Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 12, 2003

Stop chasing the fool's gold of slot machines

The Sun got it right this time with the editorial "Race to the bottom" (Nov. 7), in which it laid out, step by inevitable step, the pitfalls of that fool's gold called slots.

The shortsighted among us clamor for slots - anywhere, everywhere, immediately if not sooner. They claim this will be the miracle that brings in revenue to our impoverished treasury and keeps home the stream of money that heads to Delaware and other states to lose itself.

Their motto must be, "Catch the gold ring! Well, then, catch the silver ring! Well, then, OK, catch the tin ring and call it gold! Everyone will be a winner!"

What they don't do, as The Sun beautifully did in this piece, is look down the road to how everyone - gamblers who can't quit, their families, taxpayers who will forever pay for the damage - gets hurt.

Fool's gold is for fools. I hope Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the other politicians of this state and the good neighbors of Pimlico Race Course and other proposed venues will keep their heads and forgo the glitter of what's merely a moneymaker for gambling interests.

Judy Chernak

Pikesville

Gamblers should save their money

I have read the numerous columns, articles and letters to the editor debating the pros and cons of slot machines, and I have repeatedly read about the millions of dollars flowing across state lines to Delaware, West Virginia and New Jersey. I will admit that I don't gamble myself, but I was under the impression that these gamblers were going out of state with the purpose of bringing money into our state. If they are failing to the tune of millions and millions of dollars, they may wish to reconsider their own spending habits before complaining about the Maryland budget.

Michael Ichniowski

Lutherville

Don't blame Yellow for paratransit woes

It's time to set the record straight about transit services for the disabled ("MTA drops transit firm," Oct. 29). Yellow Transportation's performance has not been perfect and we know there is room for improvement, but the numbers speak for themselves.

Our on-time record is far superior to the Maryland Transit Administration's regular bus service. Yellow's performance stacks up favorably against other paratransit operations in comparable metropolitan areas, with a low complaint ratio.

We must be doing something right because the MTA has extended our current contract four times in the past four years, and we have a 97 percent renewal rate with our other clients.

State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan has called the MTA's paratransit system "almost completely dysfunctional." MTA, not Yellow, schedules all paratransit trips and routings without regard to how many people can be accommodated at peak hours. That's where the wheel comes off the cart. Yet all of our recommendations to improve our performance and the MTA's system have been rejected by the agency.

Switching transit operators won't fix what's broken. Seven years ago, MTA tried that, and failed. Yellow rescued the service after a low-bid contractor collapsed within six months after it began. We simply want to build on our efforts to date to work with the MTA to give riders with disabilities what they deserve - paratransit service that works.

Mark L. Joseph

Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of Yellow Transportation.

Dean's `money poll' deserves criticism

In his article about Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean's decision to forgo public financing, Kenneth S. Baer highlights something that makes supporters of other candidates incredulous and frustrated ("Dean campaign empowers his supporters via Internet," Nov. 9).

Mr. Baer states that many dismiss Mr. Dean's "money poll" as a way to make an unpopular decision more politically safe. How true. Beyond the damage done to legislative victories recently won limiting the influence of money in politics, Mr. Dean unambiguously stated in March and in June that he would not give up public financing. In light of these promises, the poll was purely a way for Mr. Dean to avoid taking personal responsibility for backtracking. While Mr. Dean can now say he is only following his supporters' wishes, this only makes the decision to conduct the poll cowardly and irresponsible.

Christopher M. Kolb

Baltimore

Leaving Iraq now would aid terrorists

In her column "War deaths rekindle old feelings of protest" (Nov. 4), Susan Reimer points out what, in her opinion, are similarities between Vietnam and Iraq, and says she is a part of a majority of Americans - 51 percent in a recent ABC-Washington Post poll - who disapprove of the way the president is handling the war. She suggests that "it must be getting close to the time for someone to suggest we declare victory and leave."

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