Readers Respond


July 23, 2009

Disappearing cans, and a flawed trash policy

When I first moved to my neighborhood in West Baltimore 22 years ago, I diligently put out my trash in metal cans with tight-fitting lids. After having four or five cans so badly dented by the trash men tossing them around that they were unusable, or having them stolen by who-knows-who in the first year, I reluctantly switched to setting my trash out in plastic bags.

With the public information campaign by the city telling me that putting out trash in trash cans has always been the law and is now going to be strictly enforced, I purchased a sturdy, plastic wheeled and lidded container for $14.87 plus tax. Put my trash out in the new can the evening before trash day the first week of the new trash schedule. Came home the next day. Trash can gone.

What am I supposed to do? Spend $15 every week on a new trash can? If the trash men would just put the can and lid over the fence into my yard, that might deter thieves. But then again, it might not.

I am sure I am not alone in using trash bags to avoid the repeated theft of my trash cans. The city must do something about this if they want compliance with their new system and old law.

Bea Haskins, Baltimore

Is Hancock on the Constellation dole?

After reading Jay Hancock's article concerning BGE's "smart meter" program ("BGE 'smart meter' program plugs users into 21st century," July 22), I'm led to believe that Mr. Hancock is on the payroll at Constellation Energy.

The opposition from BGE customers to this program comes not from the idea of saving money on electricity but rather the idea that BGE customers must incur the cost themselves. While CEO Mayo Shattuck's income topped $15 million in 2008 and state Attorney General Douglas Gansler is investigating the possibility of "an unlawful waste of assets shouldered by customers," the mere idea that consumers must spend money to save money is asinine.

Richard Crystal, Baltimore

Light rail foes off base

I don't get the local opposition to the proposed light rail Red Line. But then again, I never saw the need to build tunnels or why the existing light rail doesn't have the right of way at traffic intersections. There are always 20 different roads going in the same direction that the light rail is going. Simply sacrificing a street like Boston Street or Cooks Lane for several blocks seems reasonable to me, particularly considering that roughly 40 percent of Marylanders do not have driver's licenses, and I suspect strongly the percentage of nondrivers is higher in Baltimore City.

I'm also appalled that the plans to include light rail access to the Social Security Administration intentionally keep the light rail as far as possible from the SSA complex out of some inexplicable security concerns.

The current SSA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) was moved from the Rotunda to Symphony Center in 2002 to be CLOSER to both light rail and subway facilities. In that light, how can SSA claim that its Woodlawn complex should be in an ivory tower while its district offices and ODAR attempt (valiantly in my opinion) to accommodate penurious, car-less and in many cases non-weight-bearing claimants?

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

Don't waste money on space

Has anyone ever thought of doing a public survey regarding the current and future demands for money generated by our country's space program?

I'm sorry, but it is very incongruous that while we, the American public, are finding it necessary to cut back, give up and do without (sometimes on things like homes and food), the space program continues to drain resources that frankly could be put to better use.

I could care less about the moon, Mars, space, astronauts and rockets right now. The billions frittered away on all those things might help the "little people," we average Americans, hang on a little longer.

Diane Anderson

Financial TV is a siren song

Wall Street Week's Anne Darlington is correct in believing financial shows on TV have let us down ("Financial TV pioneer spurns genre's hard sell," July 21).

Money gurus like Suse Orman, Jim Cramer and Louis Rukeyser have grown rich while the rest of us are swimming in debt and kicking ourselves for thinking we could have it all. It's ironic the 30 year growth of financial TV coincided with some of the most reckless, foolish financial behavior in our history.

We have been convinced we're entitled to the life of the rich and famous. We expect that with due diligence it can be ours. Another falsehood foisted on us is that borrowing for mundane needs is OK. Then consider the unrelenting marketing of expensive goodies, those "must haves" you think you need but can't afford. Now you have the makings of fiscal disaster.

When did these financial gurus ever condemn credit default swaps, subprime mortgage "bundling" or the relentless disappearance of American manufacturing? All they provided was the warm bath of happy talk and "get rich" mantras. Obviously, these multimillionaire money-mentors didn't want to end their tea party.

Face facts - financial television is entertainment. There is nothing entertaining about saving for a rainy day. When you can buy a $3,000 handbag on credit, why worry?

Roz Ellis, Baltimore

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