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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Hug's two roles tarnish claim of ethical change

I followed with amazement the story regarding the governor's political ally, Richard E. Hug, and his lobbying efforts on behalf of the governor's fight to bring slots to Maryland to solve the state's budget woes ("Ehrlich ally criticized for pro-slots role," Feb. 7).

As a recently retired federal employee, I worked in half a dozen states over my career. I have seen infamous political machines in New York, Boston and Chicago at work. What I witnessed in this story does not have to take a back seat to any of the political shenanigans in any of those venues.

An Ehrlich-appointed member of the Maryland Board of Regents is caught soliciting funds for the lobbying effort in favor of the governor's position on slots. This type of coercion on the part of a government official should never be tolerated - in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois or Maryland.

When the governor took office, he promised to bring a new attitude to his office. But this latest disappointment demonstrates the current governor is no different from the long line of Democratic and Republican politicians in this state and country who have given lip service to changing government and acting ethically but whose actions illustrate their moral bankruptcy.

And the fact that the governor's knee-jerk reaction was to issue a statement that suggests it would be ridiculous to ask Mr. Hug to step down from his position with the Board of Regents while he actively lobbies for the governor's slots program was all too predictable.

Mr. Ehrlich has become what he claimed to oppose.

Richard A. Stone

Owings Mills

Smoke and mirrors to thwart public will

When will House Speaker Michael E. Busch get the message and stop thwarting the will of the people? His most recent obstructionist tack - decrying Richard E. Hug's involvement with fund raising for slots - is just another batch of smoke and mirrors designed to obscure and confound the real issue ("Ehrlich ally criticized for pro-slots role," Feb. 7).

The citizens of Maryland gave the nod to slots when they elected Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. They continue to vote with their feet and their wallets on a daily basis each time they cross the state line on their way to dumping more Maryland money at out-of-state slots emporiums.

In spite of the misguided, pious beliefs of some Marylanders, slots are not "beneath" us. Maryland needs the revenue that slots would provide.

The act of (horrors!) gambling is committed in Maryland everyday. People want to gamble. People do gamble. People will gamble, legally or not, locally or not.

And it may be weird or it may be funny, but it's a fact of life that folks would rather fill state coffers with a chance at winning something or by being entertained than by simply paying higher taxes.

Mr. Busch and his ilk need to stop playing silly political games and seriously work on compromise strategies that will fulfill the will of the people.

Allen Johnson

Columbia

It's Busch who shows a conflict of interest

How dare House Speaker Michael E. Busch even suggest that there is conflict of interest in Richard E. Hug raising money for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. while serving on the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland ("Ehrlich ally criticized for pro-slots role," Feb. 7).

Mr. Hug's actions are not in conflict and do not negatively impact Maryland citizens.

On the other hand, Mr. Busch directs state money (from all of the taxpayers of Maryland) to the Anne Arundel Department of Recreation and Parks, where he happens to be assistant to the director.

It is obvious that Mr. Busch is so consumed by partisan politics that his commitment to the voters of his district and all the citizens of Maryland is severely compromised.

James Pelura III

Davidsonville

The writer is a member of the Republican Central Committee of Anne Arundel County.

GOP plays politics with building funds

It is a shame and a disgrace that many of the Republican elected officials in Baltimore County are playing politics with our school construction funding ("County reflects shift in power," Feb. 8).

When it comes to very critical, nonpartisan school construction funding, Baltimore County Republicans and Democrats should always present a unified front. Many other counties are competing for exceptionally limited school construction funds, and it is imperative to demonstrate cohesion at the Maryland Board of Public Works.

It is simply irresponsible, and a disservice to the taxpayers of Baltimore County, for Republican lawmakers to neglect the needs of their constituents this way.

Thomas E. Quirk

Catonsville

Insurance review is attack on Redmer

As a Baltimore County citizen, I am deeply concerned about Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s motivation for deciding to pay Steven B. Larsen, the state's former insurance commissioner, to conduct a review of the insurance industry's handling of claims for damage caused by Tropical Storm Isabel ("Senate asked to block Redmer's confirmation," Feb. 9).

Since this devastating storm inflicted damage on parts of Baltimore County, state Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. has maintained the same genuine concern for his fellow citizens of Baltimore County that characterized his three terms as a member of the House of Delegates.

Mr. Smith's efforts have nothing to do with evaluating his perceived inadequacies in the regulation of the insurance industry in the aftermath of Isabel and everything to do with criticizing someone whom he regards as a potential challenger in the next election.

Dennis M. Robinson Jr.

Baltimore

Subpoenas send chilling message

The long arm of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and his un-American activities has been exposed ("U.S. judge subpoenas school over anti-war forum," Feb. 8).

A private university was served with subpoenas requested by a federal prosecutor - apparently because the university dared to permit a meeting to occur on campus that involved discussions about opposition to the war in Iraq.

If this is the type of democracy Mr. Ashcroft and President Bush intend to export to Iraq, it is no wonder the opposition is so fierce.

Michael Seipp

Baltimore

Bring back bands for halftime shows

Dan Rodricks comments regarding the Super Bowl performance were right on target ("Super Bowl halftime fiasco no worse than CBS body counts," Feb. 5).

Why are we suddenly so shocked over the depiction of what society has deemed as entertainment?

I suggest that we bring back the marching bands and color guards and have the Super Bowl show performed by championship marching bands.

The drumlines can battle it out on field, and all will be wearing the same appropriate attire.

Bonnie Bock

Finksburg

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