Rasmussen's FallBy the reasoning advanced in Barry...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Rasmussen's Fall

By the reasoning advanced in Barry Rascovar's column of Nov. 28, any voter who has the audacity to hold an elected official (particularly one endorsed by The Sun) accountable for their actions is to be considered a yahoo.

I submit that the opposite is true.

The real yahoos among Maryland's electorate are those whose blind loyalty to the Democratic Party, passed from generation to generation, have inflicted a virtually unbroken string of tax-and-spend, anti-business administrations upon the state and its subdivisions.

Apparently, Mr. Rascovar's memory of recent history is conveniently short. The fall of the Rasmussen regime in the 1990 elections was largely due to the arrogance of Dennis Rasmussen and certain members of the County Council.

The taxpayers of the county were being hit with increases to existing taxes, as well as new taxes such as the late, unlamented container tax.

Complaints of excessive taxation and waste by the taxpayers of the county were brushed off by the administration with the mantra of Maryland's tax-and-spend Democrats.

We must preserve the quality of life. The administration did its utmost to thwart every attempt at legal action by taxpayer groups.

At every public forum attended by this writer, the chief executive was absent, represented instead by smooth-talking aides justifying the actions of the county government and sarcastically dismissing critics.

In this atmosphere, it was little wonder that the regime was perceived as arrogant, aloof and unresponsive.

Faced with their grievances falling on deaf ears, or being told in so many words that they just didn't get it, the voters of the county took the only recourse that remained, to throw the rascals out of office.

For most voters, their quality of life is largely defined by what is left of their paychecks after the various governments finish taking their cuts. When less is left over, their quality of life declines.

Many of our elected officials still do not get it, and I am not optimistic that they will.

The 1990 Baltimore County elections should serve as a warning that those politicians who fail to be responsive to the voters do so at the risk of being voted out of office.

Gary A. Smith

Baltimore

Stereotype

I take exception to the illustration on the Opinion * Commentary page Dec. 13.

The artist, in illustrating the conflict between fanatics on both sides who use violence to thwart the peace process in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, draws as the Jew a black-bearded, black-hatted, "ultra-orthodox" Jew carrying a machine gun. There are limits to caricature.

As you know, the State of Israel is a modern, Western democracy. The segment of the Israeli population the artist drew has no representation among those who carry machine guns and cause acts of violence against Arabs.

The artist's illustration of an "Israeli" would cause David Ben Gurion and the other Socialist fathers of the modern State of Israel to turn over in their graves.

There is a tendency in the media to assume that "religious" and "fanatic" go together. Your picture insinuates that the more "fervent" one is, the more prone to acting violently one is. This bespeaks an abysmal ignorance of the Jewish religion and of Israeli society.

In this very difficult time, men and women of good will on all sides must work to cast aside stereotypes and prejudice. Only then is there a chance for peace.

Leonard Oberstein

Randallstown

The writer is rabbi of Randallstown Synagogue.

Live in Peace?

As I have been reading about the conflict between the Palestinians and Jews in the West Bank, I am struck with a sadness about humanity. This conflict, this wasteful slaughter of human lives has continued for over 5,000 years -- in the same site, no less.

What does this say about human nature? What is this continuous conflict surrounding the issue of religion? Why can't we evolve and live in peace?

I wish I could live to see that day.

Lauren David

Owings Mills

Del. Hutchinson Explains

One old political maxim commands, "Never apologize and never explain." But in this season of giving and opening of hearts, I do both.

I must consider my mistakes and express my apologies and regrets. For the serious personal errors that I made I offer explanations, but not excuses.

When I was elected to the House of Delegates, my income dropped by almost $20,000 a year. My car insurance lapsed. I had to go on the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. I was forced to move from my home. I couldn't afford the payments.

I couldn't find a job. I dropped into a dismal economic hole and a deeper psychological one. I became paralyzed with fear, afraid to discuss my finances even with those closest to me as the bills piled up. The inevitable happened.

There was a series of stories of my most humiliating and most personal problems. My attorney advised me not to have any communications with the press, though I realize that by not answering reporters' questions, I would appear arrogant and above the law.

Why bring this up now? Because I am sorry, sorry for those mistakes in my personal life, for the humiliation suffered by my family, for the embarrassment suffered by the people I represent and my legislative colleagues.

I thank my family, who graciously helped me both emotionally and financially. In the most difficult time of my life, I thank my friends and my colleagues who gave their support and friendship. I thank my constituents who gave their appreciation for the work that I had done.

I have done my best to be a good legislator in the past three years. I worked hard for my district. I tried to make decisions that helped raise the quality of life of all our citizens.

I have now done my best to take care of my personal problems. If any good arises from the bad which has occurred in my life, it is that I have learned from my mistakes.

My goal is to be responsible, professional and personally. As we enter this new year, I hope you will forgive me.

Leslie Hutchinson

Essex

The writer is a member of the House of Delegates from the 6th District, Baltimore County.

Education Options

M. William Salganik's recent column on performance contracting and education (Dec. 11) was on the mark. There is no evidence that performance contracting will work any better than what is referred to as the traditional system, which Mr. Salganik acknowledges is working very poorly.

The reason performance contracting will make little difference is the basic dynamic in place for education.

Governments, under performance contracting, would continue to play the major role as the purchaser of educational services for our children and still create the kind of system that values conformity above freedom, and accommodation above performance.

Claims to the contrary, the system gives parents little leverage. They must compete for influence with elected officials, interest groups and bureaucrats. It is a mismatch.

There is only one way to change that dynamic: Make the parents of school children, and not the state, the primary purchasers of education services for their children.

The change in public school performance would be dramatic. If parents have the power to decide among available options where and how to educate their children, the energy created by that change would be far greater than that of all the studies and commissions in the last 20 years.

What is both frustrating and puzzling about opposition to parents playing such a role is that our present system is so out of sync with our values. How can we say to parents: We will support education only if it is done by the government?

If we are a nation that encourages diversity of belief under the First Amendment, why does public policy channel children into public schools? Why isn't the American Civil Liberties Union, for example, demanding that parents be returned the freedom to educate their children where and how they think best?

Why do we accept a situation where the president of the United States can choose to send his child to a private school while opposing such freedom for the many millions of parents who cannot afford to do so?

Education policy for the state of Maryland should be about assuring an educated citizenry and be neutral as to where and how parents decide to educate their children.

We need to acknowledge through our policies and financial support that it is the best interest of all of us to make parents, not the state, responsible for the education of our children.

Herm Schmidt

Bradshaw

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