BGE's restructuring, utility deregulation are separate 0)...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BGE's restructuring, utility deregulation are separate 0) matters

Thomas C. Shaner of the Alliance for Customer Choice of Electrical Suppliers questions my view on the significance of a bill that would have amended an antiquated law banning Maryland utilities from forming holding companies ("Refusal to compete cost BGE its chance for holding company," May 24).

The bill and electric restructuring are two separate issues that should be examined on their individual merits. By adding restructuring amendments to the bill in the last legislative

session, lawmakers demonstrated a disregard for a simple but pressing business matter and nearly compromised the complex electric restructuring process.

The political wrangling and Mr. Shaner's letter grossly distort the real issues and illuminate the growing concerns about Maryland as a place to do business.

The bill would have provided Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. the financing flexibility to fuel the growth of its subsidiary activities in the state. Maryland is the only state that prohibits locally incorporated utilities from forming holding companies. Clearly, it is time for the outdated law to be revised to reflect the reality of the business environment.

Many lawmakers saw the bill as an opportunity to accelerate deregulation without adequately debating the pertinent concerns. Both are legitimate business matters and as such should be examined individually and in context.

Maryland is moving forward with customer choice in a very timely and sensible manner. We can only hope that lawmakers will begin addressing significant business matters in the same way.

James T. Brady

Baltimore

The writer recently resigned as secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Debtors aren't 'deadbeats,' they are trapped by credit

Regarding your front-page story on bankruptcy ("Bill targets credit debt," June 6), the creditors have more than enough power over anyone with a Social Security number.

They can financially ruin an individual. Congress should be alarmed about the ridiculously high rates of interest some of these institutions charge customers, or "deadbeats," as your article calls them.

With some rates as high as 24 percent annually, creditors might understand the frustration of some debtors who make payments but cannot make any headway on their principal balance because most of the money goes to interest.

The last resort of all of this effort is the humiliating task of filing for bankruptcy. Most of these people are not deadbeats, but are those who cannot see their way through all the red tape by credit card companies unwilling to establish alternative plans for repayment.

Instead of being alarmed at the number of bankruptcy filings, Congress should stop trying to bolster the dictatorial credit card companies who profit handsomely from the interest charged.

Focusing more on what these companies are getting away with, the Washington intelligentsia might discover the potential for reducing the number of bankruptcy filings in the future.

David J. Updegraff

Baltimore

It is about time our representatives reversed laws that hav made it far too easy for individuals to essentially steal from companies and hard-working citizens with no repercussions. There is no reason for people to have debts forgiven simply because they lived beyond their means.

Bankruptcy laws involving corporations that employ people serve a role in society. Allowing a company to restructure its debt so that it can remain in business protects employees who would lose jobs if the company closed. Individuals need no such protection. They need to be responsible.

Consumer groups opposing the legislation blame credit card companies for the increase in personal bankruptcies.

Granted, people with questionable credit are receiving charge cards but this does not give them a license to outspend their income. But credit card companies are not the only ones losing money. Merchants, contractors, health care providers and many others extend credit to people. When customers declare bankruptcy, these businesses are hung out to dry.

Our country continues its sad trend of blaming someone else for an individual's actions. Consumers must honor their agreements pay for the goods and services purchased. At most, bankruptcy laws should allow individuals to set up schedules by which they pay off their creditors.

E. Mitchell Arion

Goldsboro

Better services are needed for children with challenges

With great interest, our staff read Peter Jensen's article describing the difficulty parents have finding appropriate child-care programs for children with special needs ("A Question of Care," May 31).

There are many advantages to mainstreaming children with physical or behavioral challenges into "regular" programs. There is less sense of isolation for the children with special needs and more opportunities for all children to learn from one another. At the same time, there are considerable requirements for providing this level of care.

A child-care center serving children with special needs must have specialized equipment, offer a high staff-to-child ratio and ensure that its staff is appropriately trained to work with children with a wide range of challenges. It must also offer a program that can incorporate individual therapeutic goals into the child's daily activities. There are far too few full-day programs that can meet the needs of the children and allow their parents to continue working.

Joan Levy

Baltimore

The writer is chairwoman of the board of directors of PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs.

More training would help reading teachers get results

In her column "Lessons for teachers" (May 31), Sara Engram makes a good point in supporting the state Department of Education's proposed course requirements in reading for teachers to be certified to teach at the elementary and secondary levels.

Without knowing how children learn to read, the levels of developing readers and the skills and strategies that promote proficient reading, teachers have a hard time teaching children of all ability levels. It is the teacher's job to assess what each student needs in order to move along the continuum toward effective reading. That requires thoughtful assessing and planning and purposeful instruction.

Early reading success is promoted by the best qualified teachers, and intervention programs can accelerate the progress struggling readers if we teach them effectively.

It is the quality of the teacher, not the variation in curriculum, that is the critical factor in effective instruction.

Good teachers produce better readers, regardless of the curriculum or materials. Until all students have good reading instruction, we will have struggling readers. As Ms. Engram states, access to reading instruction is a right that is as basic as access to education.

Requiring four courses in the teaching of reading for elementary teachers and two courses for secondary teachers is a good first step in making sure that all Maryland students become effective readers and successful lifelong learners.

Suzanne F. Clewell

Rockville

The writer is coordinator of reading and language arts for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Judge charged with crime should have a public trial

Judge Vincent Mulieri deserves the greatest commendation, not criticism, for refusing to permit the charges against Judge Larnzell Martin to be swept under the legal carpet.

Because of the public interest in the manner in which judges conduct themselves, the charge against Judge Martin deserves a thorough public airing.

It is difficult to believe that any prosecutor would consent, much less advocate, placing this case on the stet docket. It is likewise most surprising that this newspaper, whose slogan is "light for all," should sponsor darkness in a matter so fraught with public concern ("Is a judge a citizen, too?" June 10).

The person accused in this case has a position in which he decides the fate of people charged with offenses identical to the one he faces.

People who hold public positions subject themselves to greater scrutiny than the average citizen. This principle applies to judges and other officeholders.

The citizens of this state have a right to require that the conduct of their judges be beyond reproach.

E. Mackall Childs

Annapolis

The writer is a retired circuit court judge.

Pub Date: 6/14/98

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