The Baltimore Sun

Still time to pass 'green fund' bill

Reading The Sun's headline "Senate kills 'green fund' bill" (Nov. 3) reminded me of that old Mark Twain line, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Last week, the O'Malley administration came out in strong support of the green fund. State Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson and Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin, among other officials, have testified for it and provided helpful amendments, including proposals to better monitor the green fund and add transparency and cost-effectiveness to the way it would function.

Far from being dead, the green fund has great momentum and strong citizen support.

Polls show that 81 percent of Marylanders think funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay should be a priority, and two-thirds would be willing to pay $20 a year to do just that.

The hard truth is that the Chesapeake Bay is in critical condition, and Marylanders have been watching this decline for decades.

Maryland's $1.7 billion deficit didn't happen overnight, and neither did the decline of the Chesapeake Bay. Dealing with such an enormous problem isn't easy, but it has to be done.

Just as Gov. Martin O'Malley called a special session because he feared the "cost of delay" would have been too great, the cost of delay in waiting to clean up the bay is too great not to pass the green fund during this special session.

We are thrilled to have Mr. O'Malley's backing and grateful to House Environmental Matters Committee Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh for working with various stakeholders to make the green fund bill as strong as it can be.

And we believe we can pass this bill now, before it's too late for the bay.

Cindy Schwartz


The writer is executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Vote for Mukasey a blow to rule of law

The Senate Judiciary Committee's approval of Michael B. Mukasey to be U.S. attorney general should alarm all Americans who hoped that from the wreckage of Alberto R. Gonzales' tenure in that position, a person of sound judgment and respect for law would emerge ("Judiciary panel sends Mukasey nomination to full Senate," Nov. 7).

Mr. Mukasey has refused to disavow waterboarding or characterize it as a form of torture, even though it has been widely deemed one for many years, and in even more worrisome testimony, the nominee noted that the president need not obey valid federal statutes he deems antithetical to the need to defend the nation.

The Bush administration for years has shown no sign of self-doubt or real reflection in its clumsy responses to 9/11 - not in its rush to invade Iraq or its constantly shifting rationales for remaining there, and now, evidently, not in its efforts to salvage the good name of a Justice Department that, under this president, hardly deserves its name.

Osama bin Laden is surely smiling at what he hath wrought.

Charles W. Mitchell


Time for Democrats to put an end to war

Last November, Democrats were elected to the majority in the House and Senate, a seismic switch attributed to most Americans' opposition to President Bush's vast, apparently endless waste of blood and treasure in Iraq.

A year later, with more than 1,000 more Americans dead in Iraq, the killing goes on there at a cost of tens of millions of dollars a day, the United States' inept Iraq puppet government is still in place, Sunnis and Shiites remain armed to the teeth, war threatens between Turkey and Kurdistan, the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, Pakistan is in military lockdown, Osama bin Laden is still at large and our president is threatening war against Iran.

And we're still waiting for Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to tell Mr. Bush: "Enough. Except to withdraw our troops and get them home quickly and safely, no more money for your war."

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall

Other politicians also invited to class

I would like the opportunity to correct some misapprehensions that appeared on The Sun's letters page Nov. 4.

Two letters took issue with my asking in class why Maryland would vote out former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ("Shilling for Ehrlich at public expense?" and "Ehrlich's bullying cost him the office," Nov. 4).

One letter writer asked why I, in my role as a Towson University professor, consistently provide a forum for the former governor.

First, a politician of his stature and accomplishment is invaluable to a Towson undergraduate class.

Second, it should be noted that the current governor's wife, Katie Curran O'Malley - an intelligent, savvy judge who is excellent in front of students - has not only been my guest speaker in years past but was invited last winter to speak again to the same persuasion class to which Mr. Ehrlich spoke. Several weeks ago, I asked my university's president to tell Ms. O'Malley that the invitation to speak again stands.

The only other political figure who has spoken to my class in the last two years was a Democratic state senator.

Richard E. Vatz


The writer is a professor of rhetoric and communications at Towson University.

Towson overcomes anti-conservative bias

The two letters published in the Sunday Sun blasting Towson University Professor Richard E. Vatz show no understanding of Mr. Vatz's position ("Shilling for Ehrlich at public expense?" and "Ehrlich's bullying cost him the office," Nov. 4).

The vast majority of colleges and universities in our country are liberal in their attitudes and hiring practices. Mr. Vatz has made it clear that Towson University has overcome that prejudice - at least in his case.

He has expressed his appreciation for Towson's acceptance of him several times on local radio stations.

His support of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will become more meaningful as the current administration proceeds with its tax programs.

Richard Linfield


Comfort's mission sends right signal

Thanks for the enlightening articles on USNS Comfort's cruise to Latin America and South America ("Symbol of Hope," Oct. 28-29). It's so refreshing to hear about the U.S. doing something helpful with our power and prosperity.

One of the articles noted that the effect of an earlier medical ship "on public opinion was so profound among Muslims in Indonesia and Bangladesh that officials in the Pentagon have come to believe that humanitarian aid might be more effective at deterring radical extremism than the threat of arms."

What a novel thought.

Perhaps the Comfort's voyage didn't get everything right - e.g., the ship was too big to bring near shore, there wasn't enough advance coordination with local doctors, etc.

But I hope the Navy will send more medical teams to Latin America because procedures that are so straightforward for our medical personnel can have such large positive effects in other countries.

Louise Hellwig


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