Baltimore County isn't cutting support for public schools
The local media have reported that my administration seeks to reduce the Baltimore County Board of Education's fiscal 2002 budget by up to $20 million to stay within spending affordability guidelines - guidelines we must follow to protect the county's financial integrity ("Executive's budget pledge faces test," March 1).
I want to make it absolutely clear that a reduction in the board's proposed budget for fiscal 2002 does not mean a cut in school funding. In fact, school funding will substantially increase next year.
The current school budget includes a $598 million contribution from the county. The school board is asking for $643 million in county funds in 2002. Even with a $20 million reduction, our schools would get $25 million more next year than they are receiving now.
This administration has invested unprecedented money in education. The school system's operating budget has grown 43 percent over the past five years, from $444 million to $598 million.
We have treated, and will continue to treat, education as a top priority, even as we strive to live within our means.
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
The writer is county executive of Baltimore County.
'Payday loans' only compound poverty
I would like to know whose interest it serves to relegate consumers to greater poverty through high-interest loans.
What the "payday loans" bill would do is compound poverty for low-wage earners. What's even more appalling is that representatives from some of the poorest districts in Baltimore initially signed on to support the legislation ("Branch ends support for payday loan bill," March 1).
Whose interest is really being served in Annapolis - that of constituents or of the national coalition of payday lenders?
Stumbling over sentences isn't Townsend's big failing
The Sun devoted a lengthy, front-page article to Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's tendency to misspeak - even though that failing has little to do with her worthiness to be governor ("Townsend foes finding arsenal in her words," Feb. 21).
Like most voters, I suspect, I don't care whether words trip effortlessly off Ms. Townsend's tongue. I care about her grasp of issues and whether she can manage a large government.
But, while other potential candidates have proven that they know how to run a government, the lieutenant governor remains completely untested.
That's a much greater concern than whether she stumbles over sentences.
Joseph C. Tarshish
Property rights of neighbors also deserve consideration
When he voted not to include two Catonsville properties on Baltimore County's landmarks bill, Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley did not consider the property rights of neighboring property-owners ("'Baltimore County mansion omitted from landmark list," Feb. 24).
Under the historic preservation section of the county code, their rights include retention of their heritage, as embodied in historic buildings, and stabilized and improved property values.
Although the code does not force Mr. Moxley to use any specific guidelines to decide which properties are part of the landmarks bill, it does provide guidelines and a Landmark Preservation Commission to apply those guidelines and make findings.
Getting lots of letters about nice houses is not a satisfactory basis for deciding about their historic significance.
Double-parkers cause downtown gridlock
The Sun's article on traffic blocking downtown intersections left out the major cause of the traffic problem ("Steps to clear gridlock begin," Feb. 24).
On the streets the article mentioned, on just about any workday, there are always delivery trucks, parcel and express trucks, cabs and other allegedly important vehicles double-parked, and in some instances triple-parked, and blocking one or two lanes of traffic.
But here, as always, it appears that Baltimore is attacking the problem's symptom rather than the cause.
David L. Leiberman
Poor transit planning can hurt residential areas
If transportation planners talked more to their land-use counterparts maybe they could figure out how to provide public transportation without destroying the quality of life of residential neighborhoods the Mass Transit Administration (MTA) routes its buses through ("Transportation-land use link," editorial, Feb. 22).
Take Kenilworth Drive in Towson, for example. In the early 1990s complete disregard was shown for the residents of this street so the MTA could create a major east-west connection between Charles Street and Bosley Avenue.
Now, windows rattle and the viability of this residential neighborhood has been compromised in the name of "providing public transportation."
Regardless of the cost, Maryland residents should not have to sacrifice their quality of life to the MTA.
If the hiring of three new planners can stop my house from shaking, I say: Go for it.
The writer is president of the Riderwood Hills Community Association.
International 'gag rule' leads to more abortions
The Sun's article about a Planned Parenthood program in South Africa provided a perfect illustration of the absurdity of the "global gag rule" ("Abortion policy in a time of AIDS" (Feb. 28). That rule is absolutely counter-productive.
The gag rule prohibits public support to agencies providing abortion services or counseling, even if they are funded privately. Government funding of overseas abortions has been illegal since 1973.
Started under President Reagan, the gag rule continued until it was suspended by President Clinton.
Now it has been reinstated by President Bush. The inevitable result will be less family planning and more abortions. The equation is as simple as 2+ 2 = 4.
Carleton W. Brown
Coverage trivialized Ralph Nader's ideas
I was extremely disappointed by the article on Ralph Nader's visit to Baltimore ("It's not easy being green," Feb. 25).
Instead of treating Mr. Nader's participation in the Johns Hopkins Foreign Affairs Symposium as a news event or part of an intellectual discourse, writer Gary Dorsey chose instead to regurgitate insults and angry rhetoric propagated by bitter members of the Democratic Party.
By downplaying the intellectual reason for Mr. Nader's visit and focusing instead on catty attempts to attack his character, The Sun is maintaining the same biased coverage it exhibited during the election.
Apparently images are more important than issues, and no attention should be given to the political ideas that exist outside our two-party system.