Letters Tot He Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 09, 2008

Disappointing plan for city property tax

The much-anticipated report from the mayor's property tax committee was released last week, and count this city resident and homeowner among the many people underwhelmed by it ("Bid to cut tax rate could still boost bill," Jan. 3).

It was a waste of the committee's time to attempt to address such a complex and sensitive issue without also addressing city budget and spending issues.

Even so, the committee's suggestions are disappointing.

Baltimore residents face a property tax rate twice as high as any in the state.

Tax receipts have been growing in recent years. But while the receipts have grown, the city's budget has managed to grow along with them. Where is that money going?

I can't speak for all residents, but I believe many of us wouldn't mind the high tax rate if we felt that Baltimore was improving at anywhere near the rate that its tax receipts are increasing.

Has the city made progress? Absolutely.

But city leaders often seem most concerned with spending our money to attract new businesses and keep commercial interests happy (through the Convention Center hotel project and tax breaks for Harbor East projects and Legg Mason, etc.).

And city residents, they get patronizing pay-now-or-pay-later property tax schemes - which, if enacted, will be just as effective as crime and bad schools in driving homeowners from the city.

Brad Udvardy

Baltimore

Tax confirms power of state's lobbyists

I work at a small computer shop in Timonium. Last November, during a special session of the legislature, a sales tax was added to the charge we must collect from our customers ("Tech tax resistance builds," Jan. 5).

The owner of the shop is a naturalized citizen originally from Taiwan. He asked me why we have to charge the sales tax for services, while the beauty shop next door and the car repair shop two doors down do not have to charge such a tax.

I tried to explain to him how the legislature in Annapolis works. I explained about how lobbyists worked to exclude their clients from collecting the sales tax from their customers.

When he asked what a lobbyist is, I explained, as best I could, how certain special-interest groups hire lobbyists to go to Annapolis, wine and dine our legislators, possibly get their clients to make contributions to the politicians' campaign funds and, in the process, explain to the legislators exactly why their particular special-interest group should benefit from a proposed law.

The foreign-born computer shop owner thought about this for a while.

Although he may not have understood the process completely, I believe he eventually realized that in Annapolis, we are blessed with the very best politicians that money can buy.

Iver Mindel

Cockeysville

Driving to Delaware for new purchases

Well, I'm off to Delaware to buy my cigarettes. That's $2 per pack in taxes that Maryland will not be collecting.

While I'm in Delaware, I'll also be buying a big-screen TV.

So that's about another $150 in sales tax that Maryland will not be collecting.

Oh, Maryland, what a foolish state.

Matt Freund

Bel Air

Proposal imperils the right to abortion

For nearly 35 years, women in the United States have been able to decide - in consultation with their families and doctors - whether to terminate a pregnancy. Under a proposed Missouri law, however, that decision would be taken away, and doctors like me would be left in the untenable position of deciding which women are sick enough to deserve an abortion ("Abortion issue splits Missouri," Jan. 3).

Supporters of this initiative claim their goal is to inform women. In reality, the law would create a confusing legal quagmire for physicians and women alike.

Patients do not need to review every medical study on a subject to make an informed decision. Their doctors are already trained to guide them through this process with accurate and relevant information.

Clearly, the intent of this law is to make abortions so difficult to obtain that they are effectively illegal in Missouri.

Dr. Catherine Cansino

Perry Hall

The writer is a member of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

Competitive market controls energy cost

Jay Hancock's criticisms of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the PJM Interconnection wholesale market that provides Maryland its electricity supplies reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of both entities ("Electricity honey pot is starting to stink," Dec. 21).

Indeed, FERC has repeatedly found that prices derived by the wholesale power market are indeed just and reasonable, and did so as recently as last March.

PJM's independent market monitor also has repeatedly found the market competitive.

Competitive reforms of electricity markets provide a more effective check on electricity costs than the old, failed regulatory model.

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