Day of Reckoning
Editor: It seems "our chickens have come home to roost." I refer to the condition of our economy. For several years we have been on a binge that makes the "Roaring Twenties" look like a Woman's Christian Temperance Union picnic. It is obvious to the most casual observer of our society that we have been spending too much for too long. One does not need an M.B.A. to see that the day of reckoning draws near. It has been said that it is not the high cost of living, but the cost of high living. Let us hope that we come to our senses -- from the Oval Office to the front stoop -- and not repeat the 1930s.
J. Bernard Hihn.
Editor: Influence-peddling among the "Keating Five" has left naked the central political issues facing the country. The dismal refrain from the five senators involved is that "everybody does it."
I feel that representatives and senators have too much personally at stake to change the system. A constitutional convention is urgently needed for the sole purpose of enacting two fundamental political reforms.
The total incumbency period for any congressperson should be a maximum 12 years. Another amendment should provide for public funding of qualifying presidential and congressional campaigns and exclude any private funding.
The first proposed amendment will encourage legislators to make decisions that owe more to personal conviction and insight than to polls or PAC money. It will reinvigorate the ossified congressional committee system and it will give the Congress an added layer of insulation from lobbyists. It will also help ensure that the natural benefits of incumbency are not further enhanced by the construction of political machinery designed to indefinitely perpetuate that incumbency.
The second amendment will go far to cure federal election campaigns from a malaise that transforms these campaigns from debates into spectacles. Both presidential and congressional campaigns are increasingly occasions for excruciating embarrassment and cynicism across the whole country.
Ruining the Shore
Editor: The best explanation of why Gov. William Donald Schaefer did so poorly on the Eastern Shore in the general election was contained in Doug Birch's Nov. 29 article on the opening of the new Kent Narrows bridge. In it, a 35-year-old worker from Chester said:
"I guess the new bridge is more of a convenience for everybody, but I kind of like the old things, really. That bridge makes it look real modern around here. I used to know everybody here. I hardly know anybody around here now."
I suspect that he speaks for a lot of people on the Eastern Shore who lament the growth and modernization that has forced their beautiful, once-rural land to become a high-speed thoroughfare for tourists and a bedroom community for commuters from the Baltimore-Washington metropolis.
I think that the improved roadways and bridges would have been built anyway, and the rural nature of the Eastern Shore will eventually be lost regardless of the governor's "Reach the Beach" campaign.
The governor associated himself so closely with that campaign, however, that it was inevitable that the good people of the Eastern Shore would identify him with the loss of the rural character of their region and would voice their opinions at the polls.
The governor sees improved roads as helping everyone:
* The tourists who go to the ocean bring money into the Eastern Shore and can get to the ocean faster and safer.
* The commuters who work on the Western Shore bring a steady income to the Eastern Shore and can get to work faster.
* The natives should be able to get around the Eastern Shore faster and easier.
However, the natives see their rural countryside and rural lifestyle being destroyed. Voting against the governor, a self-made symbol of "progress," was the only way they could voice their grief.
Anita M. Heygster.
Just Say No
Editor: Regarding the controversy about the distribution of free condoms in Talbot County public schools, I was gratified to read the number of letters advocating abstention as a viable means of birth control.
The Reagan response to the drug problem was similar: "Just say no." We could follow up that success with a similar slogan touting the option of celibacy. I'd like to suggest, "Just don't do it."
After that has cleaned up the problem of teen pregnancy, we can tackle the blight of unemployment with, "Just get a job."
Sometimes seemingly complicated problems have such simple solutions.
College Foundations' Good Works
Editor: Your attack on college foundations was generalized and one-sided.
I serve as president of the board of the Towson State University Foundation and also as a director of both the University of Baltimore Educational Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Foundation. We volunteer our time and expertise, not to mention our financial support, to further the cause of &r; education and hence improve our communities.
In order to achieve this, we believe in the necessity of a public-private partnership with the private sector donating time and money to college foundations even after supporting the same educational system with tax dollars. Private sector donors give because they are committed to quality in higher education, and the public sector cannot accomplish this alone.
As demand on limited public funds increases, the need for a strong partnership with the private sector grows. Since only 49 percent of Towson State University's operating budget comes from the state, the loss or even the partial loss of private sector support would severely damage efforts to provide that extra margin of excellence.
Unrestricted contributions to the TSU Foundation have funded supplemental scholarships, supported faculty research and provided seed money for special programs, such as the Center for Suburban Studies and the Center for the Study and Prevention of Campus Violance. Foundation money also supported the TSU Dance Troupe's international exchange with the renowned Leningrad State Conservatory.
The issue of responsibility is clearly accepted by the directors of college foundations. Presently, the accountability process of the Towson State University Foundation is governed by its board of directors. The board meets at least two times a year; the executive committee at least quarterly, and several committees meet monthly. The executive committee, acting as the budget committee, approves the annual budget which is then submitted to the board for approval. The approved budget includes a line item for the president's discretionary fund. The audit committee monitors the president's fund and reviews each reimbursement request to assure compliance with policy. An annual audit of the foundation's operations is conducted by independent accountants. Their report is submitted to the board for review and approval and is then forwarded to the board of regents of the University of Maryland System.
Further, the TSU Foundation's activities are governed by the policies of the University of Maryland System's board of regents and are open to the scrutiny of the Maryland Secretary of State as well as the Internal Revenue Service.
The current controversy over college presidents' discretionary funds should not cloud the outstanding contributions of college foundations, nor should it be interpreted as meaning that these foundations lack appropriate accounting controls. It also does not mean that "college presidents are politicizing the state's college system and distorting the purpose of these discretionary funds" as you indicated. By making these all-inclusive accusations you do a disservice to the University of Maryland System and to the hundreds of sincere volunteers and generous donors dedicated to educational excellence.
Donald E. Bowman.