Letters to the Editor

June 22, 2003

Howard Dean has fine track record in Vermont

To the editor:

The Bush administration's policies at home are reckless and just plain wrong.

On the economy, the current administration deserves credit for accomplishing the impossible. In two years, they've turned a $200 billion budget surplus into a $300 billion deficit. Despite their extravagance, the economy is stagnant. More people have lost jobs than in the last 20 years. Families are losing their health insurance. Investments and retirement accounts have lost trillions of dollars. And the administration's answer to every problem is still more tax cuts for the rich.

That is why I support Gov. Howard Dean for President of the United States.

Governor Dean, as the longest serving democratic governor in the nation, has compiled an impressive record of accomplishments that reflect his commitment to the core values of the Democratic Party and our nation, and in my view is our party's best hope of retaking the White House in 2004.


Governor Dean's many achievements, include:

- Raised the minimum wage twice in Vermont, cut taxes twice, reduced his state's debt by 23 percent and improved his state's bond rating from the worst in New England to the best. Today, Vermont is one of only nine states that does not have a fiscal crisis.

- Ensured that all children under the age of 18 are now covered, and has increased the number of adults who have health-care coverage to 92 percent in Vermont. As a physician, Governor Dean understands the vital importance of having heath-care coverage to ensure healthy and stable families.

- An excellent record protecting the environment. Working with Canada and other states in New England and the Ohio Valley, he led efforts to greatly reduce emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and lead.

He has preserved more than 470,000 acres of wilderness in Vermont and believes that promoting renewable energy in the 21st century is a national security necessity.

- Committed himself to civil rights and the preservation of affirmative action in our nation. As governor, he has appointed the largest number of women to state judgeships and cabinet positions. He also signed legislation ensuring equal rights and protections under the law regardless of sexual orientation.

Keith Scott

Frederick, Md.

Maryland needs to move forward on phone competition

By Christopher B. Summers

Since the overwhelming passage by Congress of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, states have been making significant progress in introducing competition into local telephone markets. The result is that consumers are now benefiting from this competition.

In recent months, more than half a dozen state utility regulatory commissions have reduced wholesale prices (known as UNE-P rates) that local service competitors must pay to lease parts of their local networks. By doing so, consumers are now in the position to reap the benefits of competitive local phone competition.

Similarly, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered Verizon to also reduce its wholesale rates across California, thus ending the monopoly stronghold it has enjoyed in the California market. As a result, consumers in California will save an estimated $189 million annually from lower prices on local phone service and competition.

A University of California at Berkley study released on May 13 reveals that more than 1 million California consumers in the past year switched their local phone service providers in the wake of lower retail phone rates. This, according to the study, was a direct result of the CPUC's reducing UNE rates.

Maryland consumers have not been so lucky.

According to the National Regulatory Research Institute at Ohio State University, Maryland has some of the least competitive UNE rates in the country. Verizon's charge for leasing its internal switches in Maryland is among the highest in the U.S.

Monopolies will not willingly cede their monopoly positions, and like any good monopolist, they will continue to limit supply and increase prices. Policies that implicitly deny access to competitors at one stage of the process will ultimately result in more delay and denigration of competition at all stages.

Robust commercial and federal competition in telecommunications, as well as in all other sectors of our economy, results in lower prices, better services, increased innovation, and superior quality for all American consumers.

While Verizon is still the dominant local carrier in Maryland, this hasn't stopped AT&T from moving forward to offer local service and competition. Just recently, AT&T announced it has finally entered the local telephone market in Maryland, but only in certain areas because the wholesale rates Verizon charges AT&T for leasing telephone lines is still too high for AT&T to offer statewide service.

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