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The Baltimore Sun

No contributions from corporations

After reading The Sun's article "Dixon funds linked to firms" (June 25), I agree with the statement by Ryan O'Donnell, executive director for Common Cause Maryland: "In fact, there's no reason why corporations should be donating money to politicians to begin with. We need a serious commitment to ethics and transparency at all levels of government."

The right to express free speech through campaign contributions should belong to voters only - i.e., to citizens and not to corporations.

Since citizens can vote, it follows that they can make contributions to the candidates of their choice.

But since corporations are not citizens and cannot vote, they should not have any right to contribute to political candidates. Such contributions smack of undue influence.

We need to make this simple change in our approach to politics

Got voting rights? OK, then give to the candidates of your choice.

No voting rights? Then, no political contributions, period.

This would be a simple and fair change that would help us live up to the principle of one person, one vote.

C. Schuetz, Timonium

Leaking charges is unfair to mayor

While many of the allegations that have come to light regarding Mayor Sheila Dixon's conduct as president of the City Council are troubling, it is important to keep in mind that they are just allegations.

And the mayor is right to question the daily leaks of information from the investigators to the media ("Dixon angered over leaks in case," June 26).

If this investigation is justified, it should be conducted properly.

Let's keep in mind that the media gave little scrutiny to the leaks from the Whitewater investigation, and that all the sensational speculation about that issue amounted to very little.

Michael Ter Avest, Towson

Stylish shopping aids city's image

I read with interest the column by Laura Vozzella describing the shopping done by Mayor Sheila Dixon and Ronald Lipscomb in Chicago four years ago ("Send me a man who shops," June 25).

The article states that the couple spent a fair sum of money (that's fair, not extravagant) at Saks, Armani and Niketown.

I must say that if I wanted to shop, or just have a peep at the merchandise, I too would have to do so in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Boston or some other city but, unfortunately, not Baltimore.

The Baltimore renaissance has accomplished much. However, outside of a few boutiques, there are no first-class stores in Baltimore.

We have terrific theaters, a first-class symphony, very good restaurants and a world-class university and hospital, but no great places to shop.

I hope that with the revival of waterfront properties and the completion of the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons projects, upscale retailers will consider opening in our city.

After all, what's a renaissance without the Medici?

I congratulate Ms. Dixon for personally projecting an image of Baltimore as a stylish, up-and-coming city - not a cheap and dowdy alternative to Washington.

Clifton Bunin, Baltimore

Dixon's dalliance looks improper

The Sun's editorial "It's not just personal" (June 26) was correct and on target: Mayor Sheila Dixon's relationship deserves scrutiny because it smells of impropriety.

Public office is a sacred trust.

The public has every right to be informed about the behavior of Ms. Dixon in all aspects of her office.

John A. Micklos, Baltimore

Tracks can ease city traffic flow

It is unfortunate that the city has taken a stand against tracks in Pratt and Lombard streets downtown, because such tracks are desperately needed ("Red Line still on track," editorial, June 18).

Streetcars or light rail vehicles would increase the passenger capacity of the streets while moving more quickly and quietly than the buses they would replace.

Baltimore does not need the super-expensive subways some people have proposed for the Red Line.

Rail transit should be in the street, where it is visible and easy to use.

The right of way is there; let's use it.

George Tyson, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baltimore Area Transit Association.

One judge values rights of victims

Congratulations to Baltimore County Circuit Judge H. Patrick Stringer Jr. for throwing the book at that defendant ("Sex offender gets 7 years," June 25).

As the judge stated: "If the defendant is still attempting to abduct children at the age of 73, he is still a threat and should go to jail, regardless of his age."

It is very refreshing to see a judge who thinks about the rights of the victim and to see a defendant sentenced to more years than the prosecution asked for.

Mark H. Olanoff, Reisterstown

Menu mandates don't cut calories

Columnist Steve Chapman hit the nail on the head when he described menu labeling as "unexamined and unfounded" ("Force-feeding us facts about food," Commentary, June 25).

Although nutrition activists claim that New York City's hotly contested ordinance would prevent consumers from gaining millions of pounds each year, they've never checked to see if covering menus with calorie counts actually influences consumers to eat less. No one has.

While the justification for menu mandates rests squarely on an assumption, a growing body of evidence casts doubt on that merit.

For instance, researchers at Cornell University found that posted nutrition facts spurred people to eat 31 percent more calories than when they dined free of calorie tallies.

With an unproven measure that targets only a fraction of our food intake, how can legislators justify the imposed costs and possible unintended consequences of menu labeling?

The bottom line is simple: They can't.

Trice Whitefield, Washington

The writer is a research analyst for the Center for Consumer Freedom.

No reason to help profligate debtors

I don't think that taxpayers should in any way help reckless lenders and borrowers with the mortgage crisis ("Housing help needed," editorial, June 26).

I know people who took out mortgages they knew they could not afford, and now have lost their homes. I don't feel sympathy for them.

The taxes of renters should not in any way subsidize borrowers or lenders.

Shirley Thomas, Owings Mills

Brutality taints U.S. role in world

I have just finished reading the autobiography of Murat Kurnaz, a young Turkish man who was imprisoned without cause at the American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for five years.

Mr. Kurnaz lived in conditions literally worse than those required by law for dogs. His descriptions of the brutal torture he received and other dehumanizing behavior by representatives of our country sickened me.

After reading his book, I realized with sorrow that because of these immoral actions, the United States can now be included with other regimes whose concentration camps have made them pariahs to the rest of the world.

Against long odds, Mr. Kurnaz survived, and his story should be required reading for every voter this election year.

To begin the long process of regaining our place among the civilized countries, we must elect a president who will unequivocally disavow the works of the Bush presidency. We must prove to the rest of the world community that we are a nation of laws where might alone does not make right.

If we do this, and work hard to show that we wish to live among other nations rather than rule over them, we may one day regain the stature we no longer deserve.

Bob Wirtz, Baltimore

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