Roads proposal creates jobs, not more debt
The Senate transportation bill is not "swollen"; rather, it contains enough highway funding to account for inflation and give each state no less than 95 percent of the federal gas taxes the state has sent to Washington ("Road hogs," editorial, Feb. 16).
The $318 billion over six years is not enough to improve the surface transportation system or even maintain it at its present level; only the House bill would do that. The administration's bill would not even account for inflation.
And unlike other federal programs, whose current expenses are paid for with long-term debt, the federal surface transportation program supports capital improvements and - except for some pilot bonding programs - does not incur debt to get the job done.
The editorial also misrepresents the bill's environmental streamlining provisions, which expedite but do not influence the content of regulatory decisions. Environmental streamlining would not circumvent Clean Air Act requirements.
Thus, the new jobs (180 new Maryland jobs per $10 million of transportation spending, according to one study) the bill would provide would not come at the expense of either the nation's environmental or fiscal health and The Sun should support this bill.
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Highway Contractors Association.
Taxes and fees both consume our dollars
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. promised not to raise our taxes, so he is raising car registration fees instead ("Ehrlich offers plan to improve highways," Feb. 14).
Mr. Ehrlich say that people "understand the difference between fees and taxes."
But this "difference" becomes difficult to see since both fees and taxes must be paid to the state with dollars.
Assault weapons ban won't combat crime
As they have so many times before, the writers of "State should act to limit reach of assault weapons" (letters, Feb. 19), continue to connect unrelated statements as they assault the civil rights of Maryland's law-abiding gun owners.
The legislation to ban what the writers call assault weapons has only one purpose - to reach into our homes and make contraband the legal property of law-abiding gun owners, and make it a crime to sell, transfer, purchase or replace it.
The legislation would do nothing to stop the next illegal immigrant such as Lee Boyd Malvo from stealing any rifle to repeat the sniper attacks.
The criminals cause the murders and other crime on our streets, not the firearms of Maryland's law-abiding gun owners, no matter what the directors of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research would have you believe.
Top choices are gone when Maryland votes
This year had great potential for an exciting presidential election. Unfortunately, Maryland voters will not be involved in the process. Another candidate has dropped from the race before Marylanders have even decided who they want as the Democratic nominee ("Winless Dean quits race for White House," Feb. 19).
It would not make sense to move Maryland's primary to an earlier date, because that would promote a never-ending race to the beginning.
The only answer is for Maryland politicians to sponsor a federal law that would make all primaries and caucuses the same day.
Ban lawn fertilizer to protect the bay
I have long thought that if Maryland was serious about actually doing something to protect the Chesapeake Bay, the state would put a moratorium on the sale of lawn fertilizer for one year and see how much the bay improved.
I believe that what the farmers put on their fields pales in comparison to the damage caused by homeowners.
Western Md. bears pose genuine threat
I read in The Sun about the people opposed to a black bear hunting season ("Activists urge House panel to stop Oct. black bear hunt," Feb. 19).
To them I can only say: Why doesn't the Department of Natural Resources capture about 100 of these bears and bring them to Prince George's, Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and turn them loose. That way they could interact with the bears and see just how cute they are.
My mother is 92 years old, and has lived most of her life in Garrett County. She isn't out in the wilderness. She lives on a heavily traveled road. She used to enjoy feeding and watching the birds until the bears started coming around to tear down the bird feeders looking for food.
This forced her to take down the feeders and put them in the garage at night. This really didn't take care of the problem because a bear would come onto her porch at night and try to get into a 5 gallon metal can of bird feed with a sealed lid on it. After trying unsuccessfully to get off the lid, he would usually make a mess of other things that were on the porch. This isn't only destructive, but very dangerous.
The bears either have to be controlled with a hunting season or people will start controlling them in other ways, which may be worse.
Ronald R. Baker
Angry words defame the city school board
I do not know who is to blame for the financial woes of Baltimore's schools. What I do know is that my grandmother, school board member Dorothy Siegel, has not committed any crimes for which she should "march down to the city jail" and turn herself in to be arrested ("Schools to get state money, Ehrlich says," Feb. 17). Furthermore, no one should be shot, on or off camera at dawn or at any other time of the day ("Blame game skips over victims of school fiasco," Feb. 17).
The gentlemen responsible for those absurd and inflammatory comments should consider their words more carefully, and those reporting such comments would do well to recall the tenets of responsible journalism and not print such defamatory garbage.
Relieve the city of school burden
Incredible. I can't believe intelligent leaders could be so gullible and irresponsible in the handling of other people's money. And I am appalled that Mayor Martin O'Malley and his cabinet and a highly respected organization such as the Abell Foundation would allow themselves to be bamboozled into loaning funds to keep the city schools operating ("Md. offers an advance of $42 million," Feb. 18).
These actions take state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and the state school board off the hook for the fiscal fiasco.
Ms. Grasmick and the state board should take over the city system completely - with complete control and, above all, complete funding, and see if they can run the system on the miserly state funding.
Let's relieve the city, totally, of this unbearable burden.
Harry E. Bennett Jr.