Smokers' TaxSome congressmen are trying to place a $2 tax...


January 29, 1994

Smokers' Tax

Some congressmen are trying to place a $2 tax on every package of cigarettes. The money that is collected would help finance health-care reform.

There is a serious flaw in this type of law. This exorbitant tax would cause tobacco users to turn to illicit channels of distribution. Cigarette bootlegging would become a big business. As a result, crime would increase.

Joseph Lerner


Hillary's Job

In his Jan. 5 Opinion * Commentary article, James Fisher states that Hillary Clinton's behavior "defies any principle of delegation, order, evaluation and accountability."

If Hillary Clinton were not a member of Bill Clinton's family, she could do the work she is now doing as a member of the White House staff and be paid for it.

In the next election we Americans will hold President Clinton accountable for his decisions. We will evaluate him at least in part by the people he has chosen, by the order or disorder in the White House staff and by the efficacy with which his people fulfill the tasks they have been delegated.

The accountability and evaluation are clear. Although there may be interesting problems hidden here, Mr. Fisher's piece doesn't raise them. His piece was so lacking in facts or content, so full of hyperbole and innuendo that I was surprised The Sun printed it.

It is ironic to see a professor complaining about "the unaccountable group. . ." Who in society is less accountable than a tenured professor? We can vote President Clinton (and Hillary, and all of the White House staff) out of office in less than three years. We will never have that opportunity with tenured professors.

As long as professors show up for class and teach (either well or poorly), as long as they turn in grades, they are rarely removed. If Professor Fisher is concerned about unaccountability, he might start with the tenure system.

Steve Hill

Bel Air

Relative Benefits

Joan Jacobsen's Jan. 12 article about the promotion of Robert Weisengoff focused heavily on the identity of his father, Del. Paul Weisengoff, D-Baltimore, but said relatively little about Bob Weisengoff's job performance at the Pretrial Services Division.

After the state assumed responsibility for pretrial services, the legislature began expressing concerns over management of the agency. Although a relatively junior employee, Bob Weisengoff assisted (often in his own time) in preparing an extensive review of agency operations which led to major improvements at the Pretrial Services. He has worked tirelessly since then to improve operations of the city pretrial agency.

It goes without saying that employees who push management reforms pay a price in the workplace. This has been particularly true in the case of Bob Weisengoff.

It can hardly be said that Bob Weisengoff has benefited from being the son of a state delegate. On the other hand, the state has benefited substantially because of his aggressive concern for our criminal justice system.

Timothy F. Maloney


The writer is a delegate representing Prince George's County.

School Affair

Your Jan. 13 editorial not only missed the point of my disagreement with Baltimore County School Superintendent Stuart D. Berger, it avoided the facts.

Telling a teacher I had had an affair with, "I love you," is not sexual harassment. Neither is looking at her during a faculty meeting where her back is to me and 40 other people are present.

On May 26, Dr. Berger told me that he went after me because I'd been a union advocate.

Also, I was awarded back pay before I even had a hearing, not as you stated. I got my back pay when Dr. Berger admitted he had no right to take it.

When I received my pay, Dr. Berger recommended a second suspension because he wanted the board to take my salary; it has the right to do so.

What the hearing officer ruled was that the original suspension was unlawful because I never got a hearing. This is more than the "technical" reasoning the editorial referred to. He also ruled that the second recommended suspension was improper.

The hearing officer did say I'd violated a directive when I told a female teacher, "I love you." He said a verbal reprimand was warranted.

He, too, questioned why Dr. Berger recommended a 30-day suspension for me when Dr. Berger had just recommended a three-day suspension for a teacher accused of hitting a student.

By the way, the testimony your editorial ignored also shows that I asked for a transfer as soon as our affair ended, an affair I wasn't alone in.

Kenneth Shapiro


Arms Debate

In a letter Jan. 19, John H. Plunkett points to the research by social scientists indicating the widespread use of firearms in self-defense, and he wonders why so few self-defense items appear on national news wires. Several answers come to mind.

One is that the national media have decided that the abolition of the right of armed self-defense is no longer debatable. Therefore information that would make such debate possible is not considered "newsworthy."

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