Assembly legislation to aid Md. tobacco suit could yield...

Letters to the Editor

March 26, 1998

Assembly legislation to aid Md. tobacco suit could yield billions

Your editorial "Wrong way to address smoking ills" (March 5) opposing two bills pending in the Maryland General Assembly was especially disappointing in light of your usual sensitivity to tobacco issues. Your readers need to focus on two points.

Deaths and illnesses caused by tobacco have cost Marylanders at least $1.5 billion annually for years. Maryland's suit against the tobacco industry could return as much as $3 billion of these costs, as well as punitive damages estimated at $10 billion. But if the General Assembly fails to pass bills that would give the attorney general greater latitude in the case against the tobacco industry, the state stands to lose much of that money.

These bills let the state collect from the tobacco industry on behalf of the taxpayers who footed the costs of Medicaid. Do taxpayers want to lose billions?

The other point is that, unfortunately, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is conveying Big Tobacco's lie that if these bills pass, they would open up other businesses to lawsuits.

The bills relate only to tobacco, a product that when used as intended causes sickness, disease and death. The tobacco industry has always pushed the slippery slope argument to stop legislation against it.

Who should legislators, The Sun and the public believe about what the bills would do -- Big Tobacco's lobbyists or Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., who is doing his best to make the industry pay for the costs borne by Maryland taxpayers?

Dr. Albert L. Blumberg


The writer is president of Smoke Free Maryland.

Proposed budget cuts would gut school system

It is disheartening to hear that the solution to difficult problems offered by the Baltimore school board and interim schools chief Robert E. Schiller is a punitive measure for schoolchildren.

Not only will a majority of children continue to face the difficulties and blight of urban living, now they must endure an inevitable decrease in the quality of education offered them.

The proposed budget cuts translate into increased class size; reduced resources for art, music and physical education; fewer preventive and intervention programs; fewer enrichment activities of museum visits and educational field trips; and fewer before- and after-school activities for students.

The proposed cuts would gut an already second-class education system.

As a Baltimore schoolteacher, I am left with one final unanswerable thought: Would you volunteer your child or grandchild to be educated in a zoned Baltimore public school?

If not, you must do everything in your power to change your answer to an irrefutable yes. It is the responsibility of Dr. Schiller and the Board of Commissioners to stop the student-allotment budget cuts.

Consuela Scott


The writer is a teacher at Baltimore City College High School.

Save Brexton Apartments, a precious jewel in the city

The March 19 article "Group forms to preserve Brexton Apartments" touched my heart. Thank you for reporting on a landmark building that not only deserves recognition as a brief dwelling place of the Duchess of Windsor but also as a precious architectural jewel that needs devoted people to come forward out of respect for it.

We Americans take our heritage for granted. We do not place enough value on treasures such as 116-year-old Victorian dwellings that are allowed to reach such a state of disrepair that fixing them can seem like a daunting task. And then someone like Roger Wood comes along.

Mr. Wood is to be applauded for taking this on. He needs financial and people support. Let's save this Mount Vernon landmark before it is lost forever.

Suzanne B. Everhart


Lawyers and authors sole winners in scandal

The only winners in the presidential harassment mess will be the lawyers and people selling books.

The losers will be the taxpayers and those whose characters have been smeared.

It is time that taxpayers get their money's worth instead of these constant attempts to pin something on somebody.

Erwin L. Koerber


Celebrating human tragedy a tasteless way to dine

It took a few minutes for the realization to sink in that developer Patrick Turner is dead serious about building a Crash Cafe in Baltimore.

The March 18 article "Crash courses" is about Mr. Turner's visions for a theme restaurant built on the concept of plane crashes, car wrecks and train disasters.

He would lure patrons with promises of mangled airplanes, clips of train wrecks and staged disasters performed by waiters and waitresses, thoughtfully leaving the human destruction component to the imagination. In essence, he envisions a restaurant that glorifies and exploits human tragedy.

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