The future `Newt Gingrich' of Annapolis?Recently, Alderman...

Letters

May 23, 1999

The future `Newt Gingrich' of Annapolis?

Recently, Alderman Herbert H. McMillan decided to take on black leaders who are opposed to his anti-loitering bill, which some critics have called the "loitering while black" bill. Mr. McMillan claims that the Maryland Forum of African American Leaders, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union, United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County and other groups oppose his bill because he is white.

Let me assure the alderman that we are opposed to his bill on constitutional grounds.

In fact, Mr. McMillan had spoken with any of the groups that he has lambasted, he would discover that we are in full support of Annapolis Police Chief Joseph S. Johnson's approach to the loitering problem. Chief Johnson and his officers are working to build rapport with the community. Chief Johnson is taking time to meet with leaders and groups to see what we as a community can do to solve the problem.

Illicit drug dealing is a problem in some neighborhoods. However, we believe that drug dealers in public housing and drug dealers on Main Street should be treated the same. The bill targets public housing communities and is not based on the principle of "equal justice for all."

Mr. McMillan is a self-described Newt Gingrich Republican. He should be reminded that the former speaker of the House of Representatives was forced to resign because of his divisive politics. If he wants to be an Annapolis Newt Gingrich, we will do everything possible to make sure that he has the title of "former" alderman.

Lewis A. Bracy, Annapolis

The writer is communications director of the Maryland Forum of African American Leaders.

Support prevention of substance abuse

All citizens of Anne Arundel County should be deeply concerned that the proposed fiscal year 2000 budget will eliminate all county funding for prevention.

This at a time when research shows that alcohol and drug use are major concerns of students and parents, and that alcohol and drug use is starting at a younger age. Today, the starting age for alcohol use is 10 and for drugs, 12.

As a certified prevention specialist with 20 years in the field of adolescent substance abuse prevention, I know that for prevention to be effective it must be comprehensive, coordinated and ongoing. It must be community-supported and family-oriented.

This is what Anne Arundel County has now. This will be lost if county funding is eliminated, along with a highly trained staff.

If funding is eliminated, Anne Arundel will be left with a fragmented prevention effort -- a few anti-drug programs scattered among agencies with no coordination.

In 1979, Anne Arundel became one of the first counties in Maryland with a full-time prevention office. This office is on the cutting edge of "best practices" in prevention. Can the county afford to lose this?

Eliminating county funding for prevention gives the impression that the government no longer supports prevention of adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.

Beverly S. Preston, Linthicum

Thanks for defeat of underage club

I would like to thank the residents who supported a bill to prohibit nightclubs within 1,000 feet of schools or churches, especially those who personally appeared and testified in Annapolis on May 3.

I would also like to thank the countless volunteers who gathered signatures and passed out letters, the citizens of Brooklyn Heights and surrounding communities who supported this effort by mailing letters and making phone calls.

Also, the Anne Arundel County Council for its unanimous vote; notably Councilwoman Pamela Beidle, who initiated this bill, and her assistant, Cathy Sauble, who worked tirelessly on this issue.

With this combined effort we were successful, not only for our own neighborhoods, but for the entire populous of Anne Arundel County.

Virginia Eidinger, Brooklyn Heights

Neglected children hardly a new problem

Regarding the angst surrounding the school shootings and bomb plots in Littleton, Colo., and elsewhere and the U.S. Senate's decision to reverse its vote on gun control ("Senate GOP may support gun locks," May 17).

There is no doubt that good parental supervision and oversight of teen-agers would be the ultimate solution to teen violence, but parents have been neglecting their children and will continue to.

It is obvious every summer evening when you see young unattended children and teen-agers on city streets after midnight; on Saturday mornings when you watch suburban parents drop off 10- and 11-year-old children at 9: 30 a.m. for a Saturday at the mall (or so the parents think); and on the 16th birthday of many children of affluent families, when they get a new car, Internet access and absolute freedom from parental supervision with both.

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