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Anybody who was closely associated with the Orioles during the last seasons of the Eddie Murray era remembers how much damage someone who doesn't want to be there can do to any organization. He became a cancer in the locker room, and it showed on the field.

That's why the Maryland Board of Education decision to mandate community service as a graduation requirement is such a dangerous travesty.

This smacks of another ill-conceived Schaefer administration effort (is there any other kind?) to insinuate itself into our lives, a la the Soviet Union's government from 1917 to 1991.

It also has nothing to do with education and is unconstitutional. Involuntary servitude has been illegal for more than 130 years in the United States.

Anybody can imagine how much damage a group of disgruntled teen-agers can do to morale when they are forced to work in a soup kitchen or a hospital or even in some underprivileged neighborhood.

We can't protect the people who live there; how are we going to protect innocent young people who come from the suburbs?

In addition, it would expose young people, particularly young women who really are barely more than girls, to all kind of sexual harassment, from bad language to rape.

I wouldn't want my daughter, who I think has been raised in a nice, gentle home, exposed to this kind of harassment, even if it means she wouldn't qualify for a Schaefer-approved diploma.

Charles A. Frainie


Hiring good people isn't 'cronyism'

I take exception to your allegations of cronyism for the sole source procurement contract issued to an individual who formerly worked with me when I served as Anne Arundel county executive ("Lighthizer and friends," editorial, July 23).

The contract issued to Francis J. Zwylitis met the criteria set forth in state regulations. Had there been any question as to the legality of the process, a contract would not have been issued. The Department of Transportation follows its procurement procedures to the letter, and I have full confidence in the process.

Republican state party chairwoman Joyce Lyon Tehres' charges that the DOT "compromised state ethics laws." Ms. Tehres criticizes the fact that professionals who worked for me in the county are now employed by the DOT.

While it is true that several high-quality, top-notch individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect because of their performance in my prior administration are now working at DOT and making excellent contributions, were they not capable they would not have the opportunity to work for this department.

My management philosophy includes finding consummate professionals who understand the direction in which my department is going and are able to effectively execute policy.

I bring them into my organization and then give them a great deal of independence in management. I constantly keep communication open and annually evaluate their performance.

I strongly object to hiring someone less qualified in order to escape criticism for employing people who used to work for me.

The maritime community, as well as the media, cautiously received my appointment of Adrian Teel, the former chief administrative officer in my county administration, to run the Port of Baltimore.

Yet in one year's time he has garnered a great deal of respect among port clients and supporters. The port has also seen a dramatic transformation of its reputation in the maritime community.

My job is to move the DOT in a positive direction, ensure efficient, safe and reliable transportation to the citizens of Maryland and to be responsive to their needs and concerns. I intend to continue to fulfill that responsibility with conviction and integrity.

O. James Lighthizer

Baltimore-Washington International Airport

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

'Tax equity' means tax increase

The "tax and spend" Democrats want "tax equity." They define "tax equity" as "the burden should be shared and those who can most afford to pay should be paying their share." Aren't those contradictory terms? They say "tax equity," but they mean tax raise.

The "tax and spend" Democrats tell us that the tax system is not fair. They tell us that everyone should pay according to his ability to pay. They tell us that people with high incomes aren't paying enough taxes. Then, they raise taxes on the poor, welfare recipients and the low and middle income classes.

They complain that the tax system is unfair, without telling you that they have designed the current tax system.

The "tax and spend" Democrats have been in control of the Maryland House of Delegates since 1919. The Maryland tax system -- the unfair system that has made Marylanders the most taxed people in the entire nation -- is a pure Democratic "tax and spend" tax system.

The "tax and spend" Democrats want "tax equity," so they expand the sales tax so that potato chips and ice cream and numerous other "snacks" are now taxed. But do welfare recipients ever purchase these items? Of course they do. Now, when they buy ice cream with their food stamps, they have to pay the sales tax in cash. And now that the Democratic "tax and spend" tax system is $70 million short, the "tax and spend" Democrats want even more "tax equity." Let the potholes get deeper.

John Hillstrom


The plight of the Hilton Recreation Center

The Department of Recreation and Parks has decided to close several recreation centers for recreational use and to reassign them for alternative use.

Because of the increase in violence in the streets and the increase in drug activity, our children need safe, supervised, recreational activities more than ever. We the residents of Carroll-South Hilton question why the leadership has chosen to take away a safe haven from our children at a time when our city is in such a state of crisis and turmoil.

We would like to call your attention to the plight of the Hilton Recreation Center, one of the centers slated for alternative use. We, the members of the Carroll Improvement Association fought for and ultimately acquired a recreation center for the Carroll-South Hilton community.

This recreation center has been the focal point of our community for nearly 30 years. As a community, we have used and supported the center by staging various programs, financially supporting trips scheduled for the children, and sponsoring annual fund raising affairs to support other functions.

Through community dedication and volunteerism, we work at keeping the grounds around the center clean and drug-free. Our center is also a meeting site for the Carroll Improvement Association as well as the Hilton Recreation Council.

We are a regular meeting site for a weekly fellowship group. Our children use the center five days a week and its grounds seven days a week. We are unique in both location and program.

Now, the city has seen fit to slate this building for use as a day care center -- in spite of the fact that there is a well-established and organized day care center facing the recreation center. Another day care center is located 3 1/2 blocks away and there are several day care mothers in this 14-block community.

The mayor has put in place a director of recreation and parks who is a resident of Washington to make decisions for and about established communities such as Carroll-South Hilton without consulting community leaders or residents. Because of the director's failure to contact and meet with community residents, we question both her sincerity and integrity in promoting recreation in the city of Baltimore.

Having been urged by members of the City Council to rescind any plans to use Hilton Recreation Center for alternative purposes, her failure to do so shows a lack of respect for the City Council members, its president, and the community at large.

We, the members of the Carroll Improvement Association, urge the mayor to take a closer look and evaluate his appointees so that all of his appointees are reminded that it is the residents of the city of Baltimore who elect the mayor and his decisions should reflect the needs and concerns of Baltimoreans.

Under no circumstances should an appointee show the level of disrespect for our council president and other members of the City Council as shown by the director of recreation and parks.

Be reminded that today it is the Carroll-South Hilton community, tomorrow it will be yours.

Inez B. Scott


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