Defending The School Nominating CaucusesThe Sun's story...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 06, 1993

Defending The School Nominating Caucuses

The Sun's story May 16 describing the recent process for recommending to the governor new school board members for Harford County was incredibly one-sided.

Karin Remesch interviewed me about the discussion on the legalization of drugs between the candidates during our caucus. This discussion clearly provided a substantive difference between the candidates.

The current school board president, Anne Sterling, offered up her view that legalizing drugs should be considered. Then, George Lisby, another school board member, declared that he was adamantly opposed to the idea, and added "Let them get RTC high on school." The delegates erupted with applause to Mr. Lisby's comments. Why was this exchange omitted?

Surely, the positions of school board members (who influence our children through leadership and policy) on the legalization of drugs qualifies as newsworthy.

The article only covered the objections of a few delegates who are calling for a new election because of some alleged rule infractions. Yes, cover these objections, but how about a more meaningful discussion of the candidates' positions? . . .

Christopher O'Shea

Bel Air

The writer was a delegate to the permanent nominating caucus.

____________

I was surprised to see in The Sun May 16 the response by the Harford County teachers' union to the voting results of the May 13 school board nominating caucus. I was there and would like to offer some observations of my own.

It has been enlightening to attend the caucus for the past two years as an observer and interested taxpayer who takes pride in seeing the nominating process in motion. The answers elicited from candidates to questions of concern from a variety of people and representative groups provide, perhaps, just a fraction of the information one would like to have, but no one has devised a better way to find out what the candidates think, how they are attuned to various needs and school concerns, and just how each would go about solving a particular problem. Thanks should be given to the caucus organizers for providing a much needed forum.

As to crowd control, this year there was better organization and more room. Ballots were only available at the registration table to the two people voting for each recognized organization. I saw no bullets floating or available.

If a more rigid system of balloting is deemed necessary (and it hasn't been necessary since the caucus has been in existence), I'd suggest that each organization upon registering receive a ballot folder containing two ballots. After voting, the folders and marked ballots would be collected, folders (bearing the name of the particular organization) and ballots separated in the counting room, and then everything saved, kept in a locked place mutually agreed to in advance and taken there by a neutral, diverse groups of people -- three or four -- of impeccable character and above reproach.

Papers could be kept in such a manner that any tampering would be somehow recognized. Only after the announcement of the persons appointed would the folders and ballots be thrown away. A procedure like this one would in fact keep on record what groups voted and still preserve the anonymity of individual votes.

Now, as to charges of irregular voting, I don't see how it could possibly be. To accuse "religious" groups of cheating shows a cynical disregard for religious people who throughout history have sought the highest, the noblest standards of conduct.

To suggest that in over 100 represented groups with a variety of affiliations -- civic, religious, professional, ethnic, etc. -- that there are a preponderance of lackeys voting only for someone they are told to vote for just doesn't sound plausible. Given the public forum that the caucus provides, isn't it more likely that individual voters will choose with as much discernment as can be mustered for the persons who will best be able to do the work most effectively?

To provide an opportunity for an informed choice, not a rubber stamp, is what these yearly caucuses offer. Maybe we all should become more involved.

Sandra Burke

Bel Air

What Happened To 'The Customer Is Always Right'?

I recently moved to the area and have come across what I am starting to call the "Maryland Mentality." It appears that area merchants, both large and small, are stuck in the '50s and '60s. They refuse to schedule evening deliveries on large ticket items (appliances and furniture); after all, Mom is at home, Dad works.

My first encounter with this problem was Sears; it took a few weeks but eventually I did get my dishwasher delivered.

My most recent as well as most frustrating was with Montgomery Ward. We bought a complete living room set, paid cash, and were told it would take six to eight weeks for delivery. That was OK.

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