Unclear StarBruce L. Bortz's Oct. 6 column...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Unclear Star

Bruce L. Bortz's Oct. 6 column on former U.S. Attorney Dick Bennett's campaign for attorney general ("A Shiny New GOP Star") has me confused.

On the one hand, he says Mr. Bennett won't demagogue on the crime issue or "feed the myth" that the attorney general is the state's chief prosector.

But just a few paragraphs later he remarks that juvenile crime and punishment will be the central theme of Mr. Bennett's campaign, and this "issue will sell politically." Mr. Bortz writes, on juvenile crime: "His antidote: Make their first brush with the law as stern as possible."

There seems to be a rather distinct inconsistency here, either in Mr. Bortz's writing or in Mr. Bennett's campaign message, and the former smacks of poor journalism and the latter of demagogy.

I was also troubled by Mr. Bortz's assertion that Attorney General Joe Curran "may" have a hard time pointing to one

overriding accomplishment during his two terms in office.

When I think of Joe Curran, I think of an honest and decent man who practices honest, decent government. I wish more politicians could point to such an accomplishment.

Dore Schwartz

Baltimore

Catholic Dissent

Pope John Paul II deserves my respect as a practicing Roman Catholic, but he does not necessarily deserve my blind adherence to his personal opinions on controversial issues. Although the pope spent six years creating the new encyclical, I wish he had spent more time and taken a more ecumenical point of view.

Within all groups and communities, there are certain issues upon which there is disagreement, and the Catholic Church is no exception. Different points of view should be encouraged to help the church stay alive and grow.

Unfortunately, this new encyclical tells bishops of an obligation to remove the word "Catholic" when referring to any dissenting groups within the church. This obviously estranges these specific groups.

I do not believe that the pope or any other person has the power to ban people or groups from Catholicism because of differing opinions.

Although the document does not name specific "evils," it alludes to special church doctrines against birth control, divorce and homosexuality. Some things will never change in this world, like the fact that there are always different points of view and different ways to approach one's Roman Catholic faith.

It is only fair to all Roman Catholics that this new encyclical not be enforced. There are simply too many controversial issues and too narrow a point of view.

I am a Roman Catholic, and I plan on remaining one. I believe in one God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, but I am being unfairly forced into taking a stand against the pope.

Gretchen Ginter

Cockeysville

Objects to Arnick

Does anyone object to John Arnick?

PTC Does anyone write? Does anyone care?

% I care, and I object!

John G. Barry

Parkville

Battle Monument

Your Sept. 26 editorial stated that one can search the entire--battlefield in Gettysburg and not find a single monument to Marylanders who fought in the battle.

You either did not look hard enough or you were simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of monuments present on the battlefield itself.

A monument does indeed exist on Culp's Hill, just north of Spangler's Spring. It is a monument to the 3rd Maryland Infantry 12th Corps and reads: "Maryland's tribute to her Loyal Sons."

While the effort to erect a monument is noble, what the battlefield does not need is another 30-ton piece of granite.

Perhaps a plaque naming the regiments and their role in the battle would be a more fitting tribute, since this would educate visitors to the importance of this portion of the battlefield.

On my visits to Gettysburg, I find many visitors who rush past the numerous monuments without the slightest idea of the struggles which took place some 130 years ago. Maryland should use the opportunity to educate visitors and not create another monument whose meaning will be lost as people drive by.

H. Robert Dickerson

Abingdon

No Memory Loss

In his Oct. 6 Opinion Commentary article, "Making Therapists Tell All," Dr. James M. Jarvis highlights the central horror of computer technology: it never forgets.

A person's memory of misadventures and missteps in life can fade over the course of an otherwise constructive, maturing and healthy life process, but a computer's "memory" never falters (theoretically, anyway).

It can flash a "memory" on the screen with an intensity and impact that never changes over time or in relationship to personal growth.

Although it is technically feasible to weigh the significance of stored personal historical information to lessen its potentially damaging effects, such foolishness should give way to the optimal solution: scramble the bits when the information is outmoded.

Properly used, computer-based information technology is liberating. There are, however, dangers to the "information explosion."

Henry H. Emurian

Catonsville

The writer is associate professor of information systems at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Nonprofits Should Play a Role in Policy Debate

The Sept. 2 TRB column criticizing the activities of the Heritage Foundation unfortunately contained misinformation about the role of nonprofit organizations in public policy debates.

The column incorrectly stated that charities and other nonprofit groups are absolutely "verboten" from attempting to influence legislation, and mistakenly suggested that it was inappropriate for a nonprofit group to take a stance in educating the public about important public policy issues. The fact of the matter is that it is both perfectly lawful and entirely appropriate for nonprofit groups to be involved in public policy matters.

Under Internal Revenue Service regulations enacted in 1990, nonprofits are specifically allowed to engage in policy advocacy. For what are commonly known as 501(c)(3) nonprofits -- the charitable, educational, religious and other groups for which contributions are tax-deductible -- the rules allow the group to conduct and publicize the results of nonpartisan analysis, study or research.

They may attempt to educate the public about broad social, economic and similar problems. They may testify before legislative bodies in response to a request for technical assistance or advice from government leaders.

And they may even engage in efforts to support or defeat the passage of specific legislation provided that their expenditures for this type of advocacy activity are limited in scope, as determined by a complicated IRS formula. For other types of nonprofit groups, for which contributions are not tax-deductible, the expenditure limits on advocacy activity are not applicable.

Beyond the legal niceties, it is entirely appropriate for nonprofit groups to be active participants in the public policy debate.

Nonprofit organizations are on the front lines, working to devise innovative solutions to many of society's most pressing social problems. They are the custodians of our art, culture and history. They are the protectors of our environment and the educators of our children. Moreover, nonprofits provide the principal mechanism by which individual citizens work together to build a better community.

Nonprofits also serve to preserve and promote democracy, providing important checks and balances to safeguard against unjust, unfair or merely imprudent conduct by government or the private sector.

They provide the mechanism by which individuals who are unable to make effective use of the political process, or to whom that process is not responsive, can work to achieve change in an orderly and peaceable fashion.

In sum, Maryland's nonprofit groups are uniquely situated to both participate in and to lead the important policy debates that will affect the future of our citizens, our families, our neighborhoods, our cities and our state.

If anything, the problem is that many of our nonprofit groups are so intensely involved in their day-to-day good work that they don't have the time to become more involved in defining our future.

Peter V. Berns

Baltimore

The writer is the executive director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

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