- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Better ideas for Metro

The article “Metro altering payment policy for parking” (Metropolitan, Thursday) points out a problem at Metro.

The fact that “savvy” parking customers can park for free is nothing new to the workers who are closest to the everyday parking operation. The workers in the parking lots have known this for as long as the SmarTrip cards have been in use.

The problem is that Metro and its parking contractor, Laz Parking Ltd. of Hartford, Conn., treat their parking employees like second-class citizens who have nothing to offer when it comes to helping the Metro system maximize the revenue it can get from this “cashless” system.

When a parking customer swipes a smart card, the amount deducted is shown on a digital display that the parking worker reads. When a parking customer does not have enough money on his or her card, a negative amount is displayed. The parking workers often see this. Did anyone bother to ask them? No. Why? Because Metro and Laz view them as just low-wage workers who have nothing to contribute to Metro’s well-being.

As long as Metro and Laz Parking seek no input, have low expectations and pay very low wages, they will get very low results. It is time to raise all of these for the parking workers.



Parking Workers Union, Local 27


After reading the article “Purple Line appears doomed” (Metropolitan, Monday), I’m struck with a question.

I ride MARC every day to and from work, a ride that includes stops at Silver Spring and Rockville. These are both heavy-rail and Metro stations. Has it occurred to anybody that a simple solution to the Purple Line debate might be to negotiate with CSX for a rail shuttle to be permitted between these stations?

The rails are there, and they already are in use and in good condition. With the schedule MARC operates, trains run in only one direction in the morning and evening. It seems to me that by using an existing rail corridor, possibly with some modification, such as an additional track on the right of way, the Purple Line could work.


Frederick, Md.

Nationals and TV rights

I loved watching the Washington Nationals beat the Baltimore Orioles last weekend on television and was glad to see Mayor Tony Williams in attendance (“Williams takes in game in Viera,” Sports, Monday). What I can’t stomach, however, is the thought of watching our new team play ball on the “Angelos Baseball Channel,” which is exactly what Orioles owner Peter Angelos is demanding after having fought for years against bringing a team to Washington.

Nothing would make Mr. Angelos happier than to have baseball give him control of the Nationals’ television rights, allowing him to charge everyone in the District a few dollars more each month for his new baseball channel — whether they watch it or not. Then, while he lines his pockets with our money, the Nationals won’t be able to pay for big-time free agents, a luxury all other teams can afford, thanks in part to their television revenue.

The Nationals shouldn’t have to leave their key marketing component in the hands of the one man who clearly doesn’t want them here.



Praising the pope

Patrick M. Garry’s Monday Op-Ed column, “An example to us all,” hits the nail squarely on the head. It is Pope John Paul II, and not the Hollywood intelligentsia, the late Hunter S. Thompson or Michael Moore, who is authentically countercultural. When one thinks of the pope and his regalia, the word countercultural doesn’t come immediately to mind, but if being countercultural means challenging the culture of one’s times, Pope John Paul II is the countercultural giant of his era.

Instead of seeking pleasure and self-satisfaction as the goal in life, he proposes self-giving. Instead of measuring the value of a life by what it produces, he proposes the absolute value of every life, even voiceless and so-called damaged lives. Rather than thinking of suffering as a curse and an impediment, he proposes suffering as redemptive and transcendent. (He is a living icon of this, as Mr. Garry so eloquently demonstrates.)

Instead of demanding retribution for offenses, he proposes forgiveness, even pardoning his would-be assassin. Instead of promoting socialistic communism or a dehumanizing form of capitalism, he proposes an economic system grounded in the dignity of the person. Instead of a materialistic and fatalistic view of life that considers death an ending and life something to be sucked dry of every pleasure, he proposes death as a journey and a beginning, and life as preparation for this final journey.

One could suggest that this pope’s teaching authority has never been greater, in spite of his debilitations. As St. Francis is said to have told his followers, “Proclaim the Gospel, and use words if necessary.”


Plymouth, Mich.

D.C. students need to value life

I find it interesting that the only answer to rampant crime in D.C. high schools (“Students want police inside D.C. schools,” Page 1, Sunday) seems to be more security, more money and more guards. These are schools that already have guards in them, and although more security might help, it would do nothing to change the behaviors and attitudes of violent students in the schools.

Would added security have prevented Thomas J. Boykin from killing James Richardson? There is a chance it would have, but it is doubtful. If Boykin had wanted to, he probably could have killed James on the bus or waited until he left school. The gun did not kill James; Boykin killed him.

In addition, I find it ironic that as the Ten Commandments are being taken out of public schools, lest they hurt someone’s feelings, there is not “a more relevant issue than school security.”

Don’t you think it would comfort students to have the Ten Commandments in their school, the Sixth Commandment being “Thou shalt not kill,” versus having no commandments? Instead of instilling a moral code such as the Ten Commandments, it appears D.C. residents would rather just pay more money for more security guards who can fraternize with students and “[bring] a sense of security.”


Millersville, Md.

Big Tobacco getting smaller

Joel Mowbray’s review of the Department of Justice’s case against cigarette makers, “Bipartisan foolishness” (Op-Ed, Monday), accurately describes the misallocation of government resources that is the department’s case. Unfortunately, several times in the essay, Mr. Mowbray contributes to the linguistic vilification of a legal industry. The repeated invocation of the term “Big Tobacco” invites the type of pile-on, shakedown mentality that has fueled so much of the tobacco litigation in recent years.

In most instances, however, the rule of law has prevailed, and the shakedown efforts have failed. Still, it is disheartening to see The Washington Times use such terminology. In fact, the industry is no longer very large.

With the exception of Philip Morris USA, the market leader, the remaining companies are small and have been consolidating. Total cigarette consumption in this country has been declining 2 percent to 5 percent annually for quite some time, a fact public health advocates can applaud.



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