'Fast track' cheats all but trade mogulsAs the Republicans...


October 11, 1997

'Fast track' cheats all but trade moguls

As the Republicans and Democrats debate important trade legislation like ''fast track,'' they seem more interested in playing power games, currying favor and pressuring President Clinton for concessions than in guaranteeing the rights of workers throughout the world, the protection of the environment and the democratic principles upon which this country was founded.

The Oct. 1 article on ''fast track'' legislation mentions that this trade agreement and the freedom it gives to Mr. Clinton in terms of negotiating authority are essential to maintaining the United States as a world leader in trade. In reality, ''fast track'' legislation provides Mr. Clinton with blank-check authority to negotiate new trade and investment treaties with no environmental or labor guarantees.

''Fast track'' compromises the democratic process by giving Congress only 30 hours to debate treaties submitted, without the ability to add amendments. Mr. Clinton would need a simple majority, not a two-thirds vote, to rewrite the economic rules for the U.S. and world economy. ''Fast track'' takes away the right of citizens to discuss and change laws that will affect their future profoundly.

If the U.S. trade moguls were interested in true world leadership, we would begin by ensuring that U.S. workers have the right to organize, are paid a living wage, and work in safe factories -- and then insisting that our trade partners follow our example. Instead, Clinton is pushing through legislation which would guarantee that profit came before justice, and Congress is just playing the game.

Frida Berrigan


The writer is a member of the Central American Solidarity Committee.

Agriculture should admit its mistake

The Maryland Department of Agriculture's midnight modification and decision to allow manure spreading under its new cover crop program is a mistake, and one that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will not support. However, the foundation supports most of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's efforts to address the Pfiesteria problem and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Governor Glendening challenged his departments to respond. He and John R. Griffin, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, and Secretary Martin P. Wasserman of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene brought in experts to help guide them. The governor took strong stands when needed and took actions he believed protected the public health and the bay's future.

Now, the Department of Agriculture appears unwilling to correct its blunder and instead defends it with excuses. The Department of Agriculture can and should change its cover crop program to address better the need to reduce the leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus into drinking wells, rivers and the bay.

Thomas V. Grasso


The writer is Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Rehrmann's style backfires on county

As a citizen of Harford County, I found the article in the Maryland section of the Sept. 26 Sun entitled ''Leading officials bicker in Harford'' by Lisa Respers very interesting.

This article gave the details on the most recent Rehrmann scandal, in which Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann attempted to hide the findings of the Legg Mason residential growth study. After legal action was taken, Ms. Rehrmann finally submitted an edited version of this report. The article also revealed two other such cases of secrecy, detailed by County Council member Barry Glassman.

In this particular case, however, the county government overestimated the available number of developable parcels of land by about 3,000. This is a great example of how Ms. Rehrmann's ''take-charge, get-it-done candidate for governor'' style backfires.

It is true that Harford County has a fairly large surplus, and that it is an extremely fast-growing county. These apparently ''nice things'' are coming to Harford County's residence at a price. This price is the quality of life. Once very rural and rich in nature, downtown Bel Air now has traffic jams, with more restaurants, stores, and grocery stores than can be dealt with.

Education is also suffering, as the county executive is campaigning and bragging about the surplus she has saved up, schools are in desperate need of basic necessities. These basic necessities include things like paper, copying machines, and computers.

Are all of these achievements worth the cost? It looks like Marylanders will need to decide, as Eileen Rehrmann has put forth her name as a Democratic candidate for governor.

David Colao

Bel Air When I am not laughing at them, I am incensed by the self-righteous hypocrisy that denizens of subdivisions -- in this case, Windemere and Ravenhurst -- employ to thwart the creative and conscientious use of land; i.e. Clark F. MacKenzie's proposed Loch Raven Golf Club and Maryland Golf Academy (''City fights golf plan,'' Oct. 3).

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