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We need more information from the Stronachs about state of Pimlico grandstands

For the moment, let’s take The Stronach Group's word that the untimely engineers report and subsequent shutting down of 7,000 seats just ahead of the Preakness is legitimate (“Dangerous grandstands at Pimlico or retaliation by Stronach?” Apr. 16).

Obviously, the safety of this grandstand did not go from 7,000 people last year to 0 this year. For Stonach to support their claim that these findings are credible, their engineers must give us the answer to what the grandstands can safely carry. If their engineers have the capability and integrity to declare that the stands are not safe for the full load of 7,000 people, they can certainly tell us what what number they are safe for.

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If every fifth row of seats were blocked, that would reduce the load by 20 percent. If every fourth row were blocked, 25 percent. As professional engineers, they know what this number is, and they must tell us. Obviously, there would be a corresponding reduction of the tickets issued.

Baltimore should use it's influence to demand a legitimate answer from Stonach so that with adjustments, Preakness can safely be held as planned.

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Lee Martin

Check cashing companies provide a needed service

The Maryland Association of Financial Service Centers, the state trade association for businesses offering check cashing services, supports financial education efforts that are factual and unbiased. While we commend the CASH Campaign for the many good services they provide to underserved citizens of Maryland, their goal to shift people from check cashing and payday lenders is biased in its very conception (“1 in 5 Baltimore households tap services like check cashing instead of banks. This group hopes to change that,” April 12).

I am only addressing check cashing services as there are no brick and mortar payday lenders in Maryland and Maryland check cashers do not offer loans. The article cites a $40,000 lifetime cost to the unbanked or underbanked. I have no idea where this figure comes from, but like so much information about check cashing, it is inaccurate. Using real numbers based on a full-time worker making $15 per hour who buys three money orders and pays three bills electronically each month, the fees would be about $435 per year. This type of factual information is what should be provided to someone seeking financial education.

Another example of a fact that should be provided, is that in 2017 banks collected $34 billion in overdraft fees alone and that according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, some of the poorest Americans are being hit the hardest, with fees averaging around $450 per year. While it’s obvious that check cashing is not designed to meet all the financial needs of all consumers, neither is a traditional bank account. The fact is, a majority of our customers either have a bank account or have used one in the past. Consumers use check cashers, solely or in conjunction with a bank account, because our services are more manageable, relevant and convenient for them.

We encourage the CASH Campaign to continue providing financial education so people who rely on bank accounts can manage them properly. Moving forward, we encourage the CASH Campaign to include unbiased education about check cashing as a viable means to conduct basic financial transactions in a business model that is transparent, understandable, manageable and provides instant access to funds. It’s misleading for the group to educate people on financial services and products under the assumption that traditional banking is always the best option and with a preconceived objective of switching people from check cashers. Financial education should include comprehensive, factual, and unbiased information, so that individual consumers can take that information and decide how best to manage their finances based on their own circumstances and preferences.

Neil Goldstein

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Financial Service Centers, Inc.

Book of Mormon and the PC Police

A sarcastic thank you to Cheryl Hystad for lecturing me on what I am, and am not, allowed to find funny (Is it time to pull the curtain on “The Book of Mormon?” Sun, April 15). Here is my advice to Ms. Hystad. If she does not like the show, don’t go see it. If she believes that the ending of the show sends the wrong message, she should write her own show and supply whatever ending she chooses.

Please spare me the guilt-driven political correctness. To me, political correctness run amok is far worse than whatever it is she finds objectionable in “Mormon.” We need look no farther back than to the disastrous November 2016 election to see the the powerful (over)reaction to such political correctness.

Gerald Langbaum

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