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BeliefsEditor: I received a letter from a...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Beliefs

Editor: I received a letter from a close family friend who is an Army nurse stationed in Saudi Arabia with the 41st Combat Support Hospital.

Capt. Rebecca Roberts-Danelius has been my sister's best friend since we were all children growing up in suburban Wilmington, Del. "Becca" is a cheerful, practical young woman, 24 years old, a nurse with four years "level one" trauma center experience who got married a year ago. After thanking me for a care package (tuna, kippered herring and Maryland crab soup), and describing the cold desert night and hard work, she wrote:

"We're hearing about the protests at home. I wish the protesters understood that the message they give to us is that what we are doing here isn't worthwhile. I wish they'd find a different cause. We are only doing our job and we have to believe in it."

I think that says it all.

Andrea Wallenberger.

Baltimore.

Bald Eagles

Editor: Will the new bald eagle nest found within the boundaries of Black Marsh Park have any effect on the grandiose ideas of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to develop the park's waterfront for boating, dining, picnicking, entertainment and parking facilities?

Can we humans submit with good grace to the need of these magnificent creatures for undisturbed surroundings?

oy G. Wheeler.

Towson. Editor: I read with some interest the column by Daniel S. Greenberg regarding the automated telephone information systems that have come into general use (The Sun, Feb. 11). Mr. Greenberg calls the devices that provide caller-interactive information "technology gone amok in the guise of convenience and economy."

Mr. Greenberg claims that if anyone benefits from these new systems it is not the callers. I beg to differ. Having some intimate knowledge of the system in use at Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration, I am convinced that interactive telephone information is a very important part of the solution to getting information to the public. It's not the whole answer, to be sure.

Maryland MVA uses more than 50 human telephone operators to back up the automated systems now in use. Questions about motor-vehicle law and procedures are as complicated as any in government. The automated system serves as a first-line information system. It provides a variety of answers to the most common questions but offers a direct number to the human experts if the questions are too complex or if the caller would rather deal with a person. Most people can get their answers through the automated system.

The benefits of the automated system are that it works 24 hours a day, takes no vacation and needs no days off. In today's fast-paced world MVA's multiple approach to the information problem is the cheapest, most effective way to go.

Herb Butler.

Perry Hall.

Schaefer Watch

Editor: I held my tongue when the non-tidal wetlands legislation was proposed and implemented. I bit back a response when Gov. William Donald Schaefer's 2020 land use program was introduced. I exercised patience when the governor toured the world using my taxes to finance these little jaunts.

I was tempted to write a letter in reply to his question as to why some people felt he had been such a spendthrift in office to let him know that, among other things, taking the state's budget out of the black and into the red in four years was unconscionable, purchasing a second yacht was not only unnecessary but an excessive waste of taxpayers' money, and surrounding himself with a plethora of public relations people and staff only fueled the rumor of his inflated ego, while further inflating our budget.

I must admit I openly criticized his childish conduct on the evening news wherein he was asked a question regarding state parks, refused to answer and instead asked the reporter for his ideas. It's like this -- you're either the governor or you're not. Either he can support his programs and decisions verbally or he can't.

Moving on, the straw that almost broke the camel's back was the decision to have all state employees increase their hours without compensation after having already been told there would be no raises or cost-of-living increase this year -- at the same time the governor and other constitutional officers receive substantial increases in pay. (By the way, I'm not a state employee).

But what finally disgusted me enough to write a letter were the remarks made in the House to the Eastern Shore delegates, as he leaned toward them and asked, "How's that ---- house of an Eastern Shore?" What a statesman! What a professional! He's a disgrace to his office.

The man is rude, vindictive, childish and has no sense of, or respect for, the value of taxpayers' money. When a governor deliberately insults an entire region of his state, maybe he's exhibiting signs that he can no longer function under the pressures of the office.

Carol Johnson.

Snow Hill.

Medicaid Fund

Editor: Re: Ethics a la Maryland government ("Geting Even," ** your Feb. 10 article detailing how state officials push a "scam" to double Medicaid funds). All Maryland residents should be shocked, outraged and disappointed by the scam the Maryland government is labeling FTF -- "Fool The Feds."

To ask doctors to lie by doubling Medicaid billings from those they would otherwise submit, and to ask government workers to submit such known inflated invoices to the federal government is a great teaching by our leaders on ethics. We are told in The Sun that Nelson Sabatini, acting health secretary for the state of Maryland, the Schaefer administration and some legislative leaders "find justification for their plan in the federal government's insistence upon mandating more and more health insurance for more and more people -- while providing no money to cover the costs."

Are the residents of Maryland being taught that because a system appears unfair because we are being taxed too much, etc., that it is acceptable to lie, steal and otherwise become involved in scams of our making?

What a great lesson to teach our poor, our elderly, our medical community and citizens.

In the mid-1970s, the federal government adopted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to require public companies to disclose scams such as these. There are also recently enacted programs to prevent cheating and scams in the defense and other federal procurement programs. Some corporations attempted to paper over their records to justify their unethical or illegal actions, in the same way Maryland is creating enabling legislation.

However, corporations disclosed their actions, some corporate officers went to jail or paid fines and university-based business schools started teaching ethics classes. Still Maryland officials justify their action by a new standard.

The new standard given as the reason to embark on a scam or illegal or unethical action is, "When Unhappy, Get Even." Dennis Parkinson, deputy budget secretary for Maryland, is quoted, "There's a bit of one-upmanship -- getting even with the feds -- that pervades all of this. . . . When you have Uncle Sam taking political credit from popular programs -- but giving no help -- it doesn't make a lot of people very happy."

Let's see how the people of our state and nation can apply this standard in completing their tax returns, taking examinations, in getting even with their employers, or in providing an honest day's work.

This is so sad and incredible, given the recent savings and loan scams; the Wall Street scams; the government procurement scams and the content of congressional ethics hearings. What hope can there be for our nation, given such leadership?

Gerald E. Trees.

Timonium.

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