Democratic endorsement was off baseI was shocked and...

LETTERS

January 28, 1996

Democratic endorsement was off base

I was shocked and disappointed that the Democratic Central Committee chose to endorse candidates for two judgeships in the primary.

In my opinion, the Central Committee overstepped its bounds and set an historic precedent when it endorsed some Democrats in the primary rather than all Democrats in the general election, especially when this is a non-partisan race.

Are the "powers that be" so desperate that they would "use" the Central Committee in this manner? Is the Central Committee so weak that it could not "just say no"? An experienced chairperson should never have permitted this to be considered, much less voted on.

My high regard for the dedicated work of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee for the benefit of the Democratic Party and the citizens of Howard County will be questioned from now on. It will be a long time before my faith in the integrity of the committee will be restored.

Angie Beltram

Ellicott City

This is a copy of a letter to Carole Fisher, chairwoman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.

Weigh drunk driving past in custody cases

I have urged members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to approve legislation I have sponsored (SB79), which requires judges to take a parent's drunk or drugged driving record into consideration when making child custody or visitation decisions. The law should seek to provide the greatest degree of certainty that children are protected when courts make decisions concerning their custody or parental visitation.

Senate Bill 79 also provides that where both parents have a drunk or drugged driving record, the court be required to consider as a factor bearing on the welfare and best interest of the child: the length of sobriety of each party or their record of attendance at counseling sessions.

Those who do not see the need for this law contend that current law already gives judges the authority to consider drunk driving records in making their custody and visitation decisions. However, it should be emphasized that the law does no require the court to consider this factor.

Precedent for passage of SB79 exists. Although the law gave the courts the authority to consider evidence of spousal abuse or abuse of any child residing in the household when making custody and visitation decisions, the governor recently signed into law legislation requiring the court to consider such evidence.

Indeed, although the court may have the authority to consider such factors affecting a child's safety and welfare, that is no assurance that the court will, in fact, consider such factors in making custody and visitation decisions.

In support of SB79, the executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Central Maryland chapter, Annie Powell, has stated, "A child needs to be protected from a known drunk driver."

I believe it is incumbent upon legislative bodies to enact laws mandating that courts making custody and visitation decisions consider factors relating to a child's safety and welfare. Children should have the greatest degree of protection that the law can offer. Their safety and well-being should not be left to chance.

Edward J. Kasemeyer

Annapolis

The writer is a senator representing the 12th Legislative District, which includes parts of Howard and Baltimore counties.

Cardin cares, while GOP could care less

What a contrast. Rep. Ben Cardin makes clear, thorough and reasoned argument for continued support of helping seniors with their health care costs (The Sun, Dec. 17). The combined thoughts of the three Republican representatives, in the opposing column, proposes a frightening alternative to Medicare, amounting to simplified sound bites. Their piece begins by stating that complex policy discussions cannot be reduced to sound bites, yet all they offer is just that.

Mr. Cardin is among the most knowledgeable members of Congress on the subject of health care finance (he serves on the Ways and Means Committee). He has worked hard to protect the ability of retirees to afford essential health care.

The Maryland Republicans, on the other hand, cannot point to any effort on their part to assure access to health care. Their passions lie elsewhere. This is what makes their attempt at caring about health so humorous.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, for example, at a 1994 League of Women Voters-sponsored campaign debate, steadfastly claimed there is no health care issue worthy of his time. The single issue that seems to dominate his existence in public life is increasing access to assault weapons. I hope his constituency agrees that come next November he can play that role more effectively as a private citizen.

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