Editor: Bravo to The Sun for exposing the laxity of the Motor Vehicle Administration in an editorial, "Fatal Chain of Errors."
As a tavern/package goods store manager, our liquor license and my livelihood depend on the validity of the MVA-issued driver's license. Under-age persons no longer alter the birth date on their licenses in an effort to be served alcohol. They often obtain licenses containing fictitious information, but correct pictures.
While the recent crime spree suspect did this by showing a multilated license to the MVA, the presentation of another's birth certificate and a claim of a "lost" license also results in a fake ID. Therefore I can responsibly "card" an individual whose ID seems valid, but be serving a minor nonetheless. The minor retains his or her legal license for use with the police, leaving the retailer legally liable.
Although the MVA already issues an ID that is accepted as legal proof of identification statewide, it is high time for the agency to insure the validity of the document it issues. Even the idea of accepting another form of picture ID for license replacement purposes is not acceptable. More foolproof alternatives, such as fingerprint records at the MVA, must be explored.
Deborah L. Patterson.
Editor: Roger Twigg's article regarding the results of the city fire department's drug testing program underscores the need for employers to recognize that they cannot ignore the drug and alcohol problem in the work force.
The 1988 National Institute on Drug Abuse Survey reported that there are 14.2 million current users of illegal drugs in the United States, 70 percent of whom are employed. One in four employed males age 18-24 and one in five employed males age 25-34 uses marijuana at least once a month. One in eleven uses cocaine at least once a month.
The Governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission supports the disciplinary action taken by the Board of Fire Commissioners against the firefighters and paramedics who tested positive because of cocaine use.
Non-using employees should not be put in the position of having to cover for those who are intoxicated on the job.
The citizens of Baltimore should not have to be concerned if the firefighter or paramedic who responds to their 911 call is high on cocaine.
The Fire Department's action will go a long way to restore public confidence.
Neil Solomon, M.D.
The writer is chairman of the Governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission.
Editor: I would like to issue a call to all fellow Maryland pTC residents: get out and vote in the primary election.
Voter turnout is at an all time low in America, the lowest of all free democratic countries. If Maryland voters turn out in large numbers, we could set an example for other states.
As a Maryland resident attending college in North Carolina, I am concerned with the way the voters have been acting in America. In the New Hampshire primary, there was about a 40 percent turnout. I would like to see Maryland break the 50 percent barrier and push for 60 percent.
This country is in need of a change and the way that change can be achieved is through voting.
Broad and Narrow
Editor: Your recent assessment of major health care legislation before the Maryland General Assembly was indeed ironic. You stated that the single-payer, Canadian-style plan (HB 967) has "only a few advocates," while the Bush-like credit proposal has wide backing.
In fact, a closer look would have shown broad support for the single-payer plan, including testimony from members of organized labor, every major seniors' organization in Maryland, the NAACP, the small business community as well as the Advocates for Children and Youth of Maryland, the Epilepsy Association and the Maryland Citizen Action Coalition.
The tax credit proposal, on the other hand, received support from Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the Heritage Foundation and various insurance agencies. Some others simply supported the concept.
If your paper believes "what's good for the insurance industry is good for Maryland," then your assessment is correct. I don't believe that the 500,000 people without insurance and the 500,000 under-insured citizens who find health care unaffordable accept that. Nor do I think that the other 3.7 million Maryland citizens who are witnessing the uncontrolled rise in health care believe that either.
It appears that "broad" or "narrow" support is in the eyes of the beholder and the special interest it appears to promote.
Paul G. Pinsky.
The writer, who introduced HB 967, is a delegate from Montgomery County.
Lithuanian War Crimes
Editor: Regarding Will Englund's Feb. 23 article, "Two terrible truths abide in Lithuanian war crimes":
It's true that some Lithuanians participated in the genocide of the Jews in Lithuania during World War II. It's also true that the Lithuanian government is exonerating ("rehabilitating") thousands of people who were convicted of such war crimes by Soviet courts.
But the article is inaccurate on several important points when it amplifies these two facts.
First, virtually all the Jews executed in Lithuania during the war years were executed while Germany was firmly in control of the country. Some were killed under Soviet occupation and there are a few known isolated incidents of Lithuanians independently killing Jews, but most were killed under Nazi control.
The article's assertion that "eager Lithuanians" killed thousands of Jews "in the short period after the Red army retreated but before the Nazis advanced into Lithuania," is simply untrue.
The German blitzkrieg took control of Lithuania in a matter of days. There was virtually no intervening period in any part of the country. There were no large-scale, purely Lithuanian pogroms.
To be fair, one should examine Lithuania's record before the war, when it was an independent country. In the mid-1930s, Lithuania became one of the first European states to place Nazis on trial for treason. In retaliation, Hitler imposed a devastating trade embargo on Lithuania. Genocide was a policy imposed on Lithuania by an overwhelming external power.
Second, Lithuania's policy of exonerating people falsely convicted of war crimes follows a careful process which reviews all available evidence. As the article points out, thousands of those convicted were tried in Stalinist courts with trumped-up evidence.
But the article is incorrect when it says that Lithuania has simply turned everything upside down, undoing everything the Communists did while raising up everything the Communists put down.
Quite the contrary. Hundreds of petitions for exoneration have been denied. Lithuania has established an Office of Special Investigations (like our own OSI) to examine war crimes. And Lithuania has offered to cooperate with other such bodies to eliminate any doubt about the process in Lithuania.
Furthermore, Lithuania recognizes the need to prevent such crimes from ever happening again. Lithuania has outlawed anti-Semitic literature and passed laws guaranteeing religious freedom and the protection of minorities.
Lithuania has established a day commemorating the genocide of the Jews. Lithuanian leaders have publicly apologized for any part Lithuanian citizens had in the genocide and they have vowed to keep the memory alive so that all will learn from it.
Lithuania has not suddenly come face to face with its ugly past, as the article states. And Lithuania is not shrinking from its moral responsibilities. Lithuania has been seriously addressing the war crimes issue for years now.
There may be honest disagreements about some rehabilitation cases, but these matters should be judged fairly and in the open.
It is not fair to paint Lithuania as a place filled with eager anti-Semites who want to bury an ugly past. Lithuania remains a leader in Eastern Europe pushing for democracy and human rights.
Edward P. Sinkora.
The writer is chairman of the Free Lithuania Committee of Baltimore.