Maryland's leaders muffed opportunity to help the needy...


April 13, 2000

Maryland's leaders muffed opportunity to help the needy

The governor's supplemental budget solidified one theme of the 2000 state legislative session: missed opportunities. During a time of record prosperity, we did surprisingly little for the poor.

For example, we could have created appropriate addiction treatment capacity; instead we chose only incremental increases.

We could have provided adequate financial and medical care for poor adults with disabilities. We could have reversed the disturbing trend toward the state-wide reduction of affordable housing units.

Unfortunately, we chose not to invest substantially in these areas.

This year more than 50,000 men, women and children will experience homelessness in Maryland.

Recent studies confirm that the current economic expansion is benefiting only the wealthy; middle-class incomes are stagnant and the poor have lost ground.

Instead of using a large budget surplus to correct such disparities, address poverty directly and prevent future homelessness, we chose to maintain the status quo.

Missed opportunities, indeed.

Jeff Singer


The writer is president and c.e.o. of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Competence, diversity are right standards for judiciary

I was surprised at the partisan description of Maryland's judicial selection process written by Christopher West, counsel of the Maryland Republican Party ("Partisan politicking and the Maryland judiciary," Opinion Commentary, April 4).

During the almost five years I have chaired the Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission for Harford County, never once has the political affiliation of a judicial candidate been mentioned in the commission's deliberations.

Of the four judges appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening in Harford County, two are Democrats and two are Republicans, including the first woman ever to serve as a judge in Harford County.

At our training session, commission members were asked to consider all applicants equally and fairly and seek a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences.

Increasing the diversity of our judges to reflect the overall population will lead to better judicial decisions and make our court system stronger.

Competence and diversity are the standards that should be used to measure the judicial selection process not the partisan standards Mr. West suggested.

Richard D. Norling


The writer chairs the Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission for Harford County.

Antitrust suits don't serve the public's interest

Contrary to U.S. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's claim, the true "assault upon entrepreneurial efforts" did not come from Microsoft aggressively competing in the free market ("Microsoft loses federal ruling," April 4).

Economic power is not political power. Microsoft cannot force its competitors at the point of a gun to stop competing.

If its competitors were smarter, faster or produced cheaper goods, consumers would buy their products.

The real aggressors in this pretense of justice were a handful of whining executives of Microsoft's competitors who appealed to state power to crush Microsoft.

We claim to be a nation of laws and not people, yet we have antitrust laws that are ill-defined, vague and arbitrary.

They give subjective power to the agents of government to crush legitimate businesses that are eminently successful.

Non-objective law is the hallmark of every two-bit dictator. It has no place in a free society.

Manfred Smith


As I compose this letter on Microsoft Word, my mind travels back 20 years to another federal antitrust case, this one involving the Bell telephone system.

Before the government forced the break-up of that system, America's telephones and telephone system were the best in the world.

Quality telephones were provided by Western Electric and quality long-distance service was never in question.

But when the courts broke up the Bell system, the public was inundated with cheap equipment and inferior long-distance service.

Some monopolies work for the better. Bell was one and Microsoft is another. In other words if it aint broke, don't fix it.

Richard Crystal


Ethereal portrait brought thundering hooves home

The photograph on the front page of the Maryland section on April 3 of the Marlborough Hunt Races was spectacular. It was so realistic I felt as though I could touch the horses and riders and hear the thundering hooves.

The realism was wonderfully combined with a backdrop of springtime fields, and stormy skies. The soft lighting and unusual technique captured an almost ethereal portrait on film.

Congratulations to the photographer.

Norma Coffren

Charlotte Hall

Judicial system can't handle effects of `zero tolerance'

Mayor Martin O'Malley is an impractical optimist. Most of our crime is drug-related, and there aren't enough police officers to enforce "zero tolerance."

The judicial system is snowed under now. We'll never have enough jails to hold all the offenders. And our parole system is obviously incapable of handling the existing overload.

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