Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 18, 2004

Make walking, cycling a part of everyday life

The Sun's article about obesity and inactivity rivaling tobacco as a cause of deaths in America provided a good assessment of a major health issue ("Fat, inactivity: fatal combo," March 10).

What it didn't provide was a good remedy - an answer to the question, "How do we live healthier lives in today's society?"

One solution is to build our communities so that they encourage healthy lifestyles that include walking and bicycling to our destinations as well as other ways of routinely incorporating physical activity into our daily lives.

There is no easier way to maintain at least reasonable fitness than to make physical activity a part of the way we live. Unfortunately, in many areas of Maryland, our kids, our elderly and many others can't walk to the library because our streets and communities have been built with only one goal: providing efficient facilities for cars.

Mixed-use development, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks lined with trees and bike lanes all encourage people to get out more without their cars.

Getting out and walking to our destinations and bicycling to work, the store, etc., are great ways not just to cut down on obesity but also to lower our blood pressure, decrease the likelihood of diabetes and heart disease and keep us fit and trim.

It's a simple, inexpensive solution that helps solve a multibillion-dollar problem.

Peter Olsen

Pasadena

The writer is executive director of One Less Car, a campaign for bicycling and walking.

Spain and S. Korea show us the way?

He sent his country's troops into an unnecessary war. He lied about a murderous terrorist attack. He was voted out of office at the first opportunity.

This was the fate of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar over the past few days ("A new Madrid seeks change in Iraq policy," March 16).

We can only hope that the citizens of our country are as discerning.

The Bush administration led this country into a needless war resulting in an unacceptable waste of lives and funds sorely needed at home. It misled us about Iraq's connection to Sept. 11, 2001, weapons of mass destruction and their supposedly imminent threat.

It deserves to be voted out as well.

Sig Seidenman

Owings Mills

Two of our allies showed us the way in the past few days.

Our South Korean friends impeached their president because of corruption ("Calm remains after impeachment," March 14). Then our Spanish allies voted out their ruling party because it had misled them in supporting President Bush and his illegitimate war in Iraq ("Voters reject Spain's leaders," March 15).

If the citizens of smaller countries can see through the charades of their leaders, why can't we see President Bush as the culprit he is and either impeach him or, at the very least, vote him and his warmongering crew out in November?

Robert L. Reynolds

Bel Air

Tax hike would do less harm than slots

I think legalizing slots is a terrible way to balance the state budget ("Prince George's ministers rally against slots bill," March 13). A better way would be to raise the state sales tax by one penny.

A penny increase in the state sales tax is not addictive.

A penny increase in the sales tax never broke up a marriage.

A penny increase in the sales tax never caused financial ruin.

A penny increase in the sales tax would help balance the budget without adding new social costs.

But once slots are legalized and the gaming industry gets its foot in Maryland's door, gambling will spread from one end of the state to the other. It's just a matter of time.

Joseph Suarez

Baltimore

Comments on Norris take a nasty turn

Michael Olesker's column on former Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris seems exceptionally nasty and mean-spirited to me, as has other commentary and even some reporting on this matter ("Norris' life of privilege ends with plea in court," March 9).

Mayor Martin O'Malley's reaction to the case ("embarrassed and disappointed") seems a more appropriate response ("Norris enters plea of guilty to corruption," March 9).

Mr. Norris was rightly exposed, fired and required to make restitution, which is what usually happens in similar cases, even when much larger sums are involved. The rest seems overkill - or perhaps an occasion for exploitation by prosecutors.

And the emphasis on Mr. Norris's personal life is just tiresome tabloid stuff, with which we seem to be absolutely inundated these days.

Mary Beacom Bowers

Baltimore

Oversized staff led to schools crisis

"Where did all the money go?" is the big question being asked about the city schools deficit. It does not take an auditor or genius to explain a part of it ("Schools accept funding offer," March 16).

For the 2001-2002 school year, the city system had 581 administrators on the central staff. This for a total enrollment of 94,313 - and that figure does not include mid-level administrators such as principals and their staffs ("710 city school employees get notice of Jan. 1 layoffs," Nov. 26, 2003).

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