Rawlings, Sfikas on right track on Wyndham hotelThe bill...

Letters

January 19, 1998

Rawlings, Sfikas on right track on Wyndham hotel

The bill proposed by Del. Howard P. Rawlings and Sen. Perry Sfikas, as it affects the proposed Wyndham hotel, could be one of the more promising chapters in the Inner Harbor East grim fairy tale.

The "emperor's new clothes" hotel plan asks taxpayers to accept the invisible: invisible financial structure, invisible help for the Convention Center, invisible worth to the communities.

The Wyndham team, however, has provided us with a very visible display board at President and Aliceanna streets. It shows us a pleasing illustration of the original, community-applauded, national-award-winning site development, including a hotel of the proper size and scale.

Not visible is the proposed 41-story behemoth that would eclipse the site and cheat those who would believe the pretty picture.

Thank goodness for Baltimore City Councilman John (who raises) Cain and exposes this Schmoke and mirrors trickery. Kudos to Mr. Sfikas and Mr. Rawlings for their bill, which would afford our representatives in Annapolis an opportunity to consider some antidotes to the Wyndham -- the hotel that would look best invisible.

elson H. Adlin

Baltimore

Jones Falls cleanup shows it can be done

I was pleased to read the article "Uncovering beauty along Jones Falls" (Jan. 3) about the cleanup effort led by Michael Beer.

On a trip downtown recently by light rail, I was appalled when I saw the mess along the falls and around the mills.

How can an area like this (as well as Howard Street) be allowed to deteriorate while the city is spending millions of dollars to tear down buildings and build super sports complexes? I find this a little frightening.

I am a concerned senior citizen, but if I were able I would gladly start a cleanup drive.

Other cities have faced this problem and in some places, it would be unheard of for something like this to happen.

Young people, Scouts, the homeless who are willing to work, etc., could be considered as helpers. It is time to get smart.

Jane E. Fout

Baltimore

Don't weep over size of teachers' pensions

Recent articles report Maryland's teachers and employees pensions are 47th lowest in the nation. The articles go on to say that the discrepancy may be due to the lower level of contributions made by Maryland teachers and employees.

The articles were based on the study done by a task force appointed by the Pension Board of Trustees. However, what was not reported was that the Maryland legislature's own fiscal agency analyzed other states' plans, adjusting all employee contributions to the same level.

The board found that Maryland's pension plan for teachers was the 15th highest in the country, and the employees' system paid benefits that were 25th highest.

The public should know that Maryland teachers and employees can take full pension benefits after only 30 years of service, regardless of age, perhaps as early as age 48, or, in the case of teachers, age 51.

Compare this with the private sector, where workers would not be able to collect the same pension benefits until age 65.

In both cases the benefit would be approximately 40 percent of qualified salary.

This gives the teachers and employees a 14- to 17-year advantage.

Furthermore, health care benefits follow along with the early pensions. Guess who is paying more than $800 million per year for the teachers' and employees' pension and health benefits?

Enough is enough. Maryland's teachers and employees already receive a more than fair pension. Leave the current plan as it is.

ohn D. O'Neill

Baltimore

The writer is founder and chairman emeritus of the Maryland Taxpayers Association.

1980s and '90s among warmest years in U.S.

On Jan. 6, your article "Springlike weather in January reigns" ++ claimed that this record-setting warmth was not uncommon. This contention was supported by several National Weather Service meteorologists.

The thrust of this article was apparently to inform us that the current warm weather on the East Coast is within the normal range of our climate.

While this may be true, strictly speaking, the fact is that the 1980s and '90s have been the warmest years in the history of our country. One needs only to look at a graph of global mean temperatures of the past 100 years to see this pronounced warming trend.

This article ignored these facts totally.

Most atmospheric scientists believe that global warming is taking place at an alarming rate, and while they may differ as to its causes, there seems to be a consensus that such rapid warming will have a deleterious effect on the United States.

The article implies that our recent warm winters are nothing to concern ourselves about.

) Such reporting is absurd.

Bill Welty

Ellicott City

Cigars not only subject we're manipulated on

Alec Klein's series of articles on the cigar industry's successful alteration of public opinion has far reaching and disturbing implications (Jan. 11 to 13).

We are given a behind-the-scenes understanding of a many-faceted media manipulation orchestrated to increase Americans' cultural acceptance of a previously unacceptable behavior.

In the articles, Mr. Klein addresses cigar smoking. However, we might easily substitute homosexuality or extramarital sex, and realize that the media also have manipulated acceptance of these phenomena, which were considered culturally unacceptable a generation ago.

No amount of government oversight or intervention can root out the very subtle influence that the media have on us. As parents, we must be ever-vigilant and involved in our family's viewing.

We must impart to them godly morals and values, not those imposed by a group of greedy and self-serving marketers.

Lisa Burton

Parkton

Pub Date: 1/19/98

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