Lawmakers missing the point on need for stricter ethics...

Letters to the Editor

February 05, 1999

Lawmakers missing the point on need for stricter ethics law

After reading the article ("Assembly scornful of bill on ethics," Jan. 31) by Thomas W. Waldron, I'm amazed so many members of the General Assembly feel this reform legislation is "unnecessary and insulting."

They've conveniently forgotten last year's expulsion and resignation, sorry results of cozy relationships with lobbyists and conflicts of interest.

Our delegates must lead very sheltered lives to feel hurt over being regarded as ethically suspect.

Del. Clarence Davis thinks this is "an overreaction to something the public really doesn't care about." Does he really believe the public doesn't care about ethics in politics?

Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks bridles at being prohibited from asking lobbyists for contributions to his favorite causes.

And Del. John F. Wood Jr., thinks the problem is too small "to get excited about it."

Maybe the old cliche about keeping honest people honest applies here. The task force delivered a bill designed to do just that, while the General Assembly protests loudly.

All the moaning and squirming only contributes to the belief that the politicians don't want to disturb their "business as usual" comforts.

In the military, we were taught the perception of impropriety or conflict of interest was as damaging and serious as any actual conduct. If recent polls are to be believed, the public does not hold politicians in very high regard. Think there might be some connection with a perception of a lack of ethics?

The bottom line is that politicians are responsible for where we are, and they must take responsibility for re-establishing a trust with the people who pay them to do the people's work.

Mel Barnhart, Randallstown

It's time to urge governor to cut state income taxes

The state of Maryland has offered Marriott Corp. record incentives to keep its headquarters within the state. The state's decision to meet these demands was tantamount to admitting that Maryland's tax structure is noncompetitive and is costing the state precious job growth.

Why is the governor, while realizing our noncompetitive tax structure, continuingto propose budgets that grow at a rate faster than state income? If we, as a state, are to grow our tax base we need to not only keep the corporations and individuals we have but entice others to move here. How many corporations are not even considering Maryland because of its high tax rate? The answer could not be much more obvious: We need to reduce the tax burden to make the state a more desirable place to live and conduct business.

The governor, in a bid to get re-elected, promised to look into accelerating the previously announced 10 percent tax cut. Now that he has been elected, he has turned tail and gone in the opposite direction by requesting increases in several taxes.

There have even been some rumblings about increasing the state sales tax. How will this make us more competitive? This period of steady growth is the opportune time to enact this cut.

It is time for the citizens of Maryland to hold the governor to his word and rise up and demand that he accelerate the tax cut. The governor needs to realize that any budget surpluses are, in effect, an overcharging of the citizens of the state of Maryland and are not for the purpose of growing state government at the expense of future economic growth.

Tim Yost, Baltimore

Someone should say no to special deals for Marriott

Marriott Corp., a large successful company, is asking Maryland taxpayers to fork up $51 million in various tax incentives and benefits for the privilege of retaining its headquarters in Maryland. Doesn't this game sound a little familiar by now, the same game played by sports teams to remain in a city or come to a city so we as taxpayers can be beneficiaries of their presence? Don't people find this a bit outrageous and ultimately counterproductive?

This amounts to nothing more than a handout to a company that because of its size is able to threaten the State with relocating to Virginia if it does not get an adequate incentive package.

I certainly do not want the state to lose jobs, but I do think there are more appropriate solutions. Virginia and Maryland should join together and say that they will not offer Marriott any special incentives. After all, this is ultimately a zero-sum game.

Let's face it, this kind of special treatment is not fair. What about the hundreds of other businesses in Maryland with far fewer employees? They certainly will not be receiving any special incentives to stay in Maryland.

What disturbs me the most is that we have gotten so deep into this game that you do not hear of any our political leaders or business leaders speaking up to criticize this approach. They do not want to be accused of not supporting whatever is necessary to retain jobs.

David F. Tufaro, Baltimore

Safety one reason to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

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