Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 26, 2003

Insurance study sticks taxpayers with useless bill

The taxpayers of Baltimore County may be footing an unnecessary $24,000 bill mainly for political accusations ("Insurance chief seeks apology in Balto. County," Dec. 19).

The responsiveness claimed by Maryland Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. is something that can be verified by the record, although the immensity of the Hurricane Isabel disaster no doubt delayed some responses to those who needed help the most. And I do not understand how Mr. Redmer can reasonably be blamed for any deficiencies in coverage.

We have not experienced a flood loss of this magnitude in recent history -- and much of the focus of the Maryland Insurance Administration in the recent years has been on medical insurance, on which Steven B. Larsen, Mr. Redmer's predecessor, did admirable work.

It seems to me that the Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s claim that "there is no justification for the magnitude of uncovered loss that occurred in Baltimore County" is a charge that should have been directed at Mr. Larsen. After all, he had years on the job supervising the insurance companies -- while Mr. Redmer only had a few months in office before Isabel's devastation.

To hire Mr. Larsen at a cost of $24,000 to study this seems question like a terrible waste of taxpayer money in a time of tight budgets for our county government and even tighter budgets for many of the county's taxpayers.

Our hearts go out to those who suffered and continue to suffer the terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Isabel. But to turn this tragedy into a political football and waste scarce taxpayer funds seems unconscionable.

Gerald Stank

Baldwin

Christmas cards waste city funds

Mayor Martin O'Malley is in a class by himself when it comes to wasting taxpayer funds. The mayor spent nearly $12,000 of taxpayer funds to send out holiday greeting cards while other elected officials used their campaign funds to foot the bill ("For some officials, greetings are no longer in the cards," Dec. 22).

The city needs to cut spending. Teachers are losing their jobs at our children's expense. But the mayor can find an additional $12,000 to send out greeting cards.

I find this offensive, and I think the people of Baltimore should be disappointed that their hard-earned money is being wasted in this fashion.

Jeffrey Paul Button

Parkton

How appalling it is to read that Mayor Martin O'Malley is utilizing taxpayer monies to pay for his Christmas cards. This coming on the heels of the mayor notifying the Baltimore Fire Department that he is cutting $5 million from its budget in July 2004.

Spending money frivolously during a heightened terror alert while cutting the budget of a public safety agency is downright disgraceful.

Michael Campbell

Nottingham

The writer is a captain in Baltimore's Fire Department.

Past practice is a lame excuse

When will politicians such as Mayor Martin O'Malley and his spokeswoman, Raquel Guillory, ever learn that the voters sometimes elect candidates to office hoping that they won't continue to follow the practices of others ("For some officials, greetings are no longer in the cards," Dec. 22)?

Occasionally, we hope (and expect) that the people we elect to office will have the courage to actually change their predecessors' practices.

That the mayor is "just doing what other mayors have done" is a lame excuse.

Tom Landerkin

Parkville

Iraqis can decide how to try Hussein

The editorial "A trial where it matters" (Dec. 16) recommended that "an Iraqi tribunal with an international component, formally sanctioned by the United Nations," be created to try Saddam Hussein.

What a goofy recommendation. What nations would be included or represented in the international component? Nations with regimes as repressive as Iraq's was under Mr. Hussein?

And how many resolutions by the United Nations would it take to formally sanction the tribunal? Does The Sun wish to see the trial completed during this century?

Mr. Hussein committed his atrocities against the Iraqis. Let it be their decision alone on how to try him. I am confident that they can figure out a fair system for his trial.

Emil Elinsky

Phoenix

Threats of terror not altered by war

One week after President Bush hailed capturing Saddam Hussein as a great victory for America in the war on terror, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced that the terror alert level has been raised to "high" (Code Orange) because the threat of terrorist attack is "perhaps greater than at any point" since Sept. 11, 2001 ("U.S. raises terror alert," Dec. 22).

One is almost embarrassed to point out the obvious contradiction and irony in all of this.

Does the Bush administration believe that the American people can't see through the hypocrisy and lies that were and still are being used to justify a completely unnecessary war in Iraq -- one that costs American lives virtually every day but has no effect on terrorists and the danger to the United States?

Bill Blackwell

Timonium

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