The Baltimore Sun

Green Fund can pay for effort to save bay

The Sun's coverage of the debate in the General Assembly over the Chesapeake Bay Green Fund has articulated well why many Marylanders are so frustrated with the lack of action on the bill by the Maryland Senate ("Collecting change to change the Chesapeake," March 28).

This innovative bill would provide more than $100 million a year through a fee on new development.

These funds would be spent to meet commitments to restore the bay and fund programs that would help to achieve 80 percent of the state's pollution-reduction goals. These programs cannot be fully implemented without adequate funding.

The Green Fund enjoyed strong support when it recently passed the House 96-41. Now it is the Senate's turn to act on this important piece of legislation.

At a lengthy Senate hearing two weeks ago, support for the Green Fund was overwhelming. But while state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has committed to passing such legislation "in the next four years," he has implied that he will not allow the bill to come to a vote in committee this year.

I urge the Senate to bring this bill up for a vote and pass it without delay this year.

William C. Baker


The writer is president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Local school plans limit Smart Growth

Timothy B. Wheeler's article on public school construction and sprawl made some very good points about the education establishment's desire for large sites for school facilities ("Growing pains of schools," March 25).

Unfortunately, although these points took the lion's share of the ink, they were sandwiched around incorrect assumptions about the relationship between school siting, sprawl and Maryland's Smart Growth program.

The article quotes someone with no background in school funding or school construction who remarks on "so many of our schools being built out in cornfields."

But using the list of schools from the article, you could find that 25 of the 28 schools were built on public water and sewer systems and within county or municipal growth areas.

I challenge the new Interagency Committee on Public School Construction to do better.

Another quote in the article lamented that "overcrowding in many of those schools is keeping development from going where it is planned."

I agree completely. However, that is not a problem of targeted funding but of unjustified reductions in state-rated school capacities, which limits the ability of local governments to accommodate growth in appropriate areas.

It is also a function of local school construction priorities, which the General Assembly insisted the school building program respect.

I think the data will confirm that during the six-year period covered by the article, the Interagency Committee for Public School Construction did a creditable job of choosing school sites in a manner that is consistent with Smart Growth.

James T. Noonan

Ellicott City

The writer worked with the Interagency Committee on Public School Construction from 2003 to 2006.

Let Assembly repent more recent failings

Instead of apologizing for slavery, the General Assembly should be apologizing to the taxpayers for trying to shove down our throats the illegal "Wal-Mart bill" and the unconstitutional early voting legislation last year ("'Profound regret,'" March 27).

Or it should be apologizing to taxpayers for the bill that may allow illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition.

It could apologize for passing unfunded legislation, such as the Thornton education funding law, that helps deplete the state's rainy day fund and contributes to the need for looming tax increases.

Or it could apologize for not passing an alternative revenue source such as slots.

Or for attempting to eliminate the Maryland death penalty.

There's plenty the Assembly has to apologize for.

But don't apologize for something current Maryland taxpayers had nothing to do with.

P. Wojciechowski

White Hall

Will we next return land to the natives?

After we apologize for the slave trade, will we drive all the American Indians back to the native lands we forced them off of at gunpoint ("House of Delegates passes resolution acknowledging state's part in slavery," March 27)?

Jim Wright


'Health care for all' isn't on the table

As a practicing physician for more than 35 years, I agree with many of Dr. Ronald David Weiss' recommendations, particularly on the need for universal health care ("Health care for all: one physician's Rx," Opinion * Commentary, March 28). Unfortunately, that won't happen anytime soon, for two reasons.

First and foremost, many powerful people, such as CEOs of health insurance companies and drug manufacturers, earn multimillion-dollar incomes in the current "non-system."

They are not going to give that up so that we can have "health care for all."

Second, we are bombarded with countless examples of the federal government's ineptitude, from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal to "bridges to nowhere."

Are federal officials the people we want running health care?

Most Americans - particularly those with health insurance - don't think so, a fact that was demonstrated by the overwhelming defeat of then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care proposals.

Dr. Leon Reinstein


Glad to see raid on illegal workers

In response to The Sun's article "Illegal workers arrested" (March 30), I would like to add one word - "adios."

Tim Longmire


Death penalty only adds to brutality

The writer of the letter "Death penalty shows reverence for life" (March 27) rejects as a "recurring lie" the view that the death penalty fails as a deterrent to murder.

But some facts seem to verify that supposed "lie": Murders in America are often most frequent in those states that most often use the death penalty. And murders and assaults are much more common in our country than in most countries without the death penalty.

We commonly have more murders in a given year than do France, Germany, England and Japan combined. These nations do not practice capital punishment, nor do they imprison nearly so many citizens.

Where then the power of deterrence? Could it be that the death penalty instead intensifies our climate of violence?

The myth of capital punishment as deterrent conceals the savagery of an ethic of revenge.

The death penalty is a relic of barbarism that most civilized nations have abandoned.

The death penalty may appease a lust for vengeance, but it has nothing to do with justice and dishonors a nation that claims to be the "world's greatest democracy."

Robert Birt


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