Competition will lower cost of phone service Sun...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 26, 2002

Competition will lower cost of phone service

Sun columnist Jay Hancock missed the mark on local phone competition in Maryland ("Don't hang up just yet on real phone competition," April 17).

Local phone competition in Maryland is increasing every day. There's more competitive activity today in Maryland than there was in either New York or Texas when Verizon and SBC Communications filed long-distance service applications for those states.

The column also criticized the Public Service Commission for the prices competitors pay Verizon to lease parts of our network. In fact, competitors for years have been paying Verizon significantly less for these network elements than it costs us to provide them -- as little as 69 cents on the dollar.

This bargain-basement pricing provides no incentive for companies to build their own competing phone networks, and it provides no incentive for Verizon to invest in its own network. This must change if true local competition is to survive in the long run.

Competitors today are following the money in Maryland, ferociously attacking the more profitable large-business local market. Competitors now serve about 22 percent of the state's total business lines.

Competitors begin to really target consumers and smaller business customers when Verizon gets long-distance approval in a state. And consumers win big when that happens: They're saving about $1.8 billion annually in states where Verizon has entered the long-distance market.

Local competition is already accelerating in Maryland. WorldCom announced it will begin offering local service in Maryland just days after Verizon asked the Public Service Commission to support our upcoming application to offer long-distance service here.

Verizon's entry into Maryland's long-distance market will be the true catalyst for full telecom competition. It's time for that to happen.

Williams R. Roberts

Baltimore

The writer is president of Verizon Maryland.

Secretive leaders violate our privacy

Any government that refuses to share important information with its own citizens should be challenged. If that same government is encroaching on its people's privacy, it should be doubly resisted.

The Bush administration is doing both. Its actions violate the principles of our constitutional democracy ("On gag rules, spy tools and freedom of speech," editorial, April 22).

Temporarily high poll numbers, produced by feelings of national unity, shouldn't empower this administration to deny the public legitimate information about national energy or any other policy or access to public records and presidential papers.

Congress and the American people have a right to know what their government is doing. The government does not have an unlimited right to know what individuals are doing, or reading.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Show no tolerance for abusive clergy

The American cardinals still do not get it. While I applaud the proposed no-tolerance policy for dismissal of a priest who has become notorious as a sexual predator, there must also be a no-tolerance policy for any priest proved guilty of a single sexual abuse of a minor ("Cardinals stop short of policy of `zero tolerance' for priests," April 25).

People in the pews, especially parents, know that one abused child or youth is one too many.

Sexual abuse of minors is a crime. It is a sin. It is especially reprehensible when perpetrated by persons in trusted positions. There is no position that presumes more trust than that of a priest.

Whether a case is notorious or not, it rends the hearts of victims, families and, ultimately, the very fabric of the church.

Sister Patricia Smith

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the Baltimore region's Sisters of Mercy.

The pope made it very clear. Not only is it a sin, it is a crime to sexually abuse a child. The cardinals' message is clear, too: You don't really have to listen to the pope.

Instead of following his words, the church leaders only propose a new way to deal with the problem by defrocking only "serial" abusers.

Already we can see the current cover-up continuing: As long as you wear the frock, it is OK to do a little bit of crime. As long as you don't become a "serial" or "notorious" offender, punishment will still be up to the bishops' discretion, as it has been all along.

John Q. Public isn't afforded the luxury of having to become "notorious" or "serial" before consequences kick in.

Enough of hiding behind the safe haven of a robe. If you commit the crime, do the time.

Jody Woodward

Reisterstown

Don't blame Israel for refugees' woes

Peter Hermann referred to the building of the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank, "... two years after Israel became a state and turned tens of thousands of Palestinians into refugees" ("In Balata camp, refugees say they've nothing left to lose," April 19).

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