To combat lead: offer tax incentives for abatement...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 10, 2000

To combat lead: offer tax incentives for abatement . . .

As an owner and manager of residential rental housing in Maryland, I would like to offer a possible solution to the problem of eradicating lead paint from rental housing (Where is leadership on lead poisoning? editorial, Jan. 21).

I think an incentive approach should be adopted to replace the punitive depreciation regulations of the U.S. tax code.

If a property owner wants to replace windows that contain lead paint with new windows, for example, federal depreciation laws require the property owner to depreciate the cost over 27.5 years, even though the owner may have paid for the windows in one year.

Permitting a rapid write-off of the cost of replacing windows or other building components that contain lead paint would give owners an incentive to have the work done.

Those who occupy the rental unit would then have lead-free housing. The municipality would have another lead-free rental unit. Everybody would be better-off.

In the 1970s, the federal government had a program of investment tax credits to encourage property owners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This model could offer a way to eliminate lead paint from residential housing.

Roger Larry Mann

Westminster

. . . but dont encourage more wasteful lawsuits

Maryland legislators will soon discuss a proposed market share liability bill, which would hold makers of lead paint liable for lead poisoning cases, even if their product did not poison a particular plaintiff.

As legislators debate this issue, I would like to pose a few questions.

Why are other factors that cause lead poisoning ignored, and paint manufacturers held solely responsible?

How will the bill protect children living in buildings with lead paint?

Will more lawsuits change the practices of irresponsible landlords, who fail to maintain their buildings?

Maryland has one of the strictest lead poisoning laws in the nation, which focuses on the responsibility of landlords to maintain a safe environment for their tenants. Indeed, Baltimore City banned lead paint in 1951, well before the federal ban took effect in 1978.

Gov. Parris N. Glendenings $50 million over three years to remedy the lead poisoning problem reinforces the importance of enforcing existing laws, rather than creating new ways to sue.

Creating another law would do nothing to solve the lead paint-poisoning problem. It would only crowd the courts and make a few personal injury lawyers rich.

Phillip D. Bissett

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of Baltimore Regional Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

Time to close the book on the Confederate flag . . .

In a better world, DeWayne Wickhams column Tracing lineage of racist rebel flag (Opinion Commentary, Feb. 1) would be the last word on the Confederate flag.

President Lincolns passion for national healing at the end of the Civil War was the only reasonable course for the short term. How sad that his compassion paved the way for a massive case of denial among those who identify with the South.

Though a Southerner myself, I often wish the rebels from Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee to anyone above the rank of captain had been shot as traitors.

There was nothing noble in the Southern cause. It benefited only elites and caused only death, pain and horror.

How many innocent lives snuffed out by lynching and other forms of racist violence would have been saved, and how many years of poverty and isolation would the citizens of the deep south been spared, if the Union had treated the rebels like the murderous traitors they were?

Joe Roman

Baltimore

When I started to read DeWayne Wickhams article I was thinking, Here we go again, another tired piece about the Confederate flag. However, by the end of the article I was outraged and inspired.

I was unaware that the Confederate constitution forbade any law denying or impairing the right to own slaves.

Some southerners will say that the flag symbolizes the Heart of Dixie.

But it symbolizes a constitution that embraced the enslavement of human beings. It stood for a confederation that took part in a holocaust on our own soil (slavery).

Each year our countrys diversity enriches us culturally and economically. We still have barriers to break down, but we keep pushing forward.

You cant tell me eliminating the Confederate flag would impede our progress.

Mikael Johnson

Frostburg

. . . and on our archaic state song?

We can all agree that the obnoxious, racist symbol of the old South, the Confederate flag, has to go.

Isnt it about time we also all agree that Marylands obnoxious, Confederate-inspired state song, Maryland, My Maryland, also had to go?

Douglas B. Hermann

Baltimore

Backing McCain, and blasting Bush

Arizona Sen. John McCains win in New Hampshires Republican primary proved at last that you dont need vast amounts of money and phony tax cut promises (such as those from Texas Gov. George W. Bush) to win.

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