Assembly's folly creates crisis in transportation I was...

May 12, 2002

Assembly's folly creates crisis in transportation

I was disappointed but not the least surprised to read the self-congratulatory political pabulum submitted by Del. Maggie McIntosh on behalf of the General Assembly's House Democratic Caucus ("State's Democrats progressive, prudent," Opinion Commentary, May 1).

The Assembly's "prudent" fiscal management transformed a $1 billion state surplus in 2001 to nearly a $1 billion deficit in less than one year.

As a consequence of its "discipline" the state does not have enough revenue to adequately support many needed programs, including one of the state's fundamental obligations - investment in transportation infrastructure.

Maryland is in the midst of a transportation funding crisis. The state projects a $29 billion shortfall in its Transportation Trust Fund by 2020.

Yet despite the looming, massive deficit and countless warnings to the governor and General Assembly, Ms. McIntosh and her colleagues have virtually ignored transportation - an issue Marylanders consistently rate as one of their top priorities.

While some legislators are convinced that their head-in-the-sand approach will not at all impact their political futures, I suspect they are making a grave miscalculation for which voters will have the answer come November - and it won't be a pat on the back.

Steven S. Lakin


The writer is president of Marylanders for Better Transportation.

Fight censorship of student paper

The students and newspaper adviser at Southern High School should have every citizen's support as they fight the school system's censorship of the student newspaper ("Southern High newspaper folds over censorship," May 4).

School officials can't claim that our schools are teaching students to be active participants in our democratic society when they squash their opinions in such a way.

And if the school system is going to silence the voices of students who have labored to create a newspaper, officials shouldn't be surprised that many of our high school students drop out.

Southern is not the only school where this kind of censorship is taking place.

School newspapers are not common in city high schools. And where they do exist, they are kept on a tight leash.

Andrew Basoco


Acceptance of Israel is real key to peace

Almost like clockwork, there are those who periodically look for the "magic bullet" to unlock the complicated issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This time it is Tom Ackerman arguing that Israeli settlements somehow are the key ("Israelis held hostage by settlements," Opinion

Commentary, May 2).

But the reality is that if there were no settlement issue, there would be the right-of-return issue, the Jerusalem issue and, finally, the existence of Israel issue.

Only when the right of Israeli to exist and live in peace - real peace, not just a cessation of hostilities - with its neighbors is secure can a Palestinian entity be established.

If the Palestinians realized that, Israel would probably be their best friend in the region.

Gary Perolman

Ellicott City

Treat Palestinians, Israelis equally

If President Bush is serious about dealing with Palestinians and Israelis with an even hand, he should see to it that the economically struggling Palestinians get as much U.S. foreign aid as relatively affluent Israel gets.

He then could discourage terrorism by reducing the aid to Palestinians $10 million for each Israeli civilian a Palestinian terrorist kills.

To be fair, he would also have to reduce aid to Israel $10 million for each Palestinian civilian the Israeli army kills.

Money talks.

Bob Krasnansky

Ellicott City

Vatican must clarify intolerance of crimes

I have to agree with Dan Rodricks' desire for a clearer sexual abuse policy for priests ("Seeking crystal-clear policy on priest conduct," April 29). Unfortunately, the recent actions by the Vatican are not only unclear, they're also terribly and inexcusably late.

This lack of response will severely hurt the church in the long run, as people continue to lose their ability to trust priests and church workers.

To regain that trust, the Vatican must lay down a clear, solid policy on any criminal activity by any member of the church, no matter what rank that person may hold.

James Schmidt


Data demonstrate doctors' competence

Wouldn't a more accurate title for The Sun's article "Study reveals federal doctors' troubled pasts" (April 15) have been "Private sector physicians over 5 times more likely to have troubled pasts than federal physicians"?

The writer either got statistical data mixed up or is misleading the reader into believing federally employed physicians are often incompetent or have criminal backgrounds.

The article cites data that "0.5 percent of the more than 20,800 doctors employed by the government have been punished or convicted of crimes" as compared with the private sector, where "the rate is 2.6 percent."

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