Bonds could help poor defendants, unclog courtsIn response...

Letters to the Editor

April 09, 1999

Bonds could help poor defendants, unclog courts

In response to your editorial "Doing the bidding of bail bond businesses" (March 25), I'd like to point out provisions of Maryland's bail review that could, if our judges used them more often, help unclog the courts and free up money that would help defendants retain an attorney.

State law says that if a defendant is to be released before trial, a judge may allow a defendant to post a 10 percent bond to the court. For example, if the bail is set at $5,000, the defendant may pay $500 directly to the court. That money will then be refunded when the defendant shows up for trial.

If the court will not allow such a bond, the defendant must pay the full $5,000 bond to the court or resort to the bail bondsman, who takes 10 percent as a fee but does not return it when the defendant shows up for trial.

In the first case, the defendant gets his $500 back and can use it to pay a private attorney; in the second, the bail bondsman takes $500 off the top.

Having done scores of bail reviews with the Lawyers at Bail Pilot Project, I believe this bond option is underutilized. If judges would begin to use it more often, the jails would be less overcrowded, the courts would be less clogged and indigent defendants might have a better chance.

Peter A. Holland, Annapolis

Competing to represent university employees

The Sun's Michael Dresser has misconstrued the Maryland Classified Employees Association's (MCEA) position on collective bargaining rights for nonfaculty employees of the University of Maryland.

In his March 18 and March 24 articles ("Mandatory union fees faces likely defeat" and "Collective bargaining bill passes house"), Mr. Dresser suggested that extending collective bargaining rights to university employees is a victory for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which would benefit from the collective bargaining legislation pending before the Maryland General Assembly.

But the articles overlooked the losses AFSCME suffered as this legislation was amended from its original form. The bill the governor submitted would have allowed the 8,800 university employees to be included in the state employee bargaining units currently represented by AFSCME without permitting them a chance to vote for their own bargaining representative.

This would have made it difficult for independent organizations, like MCEA, to represent the university employees. And, since AFL-CIO rules prevent its affiliates from raiding sister unions, AFSCME would have been free from competition from other AFL-CIO unions as well.

The bill would currently permit all employee organizations to compete to represent Maryland university employees.

Tony Corbo, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

Is Annapolis choosing Baltimore's next mayor?

So our legislators in Annapolis, feeling that they know what's best for Baltimore City, have decided that Kweisi Mfume should be mayor.

I guess if we have the nerve to elect someone else they will just change the voting laws, too.

Jeff Sattler, Baltimore

Large church would tax rural road, water systems

On March 30 The Sun reported favorable findings ("Engineers find site suitable for church") concerning the planned relocation of Bethel AME Church to Granite. But if that church moves to Granite, its 13,000-member congregation will outnumber the town's 2,500 residents and its complex will further tax our overburdened road and water systems.

As a longtime Granite resident, I have in recent years seen our quality of life deteriorate as a result of development and increased traffic flow on our county roads. Two new churches are already on Old Court Road, one of which stops traffic when its parking lot empties. When traffic backups are a mile long, how can emergency vehicles get through?

Many of our local wells are only 50 to 100 feet deep. Bethel AME is talking about placing five or six 300- to 500-foot-deep wells with consumption of 15,000 gallons a day in an area whose water supply is already stressed in times of drought.

The church's only concern seems to be its own needs. It is showing no consideration for our our way of life.

Dwight E. Hartman, Granite

A superpower must stand firm in Yugoslavia

It seems that in today's America, right is equated only with success.

If our bombing had stopped the Serbs from attacking Kosovo, the polls would likely show that the nation approved President Clinton's actions by 99 percent.

We would have patted ourselves on the back and said we had done the right thing.

We boast constantly about being the world's leader and its most powerful nation. When will we realize that with superpower status comes superpower responsibility? That means standing up and fighting for the cause of a weaker nation -- in this case, preventing the annihilation of a people, the Kosovars, who happen to be of a different religion and ethnic background than most of us in this country.

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