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Letters to the editor

December 01, 2003

Ways to cut the fat


To the editor:

Laura Ernde's article "Session costs taxpayers $1,000 per day" does Washington County taxpayers a great service by showing just how expensive our state representatives can be.

Coupled with the huge salary increases Maryland legislators refused to debate when proposed, the real cost per representative comes to $58,868.25 per delegate for three months' work. By combining the total costs of all eight county reps with the new salary, these guys cost taxpayers an unbelievable $438,949 for any 90-day session.

Given the massive budget deficits mushrooming in Maryland and other states, what can be done to cut some of the "fat" from this unwise expenditure?

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1) Maryland could move to a new calendar as does our neighbor to the south, Virginia, by having long sessions (90 days) in even numbered years and short sessions (30 days) in odd numbered years.

This would certainly cut some of the "fat" and reduce expenditure for salary and per diems by 40 percent to 50 percent. If other states can do it and remain just as "democratic" with its legislating, so can Maryland.

2) The legislators can conduct business using today's technology. Telecommuting, teleconferencing and video conferencing are well-established methods of communication in the 21st century work place and it's about time our Annapolis crew got with the mainstream. Living in Annapolis for 90 days per year at taxpayers' expense is financially an unreasonable burden on Maryland taxpayers.

3) Annual long sessions are not really needed in Maryland as hundreds of laws already are in effect and using taxpayer money to give the "illusion" that making new laws is annually imperative is not the case. Granted, a short session annually for refinement of existing laws and budget concerns may be justifiable. The governor has the option of calling a "special session" if crisis management is needed. Having annual 90- day sessions just propagates the image of the long-suffering and overworked legislator.

Change can only come if taxpayers demand it. Obviously, the legislators will argue strongly against such changes as their paycheck is at stake. As citizens we must let our concerns be known via e-mails, faxes, phone calls, etc. Until we do, we can expect no change and no tax saving on salary and per diems.

Blanton Croft
Hagerstown




Benefits lost


To the editor:

Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner's statement likening the Miss Gay American National Pageant to hobo conventions and the Ku Klux Klan gatherings shows that the mayor is not a very informed man. I would like to point out to the mayor there is a large and viable gay community living in this city.

Gays truly care about this community. Just this year, more than $10,000 has been raised for numerous benefits including Breast Cancer Awareness, Washington County Social Services, Metropolitan Community Church, Aids Response Effort, the trust fund for Justin, and the Homeless Children Foundation NYC.

The key word here is "benefit." These fund-raisers benefit the people of this city - and beyond - who need help. There is no discrimination or bigotry in the benefits which these people receive throughout the year.

These fund-raisers are supported by all citizens. Yet it's the gay community who gets bashed, either by thugs or politicians.

Mayor Breichner, because of your disparaging remarks, you have turned away thousands of dollars which would have been spent in the City of Hagerstown had the pageant been held here. Lost business, lost revenue, lost hotel taxes. Mayor Breichner, how much money has been raised by the city's hoboes and the Ku Klux Klan?

If they did raise money, would it be for the entire community or just for themselves, or maybe the ones who share their misguided views? Do you share their views? I know you do not represent the views of the educated citizens of this city.

I find it incredible that you actually likened gay fund-raising events with hate rallies and railroad side camps, neither of which contributes one nickel to this city.

I don't appreciate your decision to turn away opportunities for this city nor look down on a particular group of citizens because of your bigoted views. When election time rolls around, I will make sure that no one forgets.

The Miss Gay American National Pageant will go on as planned, just not in the City of Hagerstown. It will go on to successfully raise thousands of dollars for child abuse prevention, the main focus of this event.

The participants in events such as this are extremely talented, pouring out their hearts, labor and love to raise money for the betterment of those in need. It is something worth seeing.

They have more courage than the average mayor.

Clifton Deward
Hagerstown

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