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Volume XVII, Issue 3 - January 15 - January 21, 2009
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Letters to the Editor

We welcome your opinions and letters – with name and address. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, 1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403 •
E-mail them to [email protected]. or submit your letters on line, click here

Improve and Increase Public Transportation

Dear Bay Weekly:

Maryland should use the money to improve and increase public transportation, especially in the Annapolis area. Amazing that the state capital has so little in that area. MTA has eliminated the only bus that goes from Annapolis to Metro (the 921 bus). Fortunately Dillon [the bus service provider] is going to continue it without MTA support for the time being. Hard to go green with so many unnecessary cars on the road, isn’t it?

–Cathy Hardy, Annapolis

Electricity from Nuclear Power

Dear Bay Weekly:

Calvert County has the answer to becoming less dependent on foreign oil. It is nuclear power plants. Electricity from nuclear power plants frees oil for use by cars. Every state should be building more nuclear plants now.

I support building roads — but by itself it only encourages more driving and demand for gasoline.

–N.D. Davis, via email

Invest in Land Conservation

Dear Bay Weekly:

Thank you for the opportunity to suggest how economic stimulus money should be spent.

In the U.S., we spend billions of dollars annually on new roads ($67 billion in 2004). Taxpayers (e.g., through inadequate impact fees) also subsidize the construction of exurban sprawl housing, which has severe environmental impacts and is affordable only to the relatively affluent. We need neither more roads nor more sprawl.

Let’s stop spending money on more roads, and start investing in our green infrastructure: forests, wetlands, streams and other undeveloped land that provides free ecosystem services to humans. These services include cleaning the air and water, protecting our waterways and Chesapeake Bay, recharging our groundwater, sequestering carbon and slowing global warming, preventing soil erosion, pollinating crops and other plants, protecting against storm and flood damage, providing forest products, supporting biodiversity, providing fish and wildlife habitat, providing opportunities for recreation and appreciation of nature — and more.

Studies performed in Maryland by county governments and the American Farmland Trust show that for every dollar the state and counties receive in tax revenue, residential land requires more than a dollar in expenditures for public services like schools, police and fire services. In contrast, undeveloped land, forests and farms generate far more public revenue than is expended on them.

In addition, ecosystem services provide billions of dollars annually in market and non-market economic benefits. A study in the journal Nature estimated that ecosystem services contribute at least as much to the global economy as do marketplace processes — and probably much more.

We need to invest in land conservation, as well as in restoration of impaired land and waterways. Another study in the journal Science found that benefits from conserving natural land gives a return on investment of at least 100 to 1. Conservation efforts can be scientifically targeted toward the most critical areas, as the state’s Green Infrastructure Assessment and Anne Arundel County’s Greenways Plan have done. Future generations will thank us for our foresight.

–Ted Weber, Annapolis

Give It Back

Dear Bay Weekly:

How do I think Maryland should spend our Stimulus Package? Some of the ideas given in the article are repave more roads (No), fix bridges (Yes), Bay recovery (No), education (No), health care (No) or unemployment benefits (No).

Try doing something that will improve the lives of people in Maryland. Seventy-five percent of the roads I see being repaved don’t need to be. Some could go three, four or five or more years before needing to be repaved. But for the State Highway Administration, state government and even the federal government, the policy for budgets is use it or lose it. This is the one issue that would turn our society around.

If you are given a $1 million budget, and you only use $800,000, you will not get an increase in the next year’s budget. You will probably get less. If you do use it, your chances are around 100 percent that you will get an increase. Which is more responsible: Spending what you need, or spending everything and then asking for more? Give incentives for not spending an entire budget.

Fixing bridges: Good idea.

Bay recovery: Sure, let’s keep throwing money at that dead horse. Until you uphold the pollution laws in Maryland, you won’t fix the Bay. You also have the law for the 1,000-foot setback for development/construction and the wetlands law. If you need to get around these laws, just apply for a waiver. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it will get approved.

Education: I am sick and tired or hearing about how poor our educators are. I will trade you my job any day of the week. Do I have training? Over three years’ worth. Do I work nine months out of the year? No, I work 12. Do I get all holidays off? No, I get four. Do I have a union that will allow me to do subpar work without the threat of being fired? No: good workers have jobs, slackers don’t. Do I have a state pension plan? No, I have a savings plan. The problem is that I love my job and am really good at it.

Unemployment: I feel for those who have lost their jobs due to cutbacks and the economy. Do I feel for those 75 percent who abuse the system? No. In my 50-plus years in Maryland, I have only known one person who has collected unemployment that was justified. I think an extension to the unemployment benefits is a good idea. But this could be accomplished by some kind of oversight to rid the abuse.

Now, I would like to know how Calvert has a deficit. Last I looked, my taxes went up again. Tell you what: Let’s raise taxes again, so we can give Calvert Memorial Medical Center and Calvert Cliffs some more tax breaks. The two or three percent they pay in taxes now is way too high. They won’t build more if they are taxed to death.

What do I think Maryland should do with the “Obama Windfall”?

Give it back. Tell them we don’t need a higher deficit. How will this stimulus package help Marylanders? It won’t.

Maryland, get rid of the use it or lose it budget plan. Fire government employees who don’t perform. Quit the tax breaks for the rich. Then lower our taxes. People being able to keep more of the money that they earn, fiscal responsibility, politicians keeping their promises: That would be stimulating.

–Robert Smallenbroek, Calvert County
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