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Opening courts would endanger kids in crisis

The Sun has done a very good job of highlighting important issues and potential reforms in Maryland's child welfare system, but the editorial "Open the courts" (May 23) was off track.

The Sun says, "It's time to open up these courtroom doors" to take a look at juvenile court cases involving allegations of abuse and neglect.

It would be unconscionable to subject children and their families to public scrutiny in the news media by allowing any person to observe a proceeding for a child in need of assistance.

The issues The Sun wants opened to public scrutiny can be examined without directly damaging the interests of the parties in these cases.

And it's not true that "one cannot sift" court records "for patterns or trends."

Three years ago, Advocates for Children and Youth did gain access to court records to examine such issues.

Other states have sponsored court watch projects in which volunteers are given access to court proceedings to document the level of time and attention given to these cases. These projects have issued public reports.

The Sun's focus on the courts is appropriate. There are many components of our child welfare system, and we need to have a comprehensive view of that whole system.

But let's look at alternatives so that reform efforts do not cause more harm than they prevent.

Herb Cohen


The writer is chairman of the legislative committee of the Citizens' Review Board for Children.

Busch understands the real cost of slots

Kudos to state House Speaker Michael E. Busch for standing up to Magna Entertainment Corp. ("Busch: Md. must look away from slots," May 26).

Perhaps he read the tiny, tiny print in the West Virginia slots ad, which gives a number for anyone who might be "gambling too much."

Fay R. Greenbaum


Governor reveals right-wing stripes

The Sun was right on the mark when it wrote that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was "kowtowing to the Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell wing of the Republican Party" in vetoing bills under the cover of the Preakness weekend ("Mr. Ehrlich's vetoes," editorial, May 25).

Mr. Ehrlich's vetoes of progressive legislation, most notably the Medical Decision-Making Act, which had been passed handily by the General Assembly, exposed his spurious self-identification of being a moderate in a moderate state for what he truly is.

As in the case of President Bush, Mr. Ehrlich has cozied up with the extreme right-wing elements of a party that has been hijacked by self-righteous, intrusive but exclusionary moralists, religious fanatics, bigots and homophobes.

If anything good has come out of this session, it is the revelation to Marylanders that Mr. Ehrlich merely posed as a moderate to get elected.

Steve Charing


Vetoes will save jobs for the state

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. saved the state thousands of jobs by vetoing the Wal-Mart bill and the minimum-wage increase. Regardless of the blather The Sun's editors attempt to dictate to us, vetoing the minimum-wage increase will save jobs ("Mr. Ehrlich's vetoes," editorial, May 25).

Those who work for minimum wage are, by and large, young students.

Democrats in the General Assembly, along with their friends in the major papers, dance around the fact that raising the minimum wage at the state level would kill those jobs for the students and foist the work of the eliminated positions on other employees.

Herman Wood


U.S. trade policies exploit foreign labor

While I agree that Congress should seek to end the exploitation of foreign guest workers in this country ("Equal protection," editorial, May 31), I find it ironic that because of this nation's absurd trade policies, Americans will continue to purchase cheap foreign products made by exploited workers overseas.

John Tully


Liberals didn't create institutional racism

If Thomas Sowell were truly a proponent of "black self-reliance," he would not be wasting time criticizing liberals; he would have criticized America ("Why liberals hate black self-reliance," Opinion*Commentary, May 26).

Even if every liberal were to leave the country now, never to return, America would have a race problem between blacks and whites that has its roots in real historical events and political choices that have devastated the lives of African-Americans for generations.

With that in mind, does Mr. Sowell actually believe that the wealth and educational disparities in America between blacks and whites are because of liberals? And does he actually believe that the institutional racism that some liberals cite and oppose does not exist anymore?

It would have been more honest if Mr. Sowell had devoted some of his column to the recent sins of the Republican Party and its conservative wing.

Last time I checked, they were Americans too.

And their policy decisions, on everything from Social Security reform to employment, higher education assistance, job training and fair housing haven't been very advantageous for African-American self-reliance, either.

Brian Gilmore

Takoma Park

A day to remember the values we've lost

As I looked at the gut-wrenching photograph on the front page of the Memorial Day edition of The Sun ("'He served his country well,'" May 31), the thought came to mind for about the 1,000th time: What has become of our country? The photo showed two grieving parents standing at the grave of their son who, having lived for barely 21 years, lost his life in Iraq. He is but one of many.

Have we become so docile, so desensitized as to simply accept the aggressive, militaristic behavior that has resulted in the sullying of America's once-good name throughout the world, the diversion of huge amounts of money to our military that could better be spent at home and, most tragically, the continual loss of young American lives in the furtherance of our "war du jour"?

On Memorial Day, I remembered the America that I once knew: The leader of the free world. An example for all nations of a humane democracy based on the rule of law. A land of scientific innovation. And above all, a nation that valued peace.

Unlike that unfortunate young man interred at Arlington Cemetery, I have hopes that one day, that America may again emerge. But that will only happen if we citizens make it so.

Sig Seidenman

Owings Mills

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