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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Stock holdings of UMUC leader pose no conflict

This letter is in response to coverage of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents' decision to allow Gerald A. Heeger, president of University of Maryland, University College (UMUC), to maintain his modest stock interests in EduFund International Inc. ("UM official's ties to company raise concerns about ethics," Feb. 19, and "Keeping up appearances," editorial, Feb. 20).

Before being hired in 1999, Mr. Heeger fully disclosed his involvement with EduFund. He stepped down from his uncompensated position on the company's board of directors in 2002. He currently owns a 6 percent share in the company, which is held in a trust.

The Board of Regents has a well-established policy on conflict of interest and commitment. This policy draws upon the best practices of other leading university systems and complies with all applicable state and federal laws.

The board unanimously concluded earlier that there was no conflict of interest regarding Mr. Heeger's relationship to EduFund. And today, the board reaffirms that the relationship is appropriate and within the requirements of state ethics law.

Mr. Heeger has a right to rely upon our conclusions, and he has always acted in accordance with them.

Furthermore, UMUC does not have a business relationship with EduFund. A small number of the 36,000 UMUC students enrolled last year -- 22 students who took 32 loans through EduFund -- independently sought and secured higher-education loans through the company.

However, state law does not prevent students at a university from doing business on their own volition with a company that has a relationship with the institution's officers.

The Board of Regents has every confidence in Mr. Heeger, whose exceptional leadership has helped UMUC enhance its international reputation and provide significant benefit to Maryland residents.

Clifford A. Kendall

Potomac

The writer is chairman of the USM Board of Regents.

Bond with Ehrlich based on judgment

A Sun analysis of the Ehrlich administration's approach to governing suggests why the governor has a bond with the people of Maryland, despite the obsession with left vs. right ideology among political junkies ("Ehrlich sounds like a liberal," Feb. 22).

Those who have worked with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. from his days in the General Assembly know a few things about him. First, he is scrupulously honest, and if he gives you his word, you can take it to the bank. Second, he has a keen intellect and very high standards, with zero tolerance for sloppiness in thought or deed. Finally, he truly values people over posture.

Evidence abounds that people care little for partisan squabbling about ideological litmus tests. They want problems addressed with the independent and practical judgment and performance they are seeing from Mr. Ehrlich.

Anthony Cobb

Catonsville

The writer is a former member of the Republican State Central Committee.

Misdirecting blame for chaos in Haiti

Lawrence Pezzullo misdirects blame for the desperate situation in Haiti ("Aristide's fatal restoration," Feb. 22).

His unveiled attack on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide lacks context, as he ignores the chasm between the minority of people who control the vast majority of the wealth and the majority population that lacks the means to satisfy basic needs. To ignore the role played by the wretched poverty on the island is to ensure the impossibility of finding a solution.

The situation in Haiti today reminds me of the one in Chile in 1973. And it is my suspicion that the Bush administration is actively involved in trying to overthrow Mr. Aristide.

One hope for the Haitian people would be for the United States to pressure the terrorists to disarm. However, history suggests the Bush administration will support the wrong side in Haiti.

Max Obuszewski

Baltimore

President's charges simply defy logic

After starting a war, enhancing the conditions for increased terrorism and creating less respect for the United States, President Bush now claims that the Democrats would weaken national security and that he is the only one capable of leading the country and keeping it safe ("Bush swings away at rival Democrats," Feb. 24).

You have to love that kind of logic. I suppose his next claim will be that only he can clean the air and protect the environment, since he has first-hand knowledge as to why it has deteriorated.

Franklin Shekore

Columbia

Democrats are right to seek new course

The president's accusation that his Democratic opponents have been flip-flopping on the issues was, as usual, only half true ("Bush swings away at rival Democrats," Feb. 24).

Yes, many Democrats were for tax cuts -- they then saw the huge deficits that the tax cuts caused, and now oppose them. They were for NAFTA -- then saw all the jobs that were lost as a result of its flawed implementation, and now want to change it. They were for the Patriot Act -- then saw how Attorney General John Ashcroft abused the new law, and now oppose it.

They wanted to defend America from an imminent Iraqi threat -- then realized that there never was a threat and that they'd been lied to by an administration that would say anything to advance its political agenda, and now they want to bring the United Nations into Iraq to take some of the heat off of our armed forces, which have been stretched to the breaking point by the Bush administration's military adventurism.

Seeking to change a failed or poorly implemented policy is a hallmark of good governance.

Mr. Bush, on the other hand, favored these failed policies as well, and now, rather than acknowledge their failures, he instead ridicules his opponents for "flip-flopping."

This is precisely why we need a new president -- a president to implement good governance, rather than scoff at it.

Joe Wilkins

Ellicott City

Factional fighting isn't Christ's way

I was raised as a Catholic and changed to Baptist. I now consider myself to be nondenominational as a direct result of religious factions ("'Passion' sparks promise, protest," Feb. 22).

I know the Bible, and I don't recall Jesus specifically blaming any group for His crucifixion. In fact, we all crucified Him, for He died for all of us.

Jesus is the epitome of kindness, love, forgiveness and compassion, and would not encourage fighting among the different religious factions.

Stop the debate. Stop the fighting.

Charlotte Fowler

Orchard Beach

Gibson's 'Passion' is marketing bonanza

It seems to me that Mel Gibson's film -- with all its licensing and manufacturing of jewelry, mugs and knick-knacks to sell to the faithful -- is less about faith than about the passion to make money ("Christian businesses have faith in 'Passion,'" Feb. 20).

Elaine Rosenbloom

Baltimore

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