Transportation fund must not be ransacked Kathleen...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 08, 2002

Transportation fund must not be ransacked

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's proposal to take at least $79 million from the transportation trust fund to balance the state budget is irresponsible and ill-advised ("Townsend offers proposal for D.C.-area transportation," Oct. 3).

In testimony before the Commission on Maryland's Fiscal Structure on Sept. 12, state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari issued a warning to commission members about a situation most of official Annapolis has known of for some time - that there is absolutely no money available for new transportation spending and within two years the fund will be nearly broke unless new revenue streams are created ("Higher gasoline tax weighed to meet transportation needs," Sept. 13).

According to recent polls, Maryland voters rank transportation issues among their top three priorities. Such public interest is not surprising considering the Glendening-Townsend administration's pitiful record on broad-based transportation investment.

To make matters worse, the administration has virtually ignored urgent warnings from legislators and fiscal experts who have long forecast that the state was headed for a transportation funding crisis.

It is simply irresponsible to balance the budget on the backs of commuters and businesses.

Ms. Townsend knows as well as anyone that Maryland's transportation trust fund is on life-support.

Her recommendation to raid the fund is a recipe for disaster that will further cripple the state economy, increase unemployment and, most likely, euthanize the state's transportation program.

Steven S. Lakin

Annapolis

The writer is president of Marylanders for Better Transportation.

Surely, taking $79 million from the transportation trust fund and moving it to the general fund, then covering the shortfall with borrowed money, leaves this borrowed money to be paid back.

That is to say, the state will have allocated another $79 million it did not have, and added to its $1.7 billion shortfall.

Tim Marshallsay

Baltimore

Party lines remain clear to the faithful

Although it was supposed to be funny, I read with sadness Dan Rodricks' column "A primer on `real Democrats' in era of blurred party lines" (Oct. 2).

The column trivialized the issues that we passionate Democrats deem essential to a civilized, enlightened society. It also supported the kind of thinking that allows people such as Melvin A. Steinberg to call themselves Democrats while supporting candidates who, with equal passion, oppose everything the Democratic Party stands for.

The party lines are not blurred. The blur is in the brain of the people who identify themselves as Democrats and say they are voting for Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Aliza Stewart

Baltimore

Forget personalities and vote for party

I'm always amazed and shocked at what some voters view as significant enough to cause them to vote for a particular candidate.

Forget the important issues. It's personal mannerisms or appearances that seem to turn them off or on.

However, it is crucial to keep in mind, regardless of petty personal evaluations, one must vote for the candidate whose political party supports the principles one believes in. That's the bottom line.

Eleanor Kaufman

Cockeysville

Townsend should be proud of her family

I am appalled at the quote from a Republican donor who said that the aim of the Maryland governor's race is to finish off the Kennedys "once and for all" ("Ehrlich drawing national GOP help," Sept. 21).

The Kennedy family has served our country with distinction - and has paid for this with the lives of its sons.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has to be very proud to be a Kennedy and to continue her family tradition of service to this country.

Lorraine Miller

Owings Mills

Focus on stopping the city's violence

After reading the series on murder cases ("Justice Undone," Sept. 29-Oct. 1), this city resident believes the mayor should stop riding on the police commissioner's coat-tails, get off the state's attorney's back and get down to the business of reducing the city's homicide numbers, as he promised to do.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Consider the context that causes crime

The Sun's editorial "A flood tide of ex-offenders" (Sept. 29) makes the undoubtedly true observation that ex-offenders need better "re-entry" programs to integrate them into mainstream society, and break the "deadly cycle."

What is missing from such discussions is any imagination that goes much beyond a stress on effective policing and probation services.

We rarely explore what causes people to enter the crime cycle in the first place. And we hardly ever want to talk about the societal realities of racism, unemployment, squalid living conditions and absence of social services that lead to anger and despair - and are perfect incubators for criminal behavior.

And in a society that refuses to adequately fund social programs, why should the recognition of the problems lead to changes in policy?

J. Russell Tyldesley

Catonsville

War talk distracts us from malfeasance

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