LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Few would want slots near home

Marylanders can expect a deluge of out-of -state money from gaming corporations that support the slots amendment to the Maryland Constitution ("Wealth driving 'No' vote on slots," July 20).

Citizens need to ask themselves if these private corporations give a lick about public order, good government and the state's future, then vote accordingly in November.

I think Frederick W. Puddester's attempt to hold the state budget hostage to passage of the slots referendum is disingenuous and unscrupulous. It is also bad government policy.

The only way to guarantee the revenue from slots needed to balance the budget would be to expand the 15,000 slot machine limit proposed under the amendment.

But I'll wager that few people, even among the strongest slots supporters, would welcome slot parlors into their own community for the sake of the state at large.

That's because the social and economic consequences for these locales would be as detrimental as they are predictable.

John Bailey, Edgemere

Basing the budget on slots a bad bet

I agree completely with Sterling C. Crockett's statement that slots amount to a "false hope" for the state ("Wealth driving 'No' vote on slots," July 20). The projections for profits from slots are a false hope.

In today's economy, with higher gasoline prices and higher inflation, people have less disposable income.

Less disposable income will translate into less profit for the gaming industry and less slots revenue for the state to use to balance the budget.

One could argue that times will change and slots revenues will increase as the economy improves, and that therefore the state should approve slots now so that we are ready to reap the benefits when the economy strengthens.

But what I am hearing from the State House is that if we, the citizens of Maryland, do not approve slots, we will face a huge budget deficit.

My fear is that we will face such a deficit regardless of our decision on slots because of the lackluster economy and our reliance on slots as the savior of the state budget.

Then we will be forced to make deeper cuts to balance the budget.

Slots are not the answer - something else is.

But that something else will require strong leadership and the courage to make tough decisions.

Rick Wade, Lutherville

More gambling will weaken state

I have been concerned about the slots issue since former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was governor. I was opposed to slots then, and under Gov. Martin O'Malley, I am still opposed to slots ("Wealth driving 'No' vote on slots," July 20).

What I would like to see is a state government that is truly free of gambling interests.

Just look at Atlantic City, N.J., beyond the glitz of the now-expensive city that once was a family vacation spot.

Yes, Atlantic City does have glitzy lights and a Vegas-style atmosphere, but it also has unwelcome pawn shops and other negative characteristics.

I want Maryland to remain free from further gambling.

If Maryland voters vote for slots, I hope they can afford the social costs that slots impose.

Peter J. Schap Jr., Cockeysville

Why bash Franchot for reaching out?

The state government needs all the help it can get. If Comptroller Peter Franchot sees things that need to be done and acts to address those problems, more power to him ("Franchot reaches wide, far," July 20).

The media and others should stop picking on him for trying to do what's right.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

At least police take protests seriously

Last year, I circulated a petition to "Save the Maryland National Guard, Bring them Home." I was surprised by how many people asked me if I wasn't concerned that "someone" would be monitoring my actions. My answer was that I couldn't care less.

I deplore the waste of tax dollars spent monitoring peace groups, but I fail to detect a First Amendment issue here. No one's right to speak or assemble has been violated.

Instead of complaining about the surveillance, perhaps Maria Allwine should be applauding it ("State police spying is dangerous repression," Commentary, July 22).

After all the hours I spent scouring the Inner Harbor and farmers' market for signatures, I became disillusioned that so few people cared about the actions of our government or the poaching of the Maryland National Guard for overseas duty.

Now, I am delighted that peace groups are being taken seriously once again.

If I am on any watch list, great.

Standing up for what is right is a privilege. And if the cops want to monitor me, bring 'em on.

Rosalind Nester Ellis, Baltimore

Working to diversify doctors of today

The American Medical Association of today recognizes that words alone do not remove the stain of past discrimination but they can help promote healing and propel us forward in our efforts to close the racial divide in health care ("Honor the oath," editorial, July 13).

The AMA of today has no place for discrimination and welcomes all physicians. Through our Minority Affairs Consortium, we work to address the specific needs of minority physicians and increase efforts to train more minority physicians.

We also encourage minority students to consider careers in medicine through the "Doctors Back to School" program, which arranges for physicians to visit schools.

In partnership with the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association, we also founded the Commission to End Health Care Disparities, which is working to eliminate all prejudice in health care.

We remain committed to eliminating health care disparities, increasing diversity in the physician population and improving our relationship with minority physicians.

Dr. Ronald M. Davis, Chicago

The writer is a former president of the American Medical Association.

Make illegal aliens register, go home

I think the politicians need to stop worrying about hurting people's feelings and breaking up the families of illegal immigrants ("Immigration reform a hot topic again," July 13).

That is not the problem of the U.S. government. It is the problem of people coming into this country illegally.

Many of these illegals have kids that they can't afford, and our government ends up paying to help support them. That means the people of the United States end up paying to support these families.

We should give the illegal immigrants one month to register, and then put them on boats, trains and buses and send them home.

They could later apply to come back legally. The illegal aliens who register and leave would be given a higher priority than others who want to immigrate to the United States legally.

Everyone who doesn't register should be caught and deported as soon as possible.

Jim Krug, Baltimore

Riverbank better left to nature

Are we the only ones who disagree with Teddy Betts' self-appointed artistic endeavor of rearranging the natural formation of rocks at the Patapsco River just below the bridge in historic Ellicott City?

The Sun's article "Art teased from the river" (July 18) describes his summer initiative in the name of art and spirituality as one that seems to be widely accepted (at least by those quoted in the article). But is it art?

We are nearby residents who frequent the area, and we find the display a travesty of nature. Not only has the beautiful, natural landscape along the riverbank been spoiled (albeit temporarily), but to us the scene is disturbing and, dare we say, ugly.

Hasn't there been enough spoilage of nature by man?

Enough, already.

Let the next storm restore Mr. Betts' canvas to the way it should be - unspoiled by human hands.

Mike Barr Esther Barr, Catonsville

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