The Baltimore Sun

Slots can also prey on poorer citizens

"We need to prevent people from getting into loans that set them up for failure," says Thomas E. Perez, Maryland's secretary of labor, licensing and regulation ("Lending reforms explored in Md.," Aug. 30).

Mr. Perez goes on to say that mortgage foreclosures "tear families apart" and "undermine communities."

That's all true, and it's wonderful to see our state government standing alongside the citizens to protect them against the ravages of exotic mortgages gone bad.

But it was only a few short weeks ago that Mr. Perez released his report on slot machine gambling, in which he glossed over the negatives about gambling while providing a myriad of attractive but unsubstantiated financial claims ("Report makes case for Md. slots," Aug. 15).

The irony of this is that while Mr. Perez wants to cast his boss, Gov. Martin O'Malley, as the protector of Maryland consumers on lending practices, he has also suggested that the state should act, in effect, as a predator in the losing game of legalized gambling.

Wherever it is introduced, slot machine gambling sucks money out of poorer communities. It causes massive spikes in bankruptcy rates as addiction takes its toll, and it ultimately destroys lives and families.

Mr. Perez and Mr. O'Malley need to make up their minds: Is our state government going to protect citizens from predatory practices or is it instead going to become the predator?

Aaron Meisner


The writer is chairman of Stop Slots Maryland.

Reckless lending roils housing market

Once upon a time, the term "fiduciary responsibility" governed the thought process of those in the housing industry. Agents, brokers and lenders felt obligated to get the best terms possible for mortgages of clients ("Lending reforms explored in Md.," Aug. 30).

Local banks and savings and loans would not give a loan to an unqualified buyer. All players in the mortgage process accepted their obligation to ensure that the new homeowner would succeed.

Much, however, has changed in the housing industry over the past 40 years.

National mortgage bankers have taken over a huge section of the market and often sell mortgage loans to third-party investors almost on the day the loans are originated.

If troubles arise, borrowers can no longer go talk with their lenders the way they could do, and still can do, with local banks and savings and loans.

A new mortgage brokerage industry, largely unregulated, has developed, which has created a new layer of faceless players between the borrower, the real estate agent and the lender.

Unfortunately, the new players in the housing industry have ignored the principle of fiduciary responsibility.

The present fiscal and housing crisis is the result of the failure to honor that principle.

I long for the day when it returns.

Vincent P. Quayle


The writer is executive director of the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.

E-ZPass details give criminals more data

While the article on E-ZPass records being used in court was interesting and this kind of thing makes for good storylines on Law and Order, the article does a disservice to law enforcement and prosecutors ("E-ZPass details popping up in trials," Aug. 31).

By giving so much publicity to the use of this information, The Sun has put up a big warning flag for lawbreakers that reminds them to take the E-ZPass sensors out of their cars.

It would be a shame if even one person is able to take into account the information The Sun divulged to help plan his or her crime.

Kenneth Sabel


Bombing scapegoat was really a hero

Media coverage of the death of Richard Jewell has slighted him in death just as it maligned him in life ("Man wrongly linked to Olympic bomb is dead at 44," Aug. 30).

Mr. Jewell was a hero who spotted a suspicious package, evacuated people and was subsequently scapegoated by law enforcement and the media in a rush to indict and convict someone for the bombing.

In fairness and in tribute, the headline should have been, "The hero of the Olympic bombing is dead at 44."

Tom Scott


Fighting terrorists isn't a 'war crime'

The writer of the letter "Greater brutality gets less attention" (Aug. 30) asks why we do not see the same indignation over what she calls "war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan" as we see over Michael Vick brutalizing animals.

I think I have an answer for the letter writer.

First of all, we are not committing "war crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are trying to exterminate dreadful terrorists who want to see the demise of the United States.

The animals Mr. Vick brutalized are innocents that never meant to hurt anybody.

The terrorists we are exterminating are ruthless and evil hatemongers who do mean to hurt people and who have perpetrated such crimes against Americans as the 9/11 attacks, the brutal beheadings of innocents and the hanging of American soldiers' dead bodies from bridges.

The letter writer's comparison is appalling and way out of whack.

Damon M. Costantini


ADHD medications let children focus

As the parent of a child with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, I must defend the use of medications to treat the disorder ("ADHD drugs: oversold and overused," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 23).

My child has been medicated since age 4, and she is now 16.

Without the use of medication, and of course other therapeutic measures, I don't think she would be the child she is today - focused and confident.

Columnist Karin Klein should not be so quick to judge those who choose to medicate their children.

I am confident that most parents who decide to medicate their child are well-informed.

Mary Green


No need for laws on fashion choices

Reading The Sun's article "Banning the Baggy" (Aug. 28) made me think about the purpose of fashion.

Why do people wear certain clothes?

I think they choose clothes to show that they belong to a group of people.

Sometimes people have strange fashions - such as the dusted wigs of the 18th century or the tiny shoes of the ancient Chinese women. I wore a school uniform for six years.

I think it is wrong for public officials to ban certain fashions. And I agree with the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union who suggested that such rules unfairly pick on certain groups of people.

While some might think that showing underwear is indecent, others view it as a fashion statement.

The only thing constant about fashion is that it is always changing.

We don't need laws to make it change. It will do so on its own.

Lucas Warfield


The writer is entering the sixth grade at Friends School of Baltimore.

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