Real reforms needed to streamline city and state...


March 12, 2000

Real reforms needed to streamline city and state political systems

The Sun's article on moving Baltimore City's elections to presidential election years notes that this switch could save city government $500,000 ("City makes case for changing primary," March 1).

It neglected to mention that moving city elections to gubernatorial election years (as was first proposed) would save the city twice as much money.

This better alternative was not selected because it would preclude city elected officials from running for state office in "safe" election years, without having to give up city elective office.

Under the current plan, a special city primary election must take place in 2004 because of the early presidential primary. This would not be necessary if city elections were switched to gubernatorial election years starting in 2002.

Real reform is needed. Let's move city elections to gubernatorial election years and save twice as much money.

We should also cut the city council in half to make it a nine-member body, with one council member for each of nine districts that conform roughly to existing police districts.

The current council president position should be eliminated in favor of having the council elect one of its own as president.

These measures would not only save money, but allow voters to hold council members accountable.

The next step would be to enact state-wide reform by eliminating our bicameral state legislature in favor of a single legislative body. This would vastly streamline the legislative process.

It's time we elect state and officials to meet the needs of the 21st Century. Our current system relates more to the standards of the horse-and-buggy era.

Fred B. Shoken, Baltimore

Time has come to end the embargo on Cuba . . .

DeWayne Wickham's observation "The embargo [on Cuba] exists for no good reason, except to pander to the Cuban exiles' hope of regaining the privileged positions they held before Mr. Castro came to power," and the rest of his thesis, make sense ("An obsolete exercise," Opinion Commentary, March 5).

It is time to end the expatriates' domination of our foreign policy.

The United States has opposed dictatorships all over the world, including Russia and China. That did not and has not stopped us from dealing with those countries and their people.

Why punish the people for the conduct of their leadership?

Much could be gained by recognizing the realities of the current situation and ending the embargo on trade with Cuba.

The Cuban people would benefit, as would our own businesses.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

. . . and play hardball with oil exporters

How long is the United States and the rest of the world willing to tolerate the bullying of OPEC?

OPEC may be the oil can of the world but we are the bread basket. To my knowledge corn, wheat and oats do not grow in the desert and no vast grasslands are available to raise beef.

Do they have any heavy industry or steel mills?

May I suggest that we remind these fellows of the basic facts of life: Oil can not be eaten, driven or worn.

Machinery is needed to drill for and pump their oil.

If OPEC wants to cut production of their oil, may I suggest we limit our exports to its members.

The time has come for us to play a little hardball.

William L. Scott, Baltimore

Solve school parking issue, without bothering neighbors

The parking problem at Dulaney High School can be solved without opening the area's residential streets to school parking ("Looking for wide open spaces," March. 4).

One alternative is to limit school parking to high school seniors.

Another is to set aside some of the lot for carpoolers, and only allow cars containing three or more students to park there.

The image of hundreds of cars, each with one student in it, driving to school every day, while buses arrive half-empty, should be disturbing to anyone who remotely cares about our environment.

Why not institute a lottery for parking permits, or require a certain grade point average, or proof of an after-school job?

Alternative transportation is provided to students, in the form of buses, even if they are not considered "cool."

Dulaney High School's parking problem can be solved with a little creativity and very little sacrifice, without infringing on the rights of the neighborhood.

Kathleen Rus, Parkton

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