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Trial is proper remedy for Clinton and...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Trial is proper remedy for Clinton and nation

Reading the Dec. 22 Opinion Commentary page from left to right made me realize again the wisdom of the American people.

The much-heralded column ("A time to heal our nation") by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and their pleas to "heal our nation" through censure makes it easy to see why voters saw fit not to elect either of these gentlemen to another term. They are so moderate they stand for nothing.

My spirits were lifted, however, when I read the column further to the right (intentional placement, perhaps?) by Daniel L. Buccino ("For Clinton, resignation is the best way out"), a psychotherapist and self-described "bleeding-heart liberal" who balanced monetary amends with compassion, resulting in a suggested punishment that would fit the situation. His eight-point program to heal Mr. Clinton is the best I have seen, and something your editorial board should have considered before you gave us another status quo editorial, "Clinton must face trial, not think of resigning."

In this touchy-feely society we have fashioned for ourselves, should not Mr. Clinton's welfare be our prime concern?

If we allow Mr. Clinton the Ford-Carter censure without any meaningful penalty, he will continue to delude himself with the idea that he can get away with no consequences.

Those so concerned about the possibility of his leaving office should see that Mr. Clinton is the one in danger of running amok because of his actions and, possibly, dragging the country down with him. Mr. Buccino gives him an honorable out.

Our nation has weathered worse situations than the exit of a president, whatever the circumstance.

The deaths of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy brought the Chicken Little "sky is falling" philosophers to the fore, but we endured. Removing the president from office or having him resign does not overturn the will of the people. It is not a coup d'etat, the Democrats' impeachment debate mantra. It is a constitutional process.

We also elected a vice president who would assume office if the president leaves. Despite the doom and gloom expressed now, I am sure The Sun would suddenly discover Al Gore to be highly competent in 2000 when he runs against a Republican.

In the meantime, Mr. Buccino's plan would allow Mr. Clinton and the country to persevere -- the president through true repentance and redemption, and the nation by ending this century with a renewed sense of purpose.

I hope the good doctor can get his plan to those in the Senate charged with formulating a solution for Mr. Clinton before the proverbial slap on the wrist occurs.

C. L. Norris

Baltimore

Senators can't escape dirt in political trial

I could hardly believe what I was reading Dec. 28 on the front page of The Sun ("Trial before censure, GOP insists").

Do Republican Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum and John Ashcroft really believe they can control the length of the impeachment trial, which witnesses would be called and whether witnesses can be called?

Are they really that arrogant, or is it more a case of ignorance?

The Senate is the jury in an impeachment proceeding. It is not the judge, jury and executioner. If there is going to be a trial, the president has the right to offer a defense as he and his defense team sees fit to present it.

If Mr. McConnell and Mr. Hatch fear being embarrassed by "unnecessary" witnesses such as those "infamous characters" Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp, perhaps they should resign because they are too cowardly to examine the dirt they wish to throw at the president.

If Republicans think they can rush through this while the public isn't looking, they are sadly mistaken. If Mr. Hatch and Mr. McConnell are worried about their delicate sensibilities, they should bail out now. They can't take part in dirty politics without getting dirty.

Joe Roman

Baltimore

Improved nursing homes need improved regulation

The Sun's decision to publish the lead editorial ("Nursing homes face crackdown on care" (Dec. 21) properly states that the care of our elderly and infirm citizens requires high moral and professional responsibility.

This is a responsibility that should be shared by the nursing home community and the residents and families we serve.

A similarly high standard, however, must also be imposed on those who establish and enforce the regulatory process.

The editorial is based on the premise that the nursing homes are subject to clear and consistently applied standards reflecting current knowledge to help identify, rectify and impose sanctions against poor care.

Unfortunately, the inspection and enforcement process that your editorial advocates is seriously flawed, and the manner in which it is being applied by regulatory agencies would certainly lead to a greater number of unwarranted closures of facilities and the forced relocation of their residents. This does not need to happen.

We support efforts to hold nursing homes to a higher standard. Through educational programs, staff and volunteer appreciation and other means, we support our members in a host of ways. We wish to state, in the strongest possible terms, that our members take very seriously the trust residents and families place in nursing homes and remain steadfast in our goal of providing care at the highest degree attainable.

We support an environment that does not accept deficient care but that also provides facilities with the means necessary to achieve the goals we all share. We do so in the face of the challenges of cuts in reimbursement, the recruitment and retention of dedicated staff and the increasing needs of nursing home residents who are transferred from hospitals and other settings.

Nursing homes operate in the face of a regulatory process that Carol Benner, head of licensing for the Maryland health department, described as chaotic and subject to daily changes in the process and standards that apply to providers.

We urge all who are concerned about our elderly and the environment in which they receive care to join us in urging the adoption of methods that will recognize clear and consistent expectations and standards based on the current medical and nursing knowledge about care for the elderly and infirm.

If the improvements your editorial urges are to be attained, not only must nursing homes be held to a high standard, but improvements must be made in the oversight process as well. Better dialogue among experts, enhanced surveyor training and a regulatory process that can coexist with a vigorous internal quality improvement process among facilities are essential.

Poor care is always unacceptable. We support a vigorous and effective regulatory process that holds nursing homes to a high standard, promotes self-examinations and provides facilities with the manner and means to provide the quality care our residents need and deserve.

Robert C. Bristol

Annapolis Junction

Isabella Firth

Columbia

The writers are, respectively, chairman of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland and president of the Mid-Atlantic Non-Profit Health and Housing Association.

Workers fund not financially endangered

The Injured Workers Insurance Fund (IWIF) uses the state payroll system and the state pension system. Its board of directors is appointed by the governor. It is subject to open-meeting laws and its salaries are open to public scrutiny.

However, its mission is not only to be "the insurer of last resort for local governments and small businesses," as you stated in your editorial "Rehabilitation of state insurer" (Dec. 20). The fund also competes with the major public insurance companies for all business to keep the workers compensation insurance rates in the state one of the lowest in the country.

The fund expects to show a profit of approximately $7 million for 1998 as opposed to The Sun's reported loss of $15 million. While this profit would include a reduction of reserves, which must be approved by the board of directors, this practice is consistent with similar additions and subtractions to reserves done in previous years after independent recommendation by the accounting and consulting firm of Deloitte & Touche.

IWIF has been successful over its 80-year history and is poised to continue this success well into the next century.

Daniel E. McKew

Glen Arm

The writer chairs the IWIF board of directors.

BGE will welcome utility competitors

Sun staff reporters Sean Somerville and Michael Dresser recently addressed deregulation of Maryland's electric utility industry.

Baltimore Gas and Electric welcomes competition and freedom of choice where consumers will benefit. However, this must not be approved without fair and proper treatment of our utility and thousands of shareholders.

Investment by BGE in plant and other resources (stranded costs) needed to serve customers must be considered. Recovery of these outlays will be essential when electricity is deregulated July 2000.

Writers compared electric costs with two utilities on the East Coast and one in the Southwest. BGE rates were in line and its monthly service charge was lower than all three.

Bill Arwady

Towson

Two perspectives on blind teacher

I really enjoyed your article "Blindness no bar to classroom life" (Dec. 27). In an era when education is driven by numbers (MSPAP, CTBS, SAT, MSPP, reading scores), your story was refreshing.

I am proud to be part of a school system that viewed Craig Borne as an educator and enabled him to teach in Baltimore County. Kudos to the administration, faculty and students at Parkville Middle School.

Nancy Waters

Lutherville

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I'm commenting on "Blindness no bar to classroom life", which dealt with blind teacher, Craig Borne. As a legally blind person (and communications professional) I must say that I was very displeased with the tone of the article.

I've become really sick of stories that call those of us who are disabled "inspirational" and "role models," simply because we're disabled.

I'm tired of articles that insist on mentioning how we get to work (and who drives us) or describe how prospective employers are hesitant to hire us (never mind that we may have advanced degrees or long resumes).

I'm irritated that a blind teacher is considered enough of an anomaly in 1998 to warrant a major newspaper story. And was it necessary to tell us that Mr. Borne didn't note his blindness on his application to Parkville School? Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, he's not required to do this.

I don't doubt that Mr. Borne is a fine teacher. However, this isn't because of his blindness; it's because of his skills as an instructor. His students don't need a breathlessly admiring article to tell them this.

Neither do we.

Martha McNally Rowe

Linthicum

Governor's New Year's resolution for a better society

A few days before Christmas, I had the honor of standing with President Clinton at a Boys and Girls Club in Baltimore City as he announced millions of dollars in federal assistance for programs that benefit the homeless.

The president was introduced by a dynamic woman, Christa Spangler, who had been divorced, addicted to alcohol, unemployed and had lost custody of her small children. She was forced to live in a car and drove to the city's most dangerous neighborhoods, hoping to be killed.

Fortunately, Ms. Spangler's life story has a happy ending. She now works as a secretary, is remarried to a supportive husband, and owns her own home.

Programs at the federal, state and local levels of government gave her the help she needed to pull her life together.

Her story illustrates exactly where we are as a society -- a person in trouble, a society that cares, policies that help.

One of the greatest challenges of the next millennium will be to find different ways to recognize and rejoice in our diversity. We must reject and rebuke those who seek to divide us by race, economics, gender, ethnicity or choice of sexual partner.

Ours is a great state, but we can be better still. Maryland is a compassionate state, but we can open our hearts even further. Maryland is a just and inclusive state, but we can recommit ourselves to fairness, diversity and inclusion. We can strengthen the foundation on which future generations can build. We can be a beacon for the rest of the nation and the world.

Not a day goes by that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I are not struck by the awesome responsibility with which we have been charged. We are honored, indeed humbled, that we have been chosen by the citizens of Maryland to lead this state into the 21st century and the new millennium.

We will lead with more than innovative programs and effective policies. We also will lead by asking the crucial and sometimes difficult questions that some would have us avoid asking.

As families across Maryland ring in the new year, we can all take pride in the fact that it will be another year of prosperity and continued progress for our great state. Our children are learning more in smaller classes and in schools that are being modernized and better equipped.

Our economy remains strong, bolstered by well-paying, family-supporting jobs. Our crime rate continues to decline. And our environment is better protected for future generations to enjoy.

But Ms. Townsend and I will not rest until everyone can share in this prosperity, until everyone has an opportunity to have a seat at the table. For every Christa Spangler, there are hundreds of other men, women and children throughout our state who need our helping hand.

Do we turn our back on them, satisfied with our progress and our successes, satisfied that we have done enough? Or do we feel challenged to do more, to reach out and offer the same kind of assistance that Ms. Spangler needed to turn her life around?

How can we take the next big steps to stop sprawl and to improve the environment for our children? And how can we work toward a more fair, just and inclusive society?

Our vision is simply this: Let us all work together as one people, not merely to usher in the new millennium, but to embark on a new beginning.

One hundred years from now, our grandchildren and their children will look back on the kind of society we left behind for them in the year 2000. Let us all work together to create a world in which we can all take great pride. Let us all work together to make a difference.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening

Annapolis

Morality key to reducing pregnancy

The editorial "Teen pregnancy" (Dec. 23), addressing the promising statistics as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, attempts to provide the reader with confidence "about the success that common-sense programs can yield when given a chance."

While the quoted percentage reductions of teen pregnancies appear significant, the national tally of numbers is devastating, and the cure for this critical societal issue remains elusive.

During July 1996, Dr. Henry Foster, President Clinton's onetime candidate for surgeon, suggested in a Sun article that a million such pregnancies occur each year, with about half ending in abortions.

The NCHS said that the teen birth rate dropped 6 percent from 1991 to 1997, which suggests that 490,000 such births occur each year, assuming a gratuitous 2 percent drop per year and a constant rate of teen abortions of about 500,000 per year.

Various solutions for curtailing teen pregnancies have been suggested in the past. Two such suggestions were published by The Sun in July 1996.

Noted columnist Ellen Goodman recommended that the school year be lengthened from 180 days to at least 220 days and the school day be lengthened because teen conceptions occur during late afternoon and vacations.

Respected former deputy editorial page editor Sara Engram, also in July 1996, recommended rewarding the potential teen mother $50 per month for not becoming pregnant in lieu of spending millions for sex education.

Suggestions such as these deal with the issue superficially instead of realistically.

Society must begin to deal with sexually active teens as a morality issue rather than permitting them the freedom of choice in order to attain success.

A teen pregnancy is an abusive pregnancy, and we need to stop the abuse of the unborn.

Sy Steinberg

Baltimore

Sun's Marylander of year should be Baltimore mayor

In honoring Peter G. Angelos as The Sun's Marylander of the Year, (Dec. 27) you have outlined the great accomplishments of a true American.

Now that the city of Baltimore is seeking an ideal candidate to run for mayor, why can't the powers that be prevail on Mr. Angelos to again seek this position which he sought many years ago?

No one can deny his qualifications to lead Baltimore out of its doldrums into the bright lights of the 21st century. He is a man for all people, a champion of working people, a fighter for African-American causes and a philanthropist of the first order.

At age 69, wouldn't this be a perfect time for Mr. Angelos to become the savior for the people of Baltimore? He has the skills to revitalize this city that has so much promise. He can actually save the lives of many of those men, women and children who without his leadership will be included in the 300-plus murders destined to happen in the city during the year of 1999.

No one can dispute these possibilities. How can Mr. Angelos be persuaded to come on board for the mayor's race? It can start with The Sun's endorsement.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

Pub Date: 1/02/99

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