Letters To The Editor


August 07, 2006

City can raise wages without Ehrlich's aid

It seems to me that Mayor Martin O'Malley is the last person who should be blaming others for not increasing the minimum wage ("Mayor dares Ehrlich on wage," Aug. 2).

The Baltimore City Code requires that each employer in the city pay the federal minimum wage.

But just as the state can legally increase the minimum wage above the federal minimum wage (which would create a higher floor no state or political subdivision could go below), the city can legally increase its minimum wage to whatever Mr. O'Malley and the City Council believe is appropriate.

In fact, Baltimore has a "living wage" which must be paid by contractors doing city business. That same living wage could be expanded to cover all employees working in the city.

In other words, Mr. O'Malley doesn't have to wait for the governor or Congress to pass minimum wage legislation. He can do it immediately, and he can do it before this coming election day if he really wants to demonstrate his sincerity on this issue.

I suspect, however, that we will see no minimum wage legislation from Mr. O'Malley, just more political grandstanding.

Howard Hoffman


The writer is an employment attorney.

No surprise Ehrlich scorns wage hike

Of course, Gov. Robert L Ehrlich Jr. won't sign a letter encouraging President Bush and Congress to support an increase in the pay for the lowest paid American workers ("Mayor dares Ehrlich on wage," Aug. 2).

He vetoed the General Assembly's modest increase in the state's minimum wage. He vetoed the Fair Share Health Bill with a number of executives from Wal-Mart at his side.

Again and again, Mr. Ehrlich has turned his back on his working-class constituents.

For three years the governor made slot money for the gambling conglomerates his top priority in Annapolis.

But when it was suggested that some of the gambling parlors be placed in affluent neighborhoods like Timonium, his former neighborhood, or the Republican voter-rich Eastern Shore, Mr. Ehrlich balked.

When it was time for leadership in the controversy concerning Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s 72 percent rate hike, Mr. Ehrlich decided he was going to pay the role of a neutral arbitrator.

Only when the citizens of Maryland reacted angrily did he make a lame effort to rectify the crisis the Public Service Commission members he had appointed had allowed.

Mr. Ehrlich likes to put working-class men and women in is campaign commercials.

He might campaign like a liberal but he governs like President Bush.

Wayne A. Brooks


Wage hike can ease the housing crunch

In The Sun's article about the controversy over raising the minimum wage, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. suggested that there are better ways to fight poverty ("Mayor dares Ehrlich on wage," Aug. 2).

If there are, I wish he would share with us what they are.

Most of the homeless people in Harford County are among the working poor.

And because of the cost of housing in Harford County, a person working for minimum wage must decide between having a roof over his or her head or eating.

A higher minimum wage would certainly provide some with relief from having to make such a decision.

Paul Ciesla


Wind farms wreak havoc on the Earth

Tom Pelton's attempt to reinvigorate industrial wind energy in Maryland did little to advance enlightened inquiry on the issue ("Wind energy push loses power," July 31).

Nurtured by Enron and cradled by corporations in thrall to big oil and coal interests, industrial wind farms are much more effective as tax-avoidance generators than as producers of electricity.

As I and others have demonstrated at recent hearings of the Public Service Commission, these wind farms wreak havoc on the environment while claiming to save it and displace the discourse necessary to effect better energy policy.

Jon Boone


The writer is a co-founder of the North American Bluebird Society.

More compromises will not save the bay

The praise by Will Baker, the president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, for the recent agreement to limit menhaden fishing is disturbing ("Va. agrees to fishing limit," Aug. 1).

Mr. Baker calls it "a great compromise between conservation and commerce."

I have no idea how good or bad this particular "compromise" is for the survival of the menhaden, for other species that depend on it for the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay and so on. It's certainly better than hauling in the fish with no limit at all.

But I do know that nearly every time there's another "compromise between conservation and commerce," conservation loses at least a little bit more to commerce.

This will always be true as long as human population keeps growing.

I know that I'm making a big deal out of a single word that may not have been carefully chosen.

But if Mr. Baker truly views the menhaden agreement as a "compromise," he should not be praising it.

Cliff Terry


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