Havre de Grace PTA Must Follow RulesI...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Havre de Grace PTA Must Follow Rules

I am writing this so your readers understand that the issues concerning the Havre de Grace Elementary PTA have always been about ethics -- PTA members questioning the actions of an administration; not, as suggested in recent articles, a power play between a board member and a president.

The bylaws and charter of the Havre de Grace Elementary PTA have always been publicly displayed in the lobby of the school. Everyone, including children, is able to read the rules governing the PTA.

What message do we send our children when our leaders decide not to follow rules? Are we, as parents, as a community, telling them it is proper to adopt rules of order and conduct, but it is OK to break them or obey only those which serve our own, individual purposes? Are we telling them that breaking the law, whether they govern a non-profit corporation or a country, is acceptable?

Are we telling our children that checks and balances are a good concept, but in reality, we prefer a leader who does as he wishes without the consent of the people he represents? Are we telling them that they can do as they please, because we as adults do as we please?

As a former PTA member, it is sad to see an organization which has lobbied for the benefit of children and youth -- in their schools, home, community and places of worship -- used as an adjunct to local unions to voice union concerns.

If the leadership of the Havre de Grace Elementary PTA finds it difficult to follow the "letter of the law" as outlined in its own bylaws, then it should no longer be a PTA but a PTO with rules which they can easily manipulate to suit their needs.

Connie M. Daub

Havre de Grace

Edgewood Rumors

Last month, I graduated from Edgewood High School and I feel no shame in saying that Edgewood is my alma mater. The Edgewood schools, the high school in particular, have received much attention of late and in the past about the supposedly poor quality of education available there.

When I transferred to Edgewood two years ago, my parents and I heard rumors of racial problems, violence, drugs and other unpleasant things that allegedly take place at Edgewood High School. My parents had thoughts of sending me elsewhere, but after further investigation, they decided to send me to Edgewood. It was not long after I began attending the school that I realized the rumors we had heard were absolutely false. For parents who are terrified to send their children to Edgewood, I direct to you my observations.

Contrary to public opinion, Edgewood is a quality school with successful programs and students, and a professional staff. Edgewood is the only school in Harford County to have a mock trial team. Also, this year the academic team took second in the Baltimore area "Data Race" tournament. This summer, the entire science department is being renovated and will become a state-of-the-art facility. Finally, this year's senior class, which is one of the smallest in the country, earned more than $1.6 million in scholarship awards.

Edgewood was the only school in the county this year to have bands at both the State Marching Band Championship and the State Jazz Festival. Also, each year EHS puts on a full-fledged musical, complete with a pit orchestra and professional sound.

Edgewood sports teams receive their share of accolades, too. The basketball team has advanced to the state semi-finals in four of the last five years, including this year. Also, this year the baseball team tied for the county championships. A new stadium, track and other building projects have given Edgewood first-class athletic facilities.

Edgewood's student body proved its ability to behave and have fun at this year's school activities, which included a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and a rock concert. The activities were without incident.

As for the rumored racial problems, there are none. In my two years at Edgewood, I never once heard an inflammatory racial comment uttered. EHS has a diverse student body but the students are able to work together. Fighting at Edgewood is minimal and the rules are enforced. Also, I have never once been approached or seen anyone with drugs at school. Finally, the administrators and teachers at Edgewood are excellent. They are caring and act in the best interest of their students.

Of course, Edgewood High School is not all roses, but no school is. The bottom line is that there are good students, good teachers and good facilities at Edgewood. Don't heed the rumors about this or any other school. Visit yourself and ask the people who attend the school. If you were going to buy a Ford, you wouldn't ask a Chevy dealer. If I had listened to the rumors, I would have missed some of the best school experiences of my life.

John Smart

Edgewood

Bombing, Control

The sight of the broken babies and lifeless bodies carried from the federal building in Oklahoma City shattered hearts and unified the country in a circle of grief. We were forced to face the fact that there are minds perverted enough to conceive of committing such an act. We were stunned by the unspeakable horror of the human suffering and loss.

America is, and always will be, a great country. It is the people of this land who have made it so. Our outrage at this abominable crime will see its perpetrators found and punished. Americans have never tolerated the abuse of the weak and it is the spirit of the people, not the bureaucracy of government, that gives us our strength.

The current push to increase police and government authority will not serve to prevent such incidents or provide any increased protection. The only effect, and, in truth, the only goal of such increased control will be to further diminish individual rights and freedom.

We cannot look for protection from a government that in the past has abused its own citizens in the name of liberty. This is, after all, the same government that gassed American veterans at the end of World War I, interned over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II, used the National Guard to kill peace demonstrators at Kent State, sanctioned the beating of anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War, and supported Janet Reno, the architect of the Waco massacre.

President Clinton, who was himself a demonstrator against the war in Vietnam, should understand that if the government is not always, increasing already excessive government control is not an answer. In the past, when the United States has suffered under the burden of government intrusion into our private lives, the people have moved to eliminate it. In the '50s, it was McCarthyism. In the 1970s, it was the FBI monitoring and keeping dossiers on any citizen it chose to label a dissident.

We are grieving for those lost in Oklahoma City. Washington is looking for a way to turn the tragedy to its gain. The bombing is the rage of the moment and the federal government is capitalizing on it to further trample our constitutional rights. A government that seeks to practice on our fear and grief is working against us, not for us. Americans are being asked to submit to increasing scrutiny and control in the name of their own freedom and in the name of those who have suffered an intolerable tragedy. We must see the threat for what it is and assert ourselves. The system is ours and we must regain control.

Frank W. Soltis

Fallston

Paranoia on TV

Last spring, as I watched an NBC Dateline investigation of radical paramilitary organizations such as Timothy McVeigh's Michigan Militia, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of deja vu.

When a Dateline segment focused on the paramilitary's first "television star," Linda Thompson, and a video that she narrates, "Waco-the Big Lie," I said to myself, "Where have I seen this woman and this piece of paranoia before?" Then it struck me: as close to home as my local cable company, Comcast Cable of Harford County.

I hope that I am not the only Comcast subscriber who recognized at least three of the video segments shown on NBC's Dateline, as parts of previous broadcasts of a regularly scheduled witch's brew of lies, hate, paranoia and venom that Comcast Cable blithely refers to as "The Americanist Hour." The management of Harford County Comcast even goes so far as to remind the casual viewer of the regularly scheduled broadcast time of "The Americanist Hour" by way of a "crawl" across the bottom of the screen.

I have spent the majority of my adult life teaching and defending the First Amendment and the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, always with a caveat against what Justice Holmes considered inflammatory speech.

Comcast Cable is well within its purview, therefore, to bring subscribers each and every night such a rogues gallery as Linda Thompson and lectures by the president and officers of the John Birch Society.

Since there is only one cable carrier we can subscribe to in most of Harford County, it is well within our purview to ask some very serious questions of Comcast as to the origins of this broadcast, whether the air time is free or paid for by the John Birch Society and the paramilitary organizations that avail themselves of our .. cable airways?

I would hope that Harford County publications such as The Aegis and The Sun would ask these same questions of Comcast as well as polling Comcast subscribers.

James J. Pinto

Bel Air

The Bel Air Bottleneck

This refers to your editorial, "Solving the Bel Air Bottleneck," in The Sun on June 12. . . . Taken together with another article in the paper, related to citizen opposition to proposed development in the Shawan Road area of northern Baltimore County, one has to wonder: Is relentless development really in the interest of the county governments?

I am a relative newcomer to Harford County, having lived here only since 1980, with brief absences related to employment. Even I can easily remember the times when Main Street was a quaint and charming little street where lovely stores and a stone post office epitomized the heart of what then was predominantly rural Harford County. . . . Since that time, Bel Air has exploded in population, and is barely recognizable from the peaceful little town it was a mere decade ago. One realizes, of course, that increases in population and a certain amount of development are inevitable and even necessary.

However, it seems that there is a headlong rush to raze lovely rolling countryside and erect multi-unit developments until the landscape is unrecognizable and devastated. The farms and fields that used to occupy what now is Route 24 are gone forever. . . . When these dwellings were built, no long-term thinking went into planning the infrastructure, such as schools, roads, parks and recreation and green spaces. As a result, we have schools with temporary classrooms in trailers and, as you described, traffic problems which can only become worse.

I understand that a total of 2,000 new homes are being planned off Route 24, near Singer Road and at Country Walk. Yet we read of a 17 percent drop in home sales in the region and in Harford County.

One fails to understand why more homes are being built even as the inventory of unsold homes continues to grow. I understand that more homes bring much-needed revenue to cash-starved county governments and that the housing industry leads the economy by adding jobs.

What is equally clear is that land is a finite resource and that there is such a thing as too much development. I believe that Harford County has already passed that point. . . . The planned new road to be paid for by the new Target store is only a stop gap, short-term measure -- not a solution. I fail to see the need for another new discount store in a city that already has a Kmart, a Wal-Mart, Montgomery Ward, BJ's Wholesale Club, BEST Products, Staples, F&M; discount store, etc. . . .

If development is inevitable, must it be shortsighted? Is there no political will to look out for the quality of life of citizens who rely on County Council members to do the right thing? I commend the alert citizens of Hunt Valley/Baltimore County for their activism and hope with all my heart that they will be successful in thwarting the powerful developers in their quest for endless profits.

Vijay Abhyankar

Bel Air

In reference to the Bel Air bottleneck, how about the people who live north of Bel Air (in Jarrettsville and Hickory) who have to travel the little two-lane stretch of road considered the Bel Air bypass. What a mess. The county executive and the rest of the Harford County politicians should join me on the way home every day at about 5:30 p.m.

Wake up, Harford County. Don't build the houses if you don't have the roads.

Melvin Teal

Jarrettsville

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