State lawmakers should follow lead on finance reformI hope...

LETTERS

January 29, 1998

State lawmakers should follow lead on finance reform

I hope the Maryland legislature will follow the lead of other states, such as Washington, in campaign-finance reform.

A 1992 ballot initiative there made it illegal for unions to collect or spend union dues for political purposes unless they received the approval of members.

It is not fair to U.S. workers that money is taken from their paycheck by labor union bosses without the worker's permission for political purposes.

The initiative in Washington was approved by 70 percent of the voters. When the rules changed, the money that the union bosses could spend to influence politicians dried up.

The days when the political bosses could send shivers up the spines of financially needy politicians may be close to an end. That would certainly be a huge step toward campaign finance reform as well as lifting a financial burden from the U.S. worker.

G. Stuart Lacher

Baltimore

Hazards of cigars rightly pointed out

Congratulations to Alec Klein and The Sun for calling attention to the hazards of cigar smoking ("Cigar Caper," Jan. 11 to 13).

Individuals with significant tobacco exposure should be alert to the signs of oral malignancy, such as an ulcer or sore in the mouth, a white or red patch or difficulty swallowing.

They should consult with their physician or dentist or avail themselves of oral cancer screening programs.

John R. Saunders Jr.

Baltimore

The writer is medical director of the Milton J. Dance Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

State should refund $260 million surplus

Why do we let our state legislators get away with making big plans to spend money we have overpaid in taxes -- a $260 million surplus -- without protest?

Am I the only who would like my share of what I overpaid in taxes refunded to me? I don't think so.

Tom Decker

Severna Park

Maryland's record of arts support good

The chief curator of the B&O Railroad Musem, Courtney B. Wilson, wrote in a Jan. 10 letter that "Baltimore, the surrounding counties and the state of Maryland have one of the worst records in the United States for providing public support for art, culture, and heritage museums."

On the contrary, Maryland has one of the best records in the country for supporting the arts, including art museums. This state ranks 10th among all 50 states in its per-capita support of the arts.

Most of Maryland's arts budget, 85 percent, goes for annual operating support of arts organizations and other organizations that present the arts throughout the state.

This stable, steady support enables arts organizations to make their art available to as many citizens as possible.

Mr. Wilson is obviously translating the lamentable absence of public funding for the B&O Railroad Museum into the assumption that Maryland does not support the arts.

Fortunately for the arts in Maryland and for our citizens, that is not the case.

James Backas

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council.

Separation of powers has its advantages

How ironic, even strange, that the intragovernmental problems Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is having make me believe in the U.S. system of separation of powers.

My position stems from this phrase in the Jan. 16 article "President's Israeli headache": "Captive of a fractious coalition, [Mr. Netanyahu] covets [President] Clinton's executive power."

I have often thought the United States would be better off with FTC parliamentary system like Israel's. (I must not be totally off base, for the hundred-plus nations that have come into existence since World War II have overwhelmingly chosen the parliamentary system of government instead of our separation of powers.)

But when a head of government can be dismissed because the body that put him in office turns against him, the prime minister becomes overly cautious.

George M. Watson

Baltimore

Kelley's vote showed integrity

I hope the Baltimore community will rise and support Democratic state Sen. Delores G. Kelley for speaking out in the Larry Young case for what she believes is important in protecting her college, Coppin State, and its assets.

The same values Dr. Kelley teaches at Coppin State and follows in her many legislative activities make her a role model.

Henry Stansbury

Baltimore

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Kudos to Dr. Kelley for her courageous position. At a time when the electorate despairs about the ethics of those in elective office, she is a role model for integrity and strength under pressure.

Amy Grace

Baltimore

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