Fraud at Polls? No One CaresI don't...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fraud at Polls? No One Cares

I don't know whether you heard it, but there was a long piercing wail recently when many of the voters in Maryland learned that they had been disenfranchised, that they had lost the right for their vote to count in an election.

We have all heard of the facts surrounding last November's election -- fraudulent voters, unsupervised voting machines, unapproved and secret voting locations, more votes counted in some precincts than there were registered voters, and direct violations of state law that required the purging of long-time inactive voters. (This law was designed to prevent the use of non-existent voters, and to guarantee integrity of the vote. What a joke that is.)

You might think that, with all these violations, some easy remedy was close at hand.

Think again.

The state's attorney has decided to represent the Baltimore City Election Board in its dispute with the State Election Board, despite his sworn oath to represent the people of Maryland in the prosecution of violators of state law. So much for the oath.

In response to the many law violations that seem very evident, the ready answer was, "So what"? And that's not bad enough.

Two different courts and judges have also shrugged off the protest of the people.

Like you, I don't know who is calling the shots or pulling the strings, but I do know that somehow or someway, enough voters will be found, manufactured or recorded to make my vote meaningless. All that needs to be known is how many votes are needed to control the result, and an hour or so to pull the strings.

OC So much for integrity. Ye-aah, Ye-aah, there went my franchise.

Fred C. Lange

White Hall

Relay for Life

The Harford County unit of the American Cancer Society would like to thank the local residents and surrounding business community for their support and participation in the recent Relay For Life event, which was held May 19 and 20 at Bel Air High School.

Despite threatening rains on Friday, May 19, the 24-hour Relay For Life began and ended with beautiful blue skies. The event proved to be a tremendous success, raising more than $24,000 for the Harford County unit of the American Cancer Society. Perhaps more importantly, the relay gave us the opportunity to ++ publicly recognize and support our many friends, family members and neighbors who have survived their battles against cancer.

This first-time event was truly a labor of love for all of the participating committee members who spent so many hours planning and organizing the relay. The American Cancer Society gratefully acknowledges and thanks those volunteers for their commitment and guidance, for without them, the relay would not have been a reality.

To successfully pull off an event like this one, the American Cancer Society needed to rely on the assistance of numerous merchants within the area. To those of you who donated items and financially supported the participating teams, thank you for your generosity and goodwill. Your contributions made a tremendous difference.

We would like to take this opportunity to extend special thanks to our sponsors for their support and belief in this project. Each sponsor chose to contribute to the relay in a different way, but they all believed in the significance of the event and in turn chose to support it in most gratifying manner.

First, our sincere gratitude and appreciation to William Ekey, principal of Bel Air High School and his exceptional staff for allowing the event to be held at Bel Air High. The Relay For Life committee members were accommodated by Bel Air High School in every way throughout the planning and executive of the event.

Special thanks also to Upper Chesapeake Health System and its management team for graciously providing the refreshments for the cancer survivor reception and for their long-term support of our committee members. This event took several months of planning and UCHS generously allowed committee members to meet on a regular basis at Fallston General Hospital.

Finally, we thank the Bel Air Athletic Club for its support. In addition to functioning as a financial sponsor of the event, the club also put together a participating team that raised more than $1,200. Kudos to Roger Ralph and his staff for their outstanding support of this community event.

To close, we would like to express our thanks to all of the cancer survivors and team participants who, by their very presence, made this event such a special one.

We will carry in our hearts memories of Friday evening's ceremonies -- the inspiration of seeing so many cancer survivors joining together to lead us in that first lap of the relay and the absolutely amazing sight of Bel Air High's track being illuminated by the light of almost 600 luminaries honoring those who have survived and remembering those who lost their battle against cancer.

Our only hope is that by holding this event others will gain hope that they, too, can become survivors.

Art Ayestas

Terri Dezell

Bel Air

The writers are, respectively, event chair for the Relay For Life and field representative for the Harford County unit of the American Cancer Society.

Charity Basketball

On behalf of the Second District Republican Club, I would like to thank the sponsors of the second annual GOP vs. Dems Charity Basketball Game. The Spousal Abuse Resource Center was the recipient of this event and was awarded more than $1,000.

We gratefully acknowledge the sponsors for their contributions: Bel Air Bagel & Deli Shoppe; Chuck E. Cheese; Del. Don Fry; Chi Chi's Restaurant; Chili's Restaurant; Festival Wines & Spirits; Comptroller Louis Goldstein; The Ground Round; Harrison's Paint Center; Art and Ann Helton (Western Auto); Only Nails; Renaissance Skin Care; Ruby Tuesday's; Sherlock Bones Locksmith, and Uniforce Temporary Services.

Our thanks also to the Greater Fallston Democratic Club, players, coaches, and all who attended, and a special thank you to Referee Robert Taylor for his outstanding contribution.

Ron Plichta

Bel Air

The writer is president of the Second District Republican Club of Harford County.

Still Seeking Justice in a Sister's Murder

Seven years ago, my eight-year-old niece stood beside her mother's grave, and looking up at me through eyes full of tears, asked, "Why did mommy have to die?" My reply was certain and swift. "We don't know, but we will."

At age 14, I was faced with a question beyond my comprehension. My big sister had been brutally murdered and I was left to answer the question, "Why"? And in my youthful naiviete, I believed with all of my heart that my country's system of justice would provide for me the kind of definite answers for which I was searching.

Today, I am a 21-year-old who failed in the promise I made to that grieving little girl on that tragic day. Today, my youthful confidence has turned to disillusionment and frustration.

You see, today, I know who killed that little girl's mother. I know his name. I know where he lives. I know where he works. I see him in our supermarkets, our parks and our streets. Having reviewed the mountains of evidence, I know without a single doubt in my mind that the man now known as the suspect in the murder of my sister is indeed the perpetrator. The answer begs )) the question, however: I know who, and I know that there can be no reason why, but since I cannot point to justice, I cannot give that broken-hearted little girl the answer she deserves.

Investigators, prosecutors and every expert who has reviewed the case agree that this suspect is guilty of the murder. But, seven years later, no arrest has been made, no indictment handed down and no justice has been executed. This suspect remains free and will most likely always remain free because of the limitless technical provisions in the law. Such provisions would prevent a potential jury from hearing key evidence in my sister's case, and thus, the prosecution would not be able to make a solid case.

I understand that these legalistic technicalities were put in place ostensibly to uphold the "constitutional" rights of the accused. I also understand, nonetheless, that in reality the court system has been riddled with loopholes designed by defense attorneys to get criminals off. All theoretical speculations aside, the fact remains that the man who undoubtedly killed my sister remains free to kill again, and all as a result of a criminal justice system that has been manipulated to protect the criminals.

For many years after my sister's murder, I felt an anger I cannot describe. I was mad at the world, mad at myself and mad at an unfair judicial system. Anger ignited by this horrible injustice drove me to fight, first for drastic criminal justice judicial reform, and then to prevent the kind of senseless violence that took away my sister.

Implementing crime prevention initiatives and lobbying for reform, I traveled to virtually every section of this country, and met hundreds of faces behind stories. Faces of men and women, old and young, black and white, rich and poor, all bound together in the dubious fraternity of grieving a loved one who fell to the war of crime and violence being played out on our streets. From small farms in Nebraska to East Los Angeles public housing high rises, every painful story I heard was just as drastic and every victim was left just as devastated. But the more griping reality I saw as I heard these stories one by one is that most of these crimes are left unpunished and most of the victims are left without answers. . . .

Thomas Jefferson said "a society that has crime has no justice." Justice is a value about which this nation has seemingly forgotten. Our criminal justice system is more about intricate legal maneuvering than it is about fairness and responsibility. Politicians promise quick and easy solutions, and yet maintain the status quo. I've stood shoulder-to-shoulder with two U.S. presidents as they announced their plans to fight violence and injustice, and I believed -- both times -- that they were sincerely laying the groundwork for long-term solutions. But both times, the reality of an entrenched system, reluctant to change, has stifled these initiatives. In cities and states from one side of this nation to the other, I've marched with mayors and governors and congressmen through crime-ridden neighborhoods as they've pledged to clean them up. Again and again, I was disappointed as campaign promises turned first into compromise, and eventually into inaction and indifference.

Perhaps it is because I have looked into the eyes of one too many mourning mothers. Perhaps I've stood beside one too many victim's caskets. Perhaps I've held one too many grieving children in my arms. Perhaps it is because one of these caskets contained someone who meant the world to me. Perhaps it is because one of those grieving children I held in my arms was my sister's little girl.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that I am no longer willing to listen to idle promises. I have dedicated my life to finding real long-term solutions that will require taught choices by committed leaders. Actions speak louder than words -- and thus far in this nation, on preventing crime and reforming the justice system, we have remained painfully silent.

And so another little girl will become a woman knowing the system failed her and her mother. And so a sister, a mother and a friend named Mary was forever robbed of her hopes and aspirations, and those who loved her forever robbed of her love. And so another family is left forever with open wounds and unanswered critical questions. And so our society remains unjust, and we remain apathetic to injustice. And so the question we must all ask for our nation's sake is how long will we allow this to continue? And, perhaps more importantly, the question we must ask for our sake is how long can we afford to?

Steven Kelly

Bel Air

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