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Tax on tickets should aid those who are injured

The Sun recently ran an article outlining Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.'s proposal to fund the Hagerstown Shock Trauma Center by imposing a surcharge on traffic tickets, an idea that appears to be gaining momentum with legislators ("Trauma surgeons' payment discussed," Aug. 23).

A similar plan has been proposed the past two years as part of legislation sponsored by state Sen. Delores G. Kelley and Del. Jacob J. Mohorovic Jr. Their bill would fund critically needed services for the 6,000 Marylanders who suffer a traumatic brain injury each year through a traffic ticket surcharge. The proposal has gained support with the help of brain injury survivors and their families who have worked hard to educate legislators about the dire need for alternatives to costly institutional care for persons suffering head injuries.

But all this effort may come to naught if legislators are convinced that paying trauma surgeons is a more deserving cause than the needs of young adults who spend their lives in taxpayer-supported nursing homes and state psychiatric hospitals because there are no other choices for them.

Ironically, it is the trauma center physicians who help keep these individuals alive, only to have them sentenced to life in a back ward.

Surely both trauma physicians and survivors of brain injuries deserve better. In a state as rich as Maryland it seems unconscionable, even in a tight budget year, that adequate funding can't be found for the trauma center and for trauma victims.

Lori Doyle


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

Md. leaders should clash over spending

The Sun reported that the governor believes Comptroller William Donald Schaefer "used his position on the Board of Public Works to demean officials who come before the board and as a platform to attack the administration's agenda" ("Governor endorses Willis over Schaefer," Aug. 24).

We all know that Mr. Schaefer can be acerbic and downright mean-spirited. We also know that he doesn't suffer fools lightly.

When Mr. Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore and then governor of Maryland, we all groaned at his antics. But we recognized that they were part of a complex man who was and still is driven to do his best for all of the people.

As for the accusation that Mr. Schaefer used his position on the board to attack the governor's agenda, I say, hooray for Mr. Schaefer.

Mr. Glendening squandered the state's surplus on political pork barrel projects and led the state into a deficit.

The comptroller is responsible for the state's fiscal solvency. Mr. Glendening is showing his legendary petulance by whining about Mr. Schaefer actually doing the job he was elected to do.

Frederick J. Koenig


Drought rules, virus advice may conflict

One of the water-use restrictions the governor imposed is to permit the use of hand-held watering devices on gardens, shrubs, trees and landscaping only between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.("Governor tightens water limits for Central Maryland, Shore," Aug. 28).

But because of another potential crisis, the spread of the West Nile virus from other parts of the country, officials are advising Maryland residents to avoid exposure to mosquitoes, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most prevalent.

Restricting the hours of hand-held watering appears to be a relatively insignificant way to deal with our water shortage.

And it may increase Marylanders' risk of West Nile virus, by sending them out during peak mosquito hours to water their shrubs.

Berryl A. Speert


An attack on Iraq would be unlawful

I agree totally with The Sun's editorial "Consulting on Iraq" (Aug. 28). As it says, "If the White House decides America should go it alone, the president needs to have Congress and the country behind him."

However, I believe strongly that this is not enough. If America should go it alone, without the agreement of the United Nations and the full collaboration of our allies, America would be an aggressor and would violate international law.

And, in an age of weapons of mass destruction, lawlessness is the greatest danger to people everywhere.

Walter Ehrlich


More inclusive Israel is real key to peace

Ultimately, the violence in the Middle East, and even that of Sept. 11, can be traced to a perceived wrong: The fact that the Palestinians want to have what was once theirs.

This desire will never be completely satisfied given that Israel has been given the right to exist.

So where is a solution? I offer this: The U.S. government should state that it supports Israel because it is one of the few democracies in the region (and thus an ally).

But democracy to me means a form of government that represents the people. Israel's form of government is a democracy only for people of one faith, and to me that runs counter to what our government should be supporting.

If the United States insists that Israel's government include all of the people of the land (as a democracy should), both Jews and Palestinians will be the masters of their futures and peace will come to the region.

Frank Minor


Unofficially, Saudis do support terrorism

The writer of the letter "Funding terror isn't the policy of Saudi Arabia" (Aug. 22) obviously has a very narrow view of Saudi Arabia.

The evidence is overwhelming of the duplicity of not only the Saudi Arabian government but its ambassadors and ministers, who have attempted to present a peaceful face to the American public while funding terrorism worldwide against not only our friends but U.S. citizens both here and abroad.

The Saudi government may state that funding terror is not its official policy, but that certainly is the nation's unofficial stance.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

Ten Commandments endorse no religion

The Sun's article "ACLU seeks removal of stone" (Aug. 24) says that Baltimore attorney Dwight H. Sullivan's complaint calls "the placement of the tablets [the Ten Commandments] on government property an endorsement of religion that violates the First Amendment."

The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But there is a big difference between establishing a specific religion and the endorsement of religion in general.

And the Ten Commandments are not unique to a specific religion, but are common to many religions.

Richard Tatlow


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