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Support for Towson U. will help spur...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Support for Towson U. will help spur change

Your editorial series on the problems inherent in the University System of Maryland highlighted the major issues that we at Towson University have faced since the creation of the system in 1988 ("Higher education in turmoil").

Despite perplexing system roadblocks and poor state funding, Towson has still made major strides in the past five years by adding several new undergraduate and graduate programs.

Your strong support of Towson, displayed especially in two of your editorials, will add significantly to the changes that are necessary if Maryland is to have a premier system of higher education as you envision.

Indeed, Towson University is dedicated to fulfilling its promise to become a major force in higher education throughout Maryland for all its citizens as our arts and sciences and professional programs, both undergraduate and graduate, continue to grow and develop in the future.

Jack Fruchtman Jr.

Towson

The writer teaches constitutional law and politics at Towson University.

Slain officer's story brought tears to eyes

I have just finished reading the article by Sarah Pekkanen " 'Officer Down!' " (Dec. 20). It didn't matter how hard I tried to keep the tears from streaming down my face, they did anyway.

I didn't know Officer Harold Carey personally, and yet I grieved for those few minutes for him. I felt the absolute pain of his loss.

His parents and his fellow officers have indeed suffered a loss, and so have I.

I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Officer Carey. I pray that he is indeed in a better place.

I also congratulate Ms. Pekkanen for the talent she has shared with me -- the ability to touch someone with words. It was a very moving telling of the facts and emotions of all involved in this tragedy.

Thomas E. Mitchell

Randallstown

Stadiums for second, not first, childhoods

Maryland has sharply reduced subsidies to welfare recipients. This has freed up approximately a half billion dollars to aid a small group of Baltimore males, who have used the money to build two downtown stadiums.

To prevent sports fans from exercising too much, each stadium has a light rail stop. Unlike all other light rail stops, the Ravens stop has a sheltered ramp, which goes to the stadium. Many patrons have luxury sky boxes. (For readers unfamiliar with the game, a sky box is an incubator for those prematurely reaching a second childhood.) Here, the temperature is controlled. Occupants are fed on demand, mostly liquids. Some find that at least one meal is needed between lunch at noon and dinner at 6 p.m.

Because Maryland taxpayers paid for the stadiums, they are delighted at the economic returns. Midway through the second half of a Ravens game, some fans move toward the exit, muttering, "Let's go to Hancock or Cumberland and eat a sandwich." If a baseball game is not exciting, the fans leave in the late innings, to beat the crowds to soda fountains in Elkton or Havre de Grace.

Because these stadiums are the only entertainment venues in Baltimore that do not offer reduced admission prices for children, another generation of sports fans is unlikely. Then, alas, the Orioles and the Ravens will go the way of the dodo bird.

Robert Y. O'Brien

Severna Park

Tablets show origins of civilization in Africa

In response to the article "Egyptian tablets may be earliest writing" (Dec. 16), it would appear that the truth, to some degree, is finally being told.

Yet this article did not mention the artifacts from the ancient Qustul, Nubia (the land now known as the Sudan), which pre-dates the Egyptian dynastic system by at least 300 years.

Those artifacts prove that hieroglyphic writing, the worship of Osiris, Isis and Horus; the governmental system of pharaohs and dynasties; architecture; the sciences; and many other ideas started in Nubia.

Not only did humankind start in Africa, but civilization started there as well.

Olatunji Mwamba

Baltimore

Baltimore County residents need the 'park-loving spirit'

Three articles on the first three pages of your Dec. 18 Maryland section displayed, no doubt unintentionally, the stark difference in attitudes toward land development -- residential vs. park -- in Baltimore and Howard counties.

There's the usual concern, mostly traffic, of citizens groups over the planned 1,200 to 1,400-home, Columbia-style village in the area of Howard County near Interstate 95 and Route 216. But some of those groups believe a quarry there would be the foundation for a needed regional park, and the Rouse Co. and county officials seem likely to talk about such an acquisition ("Rouse plans 200 more homes in Howard next to proposed Columbia-style village").

Ten miles to the northeast in the same county, local activists are trying -- although they probably will fail -- to delay a planned development of 99 homes on 71 acres ("Development approved in Ellicott City"). However, 45 acres of that will presumably be added to the adjacent Patapsco Valley State Park. State officials, supported by the activists, even expressed interest in buying all the land to add to the park.

The developer wouldn't object, but the property owner had not been approached. Although development approval by the county planning board seemingly denies citizens and park officials more time to try to buy the land, there is still some hope.

Ten miles farther to the northeast is the altogether different milieu of Baltimore County. An old 300-acre quarry -- with a 40-acre, 500-foot-deep lake as centerpiece -- is to be abandoned.

How our Howard County park-loving friends would have pounced on that opportunity, although their park area is a magnitude larger than Baltimore County's, per capita.

Despite the dearth of parks in that particular Greenspring-Old Court community, there's not one hint of a park idea mentioned.

With only a slight reference to the usual environmental and traffic issues, the article mainly describes how wonderful the planned residential and commercial development will be for all concerned, even a "cold, sparkling lake to provide boating and fishing." But surely the residents of the surrounding upscale homes would never allow ordinary citizens to boat or fish in their private lake. While most of the neighborhood would probably prefer to forestall the development, what good is forestalling the inevitable if a park is no option?

A county official claimed that the development "fits with . . .

'smart growth' . . . and will benefit the immediate area."

I see nothing smart and no civic benefit from 800 homes plus some commercial property on 300 prime acres. Surely this is one more example of how the glaring oxymoron "smart growth" has been distorted into a cleverly deployed euphemism by those profiting from development.

Soon, I hope, Baltimore County citizens and officials will catch the active park-loving spirit of Howard residents. I hope it is not already too late.

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

Vigilance against homicide is needed 12 months a year

It is a sad commentary that the police commissioner does not see the idiocy of putting more officers on the streets for only one month and only to avoid hitting a record number of homicides.

Maybe if he and other decision-makers focused on this problem year-round, as well as the main contributing factors (narcotics and other addictions), his projected rate would decrease.

Homicide is not a problem that lasts only a month. The real tragedy is that a constant focus does not appear to exist.

Tiffany M. Riddick

Woodmoor

It's time for the Senate to resolve to get the House of Representatives in order

Sen. John H. Chafee recently argued that a trial in the Senate is necessary to discourage the House from lowering the threshold for future impeachments ("GOP faction makes pitch for censure," Dec. 22). This argument is insightful but partly flawed.

It is insightful because it appears to be a tacit acknowledgment that the House's recent action uses the concept of impeachment to ends for which it was not intended, that is, as a "super censor." It is also insightful because the logic is correct, but it has a downside.

The downside is that the argument tacitly says that the Senate must go through an artificial process, which generates administrative burden and national pain, to discourage the House from casually using impeachment in the future.

If the Senate wants to send a message to the House regarding the proper use of impeachment in the future, it should consider addressing the House in a direct resolution to this effect.

If a direct message to the House is not politically viable, the full Senate should at least go on record regarding its views on the future use of impeachment.

Many Americans are much more concerned about the casual erosion of our institutions than the actions of this particular president.

James George

Baltimore In your editorial "Clinton must face trial, not think of resigning" (Dec. 22), you decry the partisan impeachment vote in the House and set up Rep. Constance Morella as an example of choosing "conscience over party."

This line of reasoning assumes that other Republicans who voted for the impeachment ignored their consciences, a bold and illogical assumption.

You could just as easily assert that the Democrats who voted against impeachment simply supported their party leader and did not weigh the case on its merits.

Let us remember when the House of Representatives is accused of undoing the will of the people that the House membership also reflects the will of the people.

Ray Saunders

Towson

Exposing absurdity of Washington affairs

Rep. Robert L. Livingston's adulterous conduct came to light because Larry Flynt's million-dollar offer hit pay dirt.

Appalled by revelations of Mr. Livingston's extramarital affairs, Rep. Henry Hyde, in his floor statement, attempted to draw a distinction between adultery, a private act, and lying about it, a public act. He said that the government has no business prying into people's personal lives.

It got better. Mr. Livingston was ready and willing to accept the speakership before his illicit affairs were exposed.

But the new Republican morality forced him to admit that he had lost the authority to be the speaker. His party had painted him into a corner. Under the new standards, he understood what Mr. Hyde does not: that he is a liar, too, just like the president. He was trying to get away with it, just like the president. That is why he resigned.

Thanks to Mr. Flynt for proving the absurdity of it all. A pox on the Republican Party; I renounce my membership.

Dan Cline

Columbia The constant one-sided reporting against the impeachment of President Clinton by the news media, including The Sun, is missing an important point. Our government is a representative one.

We who vote for our representatives in Congress do so with the expectation that they will vote on issues the same way we would vote most of the time.

The repeatedly cited public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans opposed impeachment. Many of those polled, perhaps as much as 50 percent, did not vote for their House or Senate representatives.

The only polls that really matter in the United States are the ones where people's votes actually result in the election of a person to represent them in office.

Tom Decker

Severna Park

Respect for truth is the issue here

As a liberal Democrat, I am appalled at the behavior of the

Democratic Party and the president. It concerns me that if we do not hold the president to a higher standard -- one that says he must honor the oath of office and tell the truth in any court of law -- what respect will anyone have for truth?

Nancy Cook

Baltimore

Impeachment's costs far outweigh benefits

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives has, by impeaching the president on the grounds stated, failed to execute its prosecutorial responsibilities under our Constitution.

My representative, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., by voting with his leadership, has condoned and colluded in this failure.

American prosecutors are obligated to bring charges and pursue convictions only after satisfying each of two necessary pre-conditions. First, the prosecutor must be confident that the evidence, his interpretation of the relevant law, and the logic of his case are strong enough to win conviction on each count. Second, the prosecutor must also be convinced that the cost to society of conducting his prosecution does not outweigh the benefit society will derive from obtaining a conviction.

The benefit to our society of the prosecution of the president is only that all future presidents will be on notice that they should not mislead federal grand juries with respect to matters associated with trials of civil cases. It is a real benefit, but not a great one.

The costs to our society of this impeachment could be complete paralysis of the Senate for three to six months, the loss to the Supreme Court of its chief justice, the elevation of partisanship over cooperative governance, the redefinition and extension of what constitutes impeachable offenses, the encouragement of similar investigations and prosecutions in the future and, most terribly, the undoing of our electoral process.

The gravity of this last cost alone far outweighs whatever benefit may be derived from this action by the House Republicans.

John Fries

Timonium

Democracy is stronger with impeachment

Your editorial "Democracy is weaker because of House vote" (Dec 20), stating that democracy is weaker because of the House vote on impeachment of President Clinton, is just plain wrong.

Our nation is stronger because it is following the process correctly instead of by a popularity contest.

The impeachment hearings were not about sex -- even sex in a federal building. They were about lying to a grand jury. They were also about lying to the country. President Andrew Johnson committed a far lesser offense and barely escaped conviction.

President Clinton has shown an amazing amount of disrespect for our judicial branch of government by lying under oath. He compounds it by refusing to admit he lied. That The Sun and many Americans would excuse Mr. Clinton for his outrageous and insulting demeanor is shocking. It is a sorry lesson in morality for our children.

Thomas Jefferson had fitting and appropriate words: "He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second time."

Gene Edwards

Eldersburg

Dissenting Democrats voted conscience

Your editorial "Clinton must face trial, not think of resigning" lauded Republicans who voted against impeachment as choosing "conscience over party."

Wouldn't it follow that any Democrats who voted for any article of impeachment were also choosing "conscience over party"? Or is conscience the exclusive property of those who agree with the views of The Sun?

John Reisinger

Sparks

Offensive column insults us, friends

Gregory Kane's column ("Democrats' bad excuses shouldn't halt process," Dec. 19) is inexcusably offensive.

He has insulted us, our family, our friends, our elected officeholders and all of the Democrats, in the state and the nation.

Mr. Kane doesn't belong in a state such as Maryland, with a time-honored record for tolerance. He is a disgrace to its major newspaper. He should move to Mississippi.

The paper has become polluted.

Charles Henderson

Eileen Henderson

Columbia

Gore would be ready if Clinton is removed

I read your editorial ("Democracy is weaker because of House votes," Dec. 20), and I have to take issue with some of your assertions.

You state that "impeachment seeks to nullify the informed decision of the voters." The voters elected a team in 1996; the vice president is there just in case something happens to the president.

Vice President Al Gore is qualified to step up to the presidency if President Clinton is removed. He has his own merits and has been closely associated with Mr. Clinton's political agenda over the past six years.

Furthermore, I don't think that the voters were "informed." Voters surely didn't know about Mr. Clinton's personal behavior in the Oval Office or that he would lie about it in court. I find it hard to believe that voters knew what they were getting.

I also doubt that the government will grind to a halt.

The executive and regulatory agencies will continue to work normally whether there is a Senate trial or not, as will federal courts, except the Supreme Court. Even the House of Representatives will continue with normal business.

I don't see any business before the Congress that is so important that it can't be delayed.

Jerry Hayward

Severna Park I have been a registered Republican continuously for more than 33 years. I stuck with the Party through Watergate, Iran-contra, the budget deficit and the Bush son's alleged raiding of the Silverado Savings and Loan. But the self-righteous, radical, so-called Christian congressmen who have taken over my party have embarrassed our nation before the world so much that I will change my registration.

These congressmen are neither Christian nor Republican. Rather, they are modern-day Roundheads and Pharisees who in Christ's time would have sought to stone the Virgin Mary for fornication and would have surely crucified our Lord for blasphemy.

James W. Scouten

Baltimore

People should expect high moral integrity

It was surprising and disappointing to read in "Livingston stuns House with plan to depart office" (Dec. 20) that Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, the Democratic leader of the House, made the statement: "We need to stop destroying imperfect people at the altar of an unattainable morality."

None of the moral standards is unattainable. These are standards to which the majority of the American people attain daily.

It is sad that members of Congress cannot be considered people of high moral integrity.

Alfred E. Bittner

Baltimore

Pub Date: 12/26/98

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