Was Massage Bust Worth It?
I read with interest your article, "5 are arrested in raids on three massage parlors," on Jan. 22. Due to the efforts of 35 police officers and more than a dozen federal agents, five assumed criminals, prostitutes, were removed . . . for at least a few hours, until they came up with bail money. Big bail money at that, the highest of which was $6,000. Imagine that. . . .
If everything involved in this sting had been directed toward putting just one drug dealer behind bars, think how many lives could have benefited. I am not a proponent of prostitution. I do believe that our limited and overburdened resources could be put to much better use. When violent crimes are under control, then let's go after the other issues.
Patricia M. Behnke
I was pleased to see The Sun out in front of the legislative scholarship scandal again this year ("Pressure grows to end scholarship program," Jan. 23), but disappointed that your lengthy Sunday story neglected to even mention the original sponsor of the bill to put an end to this unique and rancid brand of political pork.
Del. Bob Kittleman from Howard County first introduced repeal legislation back in 1989, following his attempt to rescind a geometric increase in the program via a budget amendment the year before. . . . His small band of allies slowly grew as the issue gathered steam, but it was a committee bill stripped of original sponsors that sailed out of the House last year -- as retribution for the Senate's passage of a bill to abolish Keno! Remember?
Whatever the reason, the vast majority of the House of Delegates is on record supporting an end to this horrid program and, in an election year, the Senate may follow suit. The Senatorial Scholarship Program is Exhibit A in a display of the perks of incumbency and, after a few weeks of baking in the glare of bad publicity, it could become a perk that Maryland's senators will be begging their president to snatch away.
If a bill does pass in 1994, you can bet the farm that Bob Kittleman's name won't be on it. But when the time comes to give credit where credit is due, I hope The Sun won't forget the man who blazed the trail to reform as you lavish attention on the recently converted.
Carol A. Arscott
Wilde Lake High
I was amused at the slant of the editorial, "Making MASSI Work," on Jan. 14. Such words as "upheaval, resisting, recalcitrant, unwilling, beleaguered, fractious, entrenched" would seem to overstate the day-to-day education of students at Wilde Lake High School.
Wilde Lake should be serving as an example for Howard County high schools and should not be separated out for criticism. This school is fed by a diverse community, much different than most schools. The problem is that the superintendent and his coterie like to tinker with the system and find "new" ideas in solving the problem of learning.
. . . Some malcontents are blaming excellent teachers for unfavorable test scores. I might sympathize with their complaint if other students, including various minorities, also suffered from the same low scores. But that isn't the case.
The grading system at WLHS is different. But it certainly does not impede learning. What impedes it is the disruptive influence of students who are not ready to learn. This system does require top quality teachers, which Wilde Lake has, in order to function properly, and depends a great deal on them being "entrenched" in order to operate this successful system.
Having had two offspring pass through WLHS, I believe the level of teaching, extracurricular activities and diversity offer the best of all circumstances for children growing up in a city like Columbia. I would certainly do it all over again. . . . I'll take the WLHS teachers against a bunch of bureaucrats and malcontents any day.
R. D. Bush
Messianic Jews And Bias
On Dec. 5, you ran a letter from Rabbi Mark Panoff of Columbia. In it he accused you of doing "a disservice to Howard County's Jewish community." I don't think so. You reasonably presented the right of my congregation, Emmanuel Messianic Congregation, to believe what we wish and worship as we want.
However, in Rabbi Panoff's letter, he made some misstatements that I would like to clarify. He stated that "the Jewish community has publicly stated that all citizens have a right to religious freedom." I'm not sure when and where this took place, but it's obvious some of the leaders of the Jewish community don't hold this position.
Upon visiting one of my congregants at Howard County General, I learned that some rabbis contacted a certain individual on staff there to "warn" them about me and my congregation. I assume they feared we would "proselytize" invalids who are captive audiences lying in hospital beds. We don't do this.
The Howard County Times and Columbia Flier were pressured to change the heading for our listing on their "Places of Worship" page from "Messianic Jewish" to just "Messianic." I was told . . . Patuxent Publishing Company was pressured into making this change. Who has the right to tell someone whether or not they can call themselves "Jewish"? . . .
In another statement, Rabbi Panoff claimed that we use "deception" to proselytize. . . . To label a religious congregation deceptive is insulting. Would he do that about another house of worship with which he disagreed?
He mentioned that on Yom Kippur his congregation received faxes about our services. He correctly avoided saying we sent those faxes; we did not. I too would be offended if some stranger set me faxes. This was not done by me or members of my congregation.
Further, Rabbi Panoff stated that his members "are proud of their Jewish identity and do not believe that Jews need to accept Jesus in order to be fulfilled." We're proud of our Jewish identity, too. . . .
The writer is congregational leader of Emmanuel Messianic Congregation.