Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 18, 2003

D.C. area needs more funds for transportation

The Washington suburbs are not "gobbling" up the state's transportation money in the way The Sun suggests ("Officials seek to get rail plan on track," Feb. 6).

Although the region's transportation projects make headlines while those in Baltimore do not, by no means does the area receive more than its fair share of funding. And while the Baltimore regional rail plan is commendable as a vision for the future, Baltimore does not currently have the employment and population density or land-use planning to justify such a comprehensive plan.

The Washington suburbs contribute enough tax revenue to the state that we deserve something back. But in contrast to the assertion of Transit Riders League member Ralph Moore that the D.C. region has "had their act together," most of the region's high-profile projects have, for decades, been planned but never built. The Purple Line, Intercounty Connector and so many other projects have merely been debated to death.

Now is the time to deliver the transportation infrastructure the Washington area deserves and desperately needs.

Cyrus Allafi

Rockville

Rail plan may take years to bear fruit

The new Baltimore rail transit proposal brings to mind the first Baltimore Region Rapid Transit proposal, which was prepared for the old Metropolitan Transit Authority during the administration of then-Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin ("Officials seek to get rail plan on track," Feb. 6).

The long-range plans for this system would have consisted of 64 miles of tracks radiating out of Charles Center into many Baltimore suburbs.

But only one rapid rail line was ever completed. It took nine years from its 1974 groundbreaking to complete the first eight miles, then the extension to the Johns Hopkins Hospital was not completed until the early 1990s.

My suggestion is that transit riders be very patient when anticipating this new boon to the city's mass transit system.

James A. Genthner

Baltimore

Appointing Mitchell is a cynical choice

Hiring Clarence M. Mitchell IV and giving him tremendous authority, a budget and a salary and benefits package that is not commensurate with his recent experience seems an extremely poor choice ("Ehrlich hires Mitchell IV for $92,000-a-year post," Feb. 12).

Perhaps an "idea man" should have a role that highlights his strengths, instead of giving him an opportunity to lengthen a resume soiled by poor financial choices.

When the state is facing a budget crisis that is forcing cutbacks in services, this appointment demonstrates that the governor is either extremely callous or lacks wisdom regarding policy and personnel decisions or both.

Aaron I. Schneiderman

Baltimore

It is outrageous that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has appointed Clarence M. Mitchell IV to a $92,000 state job, with a state car. This man was rebuked by the General Assembly's ethics committee last year for failing to disclose a $10,000 loan and filed for personal bankruptcy after racking up $500,000 in debt.

Since he is obviously incapable of keeping his own finances in order, Mr. Mitchell should not be allowed any responsibility for taxpayer money.

It is obvious Mr. Ehrlich feels compelled to give the man a job since he was head of "Democrats for Ehrlich." And, unfortunately, it seems Mr. Ehrlich's promise to eradicate the "business as usual" atmosphere in Annapolis was simply a ploy to get elected.

Deirdre Flowers

Baltimore

Culture of corruption reaches new heights

One of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign themes was that he would change the "culture of corruption" in Annapolis. But after reading the article "Ehrlich hires Mitchell IV for a $92,000-a-year post" (Feb. 12), I'm starting to wonder if his theme should be that he would change the culture to generate more corruption.

Mr. Ehrlich has surrounded himself with a few questionable people who have records of unethical behavior.

It's a real shame that part of the taxes I pay to the state help support such outlandish abuse of power and flagrant examples of patronage.

Tom Quirk

Catonsville

Outraged about lead in schools

It is incredible that the article "Fountains with lead remained in schools" (Feb. 7) was buried in Section B.

There is no safe level of lead, and small children are particularly vulnerable to neurological damage from any lead exposure. If the same condition were found in a home the children would be removed, and the parents might be subject to child neglect charges.

Even John Dewey could not raise the test scores in a school that has lead in the water.

Harris Chaiklin

Columbia

Security bill poses threat to liberties

The Sun's article on the Justice Department's proposed draft legislation to even further extend the curtailment of civil liberties, the so-called "Domestic Security Enhancement Act," brought out some really bizarre thinking from people who are supposed to be defending the U.S. Constitution ("Democrats seek explanation of anti-terrorism proposals," Feb. 11).

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