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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Transitional aid keeps disabled off the streets

I was distressed by the irresponsible comments of Kevin M. McGuire, executive director of welfare programs for the state Department of Human Resources, regarding cuts in the Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance (TEMHA) program ("Md. social services chief vows progress," Feb. 23).

TEMHA serves as the last line of defense between abject poverty and homelessness and provides critical funds to those waiting for approval for federal programs that assist the disabled. The program is already woefully inadequate, yet the state is now attempting to slash this program of last resort, which provides, as its name suggests, transitional emergency aid.

In The Sun, Mr. McGuire makes the absurd comment that "the people with long-term disabilities are the ones who are truly disabled and truly needy."

While there is no doubt regarding the needs of those with long-term disabilities, Mr. McGuire should try spending a day or a week with a temporarily disabled person facing eviction or the need for medical care before so callously minimizing the seriousness of their disabilities and needs.

And providing TEMHA benefits to the temporarily disabled follows the first rule of triage -- spend resources on those who can benefit from them the most.

Every dollar spent keeping a temporarily disabled person from becoming homeless or more seriously ill pays enormous dividends when that person can go back to work.

Jonathan Ruckdeschel

Baltimore

Slots are welfare for racing industry

I read with a growing anger of the governor's plan for slots at three racetracks (and three other sites) around the state ("Ehrlich shoring up slots support," Feb. 26).

Under the governor's plan, a cut of the proceeds would go to the tracks to inflate their purses. Isn't this a subsidy?

Why is the state going to subsidize a business that can't seem to make it on its own and adds very little to the economy of the state?

Isn't that a form of welfare, something every hardcore Republican opposes?

R. J. Lake

Baltimore

Nader offers voters a chance to choose

Democrats who blame Ralph Nader for their own inadequacies only confirm his criticism of them ("Don Quixote Nader," editorial, Feb. 24).

They call Mr. Nader an unreasonable egomaniac, but where is the reasonableness or the modesty in suggesting that only their candidate is entitled to certain votes? In full-blown collaboration with their sworn enemies -- the Republicans -- the Democrats have already guaranteed that no third-party candidate can earn enough votes to matter, and still the Democrats complain.

Certainly, people who do not support Mr. Nader should not vote for him, but it is arrogance to deny voters a choice.

A healthy Democratic Party would welcome competition and the opportunity to prove itself and say to Mr. Nader, "Bring it on!"

Jim Salvucci

Baltimore

Rod Paige's remark betrays ugly biases

I was dismayed to learn about U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige's statement referring to the National Education Association as a "terrorist organization" ("U.S. education chief says teachers union is 'terrorist' group," Feb. 24).

His comment is revealing in many ways. It adds credence to the view held by many that the administration believes anyone who disagrees with it is a traitor. It displays a glaring anti-union bias. Finally, it reveals the administration's intent to exploit terrorism for political purposes.

President Bush should ask Mr. Paige for his resignation. Otherwise, teachers will remember in November.

Luis E. Hestres

Arlington, Va.

Rector was right to take a stand

As a parishioner at the Church of the Redeemer, I was, first, surprised to see this article in The Sun, and, second, dismayed at its lack of balance about reaction to the rector's Feb. 1 sermon ("Sermon stirs criticism of church rector," Feb. 20).

Reading the article, one would think that the only person who approved of it was the bishop. In fact, many of us parishioners found it both timely and appropriate. The sermon was based on the Scripture reading for the day and linked it to a situation in today's world. And of course it was the rector's personal "opinion" -- that's what sermons are.

I applaud our rector's courage in speaking out on a controversial topic that is, to me, a much more important moral issue than whether or not a gay person should be a bishop.

Kathleen Truelove

Baltimore

No dialogue possible as bombings take toll

As I sat reading G. Jefferson Price III's column "Mothers talking would be better than fences" (Feb. 22), the television newscast broke in with news of the latest bus bombing in Israel -- another eight Israeli mothers who have now lost their children to a suicide bombing ("Bomber kills 8 on bus in Israel," Feb. 23).

I began wondering, which Palestinian mothers would Mr. Price propose that Israeli mothers talk to?

The Palestinian mothers who glorify suicide bombings as martyrdom, and accept payments and accolades for their children's efforts? Or the Palestinian mothers who blow themselves up, leaving families behind, as happened last month?

Perhaps it might be Palestinian mothers who send their children off to schools where textbooks extol the virtues of killing Jews.

When Palestinian mothers learn to love their children more than they hate Jews, perhaps mothers on each side of this conflict will have something to talk about.

Michael Langbaum

Baltimore

Trying to get a dialogue going between Israeli and Palestinian mothers is the most asinine suggestion G. Jefferson Price III has made thus far.

There is a world of difference between losing a child to a terrorist bomb and losing a child who volunteered to be the terrorist bomber.

Tillie Lapidus

Baltimore

Sharing the stories of brave seniors

Far from depressing, I found Ellen Gamerman's series "Dancing in the Twilight" (Feb. 15-Feb. 20) both uplifting and inspiring ("Negative image ignores reality of active elders," letters, Feb. 24).

The stories of Ben and Florence and Helen and Peter were depicted so intimately and honestly that I was late out of the house every day because I had to read every word of each story.

Ben's devotion to Florence, his deep love for her, his patience, his openness about his feelings were nothing less than heroic. And Helen's joie de vivre and optimism about the future, even after her devastating fall on the dance floor, were remarkable and life-affirming.

My own experience with my 82-year-old mother, who has ongoing health problems and increasing disability, has shown me that we can't control how we age, just how we deal with it.

Thank you, Ms. Gamerman, for sharing the stories of these wonderful, brave people.

Beth Greenland

Towson

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