Credibility LostApparently Gov. William Donald Schaefer...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 22, 1993

Credibility Lost

Apparently Gov. William Donald Schaefer and his chief telecommunications adviser have the same temperament, difficult to believe as that is.

I have been reading with great interest the articles in The Sun about the C&P Telephone Co.'s proposed fiber optics network between schools and the objections put forth by representatives of the cable television industry, in which I am involved.

Aside from the merits of both arguments, which I could debate at length, I believe a more serious issue has emerged.

I was amazed to read a story in which Francis J. Knott, the governor's "chief telecommunications adviser," suggests that Wayne O'Dell, the president of our association, be "shot."

Is this the way the head of a government task force should respond to another point of view? I think not.

For Mr. Knott's interest, Mr. O'Dell is a consummate professional with 30 years' experience in the cable television industry and government relations. Rather than "shooting" him, Mr. Knott should seek his counsel.

This remark follows on the heels of closed meeting after closed meeting of the telecommunications panel -- even though meeting notices were required to be sent to the public by law.

It should now be clear to all concerned that this telecommunications panel has lost credibility in its dealings.

At the very least, Mr. Knott should resign or be replaced. Efforts to review what's best for the state and its citizens should begin anew in an open confidence-building manner.

Questions I'd like to see answered include: Do the citizens of the state really want what C&P is proposing? Do the schools want it, and can they afford to pay for it?

What are the alternatives? What is the motivation for a North Carolina businessman to serve without pay as the governor's chief telecommunications adviser?

I must make it perfectly clear that this is not a case of sour grapes from our industry, but rather a request for fairness and inclusion, something I believe the law requires and something I know will be to the benefit of the citizens of Maryland.

Stephen A. Burch

Timonium

The writer is a past chairman of the Md/Del/DC Cable TV Association and an area vice president of Comcast Cablevision.

Religious Vacuum

I have just finished reading Philip Stahl's scathing condemnation of the Supreme Court's ruling that allows government-paid teaching assistants to assist handicapped students in parochial schools (letter, June 30).

Mr. Stahl cites this as a violation of the "constitutional provisions for separation of church and state." Where in the Constitution is this mentioned? The First Amendment?

The First Amendment prohibits an officially sanctioned state religion and guarantees the freedom to exercise a religion of one's choosing.

Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it say that government must operate in a religious vacuum.

If that were the case, and constitutional provisions for separation of church and state were strictly enforced, would clergymen be prevented from conducting funerals in na tional cemeteries? Would the military employ chaplains? Would our money have "In God We Trust" printed on it?

No. Besides, there are few issues or situations that government deals with which have no religious connotation to them somehow, be they military action, the economy, civil rights or international affairs. To place government in a "religious vacuum" would be to shut it down.

If this service is offered to private school students regardless of the school's denomination (or lack thereof), I see no constitutional problem with it.

I would, however, equally defend a public employee's refusal to accept an assignment to a religious school. The employee should not be forced into a religious setting . . .

Mr. Stahl insists that his rights as a "humanist or atheist" be respected while he denigrates and trivializes those who choose to follow a religion.

Stephen R. Bockmiller

Reisterstown

Term Limits

George Will on June 24 again reminds us of what we must

FTC never forget. That is that term limitations must become the law of the land.

Although it is unrealistic and naive to expect members of Congress to voluntarily put themselves out of work, perhaps a compromise can be reached.

If we could find one legislator with the courage to introduce a bill that would exempt current members from the limitation, then at least our children would have something to look forward to.

Dave Reich

Cockeysville

Elect the Board

After attending the Baltimore County School Board meeting on July 6, it became apparent to me the need for an elected school board. The present school board members consist of distinguished members of our business community, and, clearly, one purpose of education is to produce future responsible business and community leaders like them.

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