Region doesn't need fifth NASCAR track
Your Aug. 18 editorial's description of the legend of stock car racing's origins is a little blurred regarding Prohibition's influence on the activity of moonshine running. Prohibition ended many years before the heyday of "shine runners" in the late 1930s and through the 1940s.
NASCAR's formula for success has always been based on racing the cars that race fans own and drive. That product recognition and loyalty to a great extent fueled the popularity of the ''muscle cars'' of the 1960s and 1970s, and carries over today to the sponsor's products advertised on the hoods and sides of NASCAR's race cars and trucks.
It is highly unlikely that a new race track in the Baltimore area will be built and find race dates from NASCAR when there are already four tracks within 200 miles that run NASCAR races. The expansion of NASCAR stock car racing is going to markets which previously had no tracks, such as southern California, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Missouri and Illinois. This trend will continue.
Thomas A. Taylor
Drega couldn't buy same gun here
The shooting spree in New Hampshire and Vermont that left four persons dead and several others wounded was a tragedy.
The gunman, Carl Drega, used a Colt AR-15 assault weapon of a type banned from import and manufacture under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban.
So many people were killed, in part, because Drega used a 30-round magazine, meaning he could fire 30 consecutive bullets before needing to reload.
In Maryland, sensible gun laws exist that outlaw the sale of assault pistols and the sale or receipt of any firearm magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds.
We can thank the citizens of Maryland who overwhelming support sensible gun control and our governor and legislators who provide the leadership to provide public safety.
The writer is executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse.
Closing library branch won't save much cash
I would like to register my protest against the closing of the St. Paul branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
It seems to me that closing this branch with just 30 days notice is more an attempt to scuttle the surrounding neighborhoods' plans to create a viable future for the branch than an attempt to close a short-term budget shortfall. The library is not paying rent on the location or maintaining the building. Also, the personnel at the branch will be moved to other branches after Aug. 30. Therefore, it is hard to envision budgetary savings of more than a few hundred dollars a month. That would be a small dent in any shortfall.
Peter W. Duvall
Cigar smoking uncool and very unhealthy
From the cover of The Sun's Distinction advertising section for Fall 1997, it is clear that cool and chic mean more to you than health.
The tobacco companies must be laughing all the way to the bank. Elsewhere in the same issue (Aug. 14) it was pointed out to Ann Landers how many new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed annually in this country and how many deaths will ensue.
The people responsible for making a cigar smoking woman look attractive should be made to spend time in a hospital and help to nurse those cigarette and cigar smokers who have had lips, lungs and larynxes removed.
Michael B. Pusin, D.M.D.
Need pay raise to keep up with inflation
The increase for state workers that has been discussed in Annapolis in recent months does not constitute ''a big pay raise,'' as Barry Rascovar suggested in his Aug. 17 column. Rather, it is a long overdue cost of living allowance that only begins to offset even today's modest rate of inflation.
Since fiscal year 1992, the actual cost of living has increased by about 2.9 percent each year, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, and is expected to again increase by around 3 percent in 1997-98, for a cumulative increase over the period of about 20.5 percent.
Over the same period, University of Maryland staff members and other state employees have received only two COLAs: 3 percent in 1994-95 and 3 percent in 1995-96.
Even if state employees receive the ''big pay raise'' Mr. Rascovar decries, they will have seen their real buying power decline by nearly 12 per cent since 1992. If the COLA is denied, the decline will be roughly 15 percent.
Within higher education, the comparisons are even worse. In total salary increase (merit and COLA) over the past six years, faculty at the University of Maryland and other public four-year schools have seen their pay checks grow by only 10 percent cumulatively -- far less than enough to stay even with inflation.
Compare that with the pay increases over the same period of 15 percent at the University of California, 19.5 percent at Ohio State, 22.3 percent at the University of Illinois and 21.8 at the University of Michigan.
Not just at the University of Maryland, but in agencies throughout the state, we are blessed with a pool of productive, reliable and enthusiastic employees -- the conduits through whom we deliver state-government services, from education to law enforcement to preservation of our environment and natural resources.
If leaders in Annapolis fail to recognize the importance of paying competitive salaries, we will see an escalation of talented faculty and state employees leaving to take positions elsewhere.
And then we in Maryland will be left with a quality of state-government service and education that we really can't afford -- poor!
William E. Kirwan
The writer is president of the University of Maryland at College Park.
Pub Date: 8/26/97