The Baltimore Sun

Defeat of phone ban leaves lives at risk

I am a Maryland voter. But my voice and that of numerous other Maryland voters are not being heard by our representatives.

There is no agenda or argument that outweighs a Marylander's life. Yet the House Environmental Matters Committee defeated a bill that would have outlawed the use of hand-held cell phones while driving ("Cell-phone ban is killed," March 28).

Why is it that other lawmakers in nearly 30 states have put some restrictions on use of cell phones while driving?

Is it because there, lawmakers value the lives of their citizens more than Maryland lawmakers value our lives?

This is a question all Maryland voters should ask themselves. But it appears that this question has been answered by their votes.

Responsible Marylanders should find out how their representatives voted on this bill and let their voices be heard in the voting booth next election.

Don't let one more Marylander's life be taken.

Don't let one more family feel the pain of losing a loved one because of a mindless act of negligence.

Marge Hurd


The writer's granddaughter was killed in an accident involving a driver who was text-messaging.

Blocking phone bill really irresponsible

The Sun's editorial "Cell phone distraction" (March 30) indicated that lawmakers who opposed the bill that would have banned the use of hand-held cell phones while driving said they "don't want to legislate responsible behavior."

Are these the same lawmakers who had no trouble legislating responsible behavior by mandating seat belt use?

Someone careless enough to drive without a seat belt is putting his own life at risk, and that is his problem.

But driving while talking, dialing or texting puts my life in danger.

These legislators give "responsible behavior" a whole new meaning.

Arnold Paskoff


Warming bill boosts economy and Earth

Addressing global warming is an area in which the interests of the environment and workers overlap ("Global warming legislation amended," March 21).

"Good jobs, green jobs" is a catchphrase in the union world right now.

Union leaders recognize that future job growth will come from sectors that capitalize on opportunities to upgrade our buildings, machinery and appliances in ways that reduce energy use.

The Global Warming Solutions Act would accomplish two key objectives - addressing an essential environmental challenge while ensuring a productive transition into the clean energy economy.

We urge legislators to pass a strong bill this session.

Terry Cavanagh Brad Heavner


The writers are, respectively, the executive director of the Maryland/District of Columbia State Council for the Service Employees International Union and the state director for Environment Maryland.

Plant must adapt to planet's limits

Jay Hancock's March 26 column criticizing legislation being debated in Annapolis because the carbon limits under consideration there would raise production costs at Sparrows Point misses the real point in this debate over how to contain global warming ("Point's future is up to Annapolis," March 26.

First, it would not really be "Annapolis," or the environmentalists, imposing burdens on Sparrows Point.

It would be the laws of physics as they govern the livability of the planet.

Let's not criticize the environmentalists just because they have assumed the somewhat thankless responsibility of delivering the message.

Second, it's not just Sparrows Point that will have to deal with these realities; every steel plant in the world ultimately will have to do so, including those run by Russians (or Indians or Chinese).

So, the sooner Sparrows Point gets with the program on this issue, the better off it will be against its global competition.

The U.S. steel industry should get ahead of the curve for once.

Pat Fulton


The writer is a volunteer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Head Start funding no cure for poverty

I would support Head Start if it had ever seemed able to reach its goal of "putting low-income children on an early path to educational success" ("Killing Head Start softly," editorial, March 25.

Unfortunately, while Head Start has fostered some early education initiatives that parents were unable or unwilling to provide, that's all it has done.

Head Start has not increased the success rate of children in school; the dropout rate and the failure rate are higher today after almost two generations of Head Start.

While I commend the charitable results that have evolved from Head Start's educational goals, the reality is that Head Start is a charitable assistance program - and to expect more than it has been able to deliver is unwise.

As long as poverty persists and grows, more poor people have more children than they can properly parent, and society fails to marshal its resources to deal with the roots of the problem of ever-increasing populations in poverty, Head Start will be able to do nothing more than throw money at the problem.

Barry Dennis


Help has to come from local sources

As the editorial "Killing Head Start softly" (March 25) told us, Head Start has been in existence for 43 years. So why are we still funding this project, and why is it still needed?

I think that if this program were working we would have no further need of it.

The children who were helped by the project would have passed on its success to their children, and their children would in turn pass the success to the next generation.

The kind of problems plaguing the areas that need help from programs like Head Start are best left to individual communities to work out.

We want our children to have happy, productive lives and we need to ensure that happens.

But the help needed to make this happen has to come from within the communities where they live, not from the federal government.

Abby Richmond


Against demolition, not the Franciscans

The Rev. Joseph Benicewicz regrets that the dispute over the historic buildings on the St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church has pitted people in the neighborhood against the church ("Preservationists win Fells Point reprieve," March 28).

I can assure the Franciscan friars that the citizens of Fells Point are not against the church.

But most of us are against the needless demolition of historic buildings that remind us of our beginnings and development as a neighborhood, city, state and nation.

Daniel Kuc


The writer is a member of the Society for Preservation of Fells Point and Federal Hill.

Call the border wall a public art project?

The Bush administration should take a page from artist Lee B. Freeman's sketchbook ("Park will no longer be fenced in," March 29).

Instead of calling the structure being built along the U.S. border with Mexico a "fence" whose intent is to keep Mexicans out of the United States, it should instead call it "public art" with the purpose of providing Mexicans a new perspective on the United States.

This could help the administration gain some support among the artistic community - and critics of the fence could then be castigated as uninformed anti-intellectuals.

Douglas J. Kaplan


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