ICC will not cure congestion woes

What if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he would be relieving pollution in Baltimore's harbor by running new sewers to take city wastes to other rivers throughout Maryland?

Everyone would see that as a false solution.

So why was the governor jubilant as he celebrated the $2.4 billion Intercounty Connector highway clearing its final approval hurdles ("ICC approved by U.S.," May 31)?

Because it will relieve traffic congestion in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and bring thousands of new workers to Maryland, the governor said.

That means more traffic and air pollution, which won't confine itself to the 18 miles of the ICC's pavement or to two counties.

Traffic congestion will merely shift and spread, just as water pollution would with my farcical sewage solution.

If we mean to restore our environment and maintain Maryland's quality of life, we must rethink our unquestioning and shortsighted "grow or die" approach.

But that won't happen so long as we confuse more and bigger roads with progress, pursuing a future shaped more for those yet to come to the region than for the millions already here.

Tom Horton


The writer is a former reporter and environmental columnist for The Sun.

Quarry plan pushes need for new ramp

It's great that naturalists such as Charlie Stine are excited about the potential positive impact that the transformation of the old Greenspring Quarry will bring as the site is converted from a working quarry to a suburban subdivision ("Liquid Asset," May 30).

It certainly sounds like a lovely setting, and it should be a terrific project. With all of the amenities, the shops, the restaurants, the club (complete with concierge, no less) and the oversized, heated pool and whirlpool, these lucky residents will want for only one thing - easy access to Interstate 83 and to downtown Baltimore.

Currently, traffic bound for downtown would have to choose between the stop-and-go rush-hour traffic on the infamous north side of the Beltway and commuting on the narrow streets of historic Mount Washington.

The simple solution would be the addition of a new access ramp to I-83 between Northern Parkway and Ruxton Road.

This has been proposed for many years, but the size and scope of the project at the quarry now demands that we act now to relieve the traffic pressure faced by the communities along Greenspring Avenue south of the project.

The time has finally come for Baltimore County to pay the development piper and stop dumping these traffic problems on city residents.

Aaron Meisner


Executive branch abuses our liberties

Not surprisingly, the Bush administration has invoked executive privilege in asking a federal judge to dismiss two Michigan lawsuits challenging the legality of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program ("White House seeks to dismiss NSA lawsuits," May 28).

The president claims that the administration's efforts to prove the legality of the program would reveal sensitive information that could be of use to terrorists.

What is missing in all of this, of course, is that the program's very existence and the Bush administration's staunch defense of it are proof positive that the terrorists are in fact winning - for they have forced us to turn a blind eye to the steady erosion of our personal liberties and way of life.

This has been the terrorists' intent all along, and we, in our silent acquiescence to this repeated executive abuse of our liberties, are playing right into their hands.

Shame on us for allowing ourselves to be cowed so easily - our nation and its people deserve far better.

Eric D. Smith


Ruling on Dawsons leaves us on our own

The Sun's article about the Dawson family's lawsuit against the city and state reported that the judge dismissed the case in part because "the State is not obligated to protect individuals from private violence" ("Suit in firebombing is dismissed," June 1).

Really? Then what or whom is the state obligated to protect?

I guess we're all on our own.

Jeff Sattler


The IRS is right to question abuses

The writer of the letter "Investigations abuse the power of the IRS" (May 25) spent eight column-inches wringing his hands over possible politically motivated Internal Revenue Service investigations into improper conduct of nonprofit organizations.

But hey, politics is dirty and always has been. And the IRS is just doing its job in trying to ensure compliance with the tax laws.

According to the IRS Web site, to be tax-exempt, a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit group "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate at all in campaign activity for or against political candidates."

The question that the letter writer (and other critics) avoids is the core issue of whether the NAACP did engage in prohibited political activities.

As contributions to nonprofit groups are tax-deductible, these groups in effect operate with taxpayer subsidies.

This is not an issue of constitutionally protected free speech. The NAACP and any other organization is free to advocate whatever political position it likes and work for or against any candidate of its choosing - just not on the taxpayers' dime.

If a nonprofit organization doesn't want to be investigated, it needs to operate within the rules or give up the nonprofit tax subsidy.

Melvin Barnhart


Why merge schools having rival gangs?

When I read the article on the planned school merger of Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts with Lafayette Elementary and Calverton Middle schools, I was shocked ("Parents protest school merger," May 29). Why would anyone propose - and, worse yet, vote into action - a merger between schools with rival gangs?

This is the kind of issue that Mayor Martin O'Malley should be focusing upon, but with his attention focused upon the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. rate increase, he seems to be ignoring other issues.

Why does the mayor continue to neglect the city's children?

Valerie McKeever


Mercenary players create cynical fans

I think the writer of the letter "Fair-weather O's fans need to show heart" (May 31) has it all wrong.

I used to bleed orange - when the owner and the players were not so worried about the almighty dollar.

Now that this is the case, if I'm going to spend top dollar to see baseball, I expect a top-notch team, not an also-ran.

At this point, I want value for my buck, so the almighty won-loss column makes a difference to me.

When the millionaires stop whining about their salaries, I'll stop whining about the lousy Orioles.

Robert Evans


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