Local officials should control school boardBoth Patrick...

the Forum

November 02, 1993

Local officials should control school board

Both Patrick Ercolano's Sept. 26 column on the Baltimore County school board and the reaction of Kay Terry of the county's League of Women Voters (letter, Oct. 25) seem to limit the problem to a dichotomy between direct election by voters and appointment under the current system.

L The issue of election or appointment is not the whole issue.

Accepting appointment as the best option, there remain these questions: Which level of government should make the appointments? How can corrective action be taken, such as removal for misfeasance or mismanagement?

Under current law, only the governor may appoint members, and their selection is based on legislative districts, which now straddle city lines in places. Likewise, only the governor may remove any board member or the superintendent, and then, Gov. William Donald Schaefer asserts, only if there is clear violation of state laws.

Merely improving the governor's selection process is insufficient meet the concerns of the Baltimore County citizenry.

More local control over the school system, which spends more than 40 percent of the county budget, is not only practical but is a firm right of county taxpayers. Expenditure without representation is as unjustifiable as taxation with representation.

And inability to remove offenders is no power at all, no matter what platitudes are recited about the process of representative selection through the nominating convention.

What we need enacted into law is the proposal of County Councilman Vincent Gardina to have the county executive nominate members from a list provided by the nominating convention and with concurrence of the council.

The school board members should represent council districts, not legislative districts. The executive and the council should also have power to remove any member, all members or the superintendent for cause, including mismanagement.

The Gardina proposal would put authority and responsibility at the level where taxpayers can have some direct effect on the management of expenditure of their taxes without excessive politics.

Ronald P. Bowers

Lutherville

Tax liquor!

So many people are concerned about second-hand smoke from cigarettes. A cancer-causing product should carry a "sin tax."

There are 150 illnesses directly related to the use of alcohol. One ounce of alcohol kills hundreds of brain cells. Of course we humans are fortunate to have billions of cells, but alcohol directly affects our good judgment.

What about the people who are killed or maimed because of drivers under the influence of alcohol? Also the domestic arguments ending in suicide, divorce or murder?

Some of these occur during an alcoholic black-out. How about the infants born with defects, or unwanted pregnancies or the spreading of disease due to sexual promiscuity while under the influence?

What deserves a "sin tax" more than alcohol?

Charlotte Fletcher

Baltimore

Bad act

My family and I spent an almost perfect autumn Saturday recently in downtown Baltimore enjoying the many offerings of Portfest. The only shadow on our day was cast around 3 p.m. by an "entertainer" at the Harborplace amphitheater presenting a "comedy" routine more appropriate for a late-night comedy club. He was not associated with Portfest.

His language was crude, his jokes off-color and his manner offensive. Although the children with me were too young to understand the innuendo of his jokes, his vocabulary did not elude them.

When a gentleman in the audience objected to some of his derogatory comments concerning religion, the "entertainer" proceeded to lambaste the gentleman with even cruder remarks. We walked away.

The public has a right to expect more than gutter talk from public performers on a Saturday afternoon in a public square.

It has been my experience that the management at Harborplace has gone out of its way in the past to provide top-quality family entertainment in the amphitheater. I have enjoyed the overall variety of acts presented -- jugglers, speakers, etc.

After contacting the special events coordinator for Harborplace, he investigated the situation and determined that the entertainer who performed was not the one he had scheduled to appear at that time, but later in the evening for an older audience.

I applaud the coordinator's commitment to providing programming appropriate to the audience and further suggest that any scheduling changes be approved by his office.

I look forward to visiting Harborplace again, and being treated to high quality family performances in the amphitheater.

Dolores A. Miko

Severna Park

The 535 stooges

Here's how you take a small and (hopefully) temporary problem and turn it into a big and permanent one.

Senate Republicans flip-flopped on presidential prerogatives and are now demanding that Congress micromanage foreign policy and become a 535-headed commander-in-chief.

It seems they want to deploy and withdraw troops, issue foreign policy edicts and set terms in advance of international negotiations.

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