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Thumbs down on 'Ethical McCarthyism'I was surprised...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Thumbs down on 'Ethical McCarthyism'

I was surprised to read in the Jan. 11 editorial, "Ethical McCarthyism," the statement, "Racetrack opponents in Pasadena similarly demean their cause by seeking removal of public officials with the faintest connection to the project."

I would suggest that the editorial writer read a reporter's notes more carefully before making such judgments. A review of these notes would show that my comments about conflict of interest were part of a discussion regarding potential ethics problems relating to Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp. attorney Robert Douglas and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer because Mr. Douglas worked as campaign finance manager for Mr. Schaefer's re-election this fall. Mr. Douglas publicly surfaced as working for CMSDC only after the November election.

At no time was Linda Gilligan a topic of discussion between myself and Sun reporters. Furthermore, until I read additional articles in the newspaper, I was unaware of Mrs. Gilligan, her relationship with Michael Gilligan and her position in the administration of Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. No one from Citizens Against the Racing Stadium Site has ever advocated removal of Mrs. Gilligan from her position in the Owens administration nor have we suggested she has done anything improper.

This is not the first time a Sun editorial has taken liberties with the facts to cast negative aspersions against those of us who oppose a racetrack on the 100-acre Kembo Road site. I'd recommend more stringent fact-checking.

You are entitled to your opinion, but please don't make accusations that cannot be substantiated.

Such comments by The Sun, particularly on the editorial page, are irresponsible.

Marcia Drenzyk

Baltimore

Racetrack group's tactics aren't new

The recent news that Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens had to fire Michael Gilligan seemed unfortunate, but it was not surprising.

We've been watching Chesapeake Motorsports Development Corp. for more than a year. It has tried to run roughshod over the people of Pasadena, the same way it tried to run over the people in Laurel and Baltimore County.

In Anne Arundel County, of course, it has had the assistance of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. in the insane attempt to shove a racetrack at people who don't want it, in densely populated areas that cannot withstand it, on land that can be put to better economic use.

Apparently, these developers have the perception that to do business in Anne Arundel County you have to spread around some money: promise a six-figure "donation" to the local volunteer fire department if it will support the racetrack; put a member of the board of directors of the Economic Development Corp. on the payroll. We saw it happen in Laurel.

Mrs. Owens did the right thing by firing Mr. Gilligan. She acted with more integrity than has been seen in this county in many years.

Her actions should send a message: The racetrack does not belong in Anne Arundel County.

Mary E. Cooper

Laurel

School board spending continues downhill

As we all know, the Anne Arundel County school system's recent financial trouble has been a hotly debated topic. A quick glance at the Board of Education's latest budget suggests that these troubles are not being resolved.

The school budget for fiscal year 2000 sounds wonderful. It asks for more reading resource teachers and money to beef up the gifted and talented program, to name a few initiatives.

More teachers sounds like a wonderful idea until you realize that resource teachers are not classroom teachers. They do not reduce class size. In many cases, resource teachers do not even teach the children. Instead, they coordinate volunteers, teach teachers, test children and perform other tasks.

According to the citizens with whom I have spoken, this is not what our schools need. When parents say we need more teachers, they mean classroom teachers; you know, the people who spend the day in the classroom making sure children learn to read.

In 1996, the board received a substantial additional appropriation from the Gary administration, approved by the County Council, to be used toward an increase in teachers' salaries.

Enough funding was provided for a 3 percent salary increase for all education employees. However, an increase of 2.5 percent was granted. The leftover funds were used to pay for excess expenses because the Board of Education had exceeded its budget. In other words, as a result of poor financial management, some of the funds could not be used for the intended purpose, mainly teacher and staff salaries.

Then, in 1997, extra funding was allocated to the school board to hire teachers. Instead, the board decided to hire psychologists. Again, the education administration had an opportunity to improve the quality of education and failed.

This pattern continued throughout 1998. Added funding was provided to pay for much needed books, but a significant amount was used to pay for yet more overbudgeted expenses.

In sum, the county Board of Education has been given significant financial assistance. A history of poor financial management, however, has made it impossible for children to reap any benefit from that assistance. It looks like this trend will continue. I, for one, am extremely disappointed.

Del. Janet Greenip

Annapolis

The writer represents the 33rd Legislative District in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Why police shouldn't rush in

Upon reading "Death by numbers" in the Jan. 3 Perspective section, I couldn't help but recall the same behavior by the news media and city government three years ago on the topic of too many guns on the streets and too much violence.

The Police Department, with much media support, launched special patrols to reduce violent crime. But then the predictable happened.

On Feb. 7, 1996, Sgt. Steven Pagotto was assigned to a "gun grabbing" squad and encountered a drug dealer who planned to escape by force from any officer. The drug dealer died as a result. Sgt. Pagotto was prosecuted in criminal court by the city. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (an accidental discharge) because he "closed on a subject with his gun in hand" and was sentenced to 14 months in prison. An editorial in The Sun stated in hindsight: Pagotto "should have allowed [the subject believed to be carrying a gun] to drive away" (Dec. 21, 1996).

Eliminating guns from the street requires the officer to go face-to-face with a person who displays "gun-carrying" behavior. The police administration wants the violent crime rate down, and the news media wants guns off the street.

Be advised, officers: Sgt. Pagotto tried to accomplish those same goals for the same powers. Do not rush in.

Dennis P. O'Toole

Hanover

A vote to address national debt first

It appalls me to listen to our politicians speak on national television and boast what they plan to do with government surpluses without addressing the national debt.

During President Clinton's State of the Union address, he stated that during the next 15 years the government will have more than $4 trillion in surplus income and never mentioned paying off the debt. Instead, he plans to use surpluses to save Social Security, increase spending on education and numerous other political objectives.

Although I agree that Social Security and education are priorities, I also believe that if we were to utilize the surplus income in the next 10 to 15 years to pay off the national debt, there will be more than enough savings on money spent on interest to make Social Security solvent.

Dave Reitmeyer

Glen Burnie

Pub Date: 1/31/99

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