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The Baltimore Sun

Distorted districts add to public cynicism

The article on Maryland's congressmen and their districts reminded me why so many people have lost their faith in government ("They contend for Congress," Oct. 26).

Maryland's congressional districts are a total embarrassment to our state and to anyone who was involved in drawing them. They don't represent a fair and democratic way of choosing congressional representatives but old-boy politics in its ugliest form.

They were drawn to help some incumbents keep their seats and help force others out.

They out-gerrymander the worst of gerrymandering, with many districts broken up into patchworks that extend over multiple counties and communities, dividing neighborhoods with no regard to continuity or logic.

These districts are a continual reminder of the many things wrong with Gov. Parris N. Glendening's administration.

They should also remind our current governor that he could make a lasting positive impact on our state simply by drawing districts that make sense for all Marylanders.

Jon Hyman, Baltimore

Early voting gives voters more choices

For every news junkie or member of the political class who sings the praises of waiting to the end of the campaign to vote within a 13-hour period on the first Tuesday in November, there is a single mom who decides that day it's more important to bring her kids to school and get to work on time. Can anyone blame her?

Too many working families face such choices.

This is why we need to have a statewide discussion about the meaning of "Election Day," and to lengthen the voting window so that nobody misses his or her chance to participate ("Yes on Question 1," editorial, Oct. 19).

Voters could still wait for Election Day if they want to, and most people would. But the essential thing is to give people the choice about when they vote. Early voting does that.

Marylanders should vote for Question 1.

Ryan O'Donnell, Annapolis

The writer is executive director of Common Cause Maryland.

Slots could cost us more than they earn

Maryland is among the richest states in the nation, which is probably why gambling lobbyists have spent so much money to push Maryland politicians to change their stance on gambling ("Slots advocates build cash lead," Oct. 25).

And apparently it's working, because many politicians who were adamantly against slots are now supporting the slots referendum.

However, the evidence is compelling that slots will not bring the revenue promised. The National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling cites the research of Earl L. Grinols, a professor of economics whose research shows that gambling fails a cost-benefit test. "Even using conservative cost and benefit estimates, costs to benefits are greater than $3:$1," he writes.

Slots supporters are now offering the same kind of ad campaign that was once used to promote the lottery.

But when people say, "It's for the children," it really is time to watch your wallets.

Diana Broomell, Colora

The writer is a volunteer for Stop Slots Maryland.

Budget blackmail gambles our future

Gov. Martin O'Malley suggests that we must pass the slots referendum or there will be cuts in education and public transportation. Or we must pass slots or raise taxes to cover the budget gap ("Slots advocates build cash lead," Oct. 25). I think that's extortion.

Our elected legislators need to exercise some fiscal responsibility. They need to work with the tax revenue we send them.

And if they would have passed Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s slots bill four years ago, we wouldn't have this threat over our heads now.

George Martin, Aberdeen

Keep slots money right here at home

I am getting a little sick of all the people writing in to tell us how to spend our money ("Slots take the most from those with least," letters, Oct. 28). If you don't want to play slots, don't play them.

Slots may not be the answer to bail the state out, but they are a start.

I go once a year to gamble in Atlantic City, and that's my business.

But I'd rather keep my money in Maryland.

Gerald A. Yamin, Pikesville

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