The wrong way to raise pay for school boardRegarding The...


December 14, 1997

The wrong way to raise pay for school board

Regarding The Sun's editorial on Howard County school board members' request for salary increases ("School board pay day," Nov. 17) I would like to repeat what I wrote in a letter to the editor last year.

The school board argued for a raise on the basis of being overworked. I believed then, and I believe now, that overload is solved by adding more staff and/or by re-engineering the work, not by paying overworked staff more money.

I firmly believe that the workload of the board is arbitrarily driven in part by maintaining the board at the level of five, by not adding research staff to the board, and by responding too often to an agenda set by those whom the board is supposed to oversee.

Last year, Del. Frank Turner drafted legislation that would have provided for:

Increasing the school board from five members to seven.

Reducing the terms from six years to four years.

Requiring that the compensation be reviewed by the Compensation Review Commission, which recommends the salaries for the county executive and County Council members.

The Compensation Review Commission would serve as a neutral party that would consider a variety of factors in setting pay, including the fine line between compensating a voluntary citizen board and paying a full- or part-time professional board.

I hope that our legislature supports a more rational way of setting compensation for board members.

Delroy L. Cornick


The writer is former chairman of the Compensation Review Commission.

Dudley case: Justice is blind, not gagged

The debate over Circuit Court Judge James P. Dudley's comments makes me wonder whether there are different standards for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.

The "shouting fire in a crowded theater" test does not apply here. And the statue of Justice wears a blindfold, not a gag. Justice with a "politically correct" muzzle does not well serve the perpetuation of our freedom of speech.

Steve Clarkson

Ellicott City

Hospital merger plan is cause for concern

We are very concerned that the Howard County General Hospital Board of Trustees is planning to merge with another hospital.

Our family has been pleased with our inpatient stays there. We have always felt it is our community hospital. As bond purchasers, we and other countians are proud to have helped finance the start of HCGH. In addition, many countians have worked there for decades as volunteers.

We recognize the hospital board's responsibility to run HCGH. We do not object to their decision to add a separate Ambulatory Care Center without consulting county residents.

However, we strongly object to the merger idea and the secret manner in which the board is operating on an issue which vitally concerns all countians. There is a hospital "merger mania" taking place in the United States. The results are not benefiting patients or the community.

For example, the March 13, 1997, New England Journal of Medicine, as reported in the April 1997 Public Citizen Health Letter, studied the way hospitals spend their money. It found that for-profit hospitals are costlier and less efficient than public or non-profit hospitals.

Even if the board chooses to merge with a non-profit, how can we be assured that the net assets of the hospital remain with HCGH? What happens if the new entity decides to combine with a for-profit hospital in the future? Since HCGH is doing well financially, why fix something that isn't broken? We don't want to be combined with an entity that increases consultants and bureaucrats and then tries to maximize by laying off nurses and avoiding unprofitable patients.

Let's get the advice and consent of all interested countians on this merger plan.

Helen Ruther

Martin Ruther


Bartlett porn bill deserves support

Many years ago, I went to a drug store that had sexually explicit magazines displayed on a low rack, where it directly faced my small children at the checkout counter.

At the same time, the postcard rack was on the wall at adult height. I suggested to the store manager that he reverse the placement of the two racks. He was receptive to the suggestion and thanked me. Over the 30-some years since then, we have become too tolerant of such blatant sexual material being shoved in our children's faces. Some of those children are now young, impressionable adults, and some of those young adults are in the military.

It pleases me greatly to know that our representative from the 6th Congressional District, Roscoe G. Bartlett, is a leading promoter of the law to ban sexually explicit materials for sale or rent at military base exchanges (stores). Our young men and women in the military are learning discipline and honor while performing a valuable service to their country. They certainly don't need salacious material shoved in their faces daily.

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