Protest budget cuts that threaten services our veterans...


May 20, 1999

Protest budget cuts that threaten services our veterans need

As we approach Memorial Day, the day we set aside to honor our veterans, the budget Congress is preparing will apparently cut thousands of Veterans Affairs (VA) health-care jobs and eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars from other programs for veterans when the next fiscal year begins in October.

Although Congress has added money to the president's proposed budget for veterans, the amount still falls far short of what is needed to provide quality health care.

An independent budget prepared by the Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars documented that it would take $3 billion above current spending levels to prevent a collapse of health services to sick and disabled veterans.

Unless Congress takes immediate action, local VA hospitals will cut services, lay off thousands of health-care workers and end important programs all over the country.

The DAV -- Department of Maryland is joining with with the national DAV organization to hold emergency rallies in every state May 30 to oppose these cuts.

The local rallies will be held at 2: 30 p.m. in front of the VA Medical Center, 10 N. Greene St., and at the main entrance to the Perry Point VA Medical Center complex.

James L. Pritchett Jr., Baltimore

The writer is commander of the Disabled American Veterans -- Department of Maryland.

M-TAG system broke what didn't need fixing

In The Sun's article on the Maryland Transportation Authority's new toll collection system, M-TAG, ("Electronic toll collector promises easy commute," May 5), Transportation Authority spokeswoman Lori Vidil extolled the virtues M-TAG, promising fewer delays and less congestion at toll collection facilities.

What Ms. Vidil failed to mention, however, is that the M-TAG system has, in fact, contributed to increased congestion and longer delays for commuters at these facilities for several months.

Commuters have experienced delays, of five to 20 minutes in the morning and evening, at the Fort McHenry Tunnel since February, while M-TAG has been in a "testing phase."

The implementation of M-TAG is a classic example of spend-happy bureaucrats fixing something that "ain't broke."

We should hold our elected officials accountable for their spending whims.

Gregory Williams, Bradshaw

Growth isn't smart for a finite planet

Smart Growth is an oxymoron that could only be the brainchild of a politician.

All growth is self-defeating and ultimately unsustainable economically and socially because we occupy a finite Earth.

Growth, in the short term, makes the rich richer, and lowers the standard of living for all the rest of us.

It means more bad air, more noise, polluted water, global warming, ozone depletion, crowded schools, clogged highways and other problems.

The Sun might consider doing its readers a favor by refusing to use the term Smart Growth.

Kirk Nevin, White Hall

Carl Stokes: a candidate to make Baltimore proud

A few months ago, I was enthusiastic about Kweisi Mfume's possible candidacy for mayor. Since the gentleman "doth protest too much," I decided to look elsewhere, and I'm glad I did.

I recently had a community gathering and informal tea for Carl Stokes. He is truly an impressive mayoral candidate.

Mr. Stokes had the guts to declare his candidacy early and open dialogue with Baltimore's citizens on a grass-roots level. He is a bright, energetic and articulate individual with a clear vision for our city and a plan to implement his goals.

He is interested in the nuts and bolts of city government and demands accountability from individuals charged with the public trust.

Baltimore can move ahead and make great strides in education, employment, business, crime reduction, quality of life and housing under the stewardship of Mr. Stokes.

He is a breath of fresh air.

Let's engage the serious candidate for mayor, rather than engage in hero worship. Carl Stokes will make Baltimore proud.

Marcia Kargon, Baltimore

Are we acting justly, legally against Balkan atrocities?

The suffering being inflicted on the Kosovars demands justice. The atrocities committed by Serbian forces warrant the intervention of law.

But our government's claims that it is bombing Yugoslavia to uphold justice and the rule of law bear closer inspection.

Are we willing to pay reparations to China for the damage to its embassy or to allow those responsible for this error to at least be tried for manslaughter?

Are we willing stop using cluster bombs, an illegal weapon, against Serbia?

Are we willing to stop bombing civilian water and power plants in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions?

Are we willing to stop bombing, and not take any violent actions that are not explicitly authorized by the U.N. Security Council -- as international law requires?

Are we willing to acknowledge that what we are doing has not helped -- but has, in fact, inflamed and exacerbated a humanitarian catastrophe?

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