In Appreciation of Volunteer Firefighters
As a resident of Crofton, I would like to express a concern for this newspaper's portrayal of the recent fire which destroyed a home in Crofton, and the performance of firefighters who were called to the blaze. It seems authors of these recent articles, supported by liberalized, union-backed newspapers and individuals, are committed to accentuating all that is incorrect and negative about the fire service in Anne Arundel County.
It is important that citizens support and embrace the efforts of community volunteers and career firefighters who put their lives on the line every day. However, when individuals criticize them in negative manner, I can assure you the firefighters will likely be less interested in assisting those individuals.
I certainly hope these criticizing individuals never need the assistance of the volunteer/career fire and rescue service. More importantly, I hope the firefighters do not know the addresses of these criticizing individuals.
It seems this newspaper and others would rather take the opinion of Sunday-morning quarterbacks, or retired firefighters supported by union labor efforts, than address the situation in a professionally balanced, equitable fashion. . . .
A paycheck does not imply professionalism. Volunteers . . . perform professionally every day. . . . We should all be appreciative and thankful.
Elected School Board?
A number of people in Anne Arundel County are again proposing that the members of the Board of Education be elected to that body. As these proponents outline their reasoning, they reflect dissatisfaction with the current process and the existing board.
I, too, share that dissatisfaction with the current system and the results. My studies and observations over the past four years have lead me to the belief that the selection process must be made in the county. The result will be that the members of the board are responsible to someone besides the governor.
At first blush, I also agreed that the citizens should have some say about the board's election. After all, the board spends 55-plus percent of the county's funds. A candidate may be attractive if he/she promised to cut the school budget. After all, the majority of the voters don't have anyone in school.
Then there are the problems of running for countywide office. Campaigning countywide is time-consuming and calls for a large expenditures of funds. A number of people berate politicians for soliciting funds for their campaigns, but I don't see anyone freely donating money or giving free advertising. An elected school board candidate would soon join the ranks seeking financial support.
When the school board presents its budget, it goes before the county executive and then the council. The board should work with these people for their budget, for the children of the county. The county executive, as does the council, needs to have extensive confidence in the members of this board.
When elected to the House of Delegates from District 33, I will introduce, secure support and see passed an amendment to the current law whereby the Anne Arundel County executive appoints the members of the Board of Education.
Any citizen with the desire to become a member of the board will file his or her application with the secretary of the County Council. The county executive will qualify the candidates and forward their names to the county's School Board Nominating Convention. The county executive will be required to appoint one of the two nominated candidates.
This method will allow interested, committed citizens to run for the board. It will assure that the candidates are qualified and will guarantee the nominating convention that its efforts to select good representatives are not in vain. We need a Board of Education that is responsible to the voters of the county. . . .
Robert C. Baldwin
The writer is a candidate for a House of Delegates seat in District 33.
D-Day and PACs
A recent review of the campaign reports of Maryland's elected representatives in Congress done by the Capital News Services between January 1991 and July 1993 reveals that more than 56 percent of the money contributed to these officials comes from the political action committees of special interest groups.
As we honor the 50th anniversary of D-Day, I see a correlation between being an elected public official and what we were fighting for as we landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. We were fighting for democracy and freedom of expression, where the majority rules through its elected representatives. Many Americans died in this cause.
Today, we witness a dilution of these same freedoms that we fought so gallantly for as special interests and their high-paid lobbyists ply the halls of our legislatures to manipulate the process for the benefit of the few, often at the expense of the majority. This battle is not fought with guns, but with money.
In the last state elections of 1990, the average amount of money spent by those elected to the House of Delegates was $35,000 and more than $79,000 for those elected to the Senate, with much of this money coming from political action committees of special interest. We must tighten our campaign election laws to foster democracy, not erode it. . . .
James J. Riley
The writer is a candidate for a House of Delegates seat in District 31.