Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 06, 2008

Don't disrupt deal that aids ratepayers

With the 2008 session of the General Assembly drawing to a close, our state's energy consumers have $2 billion in savings on the line in the pending settlement between the state and Constellation Energy Group ("Senate vote might nullify BGE pact," April 4).

Legislators should not stand in the way of this pact.

For more than two years, Maryland's elected leaders have been at odds with Constellation Energy.

We expect our government to stand up for consumers.

But an endless battle is damaging to our state's business climate and demoralizing to thousands of company employees and prevents us from dealing with Maryland's very real electricity generation crisis.

The Public Service Commission, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Constellation Energy have negotiated a settlement that will deliver substantial benefits to consumers.

While some have pointed to last July's Illinois energy settlement as a model for Maryland, that pact pales in comparison with the settlement now before the General Assembly.

The Illinois settlement offered $1 billion in benefits over four years to about 5 million customers - an average of $192 per customer.

The Maryland settlement offers $533 million in near-term benefits to just more than 1 million customers - an average of $485 per customer.

Additionally, this settlement relieves consumers of $1.5 billion in liability for nuclear power plant decommissioning expenses, saving ratepayers about another $1,300 each.

Every credible study of Maryland's energy market concludes that our state will soon reach a shortfall in our electricity supply. Without new generation capacity, our bills will rise and we will experience brownouts in the next three to four years.

We need to take this deal, and get to work, right away, on new, clean power sources.

Donald C. Fry

Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Malt brews differ little from beer

Underage drinking is a serious problem, and combating it is critically important to all of us. We all need to support real solutions that address the problem head on.

But the idea that flavored malt beverages should be taxed and sold differently from the way beer is treated is ludicrous.

Many flavored malt beverages have about the same alcohol content and are brewed in much the same manner as traditional beer.

These products are marketed to adults, and it's illegal for anyone under the drinking age to purchase or consume them.

Flavored malt beverages represent only 1.7 percent of all alcohol sold in the U.S.

Do you really think changing the way they have been taxed for the last 20 years or where they can be sold will help solve underage drinking?

Marc Winner

Rosedale

The writer is president and board chairman of a wholesale liquor distributor.

Legislators ignore cell phones' danger

I was disappointed but not surprised to see that our friends in Annapolis defeated the bill that would have banned the use of hand-held cell phones while driving ("Cell phone ban is killed," March 28).

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that until our legislators are personally affected by a cell phone-related tragedy, nothing will change.

Janet Brock

Fallston

The worst blunder since selling Ruth?

What divine justice: Marc Steiner wins a Peabody Award for excellence in journalism on the very day WYPR begins its first fundraising drive after terminating this journalistic treasure ("Steiner honored for series, `Words,'" April 3).

Does the station management realize now that it fired its greatest asset?

Firing Mr. Steiner will go down in Baltimore history as the dumbest local management move since the Orioles sold Babe Ruth to the Red Sox.

Sheldon H. Laskin

Baltimore

Some listeners glad to hear quieter host

The Sun's article "Steiner honored for series, `Words,'" April 3) was one-sided. It made no mention of the regular listeners to WYPR who found Mr. Steiner tiresome, and who are giving more money to the station precisely because he's not there anymore.

Dan Rodricks is doing a fine job from noon to 2 p.m.

The show is about the guests now, not the host.

Kathleen Truelove

Baltimore

Scorning shelters a callous attitude

The person who answers "no" when asked, "Do you think we should help the homeless?" is generally thought to be rather heartless. However, the true test of sincerity goes much deeper than a simple yes or no answer to that question.

The test may come when the mayor asks for a community's cooperation in an emergency effort to temporarily house 275 people in its neighborhood ("Dixon reassures group," March 31).

Two communities, one in Little Italy and one in the Guilford West area, have now recently failed such a test as they fought tooth and nail against Mayor Sheila Dixon's plans to shelter people.

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