Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 03, 2005

FEMA's policy change is bad government

The unprecedented change in policy by FEMA to retroactively "reimburse" churches and religious groups for helping hurricane evacuees is bad business, and worse government.

There should be no payment or reimbursement where there was no prior contractual agreement. FEMA's plan to reimburse churches and religious charities is financially and constitutionally a river of no return. It will open the floodgates for future reimbursements without government contract or public oversight.

Imagine if individual volunteers who pitched in during September's natural disasters were to demand "reimbursement" from the federal government for missed wages, transportation and other expenses!

If a church expects or accepts payment from the taxpayers, then it is no longer charitable. Once again, churches get the credit, while taxpayers get the bill.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, Madison, WI

The writer is co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Beware `too good' sales pitches

In his Sept. 25 column, "Gulf victims deluged by bad advice," Jay Hancock provides an important warning to all consumers: Buyer beware.

Our message at the Maryland Insurance Administration is similar: Be prepared. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita serve as reminders of the devastating force of Mother Nature and the hurricane season is not officially over until Nov. 30. Consumers should speak with a trusted adviser to assess their own unique exposure to risk before the next storm hits.

Our staff is on call to investigate any "too good to be true" insurance sales pitches that are presented in the days before a significant weather event.

Mr. Hancock also discusses the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Our agency has advocated for reforms to the NFIP at the congressional level. Simple steps, such as creating a formal appeals process for claims and utilizing uniform and updated pricing guidelines, would make a significant impact for those who purchase flood insurance from the federal government.

Alfred W. Redmer, Jr.

Perry Hall

The writer is the commissioner of the Maryland Insurance Administration.

Put unused funds toward lead safety

As a social worker working with low-income families in a lead treatment program, I read with great interest that the Baltimore public housing authority has joined a federal program, Moving To Work ("City gets leeway on public housing," Sept. 26). According to The Sun, the program "could provide the city with $48 million in unused Section 8 voucher funds it would otherwise have had to return to the federal government."

With families still on the waiting list for up to a year, and with Section 8 homes that are not lead safe, I ask, "Why are there $48 million in unused funds?"

Janice S. Dansicker

Baltimore

Images overwhelm news of the day

Headlines are no longer the important part of the paper. Words are completely underwhelmed by images. Now the image is the headline and the bizarre juxtapositionings of the recently redesigned Sun are mindboggling. Witness three days of headline imagery from The Sun.

A model in spring attire sashays past a flaming U.S. Army vehicle while a jubilant Iraqi youth celebrates beneath a gold halo (Sept. 27). A cabbage head and slab of rare beef hover at the edges of a displaced 9th-ward Madonna and child, like thoughts of food they would like to have (Sept. 28).

And Thursday a gesticulating Mayor O'Malley has a giggling Lucinda Williams hanging above his right hand while a somber Magic Johnson floats above his left hand. Is it a magic act or perhaps the mayor's conscience?

It is hard to take the news seriously or even pay attention to the words that support these images. The pictures create their own fascinating stories.

Christine L. Fillat

Pasadena

Dirty tricksters turn to `Capitol' tactics

I recall many occasions where the Maryland Democratic Party has assailed Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for using "Capitol Hill-style tactics," without any basis in fact. Now, those words it used so often have come back to bite the Democratic Party on the rear.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee admitted that two staff members stole Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's Social Security number and unlawfully used it to gain his credit report. They are guilty of breaking the law and bringing the dirty "Capitol Hill-style tactics" into Maryland.

The Democratic Party can try and dismiss this episode all it wants, but from here on out, it is exactly what it says it despises. Wake up, Maryland, and recognize who the dirty tricksters are!

Robert W Day

Woodbine

Blame sex education for teen-age habits

Susan Reimer has sounded an alarm bell by publishing the statistics on teen-age sex practices ("Parents need to dispel kids' myths about sex habits," Sept. 20). Aided and abetted by their sex education classes, 55 percent of teenagers have engaged in oral sex.

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