Letters To The Editor


January 27, 2003

Slot machines should aid state, not racetracks

As a supporter of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and of slots for Maryland, I am deeply concerned about many millions of dollars that may go to a handful of wealthy individuals and companies.

I have read reports that racetrack owners and associated companies could get a windfall of 41 percent to 49 percent of slots revenue ("Industry's input on slots given to Ehrlich," Jan. 10). But why are we, as taxpayers, going to enrich already wealthy individuals with this revenue?

Track owners should be paid fair rental for the space the slots will occupy, and that's it. If they don't like it, I'm sure other venues can be found.

If Maryland horse racing cannot survive without such a government handout, so be it. I don't see the state of Maryland dumping large amounts of cash into my business.

Maryland must own and operate the slots and scrutinize any money that goes out of the state's coffers.

Robert Schwartz

Owings Mills

The writer is president of Prestige Transportation Service.

What is the big deal about saving Maryland's racing industry?

Ask 10 Marylanders if they care about horse racing, and you will be lucky to get two positive responses.

If Marylanders cared about this private industry, it wouldn't be in the condition that it is.

I agree that slots are important to our state, but to bail out horse racing? Hardly.

Larry Zenich


Raise the legal age for buying tobacco

The simplest and by far most effective way to reduce teen-age cigarette smoking is to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 19 ("Lung association says Md. fails to keep cigarettes from teens," Jan. 7).

This would slash the trickle-down effect, in which 18-year-olds finishing high school provide cigarettes to 17-year-olds and on down the line.

However, an increased age for legal purchase of tobacco should only take effect 365 days after its signing into law; it would be unfair to forbid tobacco purchases by someone who began smoking at 18, when that was the legal age.

Frederick N. Mattis


City is right to urge citizens to fight back

I am terribly sorry the Dawsons perished in the way that they did and for the pain the family and their friends and neighbors have suffered. However, it is absurd for Johnnie Cochran to point to an anti-crime, anti-drug program and blame it for the actions of violent criminals ("Anti-drug campaign blamed in Dawson arson deaths," Jan. 8).

If more men and women in Baltimore had the courage to stand up and fight for what is right, the way the Dawson family did, perhaps the drug dealer who allegedly firebombed their house would not have been on the street. And perhaps the drug dealers who had overrun their neighborhood would not have been on the streets, either.

The city is working, under Mayor Martin O'Malley's leadership, to improve the lives of its citizens and help them to live without fear. Punishing the city for its efforts is a perverse response to this tragedy.

The city should be praised for its efforts, and more families should be encouraged to stand up and fight for their neighborhoods.

Stephen Chittenden


Dismissing charges endangers us all

Goodbye, Charm City. It's been a fun run. It saddens me to leave such a great area, but I can no longer live in a city where a man shoots four detectives who entered his house in a drug search, and the city's top prosecutor sees fit to dismiss all charges ("Prosecutor to drop charges in shooting of four officers," Jan. 7).

This is definitely one case that should have been decided by a grand jury instead of going no further than Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy's desk.

I truly believe that, by dismissing charges not just in this case but several others, she not only throws a blindfold over the eyes of Lady Justice, but puts us all in danger.

Sean G. Somers


Legalizing drugs is a dangerous idea

Whenever there is a call to legalize drugs, I literally cringe ("Legalizing drugs would save lives," letters, Jan. 10).

Frankly, I would have no problem with such a proposal if only I was guaranteed that people using drugs would never drive, work in public transportation, hold public office, run any machines that could hurt the public, vote or have children.

I'm sorry, but citizens' right to be protected from dangerous behavior outweighs anyone's right to catch a buzz.

George W. Ford


Accounting board greedy, out of touch

I guess I just don't get it.

After all of the disclosures regarding Arthur Andersen Inc. and others guilty of accounting irregularities, I assumed that the "accounting-oversight" board would be made up of committed members whose first concern was to take steps to exercise some oversight.

But what do I find? At their first meeting, the new board members voted themselves starting salaries of $452,000 to $560,000, which is more than the president makes ("Accounting-oversight board holds its first formal meeting," Jan. 11).

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