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Letters to the Editor - March 27

March 27, 2013

Raising taxes, particularly on gas, not the answer to woes

To the editor:

Gov. O’Malley and the Democrats in Annapolis have the same answer to all of our problems: tax increases. The governor claims that this gas tax increase is needed to build roads and bridges. However, he fails to mention that since becoming governor, he has raided more than $1 billion in funds from the Transportation Trust Fund, which have not been repaid. 

The governor and his Democratic allies push for their new taxes, never mind the facts. Never mind that only 9 percent of Marylanders use transit, yet 57 percent of our transportation budget is spent on transit. Still they want more transit funding.

Never mind that since 2007, spending on mass transit has ballooned $215 million to $965 million, while funding for the State Highway Administration has actually decreased $11 million in the same time period to $228 million.

Never mind that motorists, through the gas tax, titling tax, registration fees and MVA fees, contribute more than $2 billion dollars to transportation, yet only 13 percent of that amount is spent on to the SHA. It is almost unbelievable that 50 percent of all the money raised by motorists goes to fund transit programs, yet it does.

Now O’Malley wants to raise taxes on us once again. This time his tax will nearly double the gas tax from 23.5 cents per gallon to 44 cents per gallon in 2017. Add to that the 18-cent federal excise tax and we will be paying more than 60 cents in taxes for a gallon of gas. 

To fill up a 20-gallon gas tank, you will be paying more than $12 in taxes, plus the increasing cost of fuel. And since the tax is partly tied to the price of gas, the tax will continue to increase as the cost of fuel increases. In tough economic times like today, the last thing we need to do is to raise taxes, let alone one in which the revenue raised will not benefit Western Maryland but will be used to fund new mass transit projects in the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. 

As usual, the Democrats resorted to illegal parliamentary tactics that stifle debate and try to silence the minority party in the House of Delegates. The procedure also allowed some Democrats to switch their vote to “no” on the gas tax after it was clear there were enough votes for it to pass. This is not how our House is supposed to function. Unfortunately, procedures like these have become business as usual in Annapolis.

These are the same counterproductive tax-and-spend policies that this governor has continued to pursue for the past six years. I voted against this tax increase and will continue to stand up to these destructive pieces of legislation that hurt Western Maryland.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany


Book brings to light dangers of circumstantial evidence

To the editor:

In cases where an innocent child is injured or killed by abuse, justice demands that the guilty person be punished appropriately. But justice also demands that a person not be punished for something he did not do.

New evidence indicates that there are natural causes of death that mimic the signs of “shaken baby” or head trauma that are present from birth.

A book, “It Happened to Audrey,” by Audrey Edmunds with Jill Wellington published this past December shows this to be true. Audrey, a young Wisconsin mother of three, was charged with the death of a neighbor’s infant who was in her care. Audrey had not harmed the baby but overwhelming circumstantial evidence led to her conviction and incarceration.

Through Wisconsin’s Innocence Project, attorneys discovered new medical evidence that ended her 11-year incarceration.

Some infants have experienced head trauma at birth and as a consequence are seen frequently by the pediatrician for feeding and sleeping issues, and constant “fussiness.” Infants with this problem are slowly dying from the time they are born and eventually succumb from an undiagnosed problem. The cause of death looks to the medical examiner exactly like trauma resulting from abuse. Unfortunately, the person in proximity to the infant when the believed “injury” occurred is blamed and is easily prosecuted.

A number of nationally known experts in this field now realize that they have been wrong in many of these cases. In fact, Dr. John Caffey, the leading expert in this field and the person who coined the phrase “shaken baby syndrome” admitted that his method of identifying this was incorrect and was responsible for conviction of innocent people. Some doctors were so convinced that such a mistake had been made in Audrey’s case that they (at their own expense) testified on her behalf, resulting in her release and the guilty verdict being vacated.

Given the possibility of others being unjustly punished, anyone with a professional interest — medical or legal — would do well to read this book.

In light of this new medical knowledge, it would serve us well to re-examine cases where the accused was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence.

Jay F. Wiles
Hagerstown


Low-income people not responsible for downtown demise

To the editor:

This is in reference to all the articles regarding downtown revitalization. In all of the editorials and comments, one thing seems to be recurring: the comment that the problem with downtown is due to low-income housing and the people associated with it.

The deterioration of downtown has been a problem for many years and has many contributing factors, the least of which is low-income housing. One only has to look in The Herald-Mail under rental properties to see that most rentals are upward of $500 or more. With those prices, it’s hard to believe that they are considered low-income.

Take a walk around downtown and look at all the empty buildings, empty storefronts, trash and dog feces, which look a lot worse than a few Section 8 apartments. To assume that low-income people are responsible for the demise of downtown is a slap in the face to the people who have no choice but to rely on assistance in order to make ends meet.

I personally don’t know what the answer may be for the downtown area, but degrading low-income people is not the answer.

Melissa Langford
Hagerstown



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