These raps on Congress are undeservedThe House...

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November 08, 1991

These raps on Congress are undeserved

The House check-writing "scandal" should no more be compared with the Stanford University misuse of federal funds than Richard Bader's writing should be compared with informed comment. ("Doing what they can get away with," Other Voice, Oct. 28).

The House "bank" was in fact a cooperative. Overdrafts by one member of Congress were covered by the deposit of another member. No taxpayer funds were used to cover the bounced checks of any account. Only members of Congress who did not bounce checks had any right to be outraged at this practice. That is why members like Rep. Dan Rostenkowski told reporters that it was none of their business whether they had bounced checks. By the way, if the House cooperative had operated as a normal bank, the depositors would have earned interest, which House members did not, and their bank records would be protected by federal privacy laws.

As it turns out, the unpaid restaurant bills were owed mostly by constituents who used their representatives' names to secure dining rooms in the Capitol and then did not pay their bills. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The public demanding services from Washington, refusing to pay for them and then blaming Congress for the result.

James B. Callen

Washington, D.C.

Lost opportunities

Over the past 35 years Maryland has lost many chances to become a wealthy state. Because of airheads in the administration, companies that wanted to come here and build (which would have meant more jobs and taxes) did not, and moved to other states - particularly in the South.

Why? Because Maryland would not give them any tax breaks. The Southern states did; some even gave these companies land to build on.

Remember when, along Route 301, bars and restaurants had slot machines and thousands of people came into Maryland to play them? That brought many thousands of dollars into the state. Then we had an airhead for a governor who did away with the slots. Many bars and restaurants had to close due to lack of business. Hundreds of people lost jobs.

In recent years the Marriott Corp. has tried three times to come into Maryland and build a theme park, which would have meant more jobs and thousands of visitors. It was turned down each time.

The Maryland Port Authority has lost millions in business in recent years. In the late '50s or early '60s, Baltimore had a mayor who drove businesses out of the city, some of which had been here for 100 years. Why? Because a stupid inventory tax was imposed. Later when Coca-Cola wanted to come to Baltimore and build a plant, it did not do so because of a clown of a mayor who wanted the land for a park.

Crown Petroleum wanted to come to Maryland and build a refinery. It did not. Recently, Maryland was supposed to give companies jobs in Kuwait. We are still waiting. The list goes on and on.

Bob Crooks


Political apathy

I compliment Carl LaVerghetta for connecting budget deficits and citizen apathy (Other Voices, Oct 24). He accurately identifies the ignorance and sloth that have brought our democracy to its present state.

The proportion of government employees to citizens rose from 60 per 10,000 in 1950 to 149 in 1988. Yet most contemporary problems with the political process are traceable to the absence of citizen participation. Witness detached incumbents, expensive television sound bites and overly influential PAC contributions: All of these problems are being addressed by legislators, but how can they legislate away the reason behind the problems?

Instead of term limitations, what about trying voter participation? Instead of publicly funded air time,what about privately funded town meetings? PAC contributions would be rendered impotent against a rock-solid foundation of healthy, local political parties.

The transfer of responsibility from the federal to the state and local levels should be viewed as a challenge and an opportunity. Never in our lifetimes have the problems and solutions of our republic been so accessible to the average citizen. To date, the response has been paralysis on the part of the legislature and whimpering by the rest of us.

% William S. Spicer III


Fiscal priorities

The Oct. 30 Evening Sun published letters critical of the paper's stand on aid to the Israeli nation, suggesting that perhaps the editors may be anti-Semitic, and taking to task readers who join in your position.

Reasonable people can have differing views on the matter. Those now voicing opposition are saying "enough is enough" where aid is concerned. This does not make them anti-Semitic, nor does it suggest they are filled with a "hatred just below the surface," as one critic put it. All we are saying is that our aid priorities must be rearranged.

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