Ballot-box woes affect the future of democracy

I can't believe Leonard Pitts Jr. put the spin he did on Sen. John Kerry's criticism of voting irregularities in Ohio ("Memo to Kerry: The election is over, and you lost," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 23).

Mr. Pitts' argument that this criticism is pointless since it won't make a bit of difference in the election result is astonishing. It's like saying, "Why should one pursue a murderer since the victim can't be brought back to life."

Mr. Kerry spoke very belatedly on the Ohio voting issues, and he never suggested a conspiracy. Most other Democrats who pursued the Ohio challenge (including Sen. Barbara Boxer) stated clearly that they were doing so not to whine about the electoral loss but to bring attention to the great need for voting reform, especially when error-prone voting machines are used.

There were irregularities in Ohio and other states that mostly favored Republicans. Statistics collected by reputable groups attest to this.

All Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, should be very worried about such episodes, which disenfranchised many people.

Kathy Tunney


Ex-convicts need a chance to work

I was elated to see that our governor is a strong proponent of supporting and preparing inmates for the time after they are released ("Behind the wire," editorial, Jan. 26).

However, we need to help our community see the light as well. We can give inmates education, job training and all the same qualifications of recent college grads, but many employers will not look past the question, "Have you been convicted of a felony?"

Rehabilitation does work. Many people have paid their debt to society and are ready to move on into the world and the work force. Unfortunately, the world and work force are often not ready to acknowledge that the debt is settled.

We need to step up and hire former inmates.

They can only move on when society moves with them.

Bethany Dinger


Hazardous materials move safely on rails

The Sun's editorial about the rail accident in Graniteville, S.C., rightly highlights the human tragedy of the incident, but pays little attention to this important question: What is the safest way to move hazardous materials that are critical to our nation's physical and economic health ("Riding the rails," Jan. 23)?

Statistics show that more than 99 percent of rail carloads of hazardous materials arrive at their destination without a release caused by an accident. Hazardous-materials accident rates have declined 87 percent since 1980, and the potential for a hazmat incident is 16 times greater on the highways as on the rails.

Railroads move chlorine that is used to purify more than half of America's water. Railroads also carry the weapons and munitions required by the military.

Railroads are required by law to carry hazardous materials, and they carefully factor in safety and security when selecting their routes.

Local communities should not mandate rerouting or ban the movement of these essential materials.

Edward R. Hamberger


The writer is president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads.

GOP keeps charging deficit to our kids

KAL's Jan. 27 editorial cartoon reminded me of this exchange:

Q: What do you use to color in the states the president wins?

A: Why, red ink, of course.

The "tax-and-spend" Democrats have given way to the "cut taxes, keep spending and charge it" Republicans.

How lucky can we get? More important, how lucky can our kids get?

Thad Paulhamus


Trump's style works in world of business

Henry P. Sims Jr.'s article "Trump poor model to his 'apprentices'" (Jan. 23) gives Donald Trump failing grades in various areas of leadership.

And in general, Mr. Sims gives the impression that he believes businesses should be run by committee rather than by someone who builds a team that carries out the head honcho's directives.

I will believe that Mr. Sims knows more about leadership than Mr. Trump when I see a helicopter with his name on the side land at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is a professor, or when he presides over some 100 companies, as Mr. Trump does.

Until then, I'll stick with Mr. Trump's style.

Wayne Croft


Gay couple upholds the value of family

Thank you for profiling such a successful, stable couple ("Making a Case for Marriage," Jan. 23).

Nigel Simon and Alvin Williams seem like lovely folks who are doing a great job raising successful children. In a time when parenting is in a downward spiral, it is refreshing to see a happy home provided for children who could otherwise be forgotten.

Our society needs to wake up to the fact that gay and lesbian people are forming solid families. We should be welcoming them with open arms.

I only hope that hatred and institutional discrimination will not stop gay and lesbian citizens from pursuing family life.

K. Edmonds


Thank you for the heartwarming portrayal of Nigel Simon, Alvin Williams and their children.

It is the most eloquent expression of family values we have read.

Frank Cutko

Barbara Cutko Baltimore

What gay families really look like

As lesbian co-heads of a family of four in Baltimore, we wanted to thank The Sun for telling the story of some members of our community so fairly ("Making a Case for Marriage," Jan. 23). Our children deserve to have their parents' stories understood.

Alvin Williams and Nigel Simon have been wonderful parents. They deserve to have the same legal relationship to their children and to each other that many heterosexual couples take for granted.

Thank you for helping to educate the public as to what a gay family really looks like.

Kathleen McGuire

Whitney Conneally Overlea

Photo of gay couple not breakfast fare

It was neither artistic nor entertaining to view a full-page photo of two homosexuals on the front page of the Arts & Society section (Jan. 23).

Most people know how homosexuals live and don't need photographic presentations of that fact with their Sunday-morning coffee.

Please, no more.

John J. Kelly


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