Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 10, 2003

Don't blame fire chief for overtime woes

The Sun's coverage of the overtime pay issue in the Anne Arundel County Fire Department appears to have the added agenda of discrediting its leader, Fire Chief Roger C. Simonds ("Quenching the fires of overtime," Dec. 5).

As a resident of Anne Arundel County, and one who has been associated with the Fire Department for periods totaling nearly 15 years, I think The Sun's grandstanding style of reporting is ruining the reputation of an outstanding public servant.

And I continue to find the comparison of Anne Arundel County's Fire Department with Baltimore County's extremely misleading.

The two counties are not nearly the same size and, by The Sun's admission, Baltimore County has nearly 400 more full-time, paid firefighters than Anne Arundel. It also has a much more active volunteer support system.

So it's no wonder Baltimore County's Fire Department overtime bill is much less. I would wager that without those 400 extra firefighters and its robust volunteer force, Baltimore County would also have a large overtime expense.

It is apparent to me that Anne Arundel County has long chosen to use overtime help to fill vacancies instead of using new hires; I think that's a county policy, not Chief Simonds'.

It's time to stop bashing Chief Simonds.

Raymond Neall

Crofton

The writer is a former volunteer firefighter in Anne Arundel County.

Tide of immigrants guarantees gridlock

Once again, The Sun's editorial writers are busy arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while the boat is sinking beneath them ("Ehrlich's road(s) maps," Dec. 4).

Consider that from 1990 to 2000, Maryland's population increased by about 11 percent, from 4.8 million to 5.3 million. The U.S. Census Bureau now projects that Maryland's population in 2025 will be 6.3 million, an increase of about 19 percent.

Given Maryland's exploding population -- much of it driven by immigration -- it doesn't matter which road(s) the governor decides to build.

Given this huge population growth in Maryland, there is simply no way for the state to build enough highways, schools, hospitals, sewer systems or other infrastructure.

How long will Maryland taxpayers -- already heavily taxed -- continue to be willing to pay for ever-expanding government programs and services? People are already leaving Maryland for lower-tax states such as Delaware.

Until Maryland and the United States control their population by controlling immigration, the state and the nation can look forward to increasing sprawl, gridlock and a declining quality of life.

Sorry, governor. More roads are not the answer.

Michael Holden

Chestertown

Preferences destroy equality of rights

It is not clear from the article "City admits going overboard helping minority firm win bid" (Dec. 4) whether any laws were broken or anyone's civil rights were violated. But this case clearly demonstrates the injustice of reverse discrimination in Maryland.

All set-asides and preferential treatment for minority-owned firms should be eliminated. White-owned firms should have the same rights as minority-owned firms.

Under our present system, all men are not created equal and do not have equal opportunities.

Gary J. Kaplowitz

Pikesville

All citizens suffer for city's favoritism

No organization ever improves by lowering its standards. And in this case, all the citizens of Baltimore, black and white, will suffer so the city government can steer contracts to the politically favored ("City admits going overboard helping minority firm win bid," Dec. 4).

These actions are nothing more than corruption under a veneer of assisting minority business firms.

Someone ought to be prosecuted for them.

Mark J. Hannon

Baltimore

Turkey dinner costs taxpayers millions

In "Incumbency gives Bush upper-hand" (Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 3), Jules Witcover concludes that President Bush "pulled off a public relations coup at [the Democrats] expense." I disagree.

Mr. Bush's trip to have a turkey dinner in Iraq came at the expense of all the taxpayers in this country. It probably cost American workers millions of dollars.

If The Sun really wants to inform its readers, tell us how many millions of our dollars Mr. Bush's "photo op" cost the American people.

Carla L. Janson

Towson

Language skills key to early learning

In response to Mike Bowler's column concerning the poor performance of African-American males in school ("A national crisis gets second look," Nov. 30), I think it is critically important that for students to be successful in school they must have age-appropriate language skills by the time they start school at age 5.

Language skills determine how well students read, write and communicate orally. So it is imperative that children have good language skills in the primary grades.

How can this happen? Parents can read to their children every day. They can talk to their children, listen to them, take them to the library, movies, zoo. Give kids experiences that expand their vocabulary.

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