Price of Larry Young episode is high, exacted from manyA...

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January 24, 1998

Price of Larry Young episode is high, exacted from many

A very high price has been paid by many people in the Larry Young situation.

Racial relations, tense at best in this state and community, have been further inflamed, to no one's good.

The honest search for truth, proper behavior and appropriate relationships between elected officials and the many interest groups and constituencies may become a hostage to more emotionally combustible concerns.

Unless this sad situation leads to a serious, large-scale examination of ethics in government and genuine reforms -- and appropriate, color- and influence-blind penalties -- we all will have paid far too high a price for far too little.

Cathy Armlung

Baltimore

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When I look at the Jan. 14 picture of Larry Young's supporters, I can't help but wonder how much better Baltimore schools would be if these same people had marched in the streets to protest the downhill slide the school system was taking.

Lisa Penman Cohen

Randallstown

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The failure of many African-American leaders to strongly condemn Larry Young's deeds exacerbates the damage he did to a sense of justice in this country and to the hard-won achievements of such men as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Black leaders must insist on men of high moral integrity to lead and serve us. Otherwise, they are turning their heads to injustice, like earlier generations of white leaders did to other injustices, such as slavery and discrimination.

Geoffrey Smith

Reisterstown

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When a member of the legislature seemingly appropriates public funds for his personal use, that is sad.

But when his constituents are willing to overlook such behavior because that person has acquired benefits for them, it becomes even sadder.

That only leads to degenerate government.

tanley G. Piet

Bel Air

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The racial polarization is disturbing and the ethical questions serious, but there is another side to the Larry Young story.

Throughout his legislative career, he has been an advocate for people with mental illnesses, white as well as African-American, the vast majority poor.

Almost all of the mental health organizations he has supported are public or nonprofit. He hasn't asked for a dime.

During the 1980s, as chairman of the House Environmental Matters Committee, Mr. Young helped win passage of a comprehensive bill of rights for children and adults confined to state psychiatric hospitals, a model for the country.

More recently, as chairman of the Senate Finance Health Subcommittee, he worked closely with advocates and state officials to make sure Maryland's new managed Medicaid system did not deny access to the specialized services needed by Marylanders with severe mental illnesses.

People with psychiatric disabilities of all races and ethnicities from every region of the state are better off today because of Larry Young.

Herbert S. Cromwell

Catonsville

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Psychiatric Support Services.

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How odd that it took The Sun, rather than the Maryland legislature, to expose the Larry Young case.

Are we to believe that our senators, delegates and bureaucrats in Annapolis were totally unaware of what he was doing all these years?

It defies belief that these people did not see or hear things that would make them suspicious.

Who is watching the store?

Irvin Samuels

Baltimore

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I cannot adequately express how distressed and saddened I am by black leaders' reactions to the Larry Young mistake.

Leaders who are protesting his ouster appear to be more interested in race than character, and they distract members of their community from more important issues, such as education.

Worse, these leaders detract from issues in which honest, hard-working members of their community are truly discriminated against.

Rosemary Catalana

Baltimore

'Cigar Caper' series unfair and inaccurate

Your series on cigars ("Cigar Caper," Jan. 11 to 13) was both inaccurate and unfair. The suggestion that the cigar industry targets young people is particularly distressing.

Cigars are not marketed to minors. The cigar manufacturers and importers are adamantly opposed to the use of cigars by underage individuals.

In 1986, our members adopted voluntary guidelines on responsible advertising practices. These guidelines include an admonition against ads that might appeal to anyone under the age of 21. That standard has been and continues to be followed throughout the industry.

As a result of industry and retailer efforts, the rate of underage cigar smoking remains extremely low. According to recent studies, mor than half (51.6 percent) of high school students currently use alcohol. More than a third (34.8 percent) smoke cigarettes. Only a tiny percentage (2.6 percent) of high school students smoke about one cigar a week.

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