Good-old-boy ethics ruin legislature
It appears that several good old boys in the Maryland General Assembly haven't received the message sent by the voters last fall.
The message was that we are sick of business as usual in Annapolis. Apparently people like Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Casper Taylor have been around so long they are incapable of learning or just don't care about their constituents.
For more than a decade Mr. Miller, Mr. Taylor and other key legislators were showered with gifts, entertainment, meals, money for fund raisers etc. by lobbyist Bruce Bereano. In return, Bereano received favored treatment from legislators.
Nearly any bill he opposed was killed in committees or not brought to the floor for a vote due to the actions of the good old boys. If he lobbied for a bill, it generally was passed.
Due to his excesses, Bereano was caught and convicted by a jury of seven counts of mail fraud. He asked some of the good old boys to submit character references to the judge on his behalf.
Perhaps the judge should require a summary of the largess Bereano showered on each of the legislators along with the character reference they provide.
There are many conscientious, honest legislators in Annapolis but they are all tainted by actions such as this.
I hope that the honest legislators strip Mr. Miller and Mr. Taylor of their lofty positions during the next session and that constituents of the good old boys send another message by retiring them.
John H. O'Hara
I'm sending a copy of the April 16 Perspective article about super-lobbyist Bruce Bereano to House Speaker Newt Gingrich and those who believe that state legislatures are the repositories of virtue for making important decisions about spending taxpayers' money.
The Evening Sun reports that as many as 200 former and current public officials wrote the court in Bereano's defense.
Bereano and these followers have created a sleazy legislative culture in Annapolis that is characterized by legislators who stay in Annapolis hotels at taxpayer expense for the 90-day session, eat lobbyist-supplied meals and constantly push the limits of Maryland's modest disclosure and ethics requirements.
I suspect Bereano's 200 legislative admirers say to their constituents, "Do you really think my vote can be bought for bagels and lox?" They probably wrote to the judge and said, "Bereano is really a good guy."
But I strongly disagree. Players in the sleazy Annapolis culture who break the law are not good guys.
And legislators who mingle fund-raising and legislative activity when they could just as easily draw strong distinctions between the two merely provide fodder for Bereano and his ilk.
Bereano may pay a price. But the people of Maryland truly pay the price for this poor and ineffective method for making important policy decisions.
Bereano's friends -- apparently most of our legislative leaders -- must share the blame for the resulting voter apathy, cynicism about government and lack of confidence in our institutions.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich's idiotic idea to make the District of Columbia a Maryland congressional district merits a very strong dissent.
Does the congressman really believe that the people of Maryland would tolerate all the multitude of woes the District has amassed through the years as well as the gigantic financial woes it has accumulated?
Maryland has one of the nation's best credit ratings, which would plummet to extinction should this come to pass.
Mr. Gingrich's lust for power should be curbed before he endangers the entire nation, let alone the state of Maryland.
Norton B. Schwartz
Shame on The Evening Sun for acting as a mouthpiece for the narcocracy by promulgating the inaccuracies that fuel our current counter-productive policies toward marijuana (news story, April 14).
The "virtual haven" enjoyed by marijuana sellers and growers must come as a surprise to the 380,690 arrested for marijuana in 1993 (the most recent year for which figures are available).
The average federal sentence for a violent criminal is a mere six months longer than for a drug offender. Harsh drug laws have only succeeded in packing our prisons with nonviolent offenders, not in reducing drug use or sales.
The "potent pot myth" is increasingly trotted out by drug warriors hoping to scare the public into thinking today's marijuana is a different, more dangerous drug than the one smoked by millions of Americans a decade ago.
National Institute on Drug Abuse data show a consistent potency since 1980. At the very most (and this data is suspect), potency has tripled since the '70's.
This means marijuana consumers have to smoke one-third as much to achieve their desired high -- sparing their lungs the harmful effects of smoke.
The purported increase in "marijuana-related emergency room visits" is misleading. Apart from the occasional panic reaction in a novice user, marijuana is still considered one of the safest recreational drugs available.
A closer analysis of those emergency room visits will reveal alcohol or hard drugs as the reason, not marijuana.
course marijuana "affects memory, balance and the senses." This is part and parcel of getting high. It's also why we don't want users driving or working under the influence.
Rational discourse about drug issues is impossible when half-truths abound. Hopefully, The Evening Sun will research stories better in future so readers learn the facts, not just propaganda.
Terry Dalton Hadley