Slots might level the playing field for racetracks In...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 06, 2002

Slots might level the playing field for racetracks

In Michael Hill's article, "Weighing the Odds" (April 28), William Thompson, a public affairs professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, comments that racetracks have been going downhill since 1975 and don't deserve slots.

He states: "I say it's like Kmart and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart kicked Kmart's butt; so, therefore, the solution is to give Kmart slot machines? Why should you reward business failure?"

As a gambling expert, Mr. Thompson should know that the answer is quite simple: In the case of Maryland, racing was a good business until the state became its chief competitor with the lottery.

And horse racing is a good gambling product for Maryland, since it is a game of skill that offers players a chance to win and actually grows an agriculture-based business that provides jobs and tax revenue to the state.

Slots at racetracks are not a reward for failure. They're an attempt to level the playing field for racing. There may be better solutions to make the climate fairer to racing, but it is doubtful many states would want to tinker with their cash-cow lotteries by offering something truly unique -- such as racetrack betting at every lottery terminal.

In the meantime, slots at tracks aren't a bad alternative.

Paul Deblinger

Bel Air

Put nursing home report card online

I doubt very much that the new Medicare nursing home report card will assist consumers in choosing a nursing home ("Nursing homes' ratings unveiled," April 26).

Maryland started to use its own report card system last summer, and it is just as useless as the federal system. Without appropriate background information, quality indicators are meaningless to consumers.

Even worse, the information that Medicare unveiled yesterday is almost 2 years old, and likely has no relevance to a facility's current situation.

If Medicare is interested in providing useful consumer information, it should post the entire survey report for each nursing home online, along with the facility's plan to make corrections. That way, consumers could see the concerns of regulators and how facilities intend to address them.

Gary D. Raffel

Baltimore

The writer is CEO of Raffel Senior Housing LLC.

Posting data helps seniors get good care

With so much interest in nursing home ratings and comparisons, we should recognize that assisted living facilities play a major role in taking care of our senior citizens.

A new state law will now require all assisted living sites to post their most recent inspection and survey report findings in the facility. This means that consumers will now be able to easily review the facility's compliance with licensing regulations on site.

Issues such as medication management, staffing, environmental requirements and performance standards for daily activities are addressed in the inspection reports.

Posting those reports will help the industry ensure quality care and, at the same time, allow consumers to make educated decisions about their loved ones' care and living arrangements.

Arnold J. Eppel

Towson

The writer is deputy director of the Baltimore County Department of Aging.

Don't sanction Nextel for stopping service

The arrogance displayed by Assistant State's Attorney Jill J. Myers is stunning ("Nextel being sued by city," April 30).

She wants to fine Nextel Communications for disrupting phone service to a wiretapped suspect. But nowhere in the article does her office claim this action was an intentional one meant to protect the suspect.

Private companies don't work for the benefit of the government. Nor should they. Ms. Myers ought to be happy with the assistance she is receiving.

Indeed, I was surprised to learn Nextel has a division that exists solely to assist police investigations. And as a Nextel customer, I'm not happy to learn that I'm paying for this assistance. It's like yet another hidden tax.

Paul Miller

Woodbridge, Va.

Drop complaint over slain steer

Officer Ian Cameron shoots a steer that escaped from a slaughterhouse and PETA's Todd Stosuy gets upset about it ("PETA may have jumped gun in outrage over dead steer," April 27). You've got to be kidding. Even if taken alive that steer would have been killed.

PETA and Mr. Stosuy should drop the matter, after they apologize to the Baltimore Police Department and Mr. Cameron.

Robert W. Bieschke

Nottingham

Ponder advantages of a plant-based diet

Can we please consider the effects of meat-eating on our health, animal welfare and the environment ("Use of antibiotics on livestock could have a role in resistance," April 23)?

Plant-based diets can greatly benefit the environment and our health.

As The Sun's article states, the drugs pumped into animals to make them gain weight as quickly as possible may contribute to resistance to antibiotics in humans.

It's time that we took steps to solve these problems, however gradual.

Nicole Zeichner

Forest Hill

Don't read too much into Pa.'s primary

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