Saturday Mailbox


April 12, 2003

Marylanders know where the blame lies

Congratulations to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for being a true leader and sticking to his campaign promises.

While The Sun seems determined to spin the 2003 Maryland General Assembly session as a loss for Mr. Ehrlich, the truth is that the fault lies at the feet of the General Assembly's leadership ("Assembly ends with fiscal crisis unresolved," April 8).

Slots are favored by the majority of Marylanders, the same Marylanders who elected Mr. Ehrlich to get us out of the financial crisis created by fiscally irresponsible Democrats.

The only problem with slots this year seems to be that they were the idea of a Republican governor facing a bitterly partisan Democrat-controlled legislature, and that House Speaker Michael E. Busch browbeat his party loyalists to defeat slots in a committee.

At the same time, Sen. Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, obstructed Project Exile, a plan proven to reduce violent crime, by not even allowing a committee vote, while House Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. did nothing but wait to see what the Senate would do.

The real fumble was on the part of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, which obstructed the plans of Maryland's chosen leader.

But Marylanders can see through the smoke and mirrors and know who really dropped the ball.

It is not the Ehrlich administration that lost, it is all of Maryland. And when the budget axe falls, we'll know who to blame.

Roberta Strevig


Maryland money moves to Delaware

I'm a life-long Maryland resident who thought the Maryland legislature and House Speaker Michael E. Busch would like to know my plans for this Saturday ("Assembly ends with fiscal crisis unresolved," April 8).

I will be traveling with my wife up Interstate 95 into Delaware to enjoy an afternoon at Delaware Park, pouring some income into the slots. Chances are we will drop at least $120 into the slot machines.

We'll also probably spend at least $80 on simulcast racing (betting on races at tracks that aren't called Pimlico Race Course). If we win some back, great.

It'll cost us $4 for the Delaware tolls. We'll also probably spend about $25 on food and drink at Delaware Park in the afternoon.

I plan to refill my car at a Delaware gas station, which usually runs me about $20.

I've been looking to buy a new computer for some time now. I might as well get the one I've been eyeing at Best Buy while I'm up there, to avoid Maryland state sales tax. This will run about $1,200, which would net the state of Maryland $60 in sales tax.

What better way to end the day than taking in a nice dinner at some Delaware restaurant. Dinner for two, with tip, will probably run around $50.

We might catch a movie at a local theater to top it all off. That's another $16 or so into Delaware's economy.

Well, at least the state of Maryland will get a whopping $4 out of me when I go through the I-95 tolls at Perryville. But that's not quite the $400-plus or so that Delaware will reap from my visit.

And when the state decides to raise my real estate and state income taxes to make up for the money it is refusing to accept from a willing gaming industry, chances are we'll be moving out of state.

Good job, Mr. Busch. Good job.

Eric Wilkes


No reason to rush to judgment on slots

I have more than 15 years of direct experience in gaming, and now work in an ancillary industry servicing casino accounts in the South and Midwest.

Despite my background, I am glad about the House of Delegates committee's defeat of the slots bill ("Slots demise laid to missteps," April 3).

Gambling is not a panacea for fiscal problems, but it is a viable industry that provides jobs and tax revenues. My dismay about Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s slot proposal was the seemingly haphazard, rush-to-pass approach.

The administration should assign a task force to investigate how other states have structured and legislated the gaming industry. It should look at not only Delaware and West Virginia but also Louisiana and Iowa (which have slots in racetracks).

In Iowa, for instance, gambling licenses are held by nonprofit organizations. Iowa law guarantees that the local counties receive direct benefits from gaming. And each county must hold a referendum every five years on whether to continue or eliminate gaming.

I'd like to see the politicians do their homework and make a learned decision, rather than continue with rush-to-decision, sound-bite leadership.

W. S. Billings


Ehrlich must learn from slots missteps

Recently, a dynamic, new executive was elected on a mandate of change. The centerpiece of this mandate was a novel approach to an old problem, and at the time of the executive's election, this approach was extremely popular.

However, the devil of the plan was in the details, and in the end the plan was not politically feasible, even some allies turned against it and, ultimately, the public rejected the change.

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