Unfunded legislation wouldn't have helped state's poor get bail


May 10, 2001

I strongly disagree with The Sun's characterization of the reasons for the defeat of bills requiring representation of indigent defendants by public defenders at bail review hearings and, in particular, of my opposition to these bills ("Equal justice for poor lacking at bail hearing," editorial, April 10)

I have long supported the Office of Public Defender. Before this legislative session, I wrote to the governor requesting money for increased salaries for its overworked, underpaid personnel.

But it has always been my contention that current law allows public defenders to represent indigents at bail review hearings, as evidenced by the fact that they are now doing this in four counties. Indeed, according to The Sun's article on the McCarter case, public defenders could be required by law to do this ("Counsel for bail reviews at issue," April 21).

To the extent that the Office of Public Defender does not have the resources to do this, that is a matter for the governor and the fiscal committees.

However, the Department of Budget and Fiscal Management opposed the bills in question because the budget didn't fund them. Without such funding, the Office of Public Defender also opposed the bills.

The bills were specifically contingent on the inclusion of money in the budget. Otherwise, they were "null and void."

I believe in passing bills to change laws, not to make empty symbolic statements.

The Sun was right to call on the governor to step in on this matter. Should he choose to do so, public defenders will represent indigents at bail review hearings statewide, without the need for legisla- tion.

Joseph F. Vallario Jr.


The writer is chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Delegates.

Snubbing the president will hurt die-hard Democrats

The deliberate snub of the president's invitation to breakfast by die-hard Democrats, the still-mourning sore losers, shows again their inability to join the new millennium ("Changing political tone is toast of 100th day lunch," May 1). While a fresh wind blows through Washington, they are left behind to breathe the poisoned atmosphere they helped create.

While our country moves forward, these obstructionists continue to be out of step and will go down in flames.

I did not vote for President Bush but with all my heart wish him well and admire his efforts to heal the breach between the parties and restore dignity to govern- ment.

Henry L. Blum


Energy policy promises more harm to environment

I wonder why it took Vice President Dick Cheney so long to come up with an energy policy, when everyone knew the outcome in advance ("Cheney outlines energy strategy," May 1). I had secretly hoped he would come up with something new and innovative but, alas, I was disappointed.

It appears the only study Mr. Cheney did was on how can he and the president get more money to their friends in the big oil, coal and nuclear energy industries.

Mr. Cheney makes it look like this is a new and bold course for the future, but he talked of policies that have been found detrimental to our environment.

Who is going to save us from us?

James Dow


Enough is enough: Get us out of the United Nations

I have long believed that our financial support and membership in the United Nations is not in the best interests of the United States. The fact the U.N. Human Rights Commission just kicked us off that body in a secret ballot should cinch it for everyone else ("U.S. loses its long-held seat on U.N. rights commission," May 4).

We should have long ago withdrawn from the U.N. and kicked them out of the country. The U.N. offers no benefit to the United States, only burden after burden.

People from around the world, including from some of the very same nations who do have seats on the Human Rights Commission, would give up a limb to live and work in the freedom available only in the United States. And these nations have the nerve to judge us?

Why are we putting up with it? How many more indignities must American citizens and taxpayers suffer at the hands of ungrateful nations?

Enough is enough. Get the United States out of the U.N. and the U.N. out of the United States.

Stephen M. Kranz


Administration seems unable to read from the same script

After reading "Pentagon order on ties with China reversed" (May 3), we once again have to wonder if this administration is reading from the same script.

This seems to be a recurring problem, right down the line.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman says one thing and is left out to dry. President Bush calls for more treatment of drug addicts while other officials call for more prison beds.

What will be the cry if the button is pushed for the mother of all nuclear attacks by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or one of his subordinates by mistake? Oops?

Randall Miller

Ocean View, Del.

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