Congress has become a law unto itselfHere we go again. We...

the Forum

August 31, 1994

Congress has become a law unto itself

Here we go again. We the people take a back seat to those with the power.

I can not believe the irresponsibility of the U.S. Senate in voting to pass President Clinton's "crime bill" without considering amendments after having gathered enough votes to permit votes on amendments just a week ago. What transpired in that period to change the minds of so many elected representatives?

I'll tell you what happened. The good ol' boys in the Senate turned their collective backs on those they are supposed to represent and decided -- against the will of the citizens -- to band together against we the people. This has got to stop.

Something is seriously wrong when such a large number of "representatives" change their minds after being pressured by the White House. Even the president is in office to do as we the people ask -- he's supposed to answer to us.

Republicans didn't even put up a fight. I watched the proceedings on C-Span and was disgusted at what I witnessed. I was expecting a filibuster, but instead I saw a cop-out.

On ABC's "Nightline" Thursday evening I learned why the Republicans turned against their constituents. It became clear that they are all friends in the Senate and they don't wish to make waves.

We need to remind those good ol' boys that the U.S. Senate is not a country club for them to enjoy, but a place where they are to vote as we the people ask.

It is time to break up the friendships in Washington and demand just representation.

Gordon J. Johannes


Truth by typo

I noted the following quote in your story "Lock-'em-up crime plan is unveiled by Bentley" (Aug. 17):

"The congresswoman also indicated faith in the political partisanship of the federal judiciary. She said she would try to save money in prison housing costs by appealing to 'Reagan and Bush judges who now compromise a majority of the federal bench.' "

Was that a typo? Or did Helen Bentley really say that?

George N. Lucas


The crime bill

Under the headline "How the GOP takes a bite out of crime" you published a letter from Fred Davis of Pasadena (Aug. 22).

Mr. Davis says the GOP was willing to sacrifice extra police on our streets unless the assault weapons ban is removed. Mr. Davis' allegation is false.

Without the support of GOP congressman in the House the crime bill would not have passed. Check the count.

Interestingly, on the procedural rate on Aug. 11, 58 Democrats voted against the so-called assault rifle ban. On the vote taken Aug. 21, 64 Democrats voted against the bill itself.

The crime bill should not have passed, because it is fraudulent legislation. It purports to fight crime but actually is a social pork bill designed to pay off the Democratic Party faithful in the cities and keep them in line for the fall elections.

The assault weapons ban is a sop to liberal hysteria. The 100,000 extra policemen is only 20,000 policeman funded.

The federal government is telling the local jurisdiction to go spend more of its own money on police.

There is $40 million for midnight basketball. How do you implement midnight basketball with a curfew in place? Why a special solution for one segment of the population?

It does not require an accountant to figure out that a lot of the $40 million is going to wind up in people's pockets.

It probably will be 2010 before anyone is executed under the capital punishment provisions.

This presidency is all symbols and smoke, and the bills that are being put forth under the democratic initiative reflects this lack of real substance.

I would in the interest of government economy and personal freedom hope that no more bills are passed until after January 1997.

T. Murray


Which way is up?

Glenn McNatt's column "Baltimore Judges Can Handle This" (Aug. 20) was certainly a unique perspective on the Mclean competency hearing.

The administrative judge and the criminal administrative judge, in his view, have no power to influence specific proceedings in the Circuit Court.

Despite this, five apparently hapless City Council members took time during the final hours of their session to have an emergency meeting with these two powerless judges -- and then took pains to deny it.

The City Council members, in Mr. McNatt's view, lack any power or influence over Judge Joseph Kaplan's re-election bid or the court's budget. Therefore, this meeting was entirely proper, even innocent.

I don't know which is worse -- elected officials who don't know where political power or influence exists or an editorial writer for our only daily newspaper who can't figure out which end is up.

Eric F. Waller


City must clear debris from streets quickly

Recently at Charles Street and Coldspring Lane I could not help but drive my car over a pile of debris left over from an auto accident there.

This appears to be the norm in Baltimore City.

At the intersection of Loch Raven Boulevard and Woodburn Avenue, for example, a large pile of broken glass still lies piled toward one corner, obviously from an accident some time ago.

I know the police have priorities, one of which is to fight crime, not to clean up after accidents.

But is there any reason they could not call the Department of Public Works or whatever division of the city that does this sort of thing?

I often see a street cleaning truck on Charles Street near Notre Dame College brushing away at the smallest amount of dust and dirt.

Let's get our priorities straight. Why are we cleaning an already spotless street on a regular basis when some streets are left with the remnants of car accidents forever?

Casey Stengel


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