NAFTA SafeguardsThe major environmental organizations have played...


NAFTA Safeguards

The major environmental organizations have played a very significant role in the the North American Free Trade Agreement process with both the previous and current administrations to bring about an historic accomplishment of incorporating strong environmental components in an international trade agreement.

The National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International -- representing the overwhelming majority of this nation's environmental supporters -- have endorsed the trade agreement as submitted by President Clinton.

There is no illusion that this, or any other agreement, is perfect. But there is strong agreement that this is a major victory for the environmental movement -- and the people of the United States and Mexico -- in incorporating environmental issues into the trade agreement.

It is particularly unfortunate that some other environmental groups who either chose not to be part of the negotiating process or do not have the capability to become part of that process now choose to throw rocks from the sidelines. This is not constructive, and it ignores the environmental degradation that will continue to occur if NAFTA is not approved.

The facts of NAFTA are that: (1) it will assure protection of strong U.S. food safety and environmental standards; (2) environmental clean-up projects along the U.S-Mexico border will receive adequate funding; (3) countries will enforce their environmental laws and not relax their pollution controls to attract business and (4) citizen participation in environmental issues will continue. NAFTA will assure that pollution laws in all three countries become stronger, not weaker. Contrary to objecting allegations, NAFTA will protect existing prohibitions on illegal trade in wildlife and endangered species; existing international treaties in these areas take precedence. The same is true of current laws protecting dolphins and turtles.

NAFTA deserves to be supported by citizens concerned about the environmental quality of the United States and the western hemisphere.

David H. Pardoe


Germany's History

After a trip to Germany and Austria for Oktoberfest, Linda Hess has returned with effusive praise for the lack of crime and the presence of strict authority during her travels in these two countries ("Germany Is A Country That Works," letter, Oct. 6).

Unfortunately in her euphoria she has conveniently overlooked current realities, including the fire-bombing of immigrant workers' homes, the outpouring of hate and resentment against a long-term Turkish population, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials and the rise of neo-Nazi organizations with their continuing creed of intolerance.

The paean to an ordered society in Germany is reminiscent of 1933, when the Nazis seized power, suppressing all personal liberty as a first step in a relentless progression to a totalitarian state of unbelievable evil.

Perhaps a free society does encourage laxness in discipline because of the absence of state intrusion into the private lives of its citizens. However, I for one would prefer to live in a nation, albeit with imperfections, but with an emphasis on personal freedom than in a closely controlled society when prior history has shown the perils of such state control degenerating into totalitarianism.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

Acting Blind

It never ceases to amaze me how the school system continues to act blind concerning the behavior of teachers or principals in the schools. The most recent of these situations was stated in Gary Gately's Oct. 16 article concerning Guinevere R. Berry, the principal of Lexington Terrace Elementary School.

Instead of investigating the allegations made against Dr. Berry at her former assignment, General Wolfe Elementary School, the top school officials decided it was easier to move the problem somewhere else. In this case, the somewhere else was Lexington Terrace Elementary, where Dr. Berry has allegedly continued her unacceptable approach to leadership.

The message that is being sent to parents and students is that the school superintendent is not willing to "deal" with the situations as they arise. Instead, he tries sweeping the problems under the carpet and hopes nothing will come of it.

Well, it is time for Superintendent Walter Amprey to take responsibility for the problems in the two schools and to get rid of Dr. Berry, if that is what the investigation warrants.

A system should be set up so that any type of misconduct is investigated immediately and proper action taken. We should never ignore any allegations that involve the education and welfare of our children.

If the allegations are correct, Dr. Berry is not the type of principal that should be in any school system leading our teachers and students.

Myrna Villanueva


Sen. Hollinger as Jewish Legislator

I was greatly disturbed by Bruce L. Bortz's inflammatory Opinion * Commentary article Oct. 20 about state Sen. Paula Hollinger.

It suggests she is a uni-dimensional legislator who uses her Jewishness to intimidate others, that she is driven by "religiously motivated politics," and that she serves only a narrow spectrum of the electorate.

I believe this is a gross distortion of the truth and am dismayed and bewildered his biased attack.

Although I do not live in Senator Hollinger's district and am not Jewish, I am quite familiar with her extremely fine work in the areas of health care, abortion rights, crime prevention, and religious and racial tolerance.

She has served her district and all Marylanders with sensitivity and distinction for nearly 16 years in the legislature.

If Senator Hollinger has raised allegations of anti-Semitism during political debates, perhaps Mr. Bortz's would serve the community better by investigating the allegations.

His own article concedes that "there is no doubt that anti-Semitism continues to be a malevolent force in Maryland, and Maryland politics."

Robert H. Olson


I have been a constituent of Paula Hollinger's since she first was elected to the House of Delegates. I have written at least once every session and voiced my concerns at meetings and around the State House.

My concerns have been primarily about the environment but also about gun control.

I have always found Paula to be responsive, and I have felt that she votes for what she believes in, such as covered dump trucks, womens' rights, gun control and environmental issues. She recently had a 98 percent rating on environmental votes by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Does this sound like a person who is overly concerned with things Jewish? Paula has been the most dynamic of our 11th District delegation, and I hope she can continue to serve in her new district.

Speaking of Jewish candidates, on the other hand, Melvin Steinberg represented me equally as long and has never shown any concern for the environment or for anything else, in my opinion, except his own power.

Anne McCaskill Libis


We were disturbed with the insinuation by Bruce L. Bortz that a politician who wears Judaism on his or her sleeve is not an effective state leader.

Surely, constituents are well-served by politicians whose religious and moral values, concern for minorities and strong stance against discrimination of all kinds are part "of the many things that make up their politics and personalities."

Would Mr. Bortz be so quick to criticize a Catholic or African-American legislator who identifies strongly with his religion or ethnicity?

Jewish state legislators are well respected by constituents at home and colleagues in Annapolis, and many hold important positions of leadership.

They have been effective advocates for such issues affecting the entire state as health care, education and the rights of women and minorities.

When any state senator or delegate supports legislation to protect religious liberty in Maryland or works to convince other members of committees on which she or he sits to vote against bills that erode the wall that separates church and state, that person is not exhibiting a "shtetl" mentality in a negative sense, but a vision that well serves the people of Maryland.

Sanford V. Teplitzky


The writer is president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

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