Pork ScholarsA crucial and overdue reform lies dying in a...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 26, 1994

Pork Scholars

A crucial and overdue reform lies dying in a committee of the Maryland State Senate. It is the bill to award college scholarship on the basis of student need instead of political favoritism, and it may perish in a pigeonhole of the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Many Maryland legislators and voters feel that political scholars are an embarrassing relic of a pork barrel past and should be abolished here, as every other state has done. The American Association of University Professors, which opposes political interference on the campus, has joined a broad coalition of citizen groups working for this reform, including the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and Common Cause.

But we need help. Concerned Marylanders should contact Sen. Clarence Blount, the committee chair, and their own legislators. Urge them to support Senate Bill 134 (sponsored principally by Sen. Paula Hollinger); ask the committee to bring it to the floor of the Senate for an open vote before the current session ends.

Edwin Hirschmann

Towson

The writer is president of the Maryland Conference, American Association of University Professors.

Smokin' Mad

The proposed increases in cigarette taxes, both in Gov. William Donald Schaefer's and President Bill Clinton's budgets, are outrageous. The governor wants 36 cents a pack, or $3.60 per carton, in added tax. The president wants 75 cents a pack, or $7.50 per carton, more.

Deciding that they have the right to preach against smoking, they also have decided that only cigarette smokers should pay for these officials' budget increases -- no other new increases are proposed.

It is already impossible to smoke without following the precautions aimed at protecting non-smokers, and all who smoke have already experienced the militancy of non-smoking advocates.

Yet each of these "leaders" is preaching about and condemning smokers and saying higher taxes will make them quit. Each one wants to spend the extra tax revenues, not on smokers but on programs for hard-drug addicts, homosexuals with AIDS and everything else on which they like to spend money.

Cynically, neither "leader" rationalizes his posturing about discouraging smoking with his need for more money or connects it with some programs for smokers. And each is counting on smokers to keep buying cigarettes as they do now, to make up the budget shortfall.

Obviously, each is sure that smokers are the easiest game around to attack publicly, the pariahs of the 1990s in this country.

Smoking is no sin and is a personal choice as valid as eating ham and eggs. Everyone dies sooner or later, and what pleases one person may be someone else's pet peeve or most fearful risk.

When smokers die younger, they save the governments and medical insurers a lot of money. Any statement that smoking costs the society more in governmental budget outlays is nothing but a lie.

Antonio Diaz

Arbutus

Trust Ginsburg

I am writing to applaud the wonderful article on Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg (Feb. 15).

I have read very few articles that have been so complimentary to a government figure, especially if it's a woman. Usually women involved in politics are portrayed as masculine, or even obnoxious.

The woman-in-politics stereotype that many people hold suggests that women such as Hillary Clinton and Barbara Mikulski are "unwomanly" or pushy.

Instead, The Sun's Lyle Denniston did justice to Ginsburg, portraying her as a respected and valuable member of the Supreme Court, a woman that we can feel safe trusting her interpretation of our nation's laws.

I hope she can continue in her excellence, and we can continue to give her and other women politicians the credit that they deserve.

Amy Sehman

Ellicott City

Chicanery

Just what the nation needs most -- chicanery embedded in the Constitution as law. It's called the balanced budget amendment.

As many sincere governors, legislators and congressmen -- not to mention a couple of presidents-to-be -- said about the adoption of the 18th Amendment, "I'll drink to that."

Quentin D. Davis

Aberdeen

City Politics

I read with considerable interest and pleasure, Feb. 17, about Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's success in gaining a CFL commitment for our city. This would have been excellent news with the exception of two things:

1. Mayor Schmoke's decision to relegate the Council president's concern over the details of the agreement to ''political shots."

2. The Sun's willingness to play the mayor's game by echoing his labeling in an editorial appearing in the same edition.

I am a city property owner, therefore a city taxpayer. I am also a registered voter. I am a very weary taxpayer and voter who must continue to cope with irresponsible government at all levels.

When an elected official, such as Council President Mary Pat Clarke seeks to establish accountability and to look to the best interests of the residents of this city, then I am encouraged to regain some level of hope.

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