Big money influence hurts ordinary folksThe loss of the...

LETTERS

March 12, 1997

Big money influence hurts ordinary folks

The loss of the ordinary citizen's influence, inherent in a system where big money plays an inordinate role in political campaigns, betrays the basic premises of our American system.

The state Senate should pass all campaign finance bills which have cleared the House of Delegates this session in the hope that the General Assembly will come down on the side of those without great wealth, who nonetheless seek a place at the table and a voice in the direction of our state.

Anthony Cobb

Baltimore

Troopers not guilty of 'Block' charges

In the March 1 Sun, I read your article ''Frazier favors help by troopers,'' and could not help but notice that once again you have taken the opportunity to bring up allegations with respect to the two Maryland state troopers who allegedly had sex with a prostitute during the course of The Block investigation that took place in 1994.

As the attorney who represented the two troopers, I have noted that almost every time The Sun repeats these allegations, it fails to also mention that after a two-day administrative hearing the troopers were found not guilty of all charges, which included having sex with a prostitute.

In as much as you obviously feel the need to re-print these allegations every so often, perhaps the next time you will also include the fact that the troopers were found not guilty.

Jeff Horowitz

Baltimore

Al Gore look-alike caught in the act

Is nothing sacred? Apparently, someone has taken a perfectly good cardboard poster (Al Gore) and wrinkled it.

The poster, though never touted as an exciting piece of work, was heretofore unsullied. The first hint of damage occurred when the poster was found leaning against a Buddhist temple with money pinned all over it. Caught with the cash, Mr. Poster was heard to say that he had no idea why he was there, but it certainly wasn't to launder any money for the Democratic National Committee.

More recently, someone apparently tipped the poster over and it fell against a White House telephone. With nothing to do until someone walked by, the poster made a few hundred phone calls aggressively soliciting political contributions. Although federal law prohibits fund-raising within the White House, selected government attorneys don't believe the law applies to Posters.

Perhaps it's time to roll up the poster and put him away. Why not mount him on the wall of the Lincoln bedroom for contributor viewing or position him in the hall to point the way to the daily White House coffees.

But whatever they do with him, just please don't bring him out in the year 2000.

Carolyn Russell

Baltimore

Pierce expanded borders overseas

Joseph R. L. Sterne's March 4 article on William McKinley (''President worth remembering") states that he ''became the first president to extend the country beyond its continental borders.''

Franklin Pierce, our 14th president, whom the article dismisses as a ''fuzzy image,'' actually helped expand U.S. territories overseas nearly a half-century before McKinley reached the White House.

Pierce did so by promoting the annexation of barren islands that contained guano (seafowl excrement used widely as fertilizer). The Guano Islands Act, passed by Congress during Pierce's administration with his strong support, allowed Americans to claim ''guano islands'' for the United States.

Within 30 years of its enactment, the law was used to acquire more than 70 islands (including the Midway Islands in 1867).

Bob Cullen

Greenbelt

HMOs seen in need of more regulations

The March 5 article in The Sun, "Stronger oversight of HMOs sought,'" reviews legislative attempts to make physician administrators in HMOs responsible to the Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance. They would be held accountable for their medical policy decisions, just as physicians who carry out those policies are held accountable.

It is hard to imagine a more rational and appropriate step in the regulatory process, yet the HMO industry responds with the usual dismissals.

For example, spokesperson Debra Williams-Garner counters that these administrators do not make "off-the-cuff" decisions. Indeed, it is their carefully deliberated and profit-driven policies which cry out for regulation.

Ms. Williams-Garner then bangs the anti-regulation drum, offering her opinion that ". . . a lot of the medical industry is feeling the strain of micromanagement as far as legislators are concerned." This from the very industry that has taken lucrative, micromanaged strain imposed on patients and providers to previously unimaginable levels.

Once again, they claim that they are self-policed by that industry lapdog-disguised-as-watchdog, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and should be immune from regulation. Stay tuned to see whether their well-funded lobbying efforts defeat such imperative legislation again this year.

Steve Shearer

Lutherville

Worthless houses should go tax-free

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