November 01, 2008

Slots send wrong message to kids

The predatory gambling industry is trying to make suckers of Maryland citizens by pouring more than $3 million into the pro-slots campaign to convince people that they can boost education by voting for slots ("Slots advocates build cash lead," Oct. 25).

This is deceptive, it's bad public policy and it sends the wrong message to our children.

Voters need to strongly oppose opening the floodgates in our great state to this cancer because:

* Putting slots in our state constitution is wrong.

* The ballot language is misleading; it doesn't mention all the millions in slots revenue that would go to the gambling industry.

* The "It's for our kids" argument sold the Maryland lottery, which was billed as the ultimate fix for education; that money found its way into the general fund and was ultimately spent on all sorts of things other than schools.

* Slots and casino revenue is down in other states.

* Nevada, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey - all states with lots of slots - are facing huge budget shortfalls.

* The revenue the state projects it will get from slots has been grossly overestimated.

* According to some studies, the costs to the state could be as high as $627.5 million and slots could create almost 100,000 pathological and problem gamblers in the state.

Maryland has been down this slippery slope before, and slots were then outlawed in the 1960s because of all the problems they created.

So let's vote on Nov. 4 to keep slots out of our state constitution.

Cheryl Michael, East New Market

The writer is a volunteer for NoCasiNo Maryland.

Gambling revenues could boost state

I have been following The Baltimore Sun's coverage of introducing slots to Maryland, and I have determined that the pros of slots outweigh the cons.

The article "Slot supporters have the cash to back their cause" (Oct. 11) noted that slots supporters have raised millions of dollars and seem to outnumber and outspend the people against the campaign.

But just imagine how much profit the state could receive if slots are passed Nov. 4.

Our economy is plummeting; slots could boost the economy by providing money to the state, the horse racing industry and local governments.

The horse racing industry could attract more people if slots are allowed, and Mayor Sheila Dixon has suggested that the projected income would help lower city property taxes.

On Nov. 4, I'll vote yes on the slots question because it will help not only Maryland's economy but also the citizens of this state.

Hope Regalbuto, Lutherville

Hunting the deer protects watershed

A September letter regarding managed deer hunting at Loch Raven Reservoir accused authorities of catering to a blood-thirsty, trophy-coveting crowd ("Trophy hunt will do little for watershed," Sept. 28).

In fact, anyone desirous of clean, public drinking water should support this program.

The Maryland Ornithological Society supports the control of deer at Baltimore reservoirs.

Municipal water authorities establish forested buffers around their reservoirs to protect the water. The forest around Loch Raven is not being renewed, as young trees are being consumed by over-abundant deer, which also eat the understory and ground cover.

Hence, less pollutant runoff is absorbed while soil erodes, creating poorer water quality.

The loss of forest understory as a result of overabundant deer means that the area has less nesting habitat available for ground- and low-level nesting birds such as the wood thrush, Kentucky warbler and ovenbird, all species in decline.

The only effective means currently available for reducing deer herds are lethal ones.

Deer population control by contraception has been proved to be ineffective by numerous studies in all but very isolated herds and has not been approved for use in game animal populations.

Trapping and relocating is expensive, impractical and quite stressful to the deer themselves, and only moves the problem elsewhere.

Lethal population control is far more humane than allowing deer to starve to death when their food supply is exhausted.

Kurt R. Schwarz, Ellicott City

The writer is conservation chairman for the Maryland Ornithological Society.

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