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Communications bill would hurt consumers and limit...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Communications bill would hurt consumers and limit competition

Andrew Ratner's article "Telephone giants mimic little guys" (May 5) characterized the struggle for local telephone competition as political maneuvering by large companies. But as a consumer and a businessman, I know what local telephone competition would mean to me: more choices, better service and lower prices.

The federal legislation discussed in the article would be bad for consumers. It's that simple. A handful of phone monopolies would benefit and consumers, competitors -- everyone else -- would suffer.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act took years to fashion and was a reasonable compromise among all segments of the industry and those who regulate them.

It's time for local monopolies to comply with the act and open their markets. They don't need new legislation to be allowed into long distance. All they need to do is comply with the act already in place.

Here in Maryland, Verizon has blocked competition in the local phone market and still controls 97 percent of all local telephone lines. If Verizon isn't stopped, we will soon see the remonopolization of all consumer telecommunication services.

Then consumers and small businesses will never have choice and lower prices for local phone service.

G.I. Johnson

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

McVeigh's crime cries out for harshest possible penalty

The controversy about Timothy McVeigh's execution is ridiculous ("McVeigh looking anew at options," May 14). He has admitted guilt in killing 186 people and injuring more than 800 and causing millions of dollars in damage to property.

Would some of the people who argue on McVeigh's behalf adopt a similar attitude toward Adolph Hitler or those of his ilk?

Some crimes beg for the application of a maximum penalty.

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

Taxing nonprofits hurts those who help the city

As a Baltimorean who shares Mayor Martin O'Malley's concern for the city's welfare, my initial response to his proposal that the city's nonprofit institutions pay an 8 percent energy tax was that it could be a reasonable proposal.

But as a clergyman who has devoted most of his ministry to struggling city churches, I have concluded that the mayor's proposal is not only a mistake, but, as the Rev. William Au delineates, a failure to recognize the ways many of our struggling city churches are already contributing more than their fair share ("Baltimore's nonprofits already pay a fair share," Opinion Commentary, May 10).

They continue to provide services to city citizens, even when they are hurting financially from the movement of many of their members to the suburbs.

John Mote

Baltimore

Throwing money at the city won't make Baltimore safe

Throwing more money at Baltimore is like pouring water over a raging fire.

Safety is the issue, but the solution is not to create a police state where safety is predicated on the visible firepower roaming the streets.

You create a fire-break by taking away the fuel for the fire.

Without an effective solution to the sickness that breeds crimes (drugs, illiteracy, illegitimacy, etc.) all the policemen in the world won't make the city a comfortable place to live, work or visit.

Lynn Beattie

Baltimore

Constant wail of sirens makes suburbs look good

I am writing to expose Mayor Martin O'Malley's secret weapon against crime. I am speaking, of course, of the constant barrage of sirens which punctuate every night, around our home near 29th and Howard streets.

Under the previous mayor, the din of sirens was mostly limited to Friday and Saturday nights. Now it occurs all the time.

Well, it's working. Neither we nor our other middle-class neighbors have committed any street crimes since sirens became a constant, all-night feature of city life. Heck, some mornings we're almost too tired to go to work, much less mug anyone.

Those nice, quiet suburbs are starting to look pretty good.

Jon Ayscue

Baltimore

Court's compassion matches its respect for democracy

The same Supreme Court justices who took it upon themselves to appoint a president have now banned medical marijuana ("Justices rule out medical marijuana," May 15), thus demonstrating that their compassion matches their respect for democracy.

Richard G Berman

Baltimore

Congress must act to cut delays frequent fliers face

As a travel agent, the new study that shows that airline travel has gotten worse in the past year was hardly a surprise ("Air travel delays likely to continue, official says," May 4). I've been hearing the horror stories from my clients.

It is a mystery to me, and everyone else who serves as an advocate for travelers, why Congress allows this deterioration of air passenger treatment to continue.

Last year, Congress had the opportunity to pass passenger-rights legislation, only to be swayed by the silky talk and massive lobbying dollars of the airlines. One year later, the airlines continue to operate with impunity and the pile of passenger complaints grows ever higher.

It is time for everyone to realize that the power to effect positive change lies not in the boardrooms of the airlines, whose sole interest is in their bottom lines, but on Capitol Hill. Is anyone up there listening?

Sue Thompson

Cockeysville

Bicycling to work isn't a very practical option

Riding a bike to work sounds great, until you think about the logistics ("To work on two wheels," May 12) Few people are able to hop off their bikes and get started on their work day. People need to take showers, have a change of clothing and find a place to store the bike.

I'm no glamour girl, but taking a long bike ride with a helmet on makes my hair pretty much unpresentable, so that shower would need to include a hair-washing and blow-dry. Are most businesses equipped with the facilities bike-riding employees would need? I don't think so.

All the hoopla from the mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council is pretty cavalier. The time and money they spend promoting cycling to work would be better spent making public transportation more practical.

Then maybe people wouldn't spend so much time waiting, and would have time to get home and go for a bike ride.

Pamela Tanton

Baltimore

Those who give of themselves merit the happiest of returns

What a beautiful story: I loved reading about Mary ("The good, the sad, the loved," Opinion Commentary, May 13).

And what perfect timing -- on the most wonderful day of the year, Mother's Day.

God bless Mary and people like her who give of themselves every day to care for the infants at the Foxleigh Development Center. They give so much. I only hope they receive much more in return.

Marge Griffith

Pasadena

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