Little prospect congress will vote reformsWhile the debate...

the Forum

March 26, 1991

Little prospect congress will vote reforms

While the debate over federal campaign finance reform in congress is welcome, it's probably unrealistic to expect legislation in the near future that will remove any significant advantages that congressional incumbents now enjoy.

I write this as an announced challenger to 2nd District Rep. Helen D. Bentley, so my interest is more than passing. Recently a Capitol Hill contact advised that if I couldn't raise $200,000 for a campaign I should forget about running. He was talking about just campaign expenses; of course, the incumbent's office and staff provided at taxpayer expense remain an ongoing campaign apparatus whether or not it's actually called that.

The alternatives facing would-be candidates are not attractive. Legally it's possible to run for office but "the broad-based oligarchy" that one of your columnists describes indicates that congressional elections are becoming a meaningless formality in most districts.

There are important matters to be addressed in 1992, but it is distressing that candidates must think first and foremost about money rather than the issues. Why should it be necessary to raise lots of money just to offer voters a choice?

Our democracy is becoming inaccessible to people of ordinary means without connections to wealthy, special interests.

Christopher C. Boardman

Joppatowne

Fairness for bikers

There is much to be found to disagree with in Governor Schaefer's spending policies, but as for his letter (Forum, March 19), I believe in "giving the devil his due."

I am not a motorcyclist, but it seems all the members of the state legislature must ride motorcycles; otherwise they would all see the wisdom of such a bill. Motorcyclists should have to abide by the same safety rules of the road as the motorists and be subject to the same insurance laws.

Blanche K. Coda

Baltimore

Unfair to bikers

Governor Schaefer's March 19 letter made some interesting points, most of which were invalid. He states that motorcyclists are responsible for a large portion of the public debt because they take "unnecessary risks" and shun health insurance. The study upon which this is based clearly stated that the percentage of cyclists without health insurance was identical to that of the general public. This fact has been filtered out.

Further, mandatory helmet use has never been shown to make a significant reduction in cycle-related injuries. Better rider education, on the other hand, is responsible for much of the declining death rate among cyclists in the past 10 years.

Last, are cyclists the only people assuming "unnecessary risks"? I think that argument could apply to almost any enjoyable human vTC activity. Do we apply it only to those which are unpopular in the general public?

The governor should find someone else to pick on.

Robert A. Kight

Parkville

Clean it up

How can anyone who has lived a lifetime in the city of Baltimore be proud today?

City and fringe neighborhoods take on the appearance of total waste and destruction resembling Kuwait. One merely has to drive west on Sinclair Lane from Belair Road to experience environmental abuse. I propose a "litter watch" in the newspaper with a photo of a particular blighted area each week. Maybe, then, someone in the city government would create a priority cleanup and enforce anti-litter laws. These blight areas are a creeping monster which in time may devour scenic Maryland.

Tony Picha

Baltimore

Toward peace

The catastrophe of the burning Kuwaiti oil fields is unprecedented. To fight these fires, a handful of companies are converging on the oil fields. Little has changed, however, in 20 years in the techniques used to fight these kinds of fires. One firefighter quoted in The Sun said a five-well fire was the larges he had ever extinguished.

The unprecedented number of the Kuwaiti fires demands new techniques faster, safer methods of delivering explosives and clearing debris at the well site will have to be devised. It is doubtful that Arabs, Westerners or even the firefighters themselves will remain satisfied with the traditional timetable (one to two weeks) for capping a well. At present, there is a plethora of protective, armored vehicles and high-tech equipment sitting in the desert. Perhaps the next use of smart technology will show its application for peaceful purposes.

William S. Spicer

Baltimore

Police brutality

There seems to be a hunger in policemen to exert physical force, be it of the heroic or cowardly type. But most policemen seek to keep this hunger in check. Those policemen out in Los Angeles showed they couldn't.

Lorry Quackenbush

Baltimore

A thin line

Governor Schaefer's recent escapades -- some call them abuses of power -- point up the fact that there is a thin line between a society where free expression is central and one ruled by a maladjusted despot.

If this were certain Middle Eastern cultures, the guilty letter writer would have been blindfolded and shot at sunrise. Facing directly toward the Eastern Shore, of course.

Tony Glaros

Laurel

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