Redistricting plan takes gerrymandering to a shameful...


February 16, 2002

Redistricting plan takes gerrymandering to a shameful level

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's spokesman Mike Morrill claims that the latest congressional redistricting map tries to preserve "communities of interest" ("Final map for districts offered," Feb. 9). In fact, the redistricting plan makes a mockery of the "communities of interest" principle and completely ignores the integrity of neighborhoods throughout Maryland.

Perry Hall, for example, is placed in a district that stretches 150 miles to Ocean City. It will be treated as nothing more than an appendage of a distant congressional district.

Mr. Morrill can try to spin it otherwise, but Mr. Glendening's mapmakers did not care about the compactness or reasonableness of the new districts.

They cared about raw partisan power, which is why the districts slither around Baltimore like the arms of a spider.

David Marks

Perry Hall

The writer is president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association.

What are the ties that bind the future political interests of crowded, struggling precincts in east and west Baltimore City and the fast-growing suburbs of northern and western Howard County? What whim of demographic expressionism sees appropriateness in proposing that the boundaries of the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts be arranged to look like the spots on the side of a Holstein cow?

Only in smoky backrooms where unbridled political self-interest rules could such a thing happen. And that, it seems, is what our governor's final redistricting proposal is all about.

This proposal scoffs in the face of common sense and ignores the natural and fundamental values people pursue in creating the geographic communities in which they live and educate their children.

It is a parting shot of cronyism that seeks only to advantage allies and steer future federal largesse in their direction.

The absurdity of the governor's proposal should make even its most obvious congressional beneficiaries and confirmed devotees of gerrymandering turn pink.

Jim Russell

Ellicott City

Death penalty brings lives to a merciful, just end

A comment by one judge regarding the delay of Steven H. Oken's execution has upset me as much as the delay in Mr. Oken's death. The judge reportedly said that prosecuting a death penalty case "is simply not worth the aggravation" ("Md. court delays Oken's execution," Feb. 7).

My beautiful daughter, Shen Poehlman, was sexually assaulted and murdered on July 28, 1998, and her convicted murderer, John Albert Miller, is on death row. We have started the appeals process.

My heart goes out to the family of Dawn Marie Garvin regarding the delays.

Did Mr. Oken or Mr. Miller hesitate in killing our daughters? Did they show mercy? They deserve swift justice. The death penalty is a merciful way to end their lives.

Shame on you, judge, for thinking your aggravation is more important than the grief of those families whose loved ones have been murdered.

Chuck Poehlman


Teach kids English first, then test their achievement

The Sun's editorial "Learning with English as a second language" (Feb. 12) misses one extremely important point. MSPAP tests can be changed so that those with limited skills all pass with flying colors - the test could be administered in their native or "first" language. But they will still probably have limited English skills.

They may be able to explain Einstein's theories in Vietnamese, discuss Newtonian physics in Farsi or write contracts in Korean. But this is of limited, if any, value to me as an employer if they cannot communicate clearly with my "English as a first (and usually only) language" clients.

Teach them English first, then administer the tests.

Michael Connell


A downtown high school promises great opportunities

What an exciting opportunity for high school students to be able to attend school in downtown Baltimore ("Planned downtown school opposed," Feb. 8).

How well I remember my days as a student at Western High School when the 10th grade annex was at Howard and Centre streets. (It is now an apartment building.) Just a walk out the door and you had at your fingertips the Walters Art Gallery, the downtown business district, the first Baltimore City Fair and countless other sights to see and learn from.

There is nothing wrong with most of the city high schools. But there is a need for a high school downtown that focuses on strong academics as well as the business opportunities of future generations.

And a lot of families live in the downtown area. Wouldn't it be great if they could send their children to a good high school close by, instead of a school a long bus ride or drive away?

Connie Lisch


Why not open the files of prosecutors right away?

The fact that the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office's new "open file" policy does not begin until March 1 begs the question: Why not start it tomorrow ("Trial policy change slated," Feb. 12)?

Katie Dregier


State has been frugal at Towson University

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