Hit the jackpot with new course on slots parlors

The real question is not whether we want or need slots in Maryland, but why we can't pass legislation to approve them ("Md. public support for slots increases," Jan. 10).

The governor and Senate president want a slots bill to pass. However, they act as though no alternatives exist to their present strategy of giving the slots industry to the horse racing industry as a life preserver to rescue its leaders from their mismanagement of their industry, facilities and sport.

I believe the people of Maryland would prefer to auction off the licenses to own the rights to the slots parlors to the highest bidder for a 10-to-20-year term.

We should also strategically locate the venues for such operations in areas that would maximize profits and minimize logistical nightmares. And there are better locations for massive entertainment and gaming centers than in the Mount Washington/Pimlico and Timonium communities.

If we want a slots bill passed because we need the money, then let's do it right and really hit the jackpot on our gamble with slots.

Eric Benzer


The writer is president of the Cross Country Improvement Association.

Voters prefer slots to higher taxes

I've read many stories and letters to the editor about slot machines, but the statement by Jeffrey Laizure of Gaithersburg, quoted in the article "Md. public support for slots increases" (Jan. 10), really tells the story of taxation in this state: "Maryland should decide what programs it needs to fund and find the fairest way to raise taxes to pay for them."

The reason Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was voted in was to decrease the tax burden, not increase it.

The majority of the people want a decrease in taxes, not an increase. If slots can help us do that, I'm all for them.

And, please, do not tell me the burden will fall on the poor people because they are the ones who will play the slots.

Poor people are already going to other states to play slots. If they don't go to other states to play the slots, they play the Maryland lottery or any of the numbers games that are provided by the state.

This whole argument about poor people is a red herring.

I hope the legislature and the governor will read the most recent survey and do what needs to be done

Harold Wolnik

Ocean Pines

Legalizing slots, legalizing drugs

You have to admit, the argument that people are already spending money on slots anyway, so why shouldn't the government cash in on it, is a very strong argument indeed ("Md. public support for slots increases," Jan. 10).

It's hard to argue with such simple, straightforward logic. Yet the argument works exactly the same way for legalizing illegal drugs.

So why won't very many people even consider it?

William Smith


Medical blame game may make us all sick

The physicians blame the trial lawyers. The trial lawyers blame the physicians. The insurance agents and brokers blame the General Assembly ("Lawmakers override veto on reform bill," Jan. 12).

It's enough to make the rest of us sick, provided, of course, that we have adequate medical coverage.

Sol Goodman


Unlike Bush, CBS shows accountability

There must be general rejoicing among those on the political right as CBS acknowledges the sloppy journalism involved in the ill-fated story about George W. Bush's alleged AWOL status during the early 1970s from the Texas Air National Guard.

In justifying the firing of four CBS employees involved in this story, CBS cited "myopic zeal," carelessness, failure to authenticate documents and failure to catch mistakes ("CBS fires 4 executives, producers over Bush-National Guard report," Jan. 11).

In other words, the very same things that the Bush administration was guilty of in justifying the misbegotten war on Iraq.

The difference, it seems, is that CBS has actually held those responsible accountable, while the Bush administration has given the architects of disaster medals of freedom.

And lost in all this, of course, is whether or not Mr. Bush actually was AWOL.

George B. Albright III


Foreign teachers aren't the answer

Maryland schools should not be hiring teachers from foreign countries ("Schools finding teachers overseas," Jan. 10).

While these teachers are most assuredly highly qualified, schools in the United States are too different from those in other countries.

Teachers in most other countries are used to stricter discipline in school and at home. But foreign teachers may not be able to operate effectively under the free-for-all conditions we have created in Maryland schools.

Many qualified teachers have left jobs in our schools because of lack of discipline in the schools, lack of parental support and increasing paperwork duties.

Often a teacher cannot discipline children in most schools without providing a log of phone calls home, parent meetings and attempted contacts. This is supposed to be accomplished along with teaching, planning lessons, grading papers and attending to after-school duties.

And every year the Maryland State Department of Education makes the jobs of teachers harder.

If we create stricter discipline standards, and expect more of students and parents, we will attract more teachers from within the United States.

The pay is fine; it's the job that does not attract and retain qualified individuals.

Eric S. Hanson


The writer is a school librarian in the Baltimore County public schools.

UNICEF is working to aid the victims

Here at the Baltimore chapter of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), we were surprised to note that in Michael Hill's otherwise excellent article on charities dealing with the tsunami crisis there was no mention of UNICEF ("The NGO phenomenon," Jan. 9).

Founded in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II, UNICEF concentrates its efforts on helping children and their families in emergency situations.

UNICEF works in 158 countries and territories and already has agencies in each of the countries affected by the tsunami disaster.

Food, medicine, immunizations and counseling for children traumatized by disaster are all part of its vitally important work.

Christine Sarbanes Jo Marvan Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the chairwoman and vice chairwoman of Baltimore's chapter of UNICEF.

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