- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

Solving Md.'s environmental problems

In the wake of the Maryland Senate's rejection of the nomination of Lynn Buhl to lead Maryland's Department of the Environment ("Senate rejects Ehrlich nominee," Metropolitan, Wednesday), I would like to offer some suggestions as a former midlevel manager in the department and a Republican activist. (As the first mobile sources program administrator at the department, I managed the department's portion of the once-controversial Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program. At the federal level, I continue to manage business-environmentalist coalitions that promote alternative fuels and bio-based products.)
Where do we go from here? My experience at both the state and federal levels suggests an opportunity to resolve the atmosphere of mistrust created by the rejection of Mrs. Buhl's nomination. We must continue the dialogue rather than be shackled by ideologues in the business and environmentalist camps. We must turn confrontation into collaboration.
How do we do this? Simply by recognizing the relative strengths of the two camps and arranging an appropriate division of labor. Environmental interests always will set the tone for environmental policy. For once environmental goals are set, they are inviolate. However, we can employ businesslike approaches to reach those goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. This formula works at both the state and federal levels.
Business is not necessarily the enemy of the environment. In fact, after more than three decades of environmental activism, environmental stewardship has been institutionalized in most companies. It just makes good business sense to do so. However, business craves certainty, and constantly shifting environmental requirements wreak havoc on business plans and inhibit compliance with environmental standards. There is a middle ground where both environmental interests and business concerns can be served.
Earth Day is April 22. Let's hope an accommodation between the environmentalist and business camps can be arranged several weeks before that by sine die in the General Assembly. Extend the olive branch. After all, it's green as green can be, but it wouldn't exist without the industry and husbandry of agribusiness.

Columbia, Md.

N. Korean ship didn't dock in Germany

The article "N. Korea ship gets arms in and out" (Page 1, Feb. 18) purported to report the activities of the North Korean ship Sosan, citing U.S. intelligence officials. The article stated that the ship picked up "a large shipment of chemical weapons material from Germany … ." This assertion is not borne out by the facts.
An investigation by German authorities, including the German Customs Investigation Service, has concluded that the ship did not stop at any German port during the last three months. Germany provided no export approval for shipment to North Korea of a substance that could be used to make chemical weapons. Had the Germany Embassy been given adequate opportunity to respond to the article's assertion, we gladly would have provided the corrective information to The Washington Times.

Press counselor
German Embassy

Equal time for Rush

I couldn't help disagreeing with David Limbaugh's thesis that left-wingers have been unsuccessful at creating their own radio programming ("The left without a rush," Commentary, Saturday). Obviously, Mr. Limbaugh has not tuned into National Public Radio (NPR) recently.
NPR is the perfect antithesis of Rush Limbaugh. Every time I listen to NPR's programming and commentary, I feel as if I'm being fed a left-wing infomercial. NPR isn't shy about it. In fact, NPR is so hard-core left-wing that I have a hard time keeping my vehicle on the road when driving to work.

Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Look who's talking

Imad Moustapha, the Syrian Embassy's chief of public diplomacy, lecturing Israel on the subject of democracy is a bit like listening to France's Jacques Chirac expound on the subject of honor ("Can Israel teach democracy?" Letters, yesterday). Neither of these gentlemen has the slightest notion of either concept.
Mr. Moustapha should have stuck to more familiar subjects such as dictatorship, terrorism and torture, subjects that he, as an official of the Syrian government, should be able to discuss with some knowledge. I suspect that Mr. Moustapha's only experience with democracy has occurred during his posting to Washington, where he is allowed the freedom to write idiotic letters to the editor.

Manteca, Calif.

First it was 'freedom fries'

What will the lawmakers on Capitol Hill think of next, now that they have had the congressional cafeteria change the names of french fries and french toast to freedom fries and freedom toast ("A lost appetite for 'French' food," Page 1, Wednesday)?
Beginning with these two changes, I think we can push through legislation to address the following:
That poofy little dog will now be called a freedom poodle.
The condiment company will now be making freedom mustard.
The Quebecois henceforth will be referred to as Freedom Canadians.
The conflict in America that raged from 1754-1763 shall now be known as the Freedom and Indian War.
There are many more examples of how we can stick it to those nasty French and show them just how unhappy we are with them. Through such gestures, we somehow may bring the rest of the world to our banner in the disarming of Iraq.
So get on board, and when this is all said and done, we'll all meet in New Orleans and have a big party in the Freedom Quarter. It's a happening place for parties. And remember, if you have your girlfriend or boyfriend with you, you can celebrate our cause by giving them a great big freedom kiss.


Metro's snow problems underblown

I was shocked to read Metro Chairman Richard White's claim that media criticism of Metro's performance following last month's snowfall was overblown ("Metro's snow problems 'overblown,' " Metropolitan, Wednesday).According to him,Metro's problems were "not nearly as significant as the news would have led the average person to surmise." In fact, as one of the thousands of commuters who were victimized by Metro's incompetence, I will tell you that Metro's problems were far worse than news reports had led people to believe.
In the days following the storm, many Metro employees simply stood by while platforms became dangerously overcrowded. They made no effort to control or direct the crowds.Metro officials did little to advise passengers of the potentially dangerous conditions that existed on its platforms while thousands of commuters physically fought their way onto infrequent and dangerously overcrowded trains.
Mr. White's self-serving comments reveal that the problems with Metro start at the top. Metro's management is arrogant and incompetent. Moreover, the unwieldy composition of the Metro board means that Metro's management essentially is accountable to no one. This lack of accountability was clearly evident in Metro's miserable performance following the storm. Mr. White and other members of his management team should acknowledge that they are not up to the challenge of managing a major transportation system and make way for a team that is up to the task. Until competent and responsive management is in place, any fare increase will simply be misused and service will continue to deteriorate.


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