Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 20, 2003

Use new tolls only to build better Beltway

I have been following with interest the increase in the cost of the tolls at the tunnels and Key Bridge, and the rates assessed to frequent users of these facilities. And even an increase of just a dollar at the bridge and tunnels also represents a doubling of cost to those needing to use these facilities for their daily commutes.

However, if this increase funds improvements to the Beltway to eliminate the frequent delays we experience today, I am all for it, as long as the increased tolls are used solely for that purpose -- and not for the next round of giveaways elsewhere. I am almost sure that most drivers would agree with me.

And then the projects mentioned in The Sun's article "Tolls may help fund Beltway expansion" (Nov. 15) should be promptly started and, more important, promptly finished.

The Maryland Department of Transportation should be required to account for the increased revenue, and also be able to verify that it is being used as was intended when the increase was levied.

This is a simple accounting function, and those paying this toll increase deserve it.

Michael Connell

Baltimore

Machines can't fix what isn't broken

I fully agree with The Sun's editorial "Computer trouble" (Nov. 18).

Maryland should not waste $55.6 million on computerized voting machines that are subject to undetected errors or, worse, fraud and that provide no reliable means of verifying disputed results.

If such machines are purchased, I intend to vote by absentee ballot. If enough voters threaten to do likewise, perhaps the state can be persuaded not to squander millions on machines voters won't use.

The integrity of the voting process is essential to our democracy. Any machine can malfunction, but the machines we currently use in Harford County have a paper trail in the event that they do.

They seem adequate to me, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Craig Herud

Aberdeen

Controlling software won't secure the vote

Voters need assurance that the results of their votes are accurately accounted for ("Legislators are warned by voting system critic," Nov. 14).

Locking up the software is not the answer. Adding a verifiable paper trail to each voting machine that will print voters' choices and allow us to compare the vote totals with those the machines keep on a chip would help prevent fraud.

The touch-screen voting machines this article describes are prone to hackers both inside the voting environment and by employees of the machines' manufacturer who may have an interest in compromising an election's outcome.

Stephen R. Krause

Baltimore

Paying parolees insults the officers

I am completely in favor of innovative solutions in government to deliver services and use tax dollars more efficiently. But paying parolees for reporting to their parole officer ("Plan calls for paying parolees to comply," Nov. 18)? What an insult to parole officers themselves, who, like all other state employees, have gone without pay raises for two years.

Now these same overworked officers may see funds going to pay off their clients for doing what they were already supposed to do, as part of a bargain to get them out of prison or keep them out of prison.

Why not invest those same dollars into either pay raises for parole officers or hiring more officers who can enforce probation and parole rules?

We need to get our priorities straight.

Barbara Yarnell DiPietro

Baltimore

Court must uphold rule of law for all

It is good that the Supreme Court will take the cases involving detention of alleged combatants now at Guantanamo Bay ("Supreme Court asserts power to decide issues," Nov. 12).

We are a nation of laws, and we expect other nations to follow the rule of law. The United States has, too often to recount, objected when other nations have secretly confined American citizens without the benefit of contact with legal counsel and family.

I hope the Supreme Court will settle the matter, end the hypocrisy and restore order so that no one is above the law.

Richard L Lelonek

Baltimore

Stand up to terror of foes of abortion

I read with disgust the article about abortion foes terrorizing contractors trying to build an abortion clinic in Texas ("Boycott delays building of Texas abortion clinic," Nov. 15).

While we are in Afghanistan and Iraq trying to help women gain more rights, some people are systematically trying to deny rights to our own women.

I sincerely hope that there are some sensible, courageous, pro-choice contractors who will stand up to these zealots, and get that clinic built.

Shirley Hopkins-Thomas

Owings Mills

Bush plan for Iraq just a political ploy

The Bush administration has now stated that it intends to return political control of Iraq to the Iraqi people by June 2004 ("U.S. is set to return power to Iraqis as early as June," Nov. 15).

However, it has also stated that the U.S. military presence will remain.

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