Political FailuresThe Maryland smoking ban is not about...


April 02, 1995

Political Failures

The Maryland smoking ban is not about public health. It is about impotent, posturing politicians.

So is the Baltimore City curfew law. As the City Council took credit for trying to protect our youth and the Police Department took time to "educate" the population about it, children took rounds in the chest.

So is the emissions testing program. Since its inception over a decade ago, its results have been a state with the sixth worst air in the country and the second highest cancer rate.

So is the federally funded "empowerment zone." Who remembers that the Park Circle area was deemed an "enterprise zone" by a previous administration in the 1970s?

Now, handicapped persons bleed to death on the refuse-strewn sidewalks as residents react almost nonchalantly. Some enterprise!

The smoking ban will be another failure to add to the embarrassing list of local legislation and frustration.

Note that Gov. Parris Glendening has made no provision to enforce it. By his admission, fines provided for by this regulation will probably not be levied, but mere citations will be issued by the same state employees that do normal safety inspections of licensed businesses. They do not visit these businesses very often.

For a while after the smoking ban is put in place, the governor and his cronies will feel righteous and accomplished. They will probably even get some national news coverage and a sound bite or two on some prime-time TV magazines.

But when the smoke clears, Maryland and the Baltimore region will have the same problems: no businesses in the inner city, bad air and cancer, and babies blown apart on their front stoops.

Parris Glendening, though, will have carved his niche in history. And he will be proud.

Paul J. Gerhardt


Ludicrous Article

I am appalled by an article about Sen. Larry Young that appeared in the March 12 edition of your paper.

Clearly the writers' knowledge of Senator Young's ethics and integrity is in a range between naught and minuscule. To accuse, allege or otherwise imply that a conflict of interest exists because of his regular full-time job and his position as a public servant is absolutely ludicrous.

Being an employee of the American Ambulance Co. and chairing the subcommittee on health care does not, in itself, constitute a conflict of interest. Everyone has to work somewhere, and the General Assembly only lasts 90 days.

Having financial debts, which he is obviously repaying "financially," surely should not be misconstrued as a conflict. After all, according to your writers, they are loans and not "campaign contributions."

If a legislator cannot introduce and/or support legislation that will benefit his/her constituency, then shame on that elected official.

In my opinion, the article was a deliberate attempt to discredit one of the finest legislators and representatives of the African-American community.

Let us not hasten to condemn those who have legitimate jobs, meet their financial obligations and represent those who elected them.

FTC Charles D. Bates Jr.


The writer is president, Local 2101, Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

Ties to India

You are right in stating that Hillary Rodham Clinton's extensive visit to South Asia is more important than most people realize (editorial, March 22).

Indeed, "Symbolism counts for a lot in diplomacy, just as it does in domestic politics."

However, I will hasten to add that Mrs. Clinton's visit to South Asia is more than symbolism.

Her visit will strengthen economic and political ties between the United States and five powerful South Asian nations. This is what U.S. foreign missions are supposed to do.

Also, besides getting a first-hand knowledge about the role of women in these countries, Mrs. Clinton will also learn how the health care system works so well in a large country like India and why rural banking in Bangladesh is successful.

There also is a lot at stake for the United States and for Maryland, in terms of both trade and investment opportunities.

For instance, India is not only the world's largest democracy, it also is the fifth largest economic power in the world. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary recently visited India, and U.S. firms came away with billions of dollars worth of trade and investment contracts.

Countries like India are opening up rapidly, with far-reaching economic reforms. This is the right time to forge better economic and political ties.

The best way to win over these powerful nations of South Asia is to treat them with respect, to befriend them and show a real interest in learning from them. Trade and investment will follow.

radeep Ganguly


The Difference between the Parties

After two successive weeks of reading op-ed articles by the Democratic leaders of the House of Delegates (March 19) and the Democratic governor (March 26), I figured this week would be our turn, and what a fine week it would be.

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