Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 20, 2004

Let delegates determine fate of slots proposal

House Speaker Michael E. Busch's recent call for a referendum on the slots issue is another example of his unwillingness to lead Maryland into the 21st century ("House GOP seeks vote on slots legislation," Aug. 18).

If the issue of slots is best decided by referendum, as Mr. Busch has argued, then shouldn't we also have referendums on all tax and spending bills?

Mr. Busch was elected to represent and lead the voters of his district, not to avoid an issue on which he appears to believe he is on the losing side.

He should let the slots bill come to the House floor for a vote, so all the House members can do their job and vote on such an important issue.

I challenge the speaker to stand on his convictions and persuade others he is right, instead of using procedural moves to keep the vote from going to the floor.

This is the 21st century and Marylanders deserve and demand true leaders. And it is not too late for the speaker to do the right thing and allow our elected officials to earn their paychecks.

Ted Winner

Hampstead

Why does Ehrlich fear a referendum?

Every week I hear Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. or members of his staff remind us that he was elected with a mandate to bring slot machines to Maryland. Such an argument is questionable, but certainly verifiable.

And that's why it is so hard to understand why Mr. Ehrlich is opposed to a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment on slot machine gambling ("Ehrlich kills plan for vote on slots," Aug. 17).

Certainly if the people elected him to bring slots to Maryland, the people will go to the polls and support such a constitutional amendment. Perhaps, though, such a mandate never existed and Mr. Ehrlich just happened to beat an extraordinarily weak opponent in 2002.

Perhaps Mr. Ehrlich is just afraid of a political embarrassment at the polls if the voters were to reject slot machines; his whole house of cards could come tumbling down.

Jamie Kendrick

Baltimore

Restore voting rights to former felons

Gregory Kane's column "Jackson makes racial issue of voting rights for criminals" (Aug. 11) was very disturbing.

But let's move away from the issue of race and discuss the law. The federal and state governments have the responsibility of ensuring the equal protection under the law for all citizens. And once a person has paid his or her debt to society, should that person not be entitled to the liberties he or she is due as a citizen?

Voting is a fundamental right that unfortunately is often subjected to the dynamics of a failing system.

One regrettable manifestation of this failure is the disenfranchisement of former felons. But many other democracies have abandoned the archaic practice of dis-enfranchising citizens after they have completed a prison sentence.

Andrea G. Brown

Baltimore

The writer is director of the NAACP's Prison Project.

Middle class pay bill for Bush's fiscal folly

The president says that the middle class will pay for Sen. John Kerry's programs because the rich have accountants who can help them avoid taxes ("Bush contends middle class to pay if Kerry raises taxes," Aug. 15). But didn't the rich have accountants when President Bush gave them the biggest piece of the tax cuts?

New government data show that Mr. Bush's tax cuts have shifted the overall tax burden to the middle class from the wealthiest Americans ("Wealthiest 20% see income share grow to 50%," Aug. 17).

And Mr. Bush is now concerned that the middle class will pay when Mr. Kerry gets into office?

We will all pay for Mr. Bush's fiscal fiasco; I just can't afford another four years.

Don Selig

Baltimore

Where's the justice for retired miners?

What form of justice is this to the coal workers who accepted lower pay in order to keep their health benefits, only to find that they have now been taken away by U.S. Bankrupcy Judge William Howard ("Judge permits coal company to end miners' health coverage," Aug. 10)?

And the next question has to be: What sort of retirement packages did the coal company's executives get?

Anne Hackney

Parkton

Diesel fuel can be cleaner alternative

The Sun's article about contamination of water wells from service station gas tanks ("Regulations aim to protect Md. wells from fuel additive," Aug. 12) made no mention of what could be a long-term solution to this problem: switching to a diesel economy.

Switching to diesel offers several advantages over gasoline. Diesel is easier to make at our overworked refineries. It is also not explosive, so transporting it to gas stations would not attract terrorist activity.

Furthermore, diesel fuel does not contain the MTBE additive, a prime cause of contamination.

And technology is available which can facilitate this switch by enabling a gas engine to run using diesel fuel with greater efficiency and cleaner exhaust.

James Bauernschmidt

Severna Park

Wild animals, places still in short supply

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