Don't let counties usurp state's role in taxing property...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 31, 2002

Don't let counties usurp state's role in taxing property

Montgomery County officials should reconsider their policy of selecting certain homeowners for mid-cycle property assessments ("Critics home in on assessment increases," Jan. 20). The policy does not pass the smell test.

Despite what officials might want the public to believe, the policy does not just affect millionaires. Middle-income homeowners in eastern Montgomery County, such as my wife and I, are now subject to the county's policy.

The $150,000 threshold established by the Montgomery County Finance Department also unfairly discriminates against one segment of the population. And this action harms all property owners by creating preferred classes of taxpayers, who purchase homes that have not appreciated in value as quickly as others.

Even if Montgomery County's policy were permissible under state law, it mirrors the type of constitutional problems presented to the Supreme Court in Bush vs. Gore: Leaving to municipalities and local governments the decision to seek mid-cycle assessments, under different standards, denies certain affected homeowners the equal protection of the law.

Members of the General Assembly must act during the current session to prevent local jurisdictions from usurping the state's role and responsibility to manage the property assessment system.

Phillip Robinson

Silver Spring

Choose Del. Nancy Kopp as next state treasurer

The General Assembly will soon elect a new state treasurer. Del. Nancy Kopp is the best candidate for this important job.

She has served the people of Maryland as a delegate since 1974, and in that time she has always been true to her principles. She is thoughtful and articulate, and has a unique understanding of state government. I have always appreciated her ability to consider important issues from both a statewide and local perspective.

With Ms. Kopp as treasurer, people from all parts of the state will learn what many have known for a long time: that she is a committed and capable public servant - and one of Maryland's best.

Kevin Schuyler

Bethesda

Don't blame bridge bidder for paucity of proposals

What was the point of "Glendening assails firm on span bid" (Jan. 23)?

We were told by Gov. Parris N. Glendening that he was outraged by the fact that a firm bidding on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was trying to "rip off" Maryland taxpayers. But he admitted that its bid, for $860 million, was the only one received. Now the fact that there is only one bidder is not the fault of the bidder, but the fault of the Board of Public Works, of which Mr. Glendening is a member.

It sounds to me like an investigation is needed to determine why only one bid has been received. It also sounds to me like the bidder was merely attempting to do what any business owner in a market economy would do - and that is to make money.

Doug Bourquin

Severna Park

Penalize Enron executives for fleecing shareholders

I will anxiously watch to see if Arthur Andersen Inc. or Kenneth Lay or any other top executives of Enron Corp. pay any criminal penalty for their fleecing of the poor, out-of-the-loop shareholders who saw their shares' value evaporate.

If substantial criminal penalties are not imposed, we will send a signal to all other corporations and their officers that it's OK to lie to and cheat their employees.

But I bet most of the Enron executives will walk away with cash in hand and face no penalty after bankrupting their workers. And then they'll decry the resurgence in union activities as unpatriotic.

Robber barons are not dead. Naked greed still exists. I only hope the U.S. Justice Department finally says no. But I won't hold my breath.

Gary Gilmore

Reisterstown

Maybe security isn't why Cheney remains in hiding

Perhaps it is not too farfetched to suggest that the vice president is being kept out of the public eye for more than just security reasons ("Cheney pushed Enron cause," Jan. 19).

Thomas R. Simonton

Baltimore

Why is anyone surprised by avarice in America?

I'm amused by all of the dismay expressed at the rapacity and deceit of the Enron Corp. executives. Unless these angry folks have been living on a remote island all of their lives, I can't understand why they would find anything done by corporate America upsetting.

After all, the basis of our economic system and perhaps the largest influence on modern American culture is capitalism. And capitalism has at its root one of the ugliest of human vices: greed.

Our economic system promotes greed, our culture rewards greed, our tax laws in many ways allow greed and our people vote for politicians who benefit from greed.

And then people get upset by seeing greed and its consequences?

Ed Schneider

Baltimore

Big corporations like Enron pay plenty in taxes, salaries

I find it ridiculous that people claim that Enron Corp. or other big corporations that did not pay taxes should be taxed even more.

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