The Baltimore Sun

Take-home vehicles can aid taxpayers

The decision by two of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s senior communications staffers to appropriate unmarked police cruisers for use during their service to the state was unfortunate ("O'Malley curbs use of state cars," May 17).

Not only does it perpetuate unfair stereotypes about state workers, but it also obscures the fact that state vehicle use by public employees is not necessarily a bad thing when it is done appropriately.

Responsible state vehicle use benefits taxpayers who would otherwise have to pay mileage reimbursements and employees who travel frequently on state business and would otherwise sustain wear on their personal vehicles.

Let's face it: A state vehicle isn't exactly an icon of luxury. Cadillacs, BMWs and Porsches generally aren't found in the state fleet. Many of the cars are dingy and utilitarian.

When I worked in the State House for Mr. Ehrlich, some of my colleagues were offered state vehicles but chose to drive their own cars (as did I).

However, Mr. Ehrlich actually reduced the state motor pool by 300 vehicles.

I hope Gov. Martin O'Malley's recent focus on state vehicle use results in a similarly balanced review of the program.

The interests of many state workers shouldn't be permanently harmed by the bad decisions of a few.

Richard J. Cross III


The writer was a speechwriter for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Record gives Carter no basis for attacks

It was with complete incredulity that I read Sunday's article "Carter calls Bush 'the worst'" (May 20).

Apparently, Jimmy Carter has conveniently forgotten the debacles that were his foreign and domestic policies during his presidential tenure. But I haven't forgotten.

In foreign policy, President Bush is attempting to deal with the terrorist threat to U.S. security that Mr. Carter helped create.

If Mr. Carter truly wants to see the "worst" president in our nation's history, he need only look in the nearest mirror.

Dominic M. Romano


Former President Jimmy Carter is such a morally confused man that his mean-spirited statements are more pitiful than insightful.

The man simply has no moral compass and is unwilling to confront evil even when it spits in his face or spills the blood of his fellow countrymen.

Just as President Harry Truman's leadership has been more appreciated as time passes, I think President Bush's leadership will stand the test of time.

Does anyone think the same thing is true of Mr. Carter's leadership?

Thank God Mr. Carter is not in a position to further harm me or my children except by consoling our enemies.

Morris L. Gavant


The 'Ugly Betty' of U.S. presidents?

I am no fan of President Bush. But having your presidential policies called the worst in American history by Jimmy Carter is like having your looks criticized by "Ugly Betty" ("White House says Carter is 'irrelevant,'" May 21).

Jerry Levin


Bush should listen to Carter's wisdom

For the sake of this country, I hope someone in the White House has the simple good sense to advise the current president to stop being a bully and listen to former President Jimmy Carter, who has been tested and proven to be a man of simplicity and wisdom ("White House says Carter is 'irrelevant,'" May 21).

Someone has to stop the killing in Iraq and President Bush's squandering of all the good will the United States has ever held in the world.

Mr. Carter has tried to do that. Mr. Bush should listen and learn.

I, for one, find Mr. Carter's leadership relevant, riveting and inspiring.

Brenda Falcone


Keep a close watch on Firestone's abuse

As The Sun's article on Firestone's rubber plantation in Liberia notes, the tire company has been the target of a worldwide campaign and lawsuit because of its 80 years of exploitation of Liberia ("Fragile Liberia struggles to protect a crucial industry," May 20).

The Firestone plantation has been characterized by child labor and widespread abuses of workers' rights, and a report from the Liberian government recently confirmed that the company dumps toxic chemicals into local rivers.

One way that the company could address illicit rubber-tapping on its plantations is by ensuring a living wage for employees and meeting workers' other demands.

As the Liberian government and Firestone negotiate a new concession agreement and workers prepare for new union elections in June, it is essential that public attention be brought to Firestone's continued abuses.

The Sun should cover the situation facing workers in Liberia more closely in that period.

Timothy Newman


The writer is a campaign assistant for the International Labor Rights Fund, which is part of the Stop Firestone Coalition.

Killer deserved the death penalty

I'm sure the jury thought long and hard about the sentence for John C. Gaumer ("Gaumer gets life sentence," May 17). But after such a horrific crime, should we really feed and clothe Mr. Gaumer in prison for perhaps the next 50 or 60 years?

I think the death penalty would be very appropriate in this case. In my opinion, anyone capable of doing what Mr. Gaumer did to another human being doesn't deserve to live.

How much will it cost the state to feed and keep Mr. Gaumer until he dies? Is he really worth it?

The dollars spent keeping him in prison would be better used in other areas, such as for schools or health care.

Ed Hall


Condoning amnesty undermines the law

Like many senators and President Bush, The Sun has its head in the sand when it, in effect, condones amnesty for the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens who have invaded our country ("Cooperation works," editorial, May 18).

Rewarding those who break our laws with amnesty and selectively enforcing existing laws only confirms that we are no longer a nation that respects the rule of law.

Howard Dietz


Keep Brooks' street free of the debris

It's very nice that Baltimore County decided to name what was once Radio Tower Drive (a street that has long been a dumping ground for trash) Brooks Robinson Drive ("Street renamed for Brooks Robinson," May 16).

I just hope that the county maintains the road better than it has in the past, when I have had to call the State Highway Administration to get the trash there picked up.

Mr. Robinson deserves better than to have a street named after him that collects trash.

Frank F. Braunstein


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