Traffic lines are needed for light rail safetyIs it going...


April 24, 1997

Traffic lines are needed for light rail safety

Is it going to take a fatality before the proper authorities take action and paint bright yellow diagonal lines (signifying "do not encroach") across the light rail right of way at the intersection of Howard and Pratt? Many cars each day stop for red lights on the tracks. Confrontations between light rail trains and these cars are common. The simple, cheap solution: the painted lines, and a prominent warning sign along or above eastbound Pratt. Please do it now.

Ed Goldberg


Social Security benefits are taxed

What wonderful news for retired senior citizens, especially those on Social Security. I just wish that the contention of Joel N. Moore (April 18, "Kemp wrong about Social Security") that "Social Security benefits after retirement are tax-exempt" was true.

The tax simplification law of 1986 made 50 percent of Social Security benefits taxable as ordinary income. Then, over the vigorous opposition of every Republican in Congress, President Clinton and his Democratic buddies raised the 50 percent to up to 85 percent on a sliding scale.

Virtually every retiree with any resources over his Social Security pension, including me, gets snagged in this web at tax time. Repeal of this tax grab was part of the Republicans' Contract with America and part of the tax bill that Mr. Clinton vetoed last year.

Chuck Frainie


Civil War Museum coverage praised

The Sun is to be truly commended for its excellent coverage of the historic President Street Station. Thank you for making Baltimoreans and Marylanders more aware of the important role their city and state have played in United States history.

Readers were able to learn that the "city of firsts" also had the first deaths of the Civil War because of hostilities that took place April 19, 1861.

Please continue the effort to inform today's generation of our city's and state's history so that they may more fully understand and appreciate our past.

Amato P. Mongelluzzo

Hunt Valley

Remembering Henry Barnes

When I immigrated to the United States and came to live in Baltimore in 1956, I found citizens praising Henry A. Barnes' successes with traffic problems. Little wonder, therefore, that I read Walter J. Addison's April 19 letter with particular interest.

The natural question is, since the problems were known, why we had to have somebody from Denver tell us what to do? The answer is obvious. An outsider has a special halo, has no emotional attachments, has no friends and few acquaintances and has not made enemies yet. What is more important, he is given a free hand to do what should be done.

Nobody argued with Mr. Barnes that he may need a court order to remove parked cars from snow emergency routes or that first-time parking violators should pay a lesser penalty.

We learned to obey and now we like it. I am still reeling from a huge fine I paid recently for a parking violation, when a quarter would have prevented it, and I do not think I will ever forget it.

The moral of Mr. Barnes' story: A reasonable (or maybe not-so-reasonable) measure, when applied consistently, uniformly and quickly, bears fruit.

Peter C. Sotiriou


The brave new world of schools

With the advent of digital television interfaced with computers and the Internet, will the teacher's blackboard be chalked up in our homes?

The unforeseen result of this new technology may be the return of the family as the basic building block of civilized society. Education beginning at home will then become a reality, even though, paradoxically, the world will be our classroom.

Will this new wave of the future be what is needed to reduce the burgeoning costs of public education and the resulting unbearably rising rates of taxation?

Just think of how many thousands of children could be taught by one teacher in one subject. Will we need school buildings anymore?

J. Michael Alpert


The homeless ignored in housing discussion

The dialogue concerning vacant houses in Baltimore has ignored the scourge of homelessness.

Last year nearly 20,000 different Baltimoreans spent a night in an emergency shelter or on the street; tens of thousands of others led a nomadic existence moving from temporary residences.

Curiously, the law of supply and demand seems not to operate in the housing sector. In a city of 675,000, with housing for 800,000, thousands of our neighbors can't secure stable housing.

The oversupply of housing hasn't reduced the price of housing sufficiently to render housing affordable.

And homeless advocates wince at plans to further reduce the supply of housing, when we know so many who are forced to sleep sitting up in plastic chairs.

The availability of affordable housing in Baltimore -- and other U.S. cities -- is a problem largely ignored by those responsible for public policy.

It is also clear that the private sector and market mechanisms cannot meet the need for affordable housing. The victims of our housing disaster are not only visible sleeping forlornly on sidewalks and benches, but also sitting hopelessly in Rent Court, where 70,000 eviction notices were filed last year. And they crowd the waiting room of Health Care for the Homeless, where business is regrettably booming.

The 1990s has seen four massive initiatives emanating from Annapolis: $400 million for two stadiums, $400 million for public education and $500 million for income tax reductions.

Our housing crisis requires -- and deserves -- an investment of similar proportions. Such an initiative would be an ample demonstration that the voices of the poor are actually heard in Annapolis.

Jeff Singer


The writer represents Health Care for the Homeless.

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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