Gambling debateCan slot machines rescue cash-strapped...

Letters to the Editor

May 09, 1998

Gambling debate

Can slot machines rescue cash-strapped public schools? Or would expanded gambling create more problems than it solves? We welcome your opinion on this and other current topics.

Letters from readers should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letteraltsun.com.

Dated information is worrisome foundation for city housing policy

There were two misleading figures in David Folkenflik's otherwise excellent reporting on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's report on the lack of improvement in "worst case" housing needs ("U.S. rental housing in crisis, Cuomo says," April 29).

Although the national estimates used in the article are based on 1995 data and, therefore, reflect the status of the crisis in affordable rental housing in the mid-1990s, the data for both Baltimore and the metropolitan area are from 1991.

Therefore, we cannot draw any conclusions about how things may have changed during the early to mid-1990s in Baltimore.

The next data collection in the city and region is only now beginning, and given the long turnaround time at the Census Bureau for producing public-use files, this information probably will not be available until at least 2000.

The period from 1992 to the present has been an eventful one for Baltimore, bringing many changes to the population and the housing market, both bad and good. Basing our impressions and more importantly, our policy responses on 7-year-old data is worrisome.

Unfortunately, the Census Bureau has been moving to less frequent data collection at the city and metropolitan area level. .. What's worse, a proposal to eliminate this data collection is being given serious consideration by Congress, HUD and the Census Bureau.

If this proposal is accepted, Baltimore citizens and policy makers will be forced to rely more on anecdotal information for important decisions.

Sandra J. Newman

Baltimore

Explain that rigorous tests really grade the grownups

If you want to help your children survive the rigors of standardized tests, just remember to hold them, love them, tell them that they can only do the best they can do, and then explain that standardized testing is really designed to show how well the adults are doing at running a school system.

Leslie Rehbein Marqua

Baltimore

Clearing up the confusion over BGE options program

Electric deregulation is going to be an immense undertaking that at times, no doubt, will confuse and frustrate even the most knowledgeable among us.

Some confusion is evident as the natural gas business opens to competition. That frustration surfaced recently in Alan McAllister's April 10 letter to the editor ("BGE hidden fees, estimates drive up deregulation costs").

Traditionally, gas service meant one company supplied and delivered natural gas to the customer. A customer's bill reflected that as a single service and a single charge. Under Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s gas options pilot program, residential customers can select an alternative gas supplier.

That supplier brings the gas to the Baltimore area, but the gas is delivered through BGE's 5,000-mile system of distribution pipes.

To a customer participating in gas options, it may appear as though charges are being added to their bill when, in fact, they're seeing the supplying and delivering billed as separate services.

It's important to note that gas customers -- those who elect to remain with BGE for gas supply and those who select an alternative supplier -- enjoy vital BGE services. The fees Mr. McAllister noted cover the costs of these services.

Beginning this month, customers are seeing a revised bill format that addresses concerns raised by Mr. McAllister.

Douglas DeWitt

Baltimore

The writer is director of gas regulatory planning for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Laws of the United States supersede all foreign deals

In response to the Opinion Commentary article "U.S. allows execution, ignores international law," by Charles Levendosky (April 23), why didn't the author mention Article Six, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution?

He notes: "and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby," but neglected the rest of it which says ". . . anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."

It is clear to me that judges are bound by the U.S. Constitution, laws of the United States and/or laws of the state in which they reside.

They can't possibly be bound to a treaty outside the laws of this nation if the treaty is in violation of the precepts laid out in criminal laws of the states.

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