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Letters to the Editor - Jan. 31

January 31, 2012

Maryland drivers should oppose tax increases


To the editor:

Gov. O’Malley’s pitch to our General Assembly on his tax hikes seems like the kiddie con game of “a little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Approve my proposed tax increases, he proclaims, and I will create thousands of jobs.

On the contrary, O’Malley’s proposed increased taxes and fees would simply mean all Maryland households would pay hundreds of dollars more in gas taxes; costs of titling, registering and inspecting cars; and bus and rail fares.

The governor’s fuel tax alone would raise Maryland’s gas tax to one of the highest in the country. Under his plan, our per-gallon tax would rise to 38.5 cents from 23.5 cents, which would be 60 percent higher than D.C.’s and nearly double that of Virginia. Additionally, the state has already moved to raise bridge tolls by as much as $1.50 per trip.

Granted, our Maryland transportation fund might be in need of replenishment, but why is the governor so hell-bent on hitting the state’s poor and middle-class drivers? Has he forgotten that our state’s unemployment rate and economic recovery are still struggling? 

I also fear the political power Montgomery and Prince George’s County Democrats hold in advocating the 16-mile purple line. This part of the Metro system that would link Bethesda and New Carrollton has been estimated to cost $1.93 billion. Supporters of this expansion are strong supporters of the gas tax hikes, of course, because they will get a big cut. Why are drivers all over Maryland, including Washington County, responsible for this expansion? 

Maryland drivers have a choice. Either phone, write, email or text your representatives, or do nothing and suffer taxes. Now is the hour to act. Waiting is not an option if you want to stop these extravagant tax increases.
 
Blanton Croft
Hagerstown

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Loss of power plant could be change for better


To the editor:

The closing of the Williamsport power station by FirstEnergy should be viewed as a great opportunity rather than a reason for Williamsport and surrounding area residents to “lament.” Change is always difficult, but this should be viewed as a change for the better.

I propose a partnership between the Town of Williamsport, Washington County, the National Park Service’s C&O Canal and FirstEnergy to turn the 37.5 acres between the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and the Potomac River into a historical park area. The historical connection is extensive.

It could be an opportunity to more effectively tell the story of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s occupation of Williamsport from July 5 to 14, 1863, after the battle of Gettysburg. The flooded Potomac River forced Lee’s army to seize Williamsport and the surrounding area until they could ford it at Williamsport and also cross using a rebuilt pontoon bridge at Falling Waters crossing the night of July 13-14. The Confederate army’s occupation of the town captured the attention of not just the North and the South but also the world during those July days. The heroism displayed by the citizens of Williamsport and the surrounding area during the Confederate army’s occupation is a story that is rarely told.

The Civil War is not the only tale the land under the FirstEnergy power station could tell. This ground also has Native American, French and Indian War, Revolutionary War and pre-Civil War significance. These varied elements of Williamsport’s and the Canal’s history could then be effectively interpreted.

While the loss of the jobs and the tax revenue ($80,000 per Mayor McCleaf) is tragic, I anticipate these could be more than offset over time with recreation and tourism dollars spent in Williamsport with a more-expansive park that would tell the story of not just the canal but also the town’s rich history. Let’s work to turn these lemons into lemonade.
 
George F. Franks III
Williamsport



How can Callaham call himself conservative?


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