Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 10, 2005

Bush's budget hurts the poor and the planet

Hooray for The Sun. We all need to see how the disaster of a budget put forth by President Bush will hurt those who need help the most ("Cuts called threats to bay, urban poor," Feb. 8).

Community development programs for low-income people, food stamps, veterans' programs, health and human services programs, including some that deal with epidemics and chronic diseases, all face cuts in funding.

Mr. Bush wants to lower the deficit, and that's a good thing. But that deficit exists in large part because he gave tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens.

How sad that this "compassionate" president has misplaced his compassion.

Jeannette Ollodart Marx

Towson

Isn't there something inherently immoral about a callous administration that reduces taxes for the wealthy so they can build McMansions on 5-acre lots that were once productive farmland, and then reduces programs that enable the poor to live in decent housing?

On top of that, the 30-year effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay is facing deep budget cuts.

If giving the wealthy freedom from fair taxation while cutting critical social and environmental programs is President Bush's idea of freedom, I cannot accept his diabolical definition.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

Real leadership on air pollution

Tom Horton's column "On environment, the MDE is merely going by the book" (Feb. 4) criticizes the Maryland Department of the Environment for a lack of leadership on air pollution issues, based solely on our "expected" position on a "California car" bill before the 2005 General Assembly.

However, leaders do not jump on a bandwagon when other states pursue a certain strategy. Leaders do not ignore the cost-benefit ratio to consumers of strategies such as California's regulations for cars.

Strong leaders set priorities and manage available resources accordingly.

The MDE has done that by focusing on measures to attain new ozone and fine particulate health standards by 2010, drafting plans to meet new air standards and aggressively pursuing air pollution programs that directly improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

And our efforts are making a difference. Since 1990, air pollution in Maryland has been reduced by 40 percent, which is twice the national average of 20 percent for that period.

Maryland is also one of the first states other than California to adopt tough requirements for paints and coatings, gas cans and consumer products such as perfume and hair spray. And the MDE is leading a national effort to reduce pollution transported from other states, which accounts for up to 70 percent of Maryland's air pollution.

Although California-style cars are one option for meeting our air quality goals, they are not necessarily a panacea for all our air quality challenges.

All options must be objectively evaluated, considering cost and overall air quality benefits.

That's true leadership.

Kendl P. Philbrick

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

State's MBE program has fulfilled its goals

Once again, state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer has opened a can of political worms that needed to be opened. He is absolutely correct in asking when the state's Minority Business Enterprise program will end ("Lawmakers rush to support MBE," Feb. 5).

This program has done its job. It is time for minority businesses to succeed on their own merits or fail, like any others, because of their deficiencies.

I applaud Mr. Schaefer for being the conscience and voice of Maryland.

Martie Silvert

Baltimore

Constitution bars minority set-asides

Unmentioned in the most recent controversy over the need to maintain Maryland's Minority Business Enterprise set-aside program is whether the program can even legally exist ("Lawmakers rush to support MBE," Feb. 5).

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes the provision that "no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the Unites States ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

This wording can't be any clearer, and it suggests that the MBE program can be found unconstitutional.

Bruce Beasman

Baltimore

Schaefer's remarks disgrace the state

As an African-American, I was appalled at the comments made by state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer about discontinuing the Minority Business Enterprise program ("Lawmakers rush to support MBE," Feb. 5).

This program was created to level a playing field that for years has been, and still is, dominated by big corporations that systematically exclude small minority firms.

As the son of an MBE contractor, I have watched my dad show up to bid on contracts at the bid meetings, only to be denied a fair chance to win, in large part because of exclusion, race and a good-ol'-boy system that awards the contracts to the same old guys who always win.

Mr. Schaefer should be forced to resign for his insensitive remarks.

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