From: Bob Duckworth
Americans are outraged over the performance of Congress, and theystrongly support limiting the number of terms an individual may serve. For years, polls have shown that dissatisfaction with Congress is coupled with the belief that such limits must be set. These sentiments are sure to intensify after the latest revelations of congressionalarrogance, self-aggrandizement and abuse of power.
Bounced checks, unpaid restaurant bills, and fixed parking tickets lead this month's list of Capitol Hill violations of public trust and confidence -- not to mention the law. This kind of behavior is further proof that Congress thinks it is above the law, and that members are concerned with making their own lifetime tenure as comfortable and secure as possible.
If there was any doubt about this, the recent redistricting fiasco should eliminate it. During that process it has been obvious that incumbent self-preservation is the overriding concern -- not fair representation of the population.
A constitutional amendment to limit House members to three, and senators to two terms of service would be a first step in eliminating such behavior. A term-limitation amendment would also be an important step in reducing the unfair incumbent re-election advantages such as mail-franking, subsidized printing and access to media facilities.
Of course it is beyond hope to expect our "imperial" Congress to enact such restrictions on itself. Instead, I challenge every Maryland House member and senator to personally pledge support of term limits by capping his or her own number of terms. This will separate those who truly believe in citizen representation from those who view their position as a professional career.
But more important, we the citizens of Maryland must also take action by contacting our representatives at both the federal and state levels to express outrage at the revelations of congressional wrongdoing and to express support for term limits.
Because, fortunately, inAmerica, the voice of the people can still be the most powerful political force.
IN PRAISE OF NEALL
From: G. Bauernschmidt Jr.
My comments on the efforts of the county executive to solve the budget problems:
Hey, Robert Neall! Bravo! Bravo! Your responsible and compassionate handling of the current revenue shortfall is truly a stellar performance.
By taking a personal pay cut of $7,000 and by restructuring your executive branch, you demonstrate rare political leadership. By giving the county employees a voice and choice in the pay decisions, you show wisdom. And by spreading the pain across the board, you destroy no one.
Any clown can spend his way to glory on a rising tide of property tax revenue for which he takes no responsibility. But it takes courage, brains and skill to handle shrinking revenues smoothly while building a stronger and more efficient organization.
Your solution to the budget crisis is a fair one. Hang in there.
PLAN TO PREVENT DISASTER
From: Christopher Evans
If there was an oil spill on the Chesapeake Bay tomorrow, would we be prepared? Would emergency cleanup crews be able to prevent the spill from spreading with the equipment they have right now?
Environmental groups have urged delegates and senators to enact comprehensive plans for oil spills. Reports have been filed by organizations such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation which recommend steps that need to be taken. However, the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee has decided to gamble and not follow these guidelines. This is a pretty big gamble, considering that more than six hundred million gallons of oil are transported on the bay each year.
Over the summer, Maryland environmental officials practiced cleaning up a 100,000-gallon spill in the Baltimore Harbor. This was just one of the many oil spill practices that have taken place in recent years. One of the largest mock oil spills was a one million-gallon spill off a Pasadena shoreline two years ago.
However, this mock spill couldhardly prepare them for a spill like the one that occurred in PrinceWilliam Sound, Alaska. A spill of that size would coat the entire bay. Emergency crews wouldn't have a chance against a spill of this size. They are not prepared to remove oil from over 8,000 miles of shoreline.
The Chesapeake Bay rates a nine on a spill-sensitivity scaleof one to 10 produced by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Prince William Sound, Alaska, is rated a seven by NOAA.
There is an urgent need for a comprehensive oil spill cleanup plan. I don't believe that people would like to walk out of their waterfront houses onto an oil-covered beach strewn with dead waterfowl and shellfish.
It is time that we all come together to save our mostprecious resource, the Chesapeake Bay.