Ehrlich's choice of new lobbyist poses no conflict
The conflict-of-interest case advanced in "Ehrlich's pick draws praise, and questions" (Jan. 22) against the appointment of retired Del. Paul Weisengoff as a legislative lobbyist for the Ehrlich administration is most unimpressive.
The only critics named in the article are a former state senator whose excessive moralizing made him a very ineffective legislator and a spokesman for a self-righteous "reform" group that sees political corruption everywhere.
During his lengthy tenure in the General Assembly, Mr. Weisengoff was a master at shepherding bills through to passage or stopping them in their tracks. And he became perhaps the most knowledgeable legislator ever regarding the horse racing industry.
In recent years, racetrack owners have, quite legitimately, availed themselves of these talents by employing him as a lobbyist in Annapolis.
Likewise, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is firmly on record in support of legislation providing for slot machines at the racetracks, has equally legitimately employed the uniquely qualified Mr. Weisengoff to help him - and the clear majority of Marylanders who agree with him on this issue - accomplish this goal.
There is no conflict here. And the suggestion that Mr. Weisengoff will clandestinely be working for anyone other than the governor is a cheap shot.
Barry C. Steel
Glendening's budget was more vindictive
"Groups hope cuts aren't political," said the headline on an article about the governor's budget (Jan. 23).
But given that the previous administration spent the state into the poorhouse, some cuts are inevitable, and unfortunately, some worthy causes may fall victim, including some of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s opponents' favorite causes.
However, I feel confident that the cuts made by this governor will approach neither in scope nor in vindictiveness those imposed on areas deemed "unfriendly," notably Carroll County, during the eight Glendening years.
And when will The Sun stop looking for muck to rake where there is none?
Nancy C. Cantville
Choice to gamble is individual matter
Gambling is gambling, no matter who owns it or profits from it; it is a personal choice to play or not play.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's liberal lament about "people cashing in their Social Security checks at slot machine palaces" is based on the Democratic approach of allowing government to protect us from ourselves ("Don't gamble away Maryland's future," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 23).
But what makes Mr. Duncan think there is a difference between the state lottery, which seems to come up with a new game every two weeks, and slot machines? The people who will line up at the slots are the same ones who now cash in their Social Security checks to play the lottery.
It's about personal choice and personal responsibility.
A city giveaway on the west side
Every time I think the City Council, and the mayor's office, can't sink any lower, they perform yet another Robin Hood-in-reverse, taking from the taxpayers and giving to the wealthiest corporations.
The article "City to help bank pay costs of cleanup" (Jan. 22) related that after losing $6 million of my money by selling land on the west side to Bank of America, the city's Board of Estimates is going to give the bank yet another $1.5 million for asbestos removal.
Wouldn't it be easier to simply have the city do all of the renovation and construction at public expense, and then give it all over to Bank of America so the bank would have no risk or expense at all?
This looks to me like a welfare payment to Bank of America of almost $7.5 million. And this while we are laying off schoolteachers?
City can't be trusted with anti-terror funds
I agree with Mayor Martin O'Malley that homeland security starts with the first-responders in our cities and counties ("Mayors say anti-terror money from U.S. hung up at state level," Jan. 23).
However, in light of the budget debacle at the Baltimore school system, I have to question the wisdom of sending big chunks of cash directly to the city.
Third World solution for city schools' woes
Perhaps it is time to advance a bit of political heresy in this season of political finger-pointing, and suggest that maybe the current administration of the Baltimore public school system ought to be granted debt forgiveness ("The empty jar," editorial, Jan. 25).
This is similar to suggestions from much of the world that the World Bank and other first-world lenders should forgive Third World debt, which was accumulated in the name of poor nations but actually enriched their corrupt and inept rulers and their cronies.
In the case of the Third World nation known as Baltimore public school system, the bulk of the inept (and possibly corrupt) leaders are gone, new business and audit practices have been put into place to prevent their recurrence and all that remains is the untenable debt left by the previous administrations.
Just as the vast majority of poor people in the Third World did not incur (or benefit) from the profligate borrowing and spending in their nations, neither are the vast majority of hard-working teachers and principals, much less the children, of the city school system responsible for the system's budget woes.
Fining panhandlers makes little sense
I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but it seems to me that citing panhandlers for requesting money and punishing them for doing so with a fine is a rather stupid idea ("Businesses to push for law to curb begging," Jan. 22). Those who panhandle aggressively ("bullies") should be treated as bullies. But the cops who respond should issue not a citation but rather a $5 or $10 gift card for a food joint and an address for or a ride to a shelter.
I certainly do not welcome aggressive panhandling, and have brushed off many beggars. But it sure hurts to know that money spent to study and proceed with this proposal has not been used to help those who need it most.
Stephan B. Brooks
Don't tax the spirits made in Maryland
Michael M. Gimbel's suggestion to raise the taxes on alcohol to offset the deficit should include one exception: No tax should be raised on alcohol produced here in Maryland ("Higher taxes on alcohol raise funds, save lives," letters, Jan. 24). Our state's breweries and wineries have a hard enough time as it is complying with Maryland's bureaucracy and restrictive distribution laws.
Let's protect our state's own brewing industry first.
The writer is the great-great-grandson of the founder of the Bauern- schmidt Brewery.