Wrong RhetoricEditor: A member of the Maryland Commission...


March 19, 1991

Wrong Rhetoric

Editor: A member of the Maryland Commission on State Taxes and Tax Structure recently wrote you outlining the only two items of tax reductions proposed by the commission. It was typical of all the rhetoric that has been publicized. It is a shame, since it came from a highly positioned chief executive of a major Maryland company.

He mentioned that two-thirds of Maryland taxpayers will pay less income taxes. He failed to state that 300,000 Marylanders file returns but pay no income taxes, but will pay more of all the other taxes being considered. He also failed to mention that tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of senior citizens, do not even file returns and are not included in the statistic because their income (other than Social Security) is below the threshold ($10,850) for filing a return.

He went on to point out that property owners will receive tax relief, but his statement was incomplete because 40 percent of all property owners will pay more property tax. That's because the commission proposes to repeal the recently enacted state 10-percent cap on assessments and the 4-percent cap on assessments in Baltimore County.

More than 90 percent, $900 million, of the new taxes are regressive. That is, the lower- and middle-income families pay more than the higher-income families -- and almost everyone with an income greater than $15,000 will pay more taxes.

This is not a criticism of the letter writer. He simply wrote what the commission staff had furnished him, inaccurate data without sufficient investigation of the detail. This is borne out by the report of William S. Ratchford II, director of the Department of Fiscal Services.

John D. O'Neill.



Editor: When I read your editorial, ''Subterfuge in Howard,'' I became concerned that the public was not aware of the great progress that Howard County has made toward developing effective adequate public facilities (APF) legislation to help manage growth.

Last fall, the Howard County Council initiated a roundtable discussion of APF legislation. Just a few days after Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker took office, he established, by executive order, the APF Commission which was based on the model used by the council.

The members of the commission come from a variety of backgrounds and represent what were once perceived as opposing viewpoints. Two members represent the PTA, two members represent citizens' associations, three members are from the county government, one is from the Howard school system, one member is a traffic engineer, three members are from the development community, and one member is from the business community.

The commission has been working diligently in four-hour weekly meetings since Dec. 7, 1990. Members of the commission also spend may hours each week preparing for those meetings.

The issues are complex even though the goals may not be. It is anticipated that the commission will have draft legislation completed for public review by May 15, 1991.

The members of the APF Commission and I urge The Sun to review the measures that are currently being taken to prepare effective growth management legislation. Then we believe that The Sun will endorse those measures and will take steps to inform your readership about the issues surrounding this most important process.

Michael W. Davis.


The writer chairs the Howard County Adequate Public Facilities Commission.

Missing Statistic

Editor: I looked in vain in your special section on ''Images of the War'' (March 10) for an estimate of Iraqi casualties. This statistic is conspicuously missing from ''The War in Numbers'' column that lists only the number of Iraqi prisoners (62,0000) along with the numbers of destroyed Iraqi tanks, armored vehicles and artillery pieces. Only in an article on Pentagon press restrictions was there even any mention of Iraqi casualties, which pointed out that there has never been an official estimate of Iraqi losses.

Other media have published unofficial estimates of as many as 100,000 Iraqi dead and wounded. Given the Pentagon's other claims, however, this figure seems unbelievably low. Before the air war started, the U.S. claimed that Iraq had 500,000 to 750,000 men deployed in Kuwait and southern Iraq. (The Sun quotes an estimates of 545,000.) At the end of the war, General Schwarzkopf reported that all Iraqi escape routes were cut off and that 42 divisions of 12,000 men each, a total of 504,000 Iraqis, had been destroyed or captured. Yet the U.S. claims to have captured only 62,000. This leaves almost 450,000 unaccounted for human beings.

Assuming, as the Pentagon claims, that all these hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops were in place to begin with and that few escaped, the obvious question is where are they now? I'm afraid they are all dead in the desert, slaughtered by the allied air war. And I'm even more frightened that no one seems to care.

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