Proposed law isn't supported by all local residents As...

LETTERS

March 06, 2000

Proposed law isn't supported by all local residents

As vice-president of the Obery Court-College Terrace Tenant Council, I would like to comment on a Feb. 18 article that reported Annapolis' attorney had warned the City Council that there was a "defect" in the proposed new anti-loitering law. Your paper reported that if the city loses the legal challenge, it "may be ordered to pay significant legal fees." It is outrageous that tax dollars would be spent on defending a defective law.

The Sun frequently quotes Alderman Herb McMillan or Annapolis Housing Authority Executive Director Patricia Croslan as saying that the residents of public housing support these zones. This is simply not true. All residents do not support this approach. In fact, the mayor and city council received over 800 signed petitions from public housing residents opposing the so-called anti-drug loitering bill. The newspaper in its recent story failed to mention this or that every major black elected official and organization in the city opposed the McMillan bill.

The NAACP, ACLU, United Black Clergy, and the Respect organizations' views better reflect the concerns of tenants in public housing than a housing bureaucrat and a politician who spends more time calling his opponents "demagogues" than meeting with them to find common ground. Neither Mr. McMillan nor Ms. Croslan has met with the NAACP or the organization Respect or even bothered to solicit their views.

As a resident of public housing, I applaud the NAACP and the ACLU for their challenge of a law that even the city attorney office found to be defective.

Robert H. Eades

Annapolis

Article on preschool brings back memories

Reading "Nobody thought to prepare moms for 1st day of preschool" (Feb. 16) brought back many memories.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until years later, when in the classroom myself, that it become clear that once Mom or Dad left, the child was perfectly involved and happy.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad have a preoccupied, miserable day until they pick their child up from school. Thanks for the memories!

Marge Griffith Pasadena

Locks will make guns useless for protection

The governor wants gun owners to put a trigger lock on their gun, to make them useless for what they bought a gun for in the first place -- protection.

Then hide the gun to save the children.

Hide the key to save the children.

Hide the ammunition to save the children.

We are going to need to find away to save the grown-ups.

By the time you find the gun, find the key and find the ammunition, after you hear a criminal break into your home, the only thing the children will have to know is how to call 911 for the coroner.

Bill Williams

Glen Burnie

The pros and cons of state parochial school aid

Re: The editorial department's Question of the Month, featured on the Saturday Mailbox page: "Should parochial schools receive taxpayer support?"

I write on behalf of the families of the more than 60,000 students attending Maryland's Catholic schools in response to the question of whether "parochial schools should receive taxpayer support." First, a point of clarification: no one is suggesting that the schools should receive support.

Should the students attending parochial and other nonpublic schools receive some form of support? Our answer is a wholehearted yes.

This essential distinction should long ago have laid to rest a host of arguments regarding whether providing such support is constitutionally permissible. The budget appropriation of $6 million currently under consideration by the Maryland General Assembly would not channel a penny to parochial or other nonpublic schools, but would be used by the state to purchase textbooks to be provided directly to nonpublic-school students.

It's not a matter of our opinion, but that of the U.S. Supreme Court, reflected in the common practice of the federal and most state governments, that providing this sort of secular educational assistance to students, regardless of where they attend school, does not violate separation of church and state.

The persistent refusal to acknowledge the clear-cut constitutionality of the proposed assistance reveals an equally persistent refusal to acknowledge the fundamental principle of religious freedom protected by the First Amendment.

Do we really want to insist -- despite what the U.S. Supreme Court says -- that a child in the state of Maryland should be categorically denied any form of state-supported educational services because he or she attends a religiously-affiliated school?

Such an argument, when examined closely, sounds less like a defense of the separation of church and state, and more like an unfounded justification for religious discrimination.

If the state has the means to extend allowable educational support to a greater number of its children, then let's at least stop using the Constitution as an artificial barrier to benefiting those children.

Mary Ellen Russell Annapolis

The writer is associate director for education of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

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