Top aide defends Leopold
The Sun stories regarding the naming of a new fire chief in Anne Arundel County require a response ("Leopold replaces fire chief," Nov. 23 and "Leopold taps Stokes to be next fire chief," Nov. 26).
The articles asserted that the incoming county executive "has left several department heads in the dark about their futures." In fact, the department heads have fully understood that a new county executive selects his own team of appointees, and County Executive-Elect Leopold retained 11 appointees of the Owens Administration.
The Sun was also informed of the fact - not yet reported - that Mr. Leopold acted humanely to grant 30-day transition payments to Owens appointees who were not retained. This fair-minded treatment may be unprecedented.
The Sun articles restated the feckless falsehood offered by Mr. Leopold's political adversaries that Mr. Leopold was "a loner in the House of Delegates." The Sun has noted in several articles that Mr. Leopold was named an Oustanding Republican Legislator in the Nation in 2000 because of his 20-year record of building bipartisan coalitions to get things done. No loner could have achieved this high honor, and no loner could have built the broad coalition of voters necessary to be elected county executive.
Finally, the Sun article of Nov. 26 claimed falsely that Mr. Leopold was not available to the Sun reporter "seeking comment." In fact, Mr. Leopold spoke with Sun reporter Phillip McGowan, who included the County Executive-Elect's extensive comments in The Sun on Nov. 23.
The writer is a top aide of County Executive-elect John R. Leopold.
Editor's note: The Nov. 26 news summary, which appeared in the "Week in Review," was based on an early version of the Nov. 23 article that did not include Mr. Leopold's comments. The Sun regrets the error.
Medical center to bar smoking
On April 30, 2007, the Baltimore Washington Medical Center will become a smoke-free campus.
Hospitals across the country are increasingly moving toward smoke-free environments to protect the health of their patients, visitors and associates. In fact, nine Maryland hospitals currently have smoke-free campuses, and another 11 are planning to become smoke free in 2007.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Because cigarette smoking and tobacco use are acquired behaviors, smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in our society. It is a major cause of several cancers, including lung - the leading cause of cancer death in Anne Arundel County.
It is our responsibility as a medical center to promote wellness and be a role model for healthy living. Along with providing quality health care, becoming smoke free is another way we can fulfill that responsibility.
Research shows that smokers are most successful in quitting when they have support. So for the next five months, we'll do everything we can to help our patients, visitors and employees kick cigarettes once and for all. We are offering extra smoking cessation classes to county residents. In those classes, nicotine replacement gum and patches are available to help curb cravings.
We're also providing free educational materials about the effects of smoking, as well as other methods of support and guidance. Baltimore Washington Medical Center is not the first hospital in Maryland to take this step, and we surely won't be the last. We are proud to join those who have become role models for healthy living.
James R. Walker
The writer is president and CEO of Baltimore Washington Medical Center.