Wider highways will not resolve congestion woes

Why are we committed to the escalation of the commuter wars ("Wider section of I-95 planned," April 24)?


Apparently the logic here is that we should widen and extend highways to accommodate the present overload of automobile traffic - in such a way that we will encourage high-density residential development that will massively add to the congestion.

I expect that we will schedule such "improvements" as new schools in such a way as to make them inadequate before they are complete. We will, moreover, ignore alternative or related strategies such as public transportation that, in addition to alleviating traffic, would be more environmentally sound.


Has anyone bothered to do a breakdown of the hidden costs of such myopia? Or have we handed the whole notion of Smart Growth over to those who are smartest at growing their bank accounts?

Hey, here's a thought: How about launching a focused campaign to improve MARC service and increase ridership at the same time that we are expanding Interstate 95 and Route 43?

Or how about making reliable and convenient public transportation a major selling feature of the residential communities from White Marsh and Perryville?

Why not strengthen our families and serve our society by transferring a couple of the daily commute hours to our children, our neighbors and - gasp - to ourselves?

Ellen B. Cutler


Renting museum was a bad idea

State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick did the right thing about a bad plan ("Grasmick rejects plan for school at museum," April 25).


Now, since the city owns the museum and needs a place for the school, why not let the school take over the space occupied by the museum and pay the same fee that the museum pays?

As for the museum, since it attracts visitors but does not make money, why not put it in a small corner of the convention center, which needs something to attract visitors?

Who knows, maybe the Port Discovery operators can convince the convention center to pay them to move there.

Oscar Schabb


Innovative initiative to extend health care


Presidential candidate Rep. Richard A. Gephardt should be commended for his recently announced plan to offer health care coverage to some of the 41 million Americans currently without health insurance by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans ("Gephardt calls for repeal of Bush tax cuts," April 24).

If they had shown as much imagination and dedication to the poorest among us while they held the reins of power, the Democrats might still be the majority party today.

Dave Goldsmith


The writer is Baltimore County Green Party coordinator.

Gephardt's plan adds to dependency


The medical insurance plan proposed by Rep. Richard A. Gephardt is just another Democratic dependency bill ("Gephardt calls for repeal of Bush tax cuts," April 24). The plan is just a roundabout way to take tax dollars directly from earners to purchase health care for others.

The politicians need to get insurance regulations under control and create more and better-paying jobs, not more taxes and welfare.

Charles Hodge


Let U.N. inspectors search for weapons

So can we conclude there probably are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?


It seems that if the United States had any expectation of finding evidence of such weapons, it would make more sense to let the United Nations find them and give the finding some legitimacy ("No role in arms search for U.N.," April 23).

Pete Westover

Windsor Mill

Md. goes wrong way on election payments

As Sens. John McCain and Russell D. Feingold try to wring the influence of money out of political campaigns, Maryland is going in the wrong direction ("Election Day payment ban is overturned," April 25).

And now that Maryland's law barring Election Day payments has been overturned, what does Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. plan to do about it?


Stephen S. Howard


Settle slots dispute with real referendum

Several recent writers have suggested that the state legislature's unwillingness to approve the governor's slots proposal was a direct denial of the will the people expressed on Election Day ("Casting blame for budget woes," April 19).

Yet I remember the last election, including races for members of both houses of the legislature as well as for governor. Could it be that the other people each of us voted for in November did not find the governor's proposal compatible with the best interests of their constituents?

Could it be that the rejection of an ill-conceived slots plan was truly representative of the people's views?


Rather than considering the last election a referendum on slots and gambling, let's just have such a referendum.

Let the governor put his proposal before the people - including information on who will profit and how the money will be distributed - and let the people vote directly on the issue in the next statewide election.

But short of a plebiscite, let's support our elected representatives and let them do their jobs.

Mac Nachlas


Flight attendants seek fair contract


As president of Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents Southwest Airlines' flight attendants, I am writing in response to remarks made by analyst Ray Neidl in The Sun's article "Southwest Airlines' profit climbs even as rivals fall away" (April 22) regarding our attempts to secure the contract our flight attendants deserve.

Mr. Neidl comments: "You would think the employees would be a little more moderate in this environment, but it seems like, if anything, they are getting more aggressive."

In the last two years, Southwest has negotiated new contracts with every other work group at the airline, including an interim agreement with its pilots, who were not even due for negotiations until 2004.

Our flight attendants have been working under the same contract since December 1997 - one that pays them less than flight attendants at every other major carrier make, and will do so even after the pending American Airlines concessions.

During the years of this contract, Southwest has enjoyed substantial growth and profitability. Our flight attendants want the airline to remain successful and profitable.

We are currently negotiating a contract that will allow them to continue to provide the same excellent customer service and allow us to keep and hire the good people who have kept Southwest Airlines at the head of the pack.


Thom McDaniel