Letters To The Editor


January 19, 2003

CareFirst sale could help fund state's priorities

The Sun's editorial "The Assembly's challenge" (Jan. 8) asserts that closing Maryland's $1.8 billion budget deficit without "disrupting critically important programs" should be the 2003 General Assembly's highest priority. It also emphasizes the immediate need for additional funds for mental health clinics, trauma care and lead paint abatement.

Those are all good points. And that makes it so perplexing that The Sun gives no consideration to a potential funding source to address such issues - the proceeds from a possible sale of CareFirst.

A charitable trust established with Maryland's share of the $1.3 billion from CareFirst's sale would immediately become the largest locally based foundation dedicated solely to meeting the region's health care needs. Such a foundation could help fund mental health clinics, provide subsidized prescription drugs for 30,000 Maryland seniors or extend dental care for poor children on the Eastern Shore.

From the beginning, we have only sought a full and fair examination of our proposal to convert CareFirst to for-profit status and be acquired by WellPoint Health Networks Inc. The Sun itself has editorialized that no action be taken on it until "all the facts have been gathered and analyzed" ("Time to trust process in CareFirst conversion," April 5). And Maryland's insurance commissioner is still conducting his review of the proposal.

The Sun's perfunctory call for legislators to reject the proposal - while ignoring its immense potential for good - suggests The Sun is no longer following its own advice.

William L. Jews

Owings Mills

The writer is president and CEO of CareFirst.

Picking pockets of the wealthy

After reading The Sun's editorial "The Assembly's challenge" (Jan. 8), I'm left wondering what the paper wants the General Assembly to do.

In one breath, The Sun opines that a "surtax on the wealthiest income-tax payers ... should be carefully considered." But later the editorial counters that government "must be paid for by all citizens." Which is it?

I hope legislators don't share The Sun's predilection for solving budget problems by selectively picking the pockets of Marylanders.

Michael P. Sullivan


Bickering makes state look foolish

What has become of Maryland's Democratic Party? When state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the party's top brass, parade around like children with their bickering and name-calling, it makes our proud state look ridiculous ("Thorns aside, a truce blooms," Jan. 9).

If these politicians can't get along, they should at least grow up and represent our state with some dignity.

Jeffrey Button


Emptying death row is an abuse of power

The term "abuse of power" is an understatement for Illinois Gov. George Ryan's blanket clemency order ("Illinois governor commutes all of state's death sentences," Jan. 12). I find it incomprehensible that this elected official took it upon himself to make such a sweeping decision.

And if that's the way I feel, I can't begin to imagine how the families of the victims of the murderers Mr. Ryan removed from death row must feel.

Of course the justice system needs an overhaul, and I very strongly believe that state-funded DNA testing should be done in every case where it is conceivable. But a case-by-case approach by the governor would have certainly been more fair to everyone involved.

If a governor can issue blanket clemency for people on death row, what would prevent such an order for those sentenced to life without parole?

And where would this abuse of power end?

Barbara Bumberg


Show no mercy to murderers

Kudos to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for his stance on capital punishment and a big fat raspberry to Illinois Gov. George Ryan ("Illinois governor commutes all of state's death sentences," Jan. 12).

A person's race should have no bearing on whether he or she receives the death penalty. But a murderer should be shown no more mercy than his or her victim received.

D. Pazourek


A reality show about city life?

If the network wants a real fish-out-of-water reality show, I suggest the president of CBS and his family give up their wealth and come live in a poor, high-crime, high-drug-use area of Baltimore ("Group says Y'all don't come back now, y'hear?" Jan. 6).

They might have to rent a vermin-infested apartment with lead-paint-covered walls and drug dealers on their front steps. They'd take a minimum-wage job because they wouldn't have a car to get to a better job in the county.

They'd have no health insurance, and if someone needed medical attention they might not be able to pay the rent.

I'll bet the audience would just about die laughing as they watched the president of CBS pick over his possessions piled in the gutter and then wander down the street begging for money to buy food for dinner.

Lucille Coleman


Glad to know who writes the editorials

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