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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Montague missed chance for reform

One individual with power can make an enormous difference, if he has the will to do so. And many people had high hopes when Kenneth C. Montague Jr. was appointed as Maryland's juvenile services secretary ("Montague trip dispute," Jan. 14).

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We hoped he recognized the inertia created by politics and that immediate, meaningful reform was critical. However, Mr. Montague apparently failed to recognize the urgency and lacked the will to make the needed reforms.

In 1999 and 2000, a delegation from Maryland, which included a Department of Juvenile Services representative, traveled to five model juvenile courts around the country to learn about reform measures.

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What Maryland's juveniles needed was intelligent, non-political implementation of the reform measures observed.

However, meaningful reform was not accomplished because the underlying reforms, including expanding community placements and day reporting centers, were not implemented - not because further study was required.

While Mr. Montague may have had interesting, academic discussions in 29 separate and often luxurious locations, he failed to fulfill his responsibilities as DJS' leader, and another generation of juveniles has been lost.

The only travel many of these youths will enjoy is to the Jessup, Hagerstown and Salisbury correctional facilities.

The only out-of-state travel will be to federal penitentiaries.

Darcy Rood Massof

Baltimore

The writer is a former chief counsel to the Baltimore Department of Social Services.

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Secretary's integrity no cause for concern

I have known Juvenile Services Secretary Kenneth C. Montague Jr. for many years and have never known anyone who has greater integrity, passion or commitment to doing what is right ("Montague trip dispute," Jan. 14).

As chairman of the Juvenile Law Subcommittee in the House of Delegates for the past four years, I often disagreed with the direction of the department and the slow pace of change. But never once did I question Mr. Montague's commitment to doing what he believed was right for the children.

There are many things that I believe we can do to turn around our system of juvenile services. And I believe that in the coming years, with a greater fiscal commitment from Gov. Martin O'Malley, we will do so.

Many of the best ideas can be found in other states and brought back to Maryland.

I am confident that Mr. Montague's attendance at national forums and symposiums helped bring back good ideas for our state. The problem is that we simply did not enact many of them, and that what we are doing here simply is not working.

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It is time for a new direction.

But in looking back over the last four years, it is my hope that no one questions the commitment of Mr. Montague.

We need more men like him in public service.

Bobby Zirkin

Annapolis

The writer now serves in the Maryland Senate.

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Will Bush resign if troop plan fails?

Before Congress allows President Bush to send another 21,500 troops to Iraq, perhaps it should ask this simple test of his confidence in the plan: Will he resign if it doesn't work ("Bush says he has authority to send more troops to Iraq," Jan. 15)?

Let's establish some firm, objective benchmarks for success and put some dates behind them. And require that if the benchmarks are not met, the president and vice president and the secretaries of state and defense must hand in their resignations.

This administration is asking tens of thousands of Americans to put their lives on the line on behalf of what appears to be a very shaky strategy.

Perhaps we would take it more seriously if the authors of that strategy were willing to put their jobs at equal risk.

Dick Boulton

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Ellicott City

Nancy Pelosi's pride took center stage

Laura Vozzella got it wrong. The silly incident with the child licking raindrops off a railing happened after the main ceremony on Jan. 5 celebrating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "homecoming" to Little Italy ("Jeepers, that kid must've been thirsty," Jan. 14).

There was no upstaging. And the real story was how Ms. Pelosi spoke with pride of her Italian-American roots.

William Hughes

Baltimore

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Sinclair stands up to the cable giants

I read with interest about the fight between Sinclair Broadcasting and the cable industry ("Gutsy Sinclair is right to ask cable firms to buy content," Jan. 14).

After 40 years of working in broadcasting and as a semi-retired television executive, I applaud Sinclair for having the guts to take a stand.

The cable industry has been riding roughshod over the television broadcasters and consumers for far too long.

I remember when "must carry" was an issue and the cable providers whined that if they were "forced" to carry local stations it would ruin them.

Well guess what? The Supreme Court said they had to carry local programming, and the only thing that has happened in the ensuing years is that the cable industry has grown stronger. So much for the ruination of the industry.

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The quality of what cable providers put out to their subscribers for the amount they are charging is outrageous.

Let's face it, this is a very simple issue: The cable companies are getting a product for free and then turning around and charging for it.

If a local milk company were providing gallons of milk to the local grocery store for free and the local store turned around and charged the consumers for that gallon of milk, consumers would be up in arms.

What will resolve this issue is for the consumer to stand up and join with Sinclair and say, "I'm madder than hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

Bruce F. Bauman

Baltimore

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WBAL was right to resist Orioles

Kudos to WBAL for refusing to become a public relations arm of the Orioles ("WBAL: O's wanted control of shows," Jan. 15).

It's gratifying to learn that integrity is still alive in some parts of the media.

Robert J. Condlin

Baltimore

College Park band also lent a hand

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While I take nothing away from the 50 University of Maryland law students who went to help in New Orleans, why did C. Fraser Smith's column "Trying hard to keep hope alive in New Orleans" (Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 14) make no mention of the marching band members who went?

Two hundred forty members of the Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band traveled by bus from College Park to New Orleans to work for a week for Habitat for Humanity building houses in New Orleans.

These students raised more than $65,000 to pay their way and gave up a week of their winter break to go.

They should be commended for their work.

Carol Reynolds

Elkton

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The writer is a parent of two members of the band.


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