LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Energy settlement protects consumers

You have to read 18 paragraphs of Jay Hancock's column "BGE settlement settles little" (March 28) before the columnist concedes that the settlement is significant -- which it most certainly is.

And while Mr. Hancock focuses on questions about the energy deal, he misses one of the most important aspects of the settlement: the fact that, for the first time in years, the Public Service Commission fought to protect the public interest.

When Gov. Martin O'Malley replaced the PSC appointed by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., he promised to choose competent and fair regulators who would defend the public interest.

He delivered on that promise when he announced a deal that secured a $340 million commitment Constellation Energy sued to take back, a $187 million rate refund this year and a $1.5 billion savings in future decommissioning costs ("State, Constellation reach truce on rates," March 28).

That's about $2 billion in relief for consumers as a direct result of the governor's decision to restore integrity to an agency that had lost focus.

Could the settlement have been larger? Perhaps.

But could it have been nothing? Absolutely.

Without this governor and the efforts of the PSC members he appointed, ratepayers would have continued to watch the familiar cycle in which regulators put corporate interests ahead of those of consumers.

Del. Brian K. McHale

Annapolis

The writer is chairman of the Public Utilities Subcommittee of the House of Delegates.

Ratepayers shafted by too-modest relief

Instead of Maryland moving toward re-regulation of the electricity markets (as Virginia has done) or huge rate concessions (Illinois has given ratepayers more than $1 billion in rate relief), Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. ratepayers will get a measly one-time payment of $170 and no assurance that the price of power per kilowatt-hour will remain stable even as the energy deal will create an improved regulatory environment for BGE and Constellation Energy ("State, Constellation reach truce on rates," March 28).

What a great deal for BGE. And what a shafting for us.

Maria Allwine

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the steering committee of the Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes.

Excessive spending strains our budgets

You have to admit Gov. Martin O'Malley has chutzpah.

He whined about the state's structural deficit for months, guided the state to a massive tax increase in the special session, gave some of his employees a big raise and now proposes $18.2 million in new expenditures ("Amid budget struggle, O'Malley ups 'core' spending request," April 1).

The 72 percent Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. rate increase, the huge rise in food and gasoline prices and the subprime mortgage mess have left many Maryland citizens broke and dispirited.

The governor and the General Assembly must control spending and stop taxing us into the poorhouse.

Kurt S. Willem

Hydes

Clock ticking fast toward tech tax

The Tech Council of Maryland urges the General Assembly to take action to repeal the 6 percent sales tax on computer services ("Session set for hectic ending," March 31).

Set to take effect July 1, the tax will not just harm Maryland's burgeoning technology industry but all businesses and organizations in the state that use their services -- including small businesses, schools, hospitals and nonprofits.

The computer services tax will undermine Maryland's long-standing and successful efforts to attract technology companies.

The state's Department of Economic Development estimates that 162,000 jobs in the state are related to computer services, making Maryland one of the leading technology centers in the country. But the computer services sales tax will drive some of these high-paying jobs over the border.

Already, neighboring states, such as West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, are actively recruiting our technology companies.

And with the Assembly's adjournment looming Monday, the clock is ticking for Maryland's technology community.

Julie Coons

Rockville

The writer is CEO of the Tech Council of Maryland.

Little Italy shelter poses little threat

Providing temporary shelter to the city's homeless residents will not make anyone in the city any less diligent in preventing crime ("Dixon reassures group," March 31).

And the proposed shelter site is only a few blocks from a camp now being used by many homeless people near the corner of East Fayette and President streets.

The mayor should be thanked for coming up with a practical (although partial) solution to a difficult problem.

Michael Ter Avest

Baltimore

Electoral College protects small states

Thomas F. Schaller missed the boat in his column concerning the National Popular Vote legislation recently passed by the Maryland and New Jersey legislatures ("Plan would make popular vote count," Opinion

Commentary, March 26).

The Electoral College was carefully designed by the Founding Fathers to ensure that each state will have a voice in the selection of a president.

Mr. Schaller quotes state Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County as saying, "The current system is complex and offends our most deeply held democratic values."

But is Mr. Raskin offended by the fact that each state, regardless of population or size, has two senators?

The National Popular Vote legislation is bad law. It would make second-class citizens out of citizens of smaller states -- including Maryland.

And I do not see anything in the Constitution that provides for first-class and second-class citizens.

Chuck Marks

Perry Hall

Rioters torched their own city

In the name of people like me who experienced the terror of the 1968 race riots and were attacked for no good reason other than the color of our skin, the headline on Sunday's article "When Baltimore burned" (March 30) should have read "When Baltimore was burned" or "When Baltimore was torched."

Charles Herr

Baltimore

Police saved city from devastation

I read with interest the article about the riots in Baltimore in 1968 ("When Baltimore burned," March 30). I read it because I was there.

I was a police sergeant. serving with the tactical unit of the Baltimore police. Previously I had been part of a small unit known as the Riot Squad. We had served at the demonstrations in Patterson Park and Riverside Park during the mid-1960s. But April 1968 was the first time we served in a real riot.

And once the real action began, for the next week we remained on alert, working long hours trying to stop the looting and burning.

Many of us sustained non-life-threatening injuries. And the situation was like being in a war zone -- given the burning, the shots being fired and the general disorder. But not once did I hear my fellow officers complain about the long hours and the conditions under which we served.

We just did it. That was our job, and if anyone believes that the Baltimore Police Department did not save the city that week, that person should have his or her head examined.

It was my honor to serve with such a group of gallant men, and my respect for them grows by the day.

So when the powers that be and the experts look over the facts of the riots of 1968, the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department should be well-remembered, because we saved the city from total destruction.

Edward C. Mattson

Baltimore

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