State ethics measure must eliminate lobbyist 'freebies'I...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

State ethics measure must eliminate lobbyist 'freebies'

I suspect that there has rarely been a display of political arrogance to match State Del. John Arnick's efforts to castrate the ethics reform bill currently before the Maryland General Assembly ("Changes proposed in ethics bill," Feb. 17).

The need for a strong ethics reform bill has been obvious for a long time, given some of the scandalous behavior of legislators in recent years. It is outrageous that Del. Arnick is attempting to gut the bill and allow lobbyists to buy fancy dinners for legislators, allow legislators to accept free tickets to athletic events and permit legislators to solicit lobbyists for causes dear to them.

If the state's daily meal allowance is too small, increase the limit rather than take freebies from lobbyists. Why should legislators get free tickets to events at stadiums built by the government? And why should they have to have all these arrangements with lobbyists? Appearances such as these arouse suspicion and undermine respect for law. Rather than engage in efforts to feather their nests, it would be better for our legislators to recall the Bible's injunction that "a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous."

Rabbi Mark G. Loeb, Pikesville

Story shouldn't have made folk hero of rude student

The Sun was guilty of reckless and irresponsible journalism in its front-page article "Student barks, teacher frets" (Feb. 13), which highlighted the student who is harassing a math teacher at Chesapeake High School for keeping him out of the National Honor Society.

The tone and presentation of the information made light of a very serious issue -- teachers being harassed by students. A front-page picture of the student showing a benign-looking boy sitting at a computer provided this very troubled youth with positive re-enforcement as he is depicted as some type of folk hero.

At the end of the article, reporter Devon Spurgeon finally tells the reader that the teacher has been made physically sick by the harassment and is planning to retire at the end of the school year and move out of state because of it.

Rather than highlight this unstable student, you would have better served your readers with an article on the plight of teachers in hostile and often volatile school environments in a society that values neither teachers nor education.

Colleen F. McDowell, Catonsville

After reading "Student barks, teacher frets," it became apparent to me why this troubled student was rejected.

When I applied for membership to the National Honor Society two years ago, I also was not accepted. As a respectable student with leadership experience and a 3.8 grade point average, this rejection came as a complete surprise to me.

Although to some, it may seem an obvious reaction would be to make animal sounds directed at a faculty member and persistently harass her, I took a more appropriate approach to settling the predicament. (My honorable way of handling the situation didn't make the front page of the news, however.)

I know that I should be in the honor society. I make it apparent to others through my actions every day. Maybe Franklin Pierce Wright III should be asking himself if he can say the same thing, in between his barks.

Lauren Kaufman, Baltimore

John Dorsey's critical eye improved area's arts scene

John Dorsey's retirement caught us by surprise. As individuals who live and breathe the visual arts, my colleagues and I at the Maryland Institute, College of Art and throughout the region have been spoiled by the regular commentary of this fine journalist and critic.

During Mr. Dorsey's tenure at The Sun, Baltimore's museums have grown stronger, and the gallery scene more vibrant. I am sure it was no small challenge to keep up with a burgeoning number of artists and ventures, contemporary interpretations of new and traditional media while always treating each artist, curator or institution, renown or unknown, with a critical yet respectful eye. Mr. Dorsey understood well the need for balance in the critic's role.

Then there was John Dorsey the journalist. From the time I arrived at the Maryland Institute 20 years ago, it has been said that a profile written by Mr. Dorsey was an honor. His recent profile of Maren Hassinger, chair of the Rinehart School of Sculpture, is an example of his gentle and insightful work, and we were honored to be the focus of one of his last long profiles.

Certainly there are times when all of us want more or different coverage from The Sun, but none of those concerns should ever overshadow all that Mr. Dorsey has done for us over the years. Through his work, he has generated interest in the arts and artists of this region. He has broadened and educated audiences.

On behalf of the Maryland Institute, our faculty and alumni, I thank him for his tireless efforts and years of commitment.

Fred Lazarus IV, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Institute, College of Art.

Worthington Valley should get fair share

The people of Worthington Valley feel that they should not have a group home in their community ("Disturbed teens, distressed neighbors," Feb. 12).

Our community is important to us, too, but group homes were put in our area. Isn't our community as good as Worthington Valley? Our homes may not be as expensive, but they are just as important to us. Shouldn't Worthington Valley take its share?

Mary C. Henry, Baltimore

I live in one of the areas being considered for the group home for juvenile offenders.

After reading the recent series of articles on this topic in The Sun, I am strongly reminded of the odyssey of the garbage barge, searching for a place that would accept its unwanted cargo. Perhaps it would be useful to focus on the fact that the young people who will live in this home are not garbage, but represent a part of the future for everyone.

Our main concern should be that the home is well-managed and supervised so that it accomplishes its purpose of preparing these young people to live according to the values of the greater community while ensuring the well-being of the home's neighbors.

Winona Hocutt, Granite

To fight crime, take profit out of narcotics dealing

Kudos for the article "When a drug lord is your landlord" (Feb. 14).

The article explained how these slum-lords buy undesirable houses for as little as $3,000 in Baltimore and use them to sell illegal drugs and to conduct other criminal activities.

About 50 percent of the prison population is there because of drug-related crimes. To reduce the dangerous drug situation, we must find a way to take the profits away from dealing in illegal narcotics.

The billions spent on the drug war should be used for rehabilitation of the junkies.

After these addicts are cured, we need to start a federal jobs program for these young people.

Joseph Lerner, Baltimore

Don't stop at tobacco; legislate vegetarianism

The current villains, cigarette manufacturers, are once again being blamed for yet another ill of society -- fires ("Tobacco industry tied to firefighters," Feb. 16).

Doesn't anyone see the true intent behind all this finger pointing and litigation? If the issue were health and safety, why stop here? Why not penalize the beef and dairy industries for marketing products that contain carcinogens? Let's legislate vegetarianism.

Why not hold the sugar industry hostage for the rise in Type II diabetes? Legislate government-required blood-sugar tests, and tax indulgers. Better yet, let's tax the obese for every excess pound of body fat.

Legislate thinness and government-run fat farms for these offenders. It is only a matter of time before everyone's personal liberty, sacrificed in the name of safety and health, brings Nikita Khrushchev's words to fruition that communism would not have to fire a shot to take over America.

This isn't about health or safety; it's about personal freedom.

Joyce C. Robinson, Glen Burnie

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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