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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Hats off to Mayor Sheila Dixon for finally taking the trash issue in Baltimore seriously ("Dixon's first order of business: trash," Jan. 26).

City trash crews do an exemplary job considering what they have to work with - a resident population that often seems clueless and uncaring.

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It's frustrating that many people with more education than I have can't seem to understand how important it is to bag, secure and cover their trash tightly and put it out at the right time, not three days early.

Not enough of us rake our leaves or pick up after our slovenly selves, as we are required to do, and the city should enforce the trash laws that are on the books.

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The mayor must understand that a comprehensive re-education of the public is needed, even if it means threats and fines for noncompliance.

We must learn how to love our city.

Former Mayor Martin O'Malley's once-in-a-blue-moon "Super Spring Sweep Thing" events weren't nearly enough: This effort requires constant vigilance and real accountability.

Ms. Dixon understands that people behave differently in a clean environment than they do in a dirty one.

While cleaning up the city isn't a whiz-bang, high-profile idea, it will pay quality-of-life dividends that are immeasurable and economic ones, too, as the word gets around.

Let's all help the mayor make the city as clean as it can be - and, in the meantime, help our hardworking trash crews by making their jobs a little easier by doing what we, as proud residents of a renewed Baltimore, are supposed to do.

Steven Allan

Baltimore

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Cleaner city can be a safer city, too

I would like to applaud Mayor Sheila Dixon's intention to make trash issues a priority ("Dixon's first order of business: trash," Jan. 26).

Since 1997, the Banner Neighborhoods Community Corp. has been actively involved in cleaning the sidewalks and removing bulk trash from the alleyways in the area immediately north of Patterson Park.

Since that time, the area has seen some of the sharpest increases in house values in the city, as well as a marked decrease in open-air drug markets and other crime.

While the clean-streets program is certainly not the only reason for these improvements, the areas just beyond the program's reach have not seen the same sort of progress.

The issues of trash removal and sanitation are closely linked to those of safety and quality of life.

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I hope that the mayor continues to make trash a top priority and that the administration finds ways to help support local organizations who wish to aid in these efforts.

Jolyn Rademacher

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Banner Neighborhoods Community Corp.

Cleaner cars offer our Earth a break

The fact that the air pollutants spewed from the tailpipes of our vehicles cause higher rates of asthma and contribute to global warming should surprise no one.

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Stricter pollution controls and limits on carbon dioxide emissions should be seen as a mandatory step to combat the changes man is making to the Earth's climate ("'Clean car' law gathers steam," Jan. 28)

It is ridiculous that in the face of these threats to our planet, the auto industry and some consumers complain about the fact that they might not be able to buy their large SUVs in Maryland any longer.

Well, if that's the case, good - maybe limiting their unnecessary behemoths will make our state a healthier place for all.

Who gave SUV owners the right to ruin the environment for the rest of us?

Matthew Reif

Columbia

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Choose better health over bigger SUVs

What the auto industry lobbyists are saying about the "clean car" law seems to be that in the face of evidence of better air quality, citizens will be outraged over their inability to get an SUV if this bill passes ("'Clean car' law gathers steam," Jan. 28).

I think that if the lives of children, older people and those with asthma are at stake, most Marylanders would err on the side of choosing smaller, more fuel-efficient cars that emit less waste.

And for those who are so self-absorbed that they have to think about this question, well, that's why we need a clean car law.

Steven Parke

Baltimore

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In-state tuition rate for illegals is absurd

Has the state of Maryland become "Bizarro World"?

Legislators and the governor are actually considering offering in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities to illegal immigrants ("Greenip backs limit on driver's licenses," Jan. 27)?

This concept makes no sense. It would reward those living here illegally and penalize state taxpayers by forcing them to subsidize this illegal community.

Out-of-state students who are legal U.S. citizens would (and should) continue to pay the higher tuition rates, but students living here illegally would pay the same rate as hardworking and struggling taxpaying Maryland citizens.

This should not be allowed.

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Mark Elliott

Parkville

I read with great distress the column that suggested that illegal aliens may be treated as Maryland residents when paying college tuition.

As lower-middle-class taxpayers, my wife and I struggled to put three children through college with very little help.

Let's save the money for legal residents and stop this foolish action that would undermine our system.

Mel Foster Sr.

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Baltimore

Voting exerts even greater influence

Thank goodness marching on the Capitol is not, as one protester quoted in The Sun's article "Baltimore voices join call to end war in Iraq" (Jan. 28) suggested, "the only way" we can get our voices heard in this country.

Marching is good. Voting is better.

The noise we made during the 2006 election cycle rings throughout the land.

The echoes of our cries will reverberate through 2008, when more warmongers will be sent packing.

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Lea Jones

Sparks

Attention to women a new day in sports

There's a new day in sports when I can open my Sun and see all female athletes on the cover of the Sports section, as happened last Saturday.

The front page of the section featured the powerful Serena Williams clinching the Australian Open ("Grand Return," Jan. 27), Kimmie Meissner competing at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships ("Triple play," Jan. 27), the University of Maryland women's basketball team doing well at the box office ("Terps women bringing the house," Jan. 27) and a teaser to read more about jockey Anna Napravnik on the inside pages.

All I can say is, thank you, Title IX.

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It took a while, but it looks like it is paying off.

And thanks to The Sun for its efforts in this regard.

Veronica Piskor

Bare Hills


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