Letters To The Editor


November 21, 2003

Senate must put the brakes on energy bill

The energy bill passed this week by the House of Representatives is a short-sighted, disastrous piece of legislation worthy of a Senate filibuster ("House OKs sweeping energy bill," Nov. 19).

At a time of growing state and federal budget deficits, the bill opens up the Treasury and gives tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to the polluting fossil-fuel industry.

At a time of growing fears about global nuclear proliferation, the bill proposes to prop up and restart the domestic nuclear power industry.

At a time of growing concern about global warming and carbon pollution, the bill falls unbelievably short in moving our nation forward with the expansion of clean-energy technologies, which exist today and are highly underutilized.

Sen. John McCain's description of the legislation as the "Leave No Lobbyist Behind" bill is accurate. Instead of a visionary bill that moves our nation forward as a leader in clean energy, the House has greased the wheels of its special interests, and left the need for leadership to others.

Strange and sad as it may seem, the Senate can show leadership by stopping this bill in its tracks.

Laura Butler


Level with citizens on impact of layoffs

Michael Olesker's column characterizes the North Avenue city schools administration as a bloated bureaucracy - a wonderfully simple and meaningless explanation for a complex problem ("Needed purge brings end of city schools' old world," Nov. 14). Other reports attribute the city schools' deficit to a former CEO who didn't do her job, another easy way for trustees to escape responsibility.

Now the system says it will lay off as many as 1,000 employees. Does the school board expect us to believe it has tolerated 1,000 people in nonessential jobs?

The deficit is a real and hard problem. This is a time that requires honesty. Tell us what we are going to lose and what price our children will pay.

Morton J. Baum


Don't forget progress schools have made

Michael Olesker's column on the budget deficit in Baltimore City's public schools ("Needed purge brings end of city schools' old world," Nov. 14) contains a misleading passage: "For years, as academic scores have sagged heartbreakingly, school officials have offered this excuse and then that."

In fact, the last three years have brought remarkable progress in student achievement for the city's elementary school students. On a citywide basis, certain national test scores exceed the 50th percentile. Only four years ago, these same indicators hovered around the 25th percentile. We are, indeed, proving that all children can learn and our teachers can teach them.

The failure of school leaders to manage the budget is disheartening. But we shouldn't be so cynical that we don't even notice when kids begin to achieve the bottom-line results we all say we want.

Charlie Cooper


The writer is administrator of the Citizens Review Board for Children.

Medicare is cutting its rate of errors

The title of the article "Medicare fraud, bill errors cost $11.6 billion last year" (Nov. 15) was accurate; however, Sen. Charles E. Grassley's statement that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adjusted the results "to avoid showing a spike in improper payments in Medicare" was not.

In fact, CMS did adjust the results and disclosed such an adjustment in its 2003 financial report.

However, the reason for the adjustment was to reflect the fact that we had an unusually high percentage of non-responses that year to our efforts to audit Medicare payments and the initial calculation treated every non-response as an error. More than half the errors reported were the result of non-responses.

Improvement in Medicare errors is still needed. However, keeping in mind that the system had errors of $13.3 billion in 2002, the trend is clearly in the right direction.

Paul Konka


The writer is a financial management specialist for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Bush cries wolf on Iranian arms

The Bush administration is upset over the United Nations' report about Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program ("U.S. officials object to U.N. Iran report," Nov. 14).

It wants the American public to believe, based on U.S. intelligence, that yet another regime we don't like is trying to acquire nuclear weapons - to believe, once again, that we are right, and the rest of the world is wrong.

Do I hear someone crying wolf?

Shane Tanzymore


Rawlings' advocacy will be his legacy

Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings touched our lives in many significant ways over the past two decades ("A rumbling voice of conscience in General Assembly," Nov. 15). Most people know about his accomplishments as a devoted and bold advocate for better housing and education for the citizens of Baltimore. But Mr. Rawlings was also a champion of excellent medical care for people throughout Maryland.

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