County executive shouldn't appoint school board
As co-chairman of the Anne Arundel County delegation subcommittee on the school board selection process, I feel compelled to comment on current proposals dealing with the selection of school board members.
One of the most controversial proposals and one that will have a significant impact on the independence of members of the Board of Education is supported by my Anne Arundel County Senate colleagues. This legislation would transfer the appointment of school board members from the governor to the county executive.
I have been opposed to this concept in the past and will continue to oppose it in the future, regardless of who the county executive might be.
I am fearful that transfer of the appointment authority would tip the delicate balance of power that presently exists. The county executive exercises great influence over the school system by his control over its budget, salary of school board employees, school capacity and class size, school construction projects and many issues that face the school system. For school board members to lose their independence would be a step backward in our pursuit of our countywide educational goals.
In addition, Gov. Parris N. Glendening's 1995 school board appointments reflect his strong support for the School Board Nominating Convention and for the present appointment process. The citizens of this county have patiently waited eight years for a governor to again honor the recommendations of the convention. It is for these reasons I oppose any changes in selection of school board members.
I would also like to point out that during the entire debate over power to appoint school board members, one issue has never been raised: the impact this change will have on improving the quality of education of the students in our school system.
The writer is a state senator, representing Legislative District 31 in the General Assembly.
Seizure laws abused by law enforcers
When the Supreme Court upheld the seizure of a car owned by Tina Bennis and her husband, who was arrested for engaging in activities in that car with a prostitute, it may have thought it was being "pro-police," but the consequences are downright "un-American."
Mrs. Bennis had no knowledge of her husband's activities and, therefore, did not deserve to have her private property confiscated. The whole idea of deterring crime in this manner flies in the face of the basic conservative principle which says that you control crime by punishing criminals, not by trying to control "things," and certainly not by confiscating the private property of innocent relatives. So as a conservative, it greatly upset me to learn that it was the conservative justices who upheld this seizure.
These seizure laws are anti-family and anti-community. If allowed to stand, you can forget about loaning a family member or a neighbor your car, boat or summer cottage. If that person whom you trusted engages in some illegal activity, you could lose that property forever, even though you may still be making payments on it. So too will be gone the days of charity and goodwill toward travelers in distress, because you had better be careful who you let stay at your house. If unbeknownst to you one of your guests is really a drug courier, you could lose your home.
It gets worse. Get stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation and let him see that you have more than $100 cash with you and the officer can seize it. To get it back, you must post a court cost bond of more than $2,000, file suit in federal court and somehow prove that you are not a drug dealer. It is considered no defense that the property was illegally seized, or that you have never been convicted, tried or even charged with a drug offense. It is amazing that these laws have been used to allow the seizure of billions of dollars over the years when the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law.
Are we so afraid of crime these days that we are ready to give up basic American rights? We must insist on revising the seizure laws so that they will only be applied against persons who are clearly perpetrators of crime.
Kenneth M. Leader
Dole's middle of road is off course
What is at stake in the GOP nomination and platform? Sen. Robert Dole prides himself in being a moderate, dodging moral issues, blindly pushing so-called free trade which bleeds our economy dry and ships jobs overseas. A leader must know where his country is really going, and initiate needed changes.
Former President George Bush was not re-elected because he thought that being a moderate was good (this came across as whimpish mush), and campaigned with a "more of the same" mind-set. He did not address important domestic/economic needs, but cut defense, preaching an "information society" as our manufacturing base deteriorated. Free trade gave trading nations a free ride. Trade deficits mounted. He did not listen or change and lost.
Disgusted voters responded to Bill Clinton's rhetoric for change changes for the worst, it turned out. Promises turned into lies. Spin-doctors directed damage control.
As many are saying, Pat Buchanan's is the only sandwich with any beef in it. NAFTA, GATT, lax immigration policies, the Mexico bail-out and capitulating to a radical social agenda are wrong. But why should the GOP platform embrace core values of the internationalists? To Mr. Dole: Breaking the back of American manufacturing and labor is economic suicide. The Reagan-Bush version of free trade was made in Hollywood and has been disastrously wrong.
Dramatic economic and moral changes are needed to redirect our nation and reshape the Republican Party. For openers: Kick the liberals out of Washington, turn the cultural war around, initiate fair trade and "Buy American" policies, bring jobs back to 6our shores and keep American dollars flowing at home.
Thomas H. Mehnert
Logging without laws
Last July, people across the nation watched in dismay as the Timber Salvage Law was smuggled onto the books as a rider to an unrelated budget bill. The law's misleading name made many think it would only remove dead trees from U.S. forests.
Now, with thousands of acres of healthy trees clear-cut, we are in the midst of yet another devastating scheme promoted by an anti-environmental Congress.
The Timber Salvage Law is more accurately described as "logging without laws," since it suspends all environmental regulations on timber salvage sales through the end of 1996. It also mandates logging of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, reverses restrictions on logging in salmon and grizzly bear habitat and reactivates sales that were withdrawn, with good reason, years ago.
Millions of board-feet of healthy, old-growth timber are being cleared and purchased at prices 50 percent below current market value. This bargain-basement logging hurts taxpayers, of course. But by driving down the price of timber, it also hurts private property owners who practice forestry.
Oregon Rep. Elizabeth Furse has introduced repeal legislation to put a stop to this reprehensible waste of natural resources and public money. Maryland Reps. Benjamin Cardin and Wayne Gilchrest have co-sponsored this important bill. We commend them, and invite Reps. Steny Hoyer and Robert Ehrlich to join them.
A Senate version of the repeal will soon be introduced, and we hope Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski will co-sponsor it.
The writer is conservation chairman of the Sierra Club's Anne Arundel Group.
Pub Date: 3/24/96