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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland • Page F4

The Baltimore Suni
Baltimore, Maryland
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Page 4f Sunday, Nov. 3, 2002 The Sun THE SUN WHttE Stephen Henderson Associate Editor Jean E. Thompson Associate Editor Denise E. Palmer Publisher and CEO Dianne Donovan Editorial Page Editor WAITING FOR THE UN. TO Endorsement THE PRESTO1 RELAXES WORKOUT ON THE Townsend for governor Letters to the Editor would expand HotSpots and provide more resources for gun-crime prosecutions.

By contrast, Mr. Ehrlich voted in Congress to lift the ban on assault weapons, and he did not support a proposal that would have increased regulation of "cop killer" bullets. He has called for a review of the state's stringent gun laws, and Ms. Townsend has agreed that's not a bad idea. The difference in philosophy is clear, however: He wants to see which ones aren't working as planned and eliminate them, she wants to take the ones that aren't working and fix them.

There have been numerous references throughout this campaign to Ms. Townsend's verbal "gaffes." Gaffes? How about this one: The Republican candidate for governor, who has supported the gun lobby throughout his career in Congress, who thinks assault weapons should be legal, last week blamed the firebombing deaths of a family of seven in East Baltimore on Ms. Townsend. A gaffe? That's far too polite a word. Violent crime has tailed off significantly in Maryland during Ms.

Townsend's tenure as lieutenant governor. Has that all been her doing? Of course not. But implementation of programs such as HotSpots and Operation Safe Neighborhoods has made a demonstrable difference and, perhaps more ELECTION 2002 Thus we now know that if a ballistic fingerprint database had existed, they might have been identified and apprehended long before they arrived in the Washington area with murder on their minds and a rifle in their Chevy. Their Maryland, D.C. and Virginia victims might, then, still be with us.

But sadly they are not. For that we can blame the politicians who do the bidding of the National Rifle Association and oppose even the most reasonable gun laws, including ballistic fingerprinting for all firearms. Delmar Stewart Baltimore Focus on the gun misses the target Michael Olesker weighs in on the cold-blooded sniper killings: He writes an entire column that demonizes an inanimate object that was in the wrong hands for reasons not yet determined That rifle wasn't made to kill people," Oct. 29). Amazing.

I have a great idea. Let's put the gun on trial in Maryland. I am sure we can convict it of capital murder. We can leave the sniper suspects to Virginia. Scott Morton Towson lieve Israel has a right to exist would reveal the true obstacle to a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Sy Steinberg Baltimore More facts needed to assess the science The Sun's article "Brain cell birth rate eyed as a key to depression" (Oct. 22) left a little too much to the imagination. Who are these Where is the support for their argument? Does this information come from a peer-reviewed journal or from a paper from a fringe group at a scientific meeting? Good science reporting should include such facts so that readers can make informed judgments. Pat Anthony Sparks The Dawson family merits a monument Baltimore, city of historic buildings and monuments to past heroes, has unveiled her most recent tribute, a statue of the late Johnny Unitas a legend," Oct. 19).

I would like to propose that the city now turn its attention to building a statue to honor today's heroes Carnell Dawson Angela, Keith and Kevin Dawson, Carnell Dawson and Juan and LaWanda Ortiz who died as a result of a valiant struggle to rid their neighborhood of drug dealers. They were offered escape, but chose not to abandon their home and neighbors and cede victory to the drug lords. If we want citizens to testify against criminals in our courts and fight the squalor in their neighborhoods, we need to give those who show this kind of courage the honor and respect they deserve. Baltimore must show the Dawson family and their neighbors that their sacrifice will not be forgotten and their bravery is an example to us all. Diana L.

Karr Baltimore IN SOME WAYS, Gov. Parris Glenden-ing's eight years in Annapolis will not be a hard act to follow, largely because of the moral and ethical embarrassments he brought on himself. But in other ways, his tenure will be a difficult one indeed to match, because he had the good fortune to govern in, well, times of good fortune. Those days, for short term or long, are gone. That is a major reason why the selection of Maryland's next governor is so critical.

The state will need someone who can not only balance the budget (as required by law), but who can do so while maintaining the services the state needs to function effectively, improving the quality of life for all Marylanders especially for the most vulnerable among us, displaying the leadership skills necessary to instill confidence both within the state and among outside investors, and representing the values and principles that have served as worthy guides to Maryland in the past. After much deliberation, The Sun believes Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the candidate who can best achieve those goals. And make no mistake: That deliberation occurred not because of a lack of faith in the ability of Ms.

Townsend to steer the ship of state, but rather as a response to the gravity of the task and to this newspaper's desire to contribute to a political shake-up in Annapolis by supporting a Republican candidate for the top job. But change for the sake of change hardly serves the state's best interests; Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich task was to prove not just that he would be different, but that he would be better. That he has not done.

On the all-consuming issue of the state's $1.7 billion budget shortfall, for example, Mr. Ehrlich has pinned his hopes on the dubious salvation of slot machines. It's an easy answer to fiscal woes, but not a particularly wise one. Under the Ehrlich plan, slots would be legalized at the state's four horse-racing tracks. To bring in the $800 million a year Mr.

Ehrlich envisions, each track must accommodate at least 2,500 slot machines. If the state's 50 percent take still didn't bring in the $800 million, more slots would have to be squeezed in. It's a ham-handed approach to fiscal responsibility. What's more, the Ehrlich plan relies on legislation to legalize slots, rather than on a referendum and amendment to the state constitution, which could limit where slots would be legal in the future. That means that down the road, if more revenues are needed, or if enough people just get greedy, acres of slot machines could sprout up elsewhere across the state, changing the character of communities and ushering in a host of problems Marylanders may not choose to deal with.

So fundamental and potentially far-reaching a change in state financing and culture should happen only after a referendum and with built-in parameters, if it is to happen at all. And that's another thing: It may not happen at all, and Mr. Ehrlich has no Plan to balance the budget. He has, however, vowed to work toward lowering taxes for businesses in the state, despite the fact that studies show Maryland already taxes businesses at rates lower than most comparable states. It's a puzzling promise in these lean times, and one he has never explained.

Ms. Townsend's proposal to come up with $1.7 billion offers no surefire solutions either. But we find it far more palatable because, while it isn't as sexy as Mr. Ehrlich's plan, it has an internal integrity and is grounded in sound fiscal practices. The Townsend plan includes an overall evaluation of government agencies that would eliminate duplicative and wasteful spending, as well as selling a portion of the state's tobacco-fund settlement and transferring or borrowing from existing surplus monies, including part of the state's rainy-day fund.

She would extend a current hiring freeze on state workers and implement an early retirement program. Both candidates' plans fall short of the budget goal by a few million dollars, but if Mr. Ehrlich doesn't get his slots, his falls short by more than twice that. Long-term shortfalls would be even greater. Ms.

Townsend's plan is largely a short-term solution, but at least it's based on reality. There are other differences, as well, that point in Ms. Townsend's favor. Long before a sniper terrorized the state, she supported strong gun-control laws and tough anti-crime efforts. As lieutenant governor, she developed the HotSpots program to concentrate police and other resources in the highest-crime areas; violent crime dropped more than twice as fast as the state average in those areas as a result.

As governor, she Balto. Co. saves its open space, protects water Why does The Sun insist on misrepresenting Baltimore County's nationally recognized success at preserving our rural open spaces? In an Oct. 23 political endorsement, for instance, The Sun erroneously referred to Baltimore County as "a jurisdiction without much open space left" Co. government," editorial, Oct.

23). In fact, two-thirds of Baltimore County's land remains rural. This is not an accident, but the result of conscious decisions. More than 25 years ago, Baltimore County officials identified two areas for future growth, Owings Mills and White Marsh, and imposed an urban-rural demarcation line (URDL) to focus growth where we could provide roads, schools, water and sewers cost-effectively. Today, 85 percent of our people live within the urban zones on 30 percent of the land.

And the county has down-zoned more than 20,000 acres in rural watersheds to promote agriculture and protect the water of 1.8 million Baltimore-area residents. Land preservation easements, donated and funded by the state and the county, have also protected more than 40,000 acres of rural land, including 20,000 acres preserved during the last eight years. Baltimore County was a pioneer in Smart Growth before the term was even coined. David A. C.

Carroll Towson The writer is director of Baltimore County's Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management. President is right to confront Iraq President Bush should be applauded for taking a courageous stand against Saddam Hussein's outlaw regime and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction losing patience with U.N. over challenges to Iraq plans," Oct. 27). As the president noted in his recent address to the nation, the riskiest option for dealing with Iraq is to do nothing.

Inaction would give Mr. Hussein time to complete his malicious pursuit of nuclear weapons and embolden tyrants and terrorists everywhere. Acting now to disarm Mr. Hussein, using military force if necessary, is the only way we will keep America safe from weapons of mass destruction that may fall into the hands of freedom's enemies. Chuck Gast Odenton Database on guns could save lives The Washington-area sniper suspects have been linked by ballistics to a February murder in Washington state tests tie sniper suspects to Ta-coma killing," Oct.

30). important, indicates Ms. Townsend's abiding commitment to seeking solutions to some of the Baltimore area's most intractable problems. Until this gubernatorial campaign, nothing in Mr. Ehrlich's lackluster record indicates any interest in the violent crime problem; indeed, the decline over the last eight years occurred despite his votes in Congress.

And therein lies a fundamental difference between the two candidates. Until his decision to run for governor, very few issues of substance have engaged Mr. Ehrlich; he seems to have no compass but a political one, no vision past an election. The lieutenant governor has a history of taking on challenges and actively working to promote a better society. Sometimes that backfires, as when an ambitious boot camp program for juvenile offenders, part of Ms.

Townsend's effort to address years of neglect and mismanagement, went terribly awry. Her intentions were laudable, her guts in taking on a festering problem long ignored by previous administrations admirable. But she trusted the wrong people to run it, and it showed. Has she learned anything since then? She says yes, and there's evidence to back it up. One example is her choice of a running mate in retired Adm.

Charles R. Larson, a highly principled and deeply respected former head of the Naval Academy whose leadership experience and expertise in management and budget will complement Ms. Townsend's own strengths. By contrast, Mr. Ehrlich's running mate, state GOP chairman Michael S.

Steele, brings little to the team but the color of his skin. His choice was a calculated move by Mr. Ehrlich, made all the more crass when it was discovered that Mr. Steele is being paid by the GOP as a "consultant" to run. Although Mr.

Ehrlich has taken great pains to link Ms. Townsend to what he calls the "culture of corruption" in Annapolis, when asked directly to describe that corruption and outline how he would alter it, he was virtually speechless. When asked directly about his close ties to such less-than-savory characters in state politics as Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV and convicted felon Bruce C.

Bereano, he could only respond that they were his friends and he was sticking by them. Even his hand-picked choice to streamline state government spent a year and a half in prison on fraud and racketeering charges before his conviction was overturned on a legal technicality. Corruption? Oh, please. He's got a lot of nerve to mention it. Ms.

Townsend surprised shocked might not be too strong a word a lot of people, Mr. Ehrlich among them, in the televised debate between the two candidates in September. For perhaps the first time in eight years, she allowed herself to step out of the shadow of Governor Glendening and his administration, to speak for herself, to rely on her wits and her principles, to show what she was made of and to give as good as she got. She rocked, and she's been doing an impressive job of building on that strength ever since. The Sun believes that under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, this great state has by far the best chance for healthy change, meaningful reform and a better future for all of its citizens.

THE SUN That swimming pool in your backyard was not made to kill people, but someday it may. That car in your driveway was not made to kill people, but somewhere it may. The box cutters of the terrorists were not made to kill 3,000 people, but they did. Our Constitution with its Bill of Rights was made to protect us. But it won't if we keep hacking away at it.

Rick Burk Columbia Multifamily housing is not 'abhorrent' As a resident of Russett, I just want to set it straight that Jeanne F. Mignon of Russett doesn't speak for me. I do not find multifamily housing "abhorrent" slots plan is viable, some say," Oct. 28). Indeed, along with many of my family and friends, have lived and still live in multifamily housing.

MaryAnne Polkiewicz Laurel Israeli settlements aren't real problem The Sun's editorial "Settler violence" (Oct. 29) portrays the defiance of some settlers to the effort to "remove about 20 illegal outposts on West Bank hilltops" as "an obstacle to any peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict." The editorial also points out that an "Israeli poll showed that 78 percent of Israelis favored dismantling settlements as part of a peace agreement." What's astonishing to me is that The Sun believes the settlements are a principal obstacle to a peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I suggest that a poll of Palestinians on whether they be Michael E. Waller Chairman Denise E. Palmer Publisher and CEO William K.

Marimow Editor Anthony F. Barbieri Managing Editor Sandra A. Banisky Paul M. Moore Stephen R. Proctor Deputy Managing Editors John Patinella General Manager and Senior Vice President Mary Esmond Vice President of Product and Sales Development Richard L.

Goldstein Vice President and Chief Financial Officer MlREILLE GRANGENOIS Vice President of Marketing and Interactive Media Lenora Howze Vice President of Advertising Timothy E. Ryan Vice President of Circulation and Operations Carol Sholes Vice President of Information Technology Howard G. Weinstein Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development A Tribune Publishing Company To Our Readers: The Sun welcomes letters from readers. All letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. Letters should include your name and address, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

E-mail us:; write us: Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001; fax us: 410-332-6977..

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