's murder rate is so high," Sept. 5).

But, with all due respect, I believe he is wrong if he thinks that "arresting individuals engaged in low-level narcotics transactions" leading to "higher-level drug traffickers" will somehow decrease Baltimore's homicide rate.

This country has been fighting and losing the so-called "war on drugs," using billions of dollars on interdiction and incarceration, for more than 30 years.

Until our leaders are willing to take the risk of acknowledging this failure, attempts to rein in drug-related crime are doomed to fail.

Illicit drugs should be treated as an economic, public health and social issue.

Drugs should be decriminalized, regulated and taxed -- whatever it takes to remove the staggering economic incentive to sell them.

Let's also devote the funds previously used for interdiction and incarceration to drug treatment and education.

In the short run, drug use may increase, but in the long run (just as with cigarettes and liquor) use, along with drug-related crime, will decrease.

Ronald E. Alper

Columbia

Glad to see Dr. Laura reached the airwaves

I would like to thank WMAR-TV for its decision to air the Dr. Laura Schlessinger show. It is comforting to know that a small minority of dissenters will not be allowed to decide what viewers should and should not listen to.

I have listened to Dr. Laura for years and never heard her treat any group of people unfairly.

She verbalizes what her listeners believe and, in my case, have always believed: Intact families are important to our stability, and children's welfare is of paramount importance.

I have to question the motivation of anyone who would question the logic of these beliefs.

Many thousands of TV channels, radio stations and sponsors are supporting Dr. Laura, and we, the majority, as silent as we usually are, are grateful.

The minority, special-interest groups have freedom of speech but no right to try to take it from others.

Barbara Floyd

Columbia

Market-based reforms won't help health care

Jonathan Weisman's front page article "Gore, Bush try worn remedies for health care" (Aug. 29) is correct in one sense: Market-based plans would benefit basically those "who are already buying insurance without subsidy."

So what use are they?

The fact of the matter is that a socialized plan has never been put into practice or tried. Hence, it cannot possibly be "worn."

The universal health coverage plan the Clintons proposed in 1993 only failed because millions of HMO-lobbyist dollars were against it. Corporate "votes" (using dollars) trumped the people's -- as is usual in this country.

On the other hand, private or market plans have already been tried in numerous venues and always found wanting.

It is clear that the "worn" health care plans are those that are dependent on private competition or a market-based solution.

We already know, from past experience, that competition will soon vanish and consumers will be gouged and left to scrabble for themselves.

We deserve better than another "free enterprise" charade that only serves to enrich the corporations, insurance companies and their lobbyists and political parasites.

Philip A. Stahl

Columbia

Coverage should reflect the real Gov. Bush

The Sun's articles regarding Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore on the Sept. 5 front page were very disappointing. The articles were clearly biased, including the headlines ("Gore crisscrossing battleground states" and "Bush is struggling to regain initiative," Sept. 5)

Please print more balanced articles in the future -- such as the article on the candidates' plans to reform Medicare ("Bush unveils reform plan for Medicare," Sept. 6).

Many people in Maryland may have chosen their candidate, but the state is loaded with swing voters who need all the facts they can get, not thinly veiled campaign speeches by reporters.

I believe Mr. Bush is the more experienced candidate. He has successfully handled the real issues as governor of Texas, and he tries to speak plainly and honestly to the American voters.

He doesn't have that Clinton/Gore ability to say what their current audience wants to hear and make it sound believable, but aren't we tired of that rhetoric, anyway?

Let's just put a good man in the White House who has good, realistic ideas. It will be a breath of fresh air for us all.

Let's see more of the real Mr. Bush in The Sun, not the politically motivated portrait of him which being painted daily by Mr. Gore and the press.

Karen Wade Hayes

Columbia

One can grasp Vietnam without fighting its war

It is clear that arguing with a Clinton-hater makes about as much sense as ordering the tides to halt. Nonetheless, the recent letter "What would Clinton know about Vietnam?" (Sept. 9) was so egregious in its lack of logic that it cries out for a response.

The writer quoted President Clinton with regard to "his Colombia initiative" and provided us "an observation and a question," which, he believes, flow inevitably from Mr. Clinton's assertion that "This is not Vietnam."

The observation is that Mr. Clinton is a proved liar." This is true with regard to his private life. It is not true with regard to the job for which the electorate hired him. The observation has no validity in the context in which it is used.

The question asks what Mr. Clinton would know about Vietnam and obviously is intended as a dig at his draft-dodger status.

It's well-known that Mr. Clinton evaded the draft during the Vietnam War era. What, however, has that fact to do with Mr. Clinton's (or anyone else's) knowledge about Vietnam?

Must one have served in the armed forces there to "know about the Vietnam War?" I don't think so. If that were the case, more than 99 percent of the world's population wouldn't know about it.

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot about any subject without having first-hand experience of it; even people with personal shortcomings who have told lies and who have evaded the draft can do it; even Mr. Clinton can do it.

Harris Factor

Columbia

This election could be about character

The 2000 presidential election will largely be decided on two issues. Character will play side-by-side with the public's view on which candidate will be able to sustain the unprecedented growth and prosperity that our economic expansion has delivered.

No political leader in our history has benefited more from economic good news than President Clinton. Voters re-elected him out of economic self-interest and brushed aside his character flaws and lack of moral leadership.

Vice President Al Gore has allied himself with the accomplishments of the Clinton administration and praised his boss as a "great president." Now Mr. Gore is working diligently to disassociate himself from Mr. Clinton's unsavory personal difficulties.

Whether the vice president is successful depends on the moral compass of the electorate.

The vast majority of us recognize good character and virtuous behavior when we see it.

On the other hand, most of us understand, or at least suspect, that government has little to do with a good economy. That is especially true of the "new economy."

Our nearly decade-long economic expansion is the direct result of a technological revolution that has produced extraordinary rates of return on capital goods that replace labor and has made America's work force the most efficient and productive in the world.

The cycle of creative destruction in which business and industry turn over their technology every two or three years has given us an economic nirvana.

So where does this leave us in terms of the November election?

The voters expect prosperity. Whether Al Gore or Texas Gov. George W. Bush is elected, the economic juggernaut should continue to role.

If the people truly have a sense that good times are not the result of government activity, this election could actually turn on the restoration of honor and dignity to the presidency.

Carl LaVerghetta

Ellicott City

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