Let's Have DebateThe Sun is right on target in its Oct. 22...


November 05, 1994

Let's Have Debate

The Sun is right on target in its Oct. 22 editorial when it excoriates the special-interest-fueled political system that, this year, has led to a greater proliferation of attack ads than ever before.

It is a fact, however, that Maryland had a chance this year to see a different kind of campaign, one characterized by serious discussion of the issues.

Months before the primary, Republican Senate candidate Bill Brock offered to incumbent Paul Sarbanes that the two split the costs of funding six network-televised, Lincoln-Douglas style debates that would better inform the people of Maryland about the positions of the two on the real problems facing all of us.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sarbanes, who dismissed the present system "corruptive" as early as 1983, waited until after the primary to ,, reply to Mr. Brock, and then had his campaign manager blow off Mr. Brock's proposed ennobling of the system as a "stunt."

Reasonable people can draw their own conclusions as to why, but one can only hope that the Congress and the Maryland General Assembly will act in 1995 to facilitate the kind of process Bill Brock suggested and the incumbent rejected.

A key component of that kind of system would be an absolute ban on contributions from political action committees, a change

Mr. Brock has advocated for the past 20 years.

J. Lee Annis Jr.


Retiring Judges

As the judge who in both age and years is now the most senior woman serving in the state judiciary, I must admit to having a very personal stake in the passage of Ballot Question 3 which extends the mandatory retirement age of Maryland judges from 70 to 75.

Those who oppose the amendment on the ground that earlier retirement will result in a much needed increase in the number of women judges are just plain wrong.

On the contrary, passage of the amendment is more likely to promote and secure the number of women serving on the bench.

Going by history, there is every reason to predict that whenever I retire, I will be replaced by a male, as occurred when my only two predecessors, Judges Shirley Jones and Mary Arabian, left the Baltimore Circuit Court.

When the first woman ever appointed to sit on the Court of Appeals, Judge Rita Davidson, died in 1984, she was replaced by a man. No woman judge sat on the Court of Appeals for the next 10 years, until Judge Irma Raker was appointed to that court in 1994.

The increase in the proportion of women (as well as black judges) which has rightfully occurred and which promises to escalate over the years ahead is certainly not to be attributed to spaces left by retiring judges.

Urging support of the amendment, Judge Rosalyn Bell, who was forced to retire from the Court of Special Appeals on reaching age 70, points out that early retirement is particularly unfair to professional women who, after curtailing or delaying their work and studies to fulfill family obligations, are arbitrarily cut off at the height of their careers.

It is a fact that women live and function longer than men and that both are generally in top intellectual form well past the age of 70.

With the exception of workers in positions requiring physical activity (police officers, firefighters and prison guards), judges are the only public officers subject to a mandatory retirement age in Maryland.

All others -- from the governor and comptroller to teachers, clerks and janitors -- can continue working for as long as they are otherwise qualified.A "yes" vote for Question 3 will impact only a few judicial positions.

Most judges opt to leave the bench before reaching 70, for it is a financial disadvantage to continue after a judge can retire with a substantial pension, Social Security and income from law practice.

Those who are concerned with the budget implications of Question 3 should be aware that those who remain on the bench instead of retiring will be virtually donating their time to the state instead of collecting a pension and being replaced by another judge who must be freshly financed.

Thus, passage of the amendment will result in a financial savings to the taxpayers, while allowing them to be served by the most seasoned and dedicated judges.

Elsbeth Levy Bothe


NB The writer is a judge in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Foolish Consistency

In his Oct. 28 letter [criticizing The Evening Sun's endorsement of 81-year-old Louis Goldstein for comptroller despite its support of mandatory retirement for judges at age 70], Henry R. Wolfe misquoted a famous line from Emerson.

Emerson never wrote that ''consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Rather, he said ''a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.''

4 There's a whale of a difference between the two.

Anne B. Archer


Mayberry's Record

The Sun's editorial page Nov. 4 describes Timothy Mayberry, candidate for Maryland state comptroller, a finance position, as "an uncredentialed GOP challenger." The statement is inaccurate . . .

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