New PoliticsThe pundits don't get it, do they? They would...


March 14, 1992

New Politics

The pundits don't get it, do they? They would, if they read their own newspapers.

Traditional labels of conservative and liberal don't work for the so-called baby boomers. The group is a large lump passing through the alimentary of America's body politic. It is politically active. And it is fiscally cautious, while being socially progressive. Besides, this unusual position seems to cross lines of social and economic class.

That has been the finding of pollsters and social scientists. It means the boomers are neither typically Republican nor Democratic.

Only one politician seems to share that novel pairing of positions, Paul Tsongas. Like him or not, it should not surprise anyone that he is getting lots of votes from the suburbs, where the boomers live. Thus, Tsongas stands a good chance of beating Bill Clinton for the nomination.

What does that say about November?

It's clear that Pat Buchanan is going to force President Bush toward the traditional right wing. That means a harder economic line and a wink toward divisive politics. (We've already seen a repudiation of Bush's budget deal with the Democrats.)

Besides the boomers there is one other age group that is politically active, the seniors. As far as I know -- and I am closer to a boomer than a senior -- their politics are standard forms of right- and left-wing.

I think these folks will be governed by a second rule the pundits and politicians seem unaware of: Americans are always in the end centrists. They may come out to cheer the likes of David Duke, George Wallace and their left-wing counterparts. But they mostly vote the middle of the road.

With George Bush driven to right-wing positions by Buchanan, Paul Tsongas could look like a centrist.

Philip L. Marcus Ellicott City

City Losses

I hope it's either naivete or stupidity and not political corruption, but something is definitely wrong with the way Baltimore City handles taxpayers' assets. A few examples:

1. The most current, Harrison's Wharf. City backed. City guaranteed loan default. Taxes delinquent. Taxpayer loss.

2. Cars and money confiscated from drug dealers, supposed to be used in ''the war on drugs,'' utilized without accountability.

3. Ethel's Place. How much taxpayer money was lost on this city venture? How about investors? Loss or profit?

4. Shake and Bake. Another misguided taxpayer venture, another mismanaged use of scarce city funds.

5. Perhaps the best example of all, the Belvedere. How may millions were lost in this city venture (misadventure)?

6. Harborplace? The last Sun report showed that the city had received no direct benefit, share of profit or taxes from the owners.

7. The city incinerator?

How many other incidents of mismanagement or misappropriation are there in city closets?

# Charles D. Connelly.Baltimore.

Drilling For Oil

Lloyd L. Unsell's allegation that no environmental damage can be attributed to Pennsylvania's oil wells is false. His letter to the editor (Feb. 11) denounced the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's opposition to oil drilling adjacent to the bay. To make his case, the author offered statistics on Pennsylvania's experience with oil wells as a reason to "remain calm" while exploratory drilling is carried out in Charles County.

Contrary to Mr. Unsell's blanket assertion, Pennsylvania has a well-documented history of confronting the harmful consequences of oil and gas drilling. In April 1981, the Citizens Advisory Council to the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Resources concluded that many of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells in the state were unplugged and leaking oil, brine, other chemicals and acid. The council's report also stated that, "over 15 exceptional value and high quality watersheds have been or are presently being seriously degraded by discharges of oil and brines." As a result of this study, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Oil and Gas Act, which was designed to correct these problems and provide funding to plug abandoned wells.

In 1990, the oil industry attempted to amend the Oil and Gas Act by endorsing a bill that would have weakened the new program before it had a chance to get off the ground. Governor Robert Casey vetoed the bill.

Just last September, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission testified the impact of oil and gas development in the Allegheny National Forest before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. Among the problems cited by the Fish Commission were the improper disposal of 7 million gallons of wastewater brine generated each year by oil and gas production, accelerated erosion and stream sedimentation, and changes in stream temperatures which left the water unfit for cold water fish species such as trout.

Clearly, Pennsylvania's experience supports the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's position that oil and gas drilling will be detrimental to the bay. I thought your readers would like to hear about Pennsylvania's experience from a Pennsylvanian.

& Maurice Kimball Goddard.

Camp Hill, Pa.

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