Maligning of the Sheriff's OfficeWelllll . . . thank...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 25, 1994

Maligning of the Sheriff's Office

Welllll . . . thank goodness Harford countians had a few days to decide whether they wanted an "outsider" or an "insider" for sheriff, as The Sun's Sept. 8 editorial couched it. Your editorial tried to make three hopefuls, "longtime colleagues," into yesterday's news. "Weak manager, poor communicator," "undistinguished term" . . .

May be, but you wanted us to go for an unknown, a sheriff's deputy who lived in Howard County briefly and ran for sheriff there? . . . A grand jury found that our present sheriff, whom you malign in incendiary terms, was quite right to declare the inmate death you mention a suicide. A previous sheriff, Dominic Mele, underwhelmed you, you said.

The crime rate in this county, rapid growth and booming economy speak amply for Robert Comes and Mr. Mele. With all the gratuitous shots this county, particularly the current sheriff, has taken for an inmate death found to be a suicide, for a very reasonable settlement to that man's family, you wouldn't just be trashing the reputations of some fine people, embarrassing their family and friends, with November in mind, would you?

Oh, noooo. How would you feel if your name were on the line due to muck promulgated from the bully pulpit of the only statewide paper?

H

"Suspicious death?" After a grand jury finding? Go away.

Judith G. Eagle

Bel Air

Fire Volunteers

In response to Joseph Machovec's letter entitled "Fire Costs" in the Sept. 4 Harford County edition of The Sun . . . while it is true that the Harford County government funds part of the

operating expenses of the fire companies, it is by no means 100 percent of the capital a fire company needs to meet yearly expenses.

A new pumper costs between $200,000 and $300,000, a new ladder truck $500,000, a new ambulance $100,000 to $115,000-plus; each of these units require many thousands of dollars in additional equipment, and most of the money needed to purchase this equipment comes from the fire companies through their various fund drives and fund-raising activities. Only 50 to 60 percent of the households in a company's district donate. Less than 50 percent of businesses donate. If all the households and businesses donated "their fair share," perhaps the county could contribute less.

Finally, don't tell the hundreds of men and women who make up Harford County's volunteer force that they are not part of a "professional fire department." They spend hundreds of hours a year away from their families. They go through the same training as a "professional fire department." . . . I dare say any Harford County fire company member could stand toe to toe with a "professional fire department."

Gary B. Skillman

Joppa

The writer is president of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company.

Soap and Ethics

I had to laugh several weeks ago while reading Mike Burns' commentary entitled "Too Much Soap in Ethics Proposal" (Aug. 14).

Mr. Burns, in his dismissal of Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson's proposal for a unified comprehensive ethics and financial disclosure system for our government, stated "elected officers who tolerate unethical practice will surely have a limited political career." Limited political careers, such as Bill Clinton, Dan Rostenkowski, Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank, just to name a few? . . . The purpose of the Wilson bill is to give the citizens an understanding of what is going on in local government. Perhaps we should take Mr. Wilson's bill one step further. Let's look at the large political campaign contributions which have been received into the coffers by elected officials and compare them with the government contracts, zoning exemptions or other privileges granted to their contributors by the county.

I support County Council President Wilson's bill and I believe it is certainly a step in the right direction to end the cronyism in Harford County government.

William J. O'Malley

Bel Air

Beds for Reds?

Having cut pay raises for the U.S. armed forces and squeezed their housing allowances, the White House and Congress are spending $160 million of our tax money for Russian military housing to encourage Red Army troops to leave the Baltic states.

President Clinton proposed the plan to Boris Yeltsin last summer ("Boris, buddy, here's a real neat idea . . .") and loyal House Democrats slid it into the Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill, HR 2295. The money will build living quarters for 5,000 Red Army soldiers and pay $62.5 million in housing vouchers to 2,500 Russian officers.

With almost 17,000 American enlisted men and women on food stamps, how can we subsidize soldiers in Russia? . . .

Now the president has sent American troops on a fool's errand in Haiti. . . . He should personally lead the expedition.

Mignon A. B. Cameron

Bel Air

Budget Discipline?

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