The Baltimore Sun

Keep circulator bus in the city's budget

I was troubled to read that the City Council is considering cutting the free commuter bus service slated to begin in July 2009 ("City Council gets report on savings," Feb. 11). I strongly urge the council not to cut this service, and I would even be in favor an increased tax on parking to fund this project.

I understand that the City Council is under tremendous budget pressure. However, we still must invest in our future. And this free bus service would benefit residents in several ways.

First, it would be a cost-saving way for those living in the surrounding neighborhoods to commute to work downtown. I cannot think of a better time to help the people of Baltimore reduce their transportation expenses.

Second, it would take cars off the road and help reduce downtown congestion along with the city's carbon footprint.

Third, the proposed bus routes offer an opportunity to bring tourists staying in hotels surrounding the Inner Harbor to shops and restaurants in neighborhoods they may be unfamiliar with, such as Mount Vernon, Midtown, Charles North and Hollins Market.

I think a better question than "Who is going to ride it?" (the question Councilman Bernard C. Jack Young asked in the article) would be: "Will there be enough buses to meet the demand?"

Joe Macri, Baltimore

Phelps put himself up on the pedestal

After reading Susan Reimer's column "A hard week for Phelps - and for Mom" (Feb. 9) and other comments suggesting that somehow the media are being unfair in their assessment and handling of Michael Phelps' being photographed with a bong, all I can say is that this situation is the result of a choice by Mr. Phelps.

To suggest he should not be held accountable for that choice, or that media scrutiny is overblown, is to support a double standard.

It was Mr. Phelps and his handlers who decided to exchange his accomplishments for celebrity, and to use and trade on his image and reputation for profit.

He and others can't now complain that Mr. Phelps is being held to an unreasonable standard when it was he who accepted being placed on that pedestal in return for the lucrative endorsements based on that image.

Jim Jagielski, Forest Hill

Prosecutions for pot waste time, money

Apparently South Carolina is so flush with cash during this economic crisis that it can afford to expend precious resources building a case against gold medal-winner Michael Phelps for allegedly smoking pot ("Lawyer: S.C. police targeting Phelps," Feb. 13).

But wasting time and money prosecuting someone for a harmless activity epitomizes the failed war on drugs; indeed, it suggests a good argument for legalizing marijuana.

Keeping pot illegal drains our resources while keeping the narcotics business buzzing and the Mexican murder rate high.

John G Bailey, Edgemere

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