Unfair to make teachers pay for budget shortfall

While I understand that few options are available because of underfunding and mismanagement of the city schools' budget, attempts to scapegoat teachers if they refuse a pay cut are ridiculous ("Schools chief preparing layoff plan if teachers reject pay cut, furlough," Feb. 4).

Somehow, the school system (and The Sun, at times) has decided that it's only fair for teachers to help solve the budget problems of their employer. But it makes little more sense for teachers to take a pay cut than for the writers at The Sun to do so. Neither group holds any blame for the school district's financial problems, so why should either group have to pay for those difficulties?

It's is a bit like telling the employees at Enron to pay for that company's problems.

City schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland wants to guilt teachers into accepting her unfair demands by talking about the needs of the children. Teachers understand those needs better than anyone, but they have mortgages, electric bills and, yes, children of their own.

The message she needs to get is this: The school system is really going to be "bankrupt" when teachers leave to find a new job, and some respect.

Jeremy Skinner


The writer teaches at Baltimore's Cross Country Elementary School.

Report exaggerates the city's job losses

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore's 2003 "State of Downtown" Report contains much useful information and accurately cites the many improvements in the downtown area.

However, its statement that Baltimore lost 15,500 jobs last year and its attribution of that comment to the Baltimore Development Corp. are both wrong ("Harbor thrives, downtown lags," Jan 30).

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Baltimore had 386,100 jobs in June 2003, compared with 390,000 in June 2002 - a loss of 3,900 jobs. Using BLS' annual averages, Baltimore had 384,000 jobs in 2003 (through November), compared with 386,900 in 2002 - a loss of 2,900 jobs.

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Baltimore had a second quarter 2003 average employment of 368,454 jobs, compared with 370,102 in the second quarter of 2002 - a loss of 1,648 jobs.

While there are some variations between the figures, there is a significant difference between these job statistics and those in the Downtown Partnership's report.

Yet notwithstanding the "jobless economic recovery" of the last several years, Baltimore's economic development is making steady progress.

The evidence - in construction cranes and scaffolds - abounds in downtown as well as in many neighborhoods. We are confident that these combined private and public investments bode well for job growth in Baltimore and throughout the region.

M. J. Brodie


The writer is president of the Baltimore Development Corp.

Fees, slot machines are just covert taxes

Our state budget must be balanced. Like it or not, tax and pay is the only way. The slot machine ploy is a new tax disguised under another name. A spate of other taxes are also being proposed, using a name game to avoid calling them taxes ("No new taxes in budget but many will pay more," Feb. 1).

But that's deceptive. Fees, charges, levies, licenses and all charges like them imposed by government are taxes. Worse still, this name game targets individual activities and produces helter-skelter taxes that are neither equitable nor efficient.

The slots proposal came first, but others are coming fast: flush fees, car fees, slip fees - what's next?

I'm confident that the governor can give us good-government taxation. But it will take courage, and he must drop the gimmicks, including slots.

James B. Coulter


Giving slots to tracks costs state too much

According to the article "Slots proponents see windfall in licenses" (Jan. 31), casino licenses can be worth from $300 million to $1 billion if auctioned to the highest bidder.

If we follow Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal and grant licenses to four racetracks, the state would thus lose between $1.2 billion and $4 billion in potential revenue.

That is far too much money for Maryland to throw away.

Let the state build the casinos and hire a company to run them.

Kurt S. Willem


Who will oversee voting machines?

The state's new voting machines ("Security measures urged for new voting machines," Jan. 30) have given new meaning to Russian dictator Josef Stalin's infamous statement: "It's not the votes that count, it's who counts the votes."

A. Robert Kaufman


Immigration policies push U.S. into the red

Yeh Ling-Ling has it exactly right. The United States cannot solve any of its domestic problems until the country addresses the mass immigration now flooding America ("We won't solve nation's problems without first targeting immigration," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 28).

Almost every state in the United States faces a budget shortfall. The federal government is running yearly budget deficits of $300 billion to $400 billion (or more). And, oh yes, the United States currently has a $7 trillion national debt.

Immigration advocates never address the obvious question: In a bankrupt United States, who will pay for all of the schools, sewers, hospitals, roads, etc. for the millions of immigrants flooding into the country?

The United States cannot provide jobs for all of its own citizens. Why continue to import millions of immigrants - most of whom are uneducated, low-skilled and non-English-speaking - who make huge demands for U.S. tax dollars for health care, education, welfare and housing?

In the face of these stark facts, the Bush plan to give amnesty to 8 million to 12 million illegal immigrants is absurd, and the Democrats' amnesty ideas are no better.

A nation that refuses to control its own borders and find work for its own citizens is no longer a nation.

Michael Holden


Episcopalians learn to accept differences

While some Episcopalians will leave their parish churches, many, if not most, will stay ("Congregations' split like a painful divorce," Jan. 30). They will stay and continue to debate the reading of Scripture and this latest Anglican "hot potato."

There have been others. Many of us remember the fierce and furious debates about church-sanctified marriages of people who were once divorced, and the issue of the ordination of women. Now we agree and approve of both these radical ideas.

I say let's stay together to honor each other and the church to which we belong together as a community.

With an effort at understanding, we will resolve this hot issue and learn to live, as we must, with our differences.

Dee Huddles


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