Can see what legislature doing via InternetAs correctly...

Letters

December 10, 1996

Can see what legislature doing via Internet

As correctly pointed out by your Dec. 4. editorial, ''Point-and-click democracy,'' the General Assembly's new World Wide Web home page is a wonderful first step toward improving the public's access to legislative information. We are extremely proud of our site, which has been quickly recognized as one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly state

legislature home pages in the country.

There are, however, a few inaccuracies in your editorial. First, the online service is currently available at http: // mlis. state .md.us and contains information about legislation introduced during the session of the Maryland General Assembly. Beginning in January, citizens will have access to information, which will be updated daily, about bills introduced during the 1997 session and will continue to have access to the 1996 information.

Further, there are tools on the Web site to help citizens better understand what a bill does and the estimated cost of each proposal. A synopsis of each bill is available either by bill number or through daily synopses of all bills introduced in each chamber.

Fiscal notes are also available for each bill. These fiscal notes also provide a brief, plain-English summary of each bill. The synopses, fiscal notes and texts of the bills are all identical to the paper copies of these documents that are made available to legislators and the public in Annapolis.

Finally, the General Assembly shares your concerns about citizens not being aware of who represents them in Annapolis. For that reason, our Web site includes a program, developed and maintained through a cooperative arrangement with State Archives, that enables an individual to learn the identities of his or her state and federal representatives simply by entering his or her home address.

We are certainly appreciative of The Sun's interest in our home page and we share your interest in providing information about the activities of the General Assembly to the public. It is worth noting that, in addition to the 10 percent of homes that currently have Internet access, citizens are able to access our site through terminals at local public libraries throughout Maryland.

While we view our new site as a positive beginning toward meeting our obligation to improve the public's ability to access public information, we will continue to work on including more features on our site as we are able to convert documents and information to a readable, meaningful and understandable format.

$Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Casper R. Taylor Jr.

Annapolis

The writers are president of the Maryland Senate and speaker of the state House of Delegates, respectively.

Senator Bar had a function

I was dismayed and somewhat angered by your Nov. 27 editorial describing the Senator Bar as one that catered to winos and contributed to the blight of the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

While the attached liquor store, with its entrance on Howard Street, may have attracted economically disadvantaged customers, the Senator Bar was primarily a community institution of long standing, serving a geriatric gay and lesbian population in the center of Baltimore.

Regular patrons formed the equivalent of a gay social club and regularly raised funds for worthwhile community projects: A Movable Feast, H.E.R.O. and several others. The bar also provided a support system for those same individuals as they aged in a very unfriendly city environment. People tried to take care of each other and take responsibility for the general welfare of those who gathered there.

There is a folk legend that the building that housed the bar had been a hospital during the Civil War and even at the time of its closing provided minimal housing for low income individuals.

If you want to attack the disease of alcoholism, please direct your efforts toward the disease rather than the individuals who are suffering. To do any less is to denigrate human beings who are both dealing with a disease as well as often trying to struggle in a faulty economic system that does not care for them.

Ronald E. Mattson

Baltimore

Racial unity is still racism

The Nov. 25 article, ''Racial unity, not racism, drives city voting'' was a disservice to the readers of The Sun and the community. The attempt to distinguish ''racism'' from ''racial solidarity'' or ''racial unity'' was a journey on a path of sophistry to a place of intellectual dishonesty and ethical bankruptcy.

Any reasonably astute observer of the political scene in Baltimore City knows that black voters vote overwhelmingly for black candidates, and that white voters vote overwhelmingly for white candidates based on racial considerations.

Forgive me for being politically incorrect, and paraphrasing a dead, white, European male, William Shakespeare:

''What's in a name? That which we call racism

By any other name would smell as bad.''

Ernest I. Cornbrooks III

Salisbury

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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