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Residents should directly elect school boardThe school...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Residents should directly elect school board

The school board wields a significant amount of power (without taxing authority). It should be accountable to the citizens through elections. More than 90 percent of the school boards in the country are elected.

Few issues create as much controversy as redrawing school boundaries, merging schools and changing school policy. Certainly school board members have more effect on the lives of county citizens than some other elected posts such as the Register of Wills.

The current system, the school board nominating convention, is broken. Because the choices of the convention have been often ignored in the past, participation has dropped from more than 700 delegates 10 years ago to less than 200 in the past three conventions. (The last convention had less than 100 delegates). Low participation means that small groups with narrow issues have a large influence.

In 1997, four delegates were discovered to be "representing" an organization under a forged signature. An alert delegate, not the school board nominating committee, discovered the fraud. The committee said it does not have the resources to check credentials. This process lacks credibility.

The last election changed the landscape of Anne Arundel politics. I hope that with new leadership, the citizens of Anne Arundel will be given the right enjoyed by most of the country -- the right to directly elect their school board.

Richard S. Zipper

Crofton

'War on drugs' is not working

The drug problem touches all of us, city dweller and suburbanite. Drug use fosters crime, which results in inner city decline and ultimately leads to suburban sprawl. Fifteen years of waging a "war on drugs" has proven an expensive failure.

We need to switch to a strategy of positive reinforcement. Incarceration provides the opportunity and incentive for drug treatment and rehabilitation. We have a captive audience whose lives can be transformed by learning work and living skills. Instead of war, we need "Schools for Living," both inside and outside our penal institutions.

Robert W. Corbett

Annapolis

Impeachment inconsistencies

I hope that the New Year will answer two questions that are confusing me.

First, if in the eyes of his opponents the president has committed crimes so heinous that he should be thrown out of office, why is the "loyal opposition" willing to settle for censure if he agrees to confess to those alleged crimes?

Second, if the House Republicans were so positive that the evidence presented in the Starr report was overwhelming enough to warrant impeachment without calling witnesses to resolve discrepancies in testimony, why are they now beating the drum to call witnesses before the Senate tribunal?

Am I the only one who finds these positions inconsistent?

W. Krohn

Annapolis

Free incentive plan: Work or be fired

Suggestion to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens: Scrap the bonus and incentive program. The county is not in business to make a profit. When I see bonuses up to nearly $7,000 for people already making high salaries, I wonder. Many people work all year for an amount close to that bonus alone.

I have a free incentive plan. Work for the salary you agreed to or be fired. Teachers who did not get a satisfactory rating were not to get an in-step increment. Out of the thousands of teachers we have, how many were so affected? I do not want to see ex-principals at headquarters drawing close to $100,000 salaries and relegated to counting paper clips.

Why do we have more than 1,000 county cars given out for use. We even give one to the school superintendent -- while paying her more than $100,000 a year. This counts as education funding?

John Miara

Pasadena

Supreme Court caused this mess, too

On the dais of the U.S. Senate sits the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in all his black-robed solemnity presiding over a trial of the president for the high crime of lying about his sex life.

William Rehnquist, a hard-right Republican himself, will be looking down over a folly as much of his own making and that of his Supreme Court brethren as of the hard-right Republicans in Congress.

The founding fathers neglected to prevent opposition parties from maliciously abusing the civil process of federal courts to harass and discredit presidents.

In Clinton vs. Jones, the Supreme Court had a chance to correct this omission. But the court "was not persuaded" that allowing civil suits to proceed against a sitting president "will generate a large volume of politically motivated harassing and frivolous litigation."

As he sits on his "Jerry Springer" throne, Mr. Rehnquist might consider that Clinton vs. Jones should be reversed, that it might be wiser to "stay all private actions against the president until he leaves office," that it might be wiser not to let Republicans abuse federal courts to abuse Democratic presidents.

James A. Hoage

Severna Park

A new administration, new concerns over track

In your editorial "Out of the race?" (Jan. 1) about Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens' opposition to placing an auto racetrack in Pasadena, you suggest she should have "tried to fix the problems" with the site.

Ms. Owens did work a miracle by defying the predictions of political pundits and editorial-page writers to win last fall's elections. Still, I doubt even she can create hundreds of acres out of thin air or make chemical plants vanish with the wave of her hand.

The fact is the state-owned waterfront site is less than 100 acres -- far too small for a world-class motor-sports complex. Successful racetracks elsewhere in the country are on 500 to 1,000 acres.

Developers' plans show only 2,500 parking spaces fit on the site. So, your suggestion -- a dedicated exit from the Baltimore Beltway -- would keep 2,500 cars out of residential neighborhoods. Where would the remaining 15,000 go?

Well, it can't be east, which is reserved for a dredge disposal site. The protected Swan Creek wetlands are immediately south, while to the west lie brand-new warehouses.

Then there's the northern neighbor, Millennium Chemicals, a round-the-clock operation with a history of chlorine leaks.

How do you protect 62,000 race fans in an open-air stadium from that safety risk?

Even the most power-crazed county executive couldn't order a private plant to shut down 43 weekends a year.

Rebecca Kolberg

Pasadena

I'm writing to voice my extreme displeasure and dismay at the misguided attempts by Anne Arundel County Councilwoman E. Shirley Murphy to reverse the zoning legislation that pertains to the motor-sports complex.

I find it a terrible slap in the face to the 12,000-plus county residents, including 4,000-plus in the Pasadena district, who signed petitions in favor of the legislation last year.

I can't believe that the council would even consider reversing that legislation based on the will of a small, vocal minority opposed to the project.

Reversal of this legislation would set a terrible legal precedent.

Government can't just go changing legislation on a whim. What sort of a message would this send to corporations that are considering bringing their business to Anne Arundel?

Add to this the possibility that Chesapeake Motorsports might file a huge lawsuit against the county. If the government loses and ends up paying a substantial settlement, who is going to foot that bill? Taxpayers, business owners and homeowners.

I am extremely upset that Mrs. Murphy introduced her initiative in the council without any warning to residents. She introduced the legislation just as the population was heading out of town for the holidays.

Was Mrs. Murphy hoping that her legislation would be overlooked by residents too busy with shopping?

Why it is that County Executive Janet S. Owens, Mrs. Murphy and the bulk of the Pasadena delegation to the General Assembly found it acceptable to meet with Citizens Against the Racing Stadium Site last week in preparation for a Jan. 6 advisory committee meeting, but didn't find it necessary to explain their positions to the rest of the county residents, including those in favor of the motorsports complex?

I urge the executive and council to reject Mrs. Murphy's legislation.

Instead, hold Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp.'s feet to the fire and enforce the measures outlined in the legislation already in place.

Insist that the State Highway Administration force the developers to adhere to state and local traffic statutes.

Insist that the environmental officials hold the developers accountable.

Use existing laws and procedures to make sure that if the motor-sports complex is built, it is done in such a manner that the public welfare and safety are looked after properly.

I still believe that this project will be good for Anne Arundel County, including Pasadena residents.

The tax revenues could help make up the county's $20 million school budget shortfall. Don't let this project slip away.

Ed Ester

Odenton

Pub Date: 1/10/99

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