Readers Respond

July 28, 2009

Soccer match an amazing spectacle

My husband and I attended the World Football Challenge between Chelsea FC and AC Milan at M&T Bank Stadium.

As the game began, a young boy about 9 or 10 years old, who was sitting behind us, said in a voice filled with awe and amazement, "I can't believe I'm seeing this." I smiled to myself because in that simple sentence he summed up the emotions of all 71,203 of us in the stadium that night.

I hope that this unprecedented fan attendance will continue to bring this caliber of football to our area.

Catherine Kelly, Glen Burnie

Dept. of Environment increasing enforcement

The Sun's July 24th article about the Velsicol chemical plant ("One year later, Kent County chemical plant cleanup stalls") highlighted just one of the more than 100 active cleanup consent decrees managed by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

One of MDE's top priorities is enforcing environmental laws. Even with fewer resources, last year MDE reported the agency's highest-ever number of enforcement actions and penalties. Enforcement actions increased by 34 percent, and significant violations decreased from 6,409 to 4,814, compared to the previous year. In fiscal year 2008, MDE obtained nearly $4 million in penalties.

In 2007, MDE undertook a concerted effort to restore credibility to the agency's core responsibilities: enforcement and improving public health and the environment. In response, MDE has established new operating procedures to increase the timeliness, efficiency and awareness of our enforcement work.

In these difficult economic times, like many state agencies, MDE is learning to do more with less and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Shari T. Wilson The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Want to save money? Cancel MACO

If the governor is looking for ways to save state dollars, he needs to look close to home.

While many Maryland residents are giving up their summer vacations due to today's bad economy, local and state politicians are preparing to attend their annual Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in Ocean City. They call it a conference, but many of us who have attended this annual event believe it's more like a political fundraiser/party.

For three days in August, county executives, council members, state legislators, department heads and many of their staff go to Ocean City to network among themselves. They are often wined and dined by lobbyists, big business and each other. Counties will set up displays and give away pens, cups and other useless gifts, all paid for by the taxpayers. Seminars are offered, but most take that time, with their families, to enjoy Ocean City and the beach. There's a huge crab feast, and then the governor speaks to the conference at the very end.

In the best of economic times, this event is questionable, but given our state's economic situation, you would hope that our leaders would demonstrate that this year is not "business as usual" and cancel this conference or have the participants pay their own way.

Taxpayers should not be paying for any conference/party for any government official. If the governor wants to speak to all of these local officials, there are many other ways of doing that, including using the Maryland Public Television network. The state, the counties and our cities are all asking their employees and citizens to do more with less; they need to do the same.

Mike Gimbel, Towson

Minimum wage increase will hurt workers

Rev. Ken Brooker-Langston applauds the increase in the national minimum wage from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour ("A step on the path to economic justice," July 26). He asserts that this increase boosts "more than 2 million hardworking employees one step up the ladder of economic opportunity."

Many economists, including me, have a very different take. The sad reality that we see is that Uncle Sam has arbitrarily raised the hourly cost of employing low-skilled workers by 10.7 percent - meaning that fewer jobs for such workers will be created, swelling the pool of the unemployed.

Donald J. Boudreaux, Fairfax, Va. The writer is chairman of George Mason University's Department of Economics.

Cut wasteful take-home cars

If Governor O'Malley wants to stop wasteful spending, he could start with the state police. The state police has officers driving from their homes to barracks 50 plus miles from their homes.

I know of one retired officer who drove from Pikesville to Princess Anne County, just to be promoted.

With the gas the police cruisers use and the wear and tear on the vehicle, hundreds of thousands of dollars could be saved.

People on unemployment need to show two job contacts a week, so why not tell the people on social services to do the same or give them a job picking up trash on our highways, thereby saving on government workers and payroll?

We should also cut executive appointees' salaries and get rid of the state pension program that encourages retirement at an early age.

J. Michael Collins, Reisterstown

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