Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 25, 2006

Investigations abuse the power of the IRS

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s instigation of an Internal Revenue Service investigation of the NAACP when he was a member of Congress didn't simply do damage to nonprofit advocacy groups such as the NAACP that are engaged in constitutionally protected free speech ("Ehrlich defends 2001 IRS inquiry," May 20).

Mr. Ehrlich and other House and Senate Republicans, who hid behind constituents' requests to explain their calls for an investigation of the NAACP, also did damage to the Internal Revenue Service itself.

If there's any federal agency that should be protected from political manipulations, it's the IRS.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of IRS investigations launched that look like the inquiry into the NAACP, notably the reviews of the U.S. affiliates of Greenpeace for their criticism of corporate policies that exacerbate global warming and of an Episcopal church on the West Coast because of a former rector's imagined debate between President Bush, Sen. John Kerry and Jesus.

And after the election of Mr. Bush, the IRS somehow was able to quickly abandon an investigation into two foundations that were linked to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had been charged with using the resources of a tax-exempt foundation to support the work of his political action committee.

When the likes of Mr. Ehrlich try to turn the IRS into a tool to attack perceived critics, what they end up doing is chipping away at the public confidence that the IRS can do the job it is supposed to do.

Rick Cohen

Washington

The writer is executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

`Da Vinci' provokes sadness, alienation

The feelings I have regarding the release of the film The Da Vinci Code are ones of sadness and alienation, not anger or even disbelief ("`Da Vinci' provokes debate, protests," May 17).

Sadness, because people I had previously viewed as responsible would present as factual or true that which is known to be false and would portray members of a respected religious community that has done so much to advance toleration and world peace as murderers.

But why should I be surprised at the lengths some fabulously wealthy individuals will go to gain yet more money and notoriety?

Alienation, because people will so readily use falsehoods to attack the followers of a religious doctrine that teaches piety, forgiveness and love - while at the same time we debate the propriety of even publishing cartoons in a newspaper that might offend members of another religion.

Where is our honesty and equality?

I do take solace in the knowledge that this latest assault is nothing new, and that the Catholic Church has weathered attacks both physical and intellectual since its divine origin.

And, as we have always, Catholics will respond to this insult by praying for and forgiving their detractors.

Robert D. Sheehy Jr.

Westminster

Shocked by silliness of the city's slogan

Once again, I experience shock and awe at the intelligence and integrity of Mayor Martin O'Malley and the Baltimore City Council for spending $500,000 of taxpayers' money for a four-word slogan (that's $125,000 per word), "Get In On It," that could have been created by having children move magnetic words around on a refrigerator door.

At the same time, my sons' middle school may lose two or three teachers next year, which would increase class sizes and likely would affect achievement.

My math skills are limited, but I think the $500,000 would more than cover the teachers' salaries and that would have been a far better use of public money.

Bill Barry

Baltimore

Locals could have done better for less

I was personally appalled at the amount of cash the city paid a consulting firm for our new "Get In On It" slogan ("Baltimore's new bait," May 20). This $500,000 could be the biggest wasted expenditure in the history of my hometown.

Why wasn't a contest held so that city residents could submit original slogans? The winner could have been awarded a $500 savings bond and dinner for two at Cafe Hon.

I heartily agree with our state comptroller and former mayor, William Donald Schaefer, who said through a spokesman, "I've seen some dumb ones [slogans] in the past, but this is the dumbest."

William Hennick

Baltimore

Toll on Bay Bridge wastes time, gas

Now more than ever is the time for a public outcry against the toll collection at the Bay Bridge ("Safety steps taken for Bay Bridge," May 20).

Elected officials and public forums such as The Sun should push for alternative forms of tax collection to replace the stoppage at the Bay Bridge.

Every weekend, thousands of vehicles sit idling their engines near our most precious resource, the Chesapeake Bay.

How much gas is wasted? How much air pollution is created? How much of the waste runs off into the bay?

For years, state government has sought to increase in-state tourism, especially to the Eastern Shore. Yet there is this roadblock to the Shore - the toll on the Bay Bridge.

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