Wyndham Hotel location ignores light rail linkWhen you...

Letters

December 31, 1997

Wyndham Hotel location ignores light rail link

When you smell a rat, there generally is one.

I appreciate The Sun exposing the Wyndham Hotel fiasco. I would add that the Tammany Hall-style decision to build in East Baltimore sabotages mass transit as usual. Most conventioneers arrive via Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which has a light rail stop right outside the terminal.

The light rail line stops at the Convention Center and near many downtown hotels. If the city had the foresight to build the Wyndham downtown, this would increase convention capacity, increase light rail use and obviate the need for parking lots, saving the taxpayers $20 million.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.

Baltimore

Life expectancy figures explained

A life expectancy of 63 years for men and 73 years for women does not mean that men in Baltimore die at age 63 and women die at age 73. Thus, some of the commentary surrounding the publication of the Christopher Murray report is misleading.

The life expectancies for Baltimore men and women mean that, at the time of birth, male and female babies can expect to live on the average 63 and 73 years, respectively.

These life expectancies are certainly low. They reflect, however, the fact that infant mortality rates in Baltimore are high for both male and female babies and homicide rates are high among teenage and young adult males.

Most Baltimoreans live to ages well beyond 63 and 73 years, but many are at risk. Baltimoreans are at high risk of dying when they are young; these excess mortality rates at young ages are primarily responsible for bringing down our life expectancy.

Baltimoreans should be concerned about the low life expectancies for infants born in the city. These numbers should motivate us to improve the conditions for low-income mothers, infants and youth. Such improvements in health and social status will lead to longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Bernard Guyer, M.D.

Baltimore

The writer chairs the department of maternal and child health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Shedding sunlight on winter solstice

In the Dec. 20 Today section, the article about the winter solstice on Dec. 21 included the following quote by Donna Henes, an urban shaman. "Imagine if after the solstice we saw that the sun was rising a minute earlier each day and setting a minute later."

This suggests that the earliest sunset and latest sunrise occur on Dec. 21 and this combination creates the shortest day. This is a common misconception.

In this area, the earliest sunset (4: 44 p.m.) occurs around Dec. 8 and by Dec. 21 the sunset has increased to 4: 47 p.m. In contrast, the latest sunrise (7: 27 a.m.) occurs on Jan. 5, whereas the sunrise on Dec. 21 occurs at 7: 22 a.m.

Thus the earliest sunset occurs prior to Dec. 21, and the latest sunrise occurs after Dec. 21.

Herman Blinchikoff

Pikesville In response to the Dec. 17 article concerning the upcoming receipt of C-130Js for the Maryland National Guard's 175th Wing, I must clarify the quote in which I praise Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski for their efforts in helping Maryland gain the new aircraft.

In my comments delivered at Warfield Air National Guard Base, I thanked the entire Maryland congressional delegation. Senators Sarbanes and Mikulski were, indeed, tremendously helpful, as were U.S. Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, Robert Ehrlich and Steny Hoyer.

Though the National Guard Bureau's road map clearly showed the Maryland Air National Guard to be in line for C-130Js, another state tried very hard to derail this plan.

Fortunately, we received bipartisan cooperation from our governor and entire congressional delegation, ensuring that Maryland received these state-of-the-art aircraft.

Through constant and persistent contacts with their colleagues, Senators Sarbanes and Mikulski and Representatives Bartlett, Ehrlich and Hoyer performed incredible service for the men and women in the Maryland Air National Guard, as well as the citizens of Maryland, in bringing the first C-130Js for the Air Guard to our great state.

The entire Maryland delegation deserves great credit and appreciation for our success in gaining C-130Js.

Lt. Gen. James F. Fretterd

Baltimore

The writer is adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard.

Most charitable donors give for right reasons

Lester Picker's Dec. 17 commentary, "Linking gifts to deductions is a taxing question," overstates the effect of tax policy on giving.

He suggests that, as a group, individuals earning $100,000 or more have cut their giving by 47 percent between 1980 and 1993. Facts reported each year by Giving USA lead us to be skeptical of his conclusion.

Charitable gifts by living individuals have remained quite steady, averaging 1.83 percent of personal income for 22 years.

If top earners really became less charitable in that time, those who made less (and realize lower tax benefits) made up the difference. On top of that, gifts from wills and other plans of giving are increasing.

In my office -- and most charitable gift planners relate similar experiences -- we often work with donors whose gifts far exceed the limits of deductibility for income tax purposes.

An important 1990s study of wealthy, generous donors (those with $1 million or more in liquid assets who gave at least $25,000 to charity within three years) found only 15 percent gave because they derive estate and income tax benefits. Nearly half of the affluent donors studied are motivated by religious reasons or because they wish to improve their community.

Tax policy does effect the timing and magnitude of some charitable gifts. But the primary inducement is a donor's belief in and commitment to the mission of our institutions.

Thomas W. Cullinan

Adelphi

The writer is executive director of gift planning for the University System of Maryland.

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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