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Letters to the Editor

October 30, 1998|By Linda Irvin-Craig

"Christian" political group spreads lies

My church, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, where I serve as a lay reader of the scriptures and on the Stewardship Committee, is located in a neighborhood where we are trying to minister to the people in our midst by maintaining, with the help of our churches, a food bank. We also hold several "Dear Neighbor" events throughout the year and participate in the Cold Weather Shelter Ministry, in cooperation with other churches in the area.

We are not a wealthy church. We have, at times, experienced a leaky roof yet kept up our assistance to those in need of the simplest of creature comforts.

We do not advocate finger-pointing at others to degrade the value of their contributions or the importance of their work in the eyes of God.

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Nor do we proliferate hate against those whose beliefs differ from ours or those who most need our Christian understanding. As a Lutheran Christian, these are values and principles to which I am personally committed.

On the other hand, I see the efforts of the group that calls itself "Concerned Christians/Christian Coalition" to advocate rigid and inflexible solutions to complex issues that face our society and community. Until I see some written evidence that this group is in fact ministering to the community at large, that perception will continue.

Four years ago when I responded to a questionnaire sent by this group, they completely distorted one of the responses that I gave. I was told by a member at that time that "The end justifies the means."

In other words, they felt it was within their prerogative to lie in order to target someone who did not share their entire agenda, no matter how genuinely "concerned" that individual may have been about the problems confronting our society.

For that reason, although I have honored every other group with a prompt reply to requests for my positions on issues, I will not be answering the questionnaire submitted by the Concerned Christians/Christian Coalition this election cycle.

I fear that its final published content may again be untruthful.

Linda C. Irvin-Craig is a candidate for Washington COunty Commissioner.

Tax cut would go to rich non-residents

By Bruce Poole

Does anyone other than my opponent think I should have voted to give tax breaks to people who do not live in Maryland? How about structuring our tax breaks so most of the money goes to Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore counties, with just a bit left for us?

While my opponent bashed me for voting against such a proposal in Tuesday's newspaper, I bet the rest of you would have had even choicer words for me if I had voted for it.

The proposal was to attempt to cut state property tax rates by .05 cents. (There were other structural problems with the bill that my opponent conveniently avoided but, for sake of space, I will skip also.) The proposal does not sound bad, especially in an election year. However, as the fiscal analysis pointed out, the bill was written in a way that the break was tied solely to ownership of property. If you owned property, you got a break. If you did not own property, you did not get a break.

The practical application of this was that someone who owned a property in Maryland but did not live here and did not pay income taxes still got the break. The more expensive the property, the bigger the break. Quite literally, Baltimore Ravens owner, Art Modell, who is not a resident of Maryland and does not pay income taxes here, would still get roughly $1,000 in tax breaks per year because he owns a multi-million dollar home in Baltimore County. Because the more expensive homes in our state tend to be in the metropolitan areas, the money would have gone to those areas of the state.

Meanwhile, households in Washington County would have gotten, on average, a $15 to $20 tax break (that is not a typographical error). Money returned to our county would have been a pittance. Anyone who lives in the county, pays income taxes, and calls Maryland home, but rents instead of owns, would have gotten nothing.

That is why I voted against the bill. Instead, as my opponent did not tell you, I voted for tax relief for volunteer police, fire, rescue and EMT personnel, tax exemptions for first-time Maryland home buyers in 1995, and tax incentives for heritage areas in 1996.

In 1997, I co-sponsored legislation to provide a meaningful personal income tax cut which will return $429 million to taxpayers by 2001. In 1998, the personal income tax reduction was accelerated along with income tax credits for the elderly and disabled, tax credits for the working poor, and tax relief for small businesses.

I did so because these proposals met my test for tax cuts: fair, affordable, and good for Washington County citizens.

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