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Brain injury victims need more help from the state

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Thank you for The Sun's recent article on traumatic brain injury ("Brain injury: recovery and a lift of rediscovery," Sept. 19). As medical technology improves, stories like that of Alan Forman will increasingly be the norm, which is a message of hope for the 6,000 Marylanders each year who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

It is important, however, to note that Maryland's funding commitment to persons with TBI has not kept pace with the miracles of technology.

Currently, our state's budget includes no line for TBI. Persons injured before the age of 22 may be eligible for funding through the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

But older patients have limited or no access to necessary services that private insurance doesn't cover, such as case management, rehabilitation and care supports that allow them to live outside of nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals.

More than 10 years ago, a task force commissioned by then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer brought together legislators, providers and other experts to discuss the shortcomings of the service delivery system for persons with brain and spinal cord injuries. The task force made numerous recommendations for improvement.

Unfortunately, most of them have yet to be realized, leaving TBI survivors and their families with the same Herculean struggles they faced when the report was issued in 1989.

At present, 22 states have funding dedicated to serving persons with TBI. Maryland should be added to that list.

Lori Doyle

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of Maryland Inc

Bridge project should be open to non-union building firms

I applaud The Sun for its editorial "Unionizing a costly bridge" (Sept. 20).

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which links Maryland to Virginia over the Potomac River, is in dire need of repair. Maryland, Virginia and the federal government agreed on a new bridge design and to share its $2 billion cost.

The federal government has already set aside $900 million and both states have agreed to pay $200 million each. But with a funding shortfall of $600 million, we all need assurances that the project will stay on-time and on-budget.

Like The Sun, I expect the work to be put out to competitive bid. However, the governor's plan to restrict competition to union-only companies would exclude 85 percent of Maryland contractors, including most minority contractors. It would prevent a fair and open bidding process and leave the bridge susceptible to delays and cost overruns.

I trust the governor will not put political paybacks ahead of taxpayers and, more important, the safety of Maryland drivers.

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Washington

The writer represents Maryland's 2nd District in the House of Representatives.

Give the symphony a home by the harbor

After reading the articles by Edward Gunts and Tim Smith ("Icon in stone and steel" and "Baltimore Opera's next stage," Sept. 24) about new landmark building in Baltimore, I'd like to offer a suggestion.

I am an ex-Bostonian and have always believed the Inner Harbor area would be an excellent location for an outdoor/indoor esplanade for our symphony orchestra -- similar to the one on the Charles River in the Boston/Cambridge area.

Imagine our Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other guest symphony orchestras entertaining huge crowds at the Inner Harbor, indoors and outdoors.

Occasions such as July 4 and Christmas and other special events would attract music lovers and tourists from around the country and the world.

There is strong support for the BSO already, and the Inner Harbor area would provide a superb platform for its skills and beautiful music.

Ron Parsons

Glen Burnie

Vote for Gov. Bush so that Baldwin will go

As The Sun's front-page article "Struggle for swing votes" (Sept. 18) indicated, a lot of Marylanders, including myself, are undecided on whom to vote for in the forthcoming presidential election.

Fortunately, a second article in the same day's "Today" section helped me make my decision.

The article noted that Alec Baldwin, of Hollywood fame, has stated that if a Republican wins the election, he will relocate outside of the United States ("Baldwin's promise," Sept. 18).

That being the case, I have decided to vote for Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Tom Grimes

West Friendship

Maryland's marching moms are working hard to stop guns

I would like to inform the writer of the recent letter "What happened to the mothers marching for gun control?" (Sept. 14), and other Sun readers, that the million moms have been very busy since May.

We have been forming chapters all across the country including several chapters right here in Maryland.

We have been surveying local candidates on their position on gun control and working to educate and register voters.

The moms have definitely not been silent, nor do we have plans to become silent any time soon.

We did not just come together on Mother's Day for a "feel good" rally. We put our elected officials on notice that day that we would not rest until we saw the passage of sensible gun legislation such as the licensing and registration of guns.

We have every intention of sticking with this movement until leaders hear our demands for safer communities for our children and do something about them.

Lisa Azzaro

Baltimore

The writer was Baltimore chapter organizer for the Million Mom March.

To stop the carnage, repeal the Second Amendment

The frightening number of firearms injuries in Baltimore is but a small reflection of the situation in the entire country. Each year, about 33,000 Americans are killed by individuals armed with guns. This number is about equal to the number of American fatalities in the Korean War.

The Constitution gives American citizens the right to bear arms. The idea was sound when game was needed for the table and marauders were prominent. But the advent of grocery stores and of the police have provided ways to meets those needs.

The only way to decrease the number of gun fatalities is to repeal the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Joseph M. Miller

Timonium

Article should have told readers how to stop dog trade

I tried to tell myself that the article "Raising dogs for profit in China" (Sept. 10) made people aware of the problem. But, ultimately, I had to conclude that it was essentially worthless.

The problem is that the author did not tell readers what to do. The writer informs the reader of facts that will make any American sick, but says nothing about what the reader is supposed to do about it.

What are we supposed to do? Distribute copies to everyone we know? Hate all Chinese and Koreans? Write our congressman, the president?

The article could have offered action that readers could take. As it is, all we readers are left with is the thought, "Who are these people who would view the St. Bernard as a source of profit, and measure them in dollars per pound?"

And we are left only to write a letter to the editor, a relatively ineffective option.

Michael Varley

Baltimore

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