Howard inmate who died did it to himselfOnce again, it is...


February 11, 1996

Howard inmate who died did it to himself

Once again, it is time to place the blame of our own actions on someone else. The article on Edward Bennett's suicide in the Howard County Jail, ("Suicide at Howard jail suggests guards erred," Jan. 29), raises the following questions:

Whose decision was it to start using drugs in 1987, gradually increasing to heroin? What efforts did Mr. Bennett make to kick his drug habit? His family was so disgusted with his behavior, he was kicked out of his father's house.

Suicidal? Didn't Mr. Bennett take a chance with his life every time he used a needle? How many victims did Mr. Bennett leave behind to support his $150-a-day habit? The sad thing is this: We all know a Mr. Bennett. But the bottom line is this: It was Mr. Bennett's decision to use drugs. Mr. Bennett committed criminal activity to get himself in jail. Mr. Bennett tied a sheet around a sprinkler.

Don't blame the government and reach into its bottomless pockets for compensation once again. Let's take responsibility for our own actions.

Donald Smith


Proposed charter changes detrimental

The County Charter is our local constitution. In November, citizens of Howard County will vote on proposed changes to the document. The Charter Review Commission has issued a draft report containing its recommendations for changes to the charter. This draft report is available at county libraries or by calling 313-2001 to request a copy.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the George Howard Building (Banneker Room) at the county office complex in Ellicott City, the commission will hold a public hearing on its draft report. Among the recommendations of the commission are three that bear particular attention.

First, the commission wants to increase the number of signatures from the current maximum of 10,000 to 10 percent of registered voters (a number that grows as the county grows) that citizens must gather to place a charter change on the ballot. The current requirement presents an already high hurdle, as citizens who gather signatures for term limits or the right to bring rezoning decisions to referendum (such as Question B) can attest.

Second, there is a move by the commission to limit the right of the people to take General Plan and rezoning matters to referendum. In November 1994, Howard County voters overwhelmingly approved Question B, which established the right of the voters to have final say in almost all land use matters. It is grossly unethical for the commission to attempt to neutralize the rights established by Question B in the guise of clarifying them.

Which brings us to the third item, which should be the highest priority with everyone -- ethics. The commission has recommended easing the requirement that nothing of value be accepted by county officials from any person, firm or corporation having dealings with the county. By proposing that county officials be allowed to accept things of "not more than nominal value," the commission is effectively inserting "wiggle room" for those officials who would abuse the public trust.

The 33-page report is a short document with potentially far-reaching effects. The public hearing is the one opportunity citizens have to address the commission's proposals.

John W. Taylor


Kasemeyer bill doesn't help the children

State Sen. Edward Kasemeyer's letter in The Sun for Howard Jan. 28 relating to his proposed Senate Bill 79 legislation does not, in fact, protect the child. It would be worthwhile for Mr. Kasemeyer to propose a bill mandating in-patient treatment for chemically abusive individuals.

All alleged abusers are entitled to an abuse and neglect hearing before a domestic relations jurist can be mandated to impose a non-custody or non-visitation order. The rule of evidence relating to denying parental visitation or custody rights is clear and concise. There must be an abuse or neglect adjudication.

Senate Bill 79 circumvents the Abuse-Neglect Statutes of the Maryland Annotated Codes. The proposed legislation was "constitutionally weak."

It subjects children to endless court hearings challenging its intent. How is a child's best interest or general welfare protected when the state statutes are circumvented?

A sexual offender is allowed visitation with his or her children as well as an offender who has killed his spouse. Senate Bill 79 makes the child a scapegoat for society and family failures. We must allow the child to be protected with wise and just laws and

not gamble on constitutionally weak statutes.

Loretta M. Jacoby


County's taxes aren't fair to owners of property

The Sun for Howard of Jan. 17 editorialized that if Howard County property owners get hit with another tax increase, it is their fault for not supporting "economic development." As a property owner, I'd like to apologize, then, for not doing what?

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