Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 26, 2004

State can trim the toll taken by drunken drivers

I was struck by the complacent tone of some in response to the rising number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Maryland ("Arundel fatal crashes involving alcohol rise," Sept. 19).

It's true that increases over one year do not constitute a trend, but Maryland has made little progress in reducing highway deaths, alcohol-related or not, over the past decade. Those who are in a position to lead a winning war on drunken driving should know that shrugging off the problem will not solve it.

And there are steps we can take now. Judges should stop giving first-time DUI offenders a slap on the wrist; they often drive drunk again.

We should close a loophole that allows too many DUI offenders to routinely get off with probation before judgment.

We should increase penalties for repeat offenders, drivers with high blood-alcohol levels and the many who refuse to take a breath test.

We should give police departments more resources for drunken-driving awareness campaigns and beefed-up enforcement, including more sobriety checkpoints.

We all want safe, secure and livable communities. Let's renew our commitment to "safety first" by transforming our highways into safe zones instead of danger zones on which last year alone the deadly combination of alcohol and driving killed 281 people in Maryland and injured thousands more.

William A. Bronrott

Bethesda

The writer represents District 16 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Health budget cuts could cost lives

God bless the person who leaked the information about possible budget cuts for the state health department for giving people a fighting chance ("Md. ponders deep health care cuts," Sept. 23).

Many of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's proposed cuts could make seniors sick, nearly kill kids and trap people with disabilities in high-cost facilities rather than enable them to live their own lives in the community.

Medicaid is one of Maryland's most cost-effective and efficient programs; it matters to so many wonderful people and is truly a matter of life and death.

Let's raise money instead of destroying people.

Gayle Hafner

Towson

Report is reminder of danger of smoke

Perhaps our state legislators or Baltimore County lawmakers will finally be moved to action after yet again hearing how dangerous and deadly cigarette smoke is ("Smoky bar found to pollute more than busy street," Sept. 21).

This latest independent research clearly outlines the health risks associated with tobacco smoke, not only for the smoker but for hospitality workers and patrons as well.

The Delaware research suggests that smoke-free indoor public places are the only way to eliminate this danger from further penetrating and contaminating our society. Unfortunately, recent legislative efforts have not garnered the support warranted by a toxin proved to be as dangerous as tobacco smoke.

I hope that when the smoke clears, Baltimore County will have a smoke-free law like those in hundreds of other municipalities across the country, and we can all breathe a little easier.

Michael Schwartzberg

Baltimore

The writer is a volunteer for Smoke-free Baltimore County.

Release CIA report on future of Iraq

With more than 1,000 American soldiers dead in Iraq, Americans can no longer afford to hear President Bush's sunny spin ("U.S. won't retreat, Bush says," Sept. 22). It's time to get the facts.

In July, the CIA completed a comprehensive report on Iraq. President Bush should release the report immediately - with any secret information removed - as Mr. Bush's fellow Republican John McCain and others have urged.

Our soldiers' lives are on the line. Our sons and daughters will continue to die as long as we are in Iraq. For their sake, we need to know all the facts and assess them honestly.

Justin Brill

Baltimore

What if it were Fox instead of CBS News?

Can we just imagine for a moment what the fury in the media would be if it were Fox News that had used forged documents to slander Sen. John Kerry ("CBS retracts bulk of Bush story," Sept. 21)?

Michael E. Sneeringer Jr.

Catonsville

Targeting middle was Kerry's mistake

If Sen. John Kerry is successfully portrayed as a "flip-flopper," it is because Mr. Kerry's campaign from the start has targeted the mushy middle of the political spectrum ("Kerry attempts to overcome portrayal as waffler on war," Sept. 19).

He has all but dismissed the liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party, making me wonder whether he has the courage and conviction to repair the damage done by the Bush administration.

His remark that he would have voted for the war resolution even if he had known there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was the last straw. With that comment, he ceded the Iraq war, a foreign policy catastrophe, to the neoconservatives in the Bush administration.

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