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Upcoming editorials: Obama on gay rights, who's vetting the school board and the bag tax

Here are some of the editorials we're working on. Please let us know what you think. We'll print the best comments from readers next to the editorials in the print edition of The Sun.

--The state school board, the mayor's office and the governor's office all got it wrong when asked who is in charge of vetting city school board candidates to make sure they don't have the kind of financial problems that helped torpedo former board chairman Brian D. Morris' hiring as a top deputy to schools CEO Andres Alonso. They said they didn't know and assumed it was someone else. That's perfectly apparent, considering how little scrutiny Mr. Morris apparently got. That's an answer designed to deflect political blowback from the Morris fiasco and not one to ensure that the people managing our schools are the most qualified and competent ones available. Their answer should have been, "From now on, I'm doing the vetting."

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Perhaps even more troublesome is the fact that amid the revelations about Mr. Alonso's attempt to hire Mr. Morris, we also learn that Mr. Alonso has been doing some vetting of his own – finding candidates who support a "reform agenda" to fill the three vacancies on the board. The state school board is showing so much deference in this case that it has decided not to advertise for applicants to those positions. While we certainly support Mr. Alonso's efforts at reform – and hope the school board will, too – it has become clear in the last week that Mr. Alonso is not infallible and could use independent-minded people looking over his shoulder.

--President Obama is set to announce Wednesday that the federal government will extend benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. That's certainly a welcome development. Too bad it's one step forward paired with two steps back from the administration. At the same time, Mr. Obama's Justice Department has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, and his administration has done nothing to strike down the don't ask, don't tell policy in the military. (Apparently his extension of domestic partner benefits won't apply to ALL federal employees.) Mr. Obama has been disappointingly tepid in his commitment to affirming civil rights for gays at a time when he should be not only using his powers as chief executive to extend those rights but also his powers of moral persuasion to get the country behind them.

--It's laudable that the Baltimore City Council wants to encourage residents to cut down on their use of plastic and paper bags at grocery stores, but slapping a 25-cent fee on every bag – possibly the highest levy in the country – isn't the right way to go. It smacks of a tax on the poor in the middle of a recession. The city should, by all means, find ways to encourage residents to take reusable bags to the grocery store, perhaps by working with merchants to make them readily available at a discount or for free, particularly in inner city neighborhoods. Whole Foods offers nice reusable bags for a buck or two. Your average corner grocery store in the city? Probably not. Plastic bags may be unsightly when they float in the breeze, get caught in tree branches or float through the Inner Harbor. But are they so pressing an environmental concern to justify what would, in effect, be a significant and regressive tax increase?

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