Random House deal benefits company, state and communityThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 24, 1999

Random House deal benefits company, state and community

The Sun's editorial "Giving state aid too randomly" (June 4) raised concerns about using public incentives to keep businesses in Maryland. I believe readers will benefit from some clarifications.

Random House announced Nov. 5 that it had chosen Westminster over suburban Chicago as its national distribution center. This was after we received a conditional letter of agreement from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

That letter summarized terms that had been negotiated between Random House and the state during the previous months. Those terms were formalized in the incentive package awarded June 1.

The state awarded Random House a loan of $2.5 million, which will only convert into a full or partial grant based on the company's job retention and capital investment in Westminster through 2003.

The editorial asked "whether Random House, given its recent and planned investments in the plant, would have pulled up stakes in Westminster without the grant?"

In fact, the Chicago area offered advantages over Westminster, including a more central location and lower freight costs. The Maryland and Carroll County incentive package was important in off-setting these advantages.

Of course, Westminster and our fine employees there also offered a substantial basis for our ultimate decision to not only consolidate our operations there, but provide for future growth -- as witnessed by our groundbreaking ceremony June 8 for a 325,000-square-foot addition.

State and county economic development representatives negotiated well and hard over several rounds of discussions. Their pragmatism and knowledge of Random House's needs helped develop an incentive package that I believe will ultimately benefit Maryland's taxpayers.

William G. Barry, New York

The writer is senior vice president of distribution operations and services at Random House Inc.

Victory isn't complete until Milosevic is gone

Having impressively wrested victory from Belgrade, NATO must not be naive about the cause of the war in the Balkans: Yugoslav President (and declared war criminal) Slobodan Milosevic, who remains firmly ensconced in office while surrounded by rubble.

Like Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Mr. Milosevic remains a man of unfettered ambition. As World War II demonstrated, such ambition is dangerous in a man at the helm of a nation seeking what it perceives as lost respect.

To ensure a just peace in the volatile Balkans, Mr. Milosevic must be removed from power -- the legitimacy of his rule having been stripped by his decreed criminal status -- as a condition of any peace in Kosovo.

Joe Hammell, Waynesboro, Pa.

The writer is a retired Army staff sergeant.

War, death penalty provide models of violence

Our senators and congressmen, who are eagerly grandstanding and looking to blame the entertainment industry or National Rifle Association for violence in America, need not look very far for its real causes.

Taking sides in a foreign civil war and bombing Yugoslavia (to lend support to a multibillion dollar munitions industry?) might be a cause. And capital punishment has a way of saying, "It's OK to kill if you have the power and are really, really ticked off."

Norman J. Dean, Baltimore

How can Art Modell still be short of cash?

What in the world happened to all the Maryland taxpayers' money that Gov. Parris N. Glendening so generously gave to Art Modell? ("Modell to sell part of Ravens," June 17).

We gave him a new stadium at taxpayer expense, the right to concessions profits and to sell our stadium's name to the highest bidder. Now, Mr. Modell claims he has cash flow problems.

The citizens of Maryland are the ones with cash flow problems -- our cash is flowing through Governor Glendening's hands right into Art Modell's pockets.

Ron Parsons, Glen Burnie

I believe that the state should give Art Modell the money he needs to keep the Ravens afloat.

After all, we gave him a stadium, the right to name the stadium, all the proceeds from the concessions, a light rail entrance, so what's a few more millions of the taxpayers' money?

Frank F. Braunstein, Baltimore

Aging population needs more meals on wheels

I read with interest The Sun's article "Epidemic of malnutrition afflicts elderly" (June 13). As the article noted, in many areas of this country the nutritional needs of the homebound and frail elderly are not adequately met.

In some places, government funding and private support of the local Meals on Wheels program only support one home-delivered meal for each client daily and insufficient resources lead to waiting lists for service.

Central Maryland's experience is in pleasing contrast. We receive government support through the Older Americans Act and other federal and state programs.

But the generous additional private support we receive has enabled us to provide two meals daily to our homebound clients since we began service 39 years ago. We have no waiting list, and no one is turned away because they are unable to pay.

Our volunteers and staff We take great satisfaction in the number of homebound elderly and other incapacitated persons people we serve. But we also recognize that as the elderly population grows, the need for such services will also increase.

Robert J. Schap, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland Inc.

Pub Date: 6/24/99

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