Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

January 05, 2003

Give Smith a chance on schedule change

As the parent of a high school freshman, I, like many of my fellow Anne Arundel County citizens, feel that I have a vested interest in the implementation of the four-period schedule ("School periods decision attacked," Dec. 23). But, apparently, I am in a distinct minority, because I believe we should give [Superintendent Eric J. Smith] the benefit of the doubt in trying this plan.

This county staked its educational future on the belief that Dr. Smith was the man who could take our system to a higher level. Now, the citizenry is prepared to vilify him because his first initiative represents unprecedented change. But I'm keeping faith because Dr. Smith doesn't strike me as a man who makes change for the sake of change.

I would suggest that there is a significant difference between ignoring public input and continuing to respectfully disagree with that input. Had the case against the four-period day been compelling enough, I suspect that Dr. Smith might not have abandoned his plan in its entirety, but he certainly would have reconsidered his stance.

When I hear the argument that students are falling asleep in 55-minute classes so how can we expect them to tough out 85-minutes sessions, I am unmoved and think that that is not a condemnation of Dr. Smith's four-period schedule, but rather it is a condemnation of the priorities of our students.

Jeffrey H. Koenig

Gambrills

Smoking in office displays arrogance

What's in the air in the Anne Arundel County executive's office?

With all of the haze in the air from her smoking habit, Janet Owens must think she is above the law. It is extremely hypocritical of her to be promoting anti-smoking programs at taxpayer expense while puffing away in her office, willingly violating state and federal laws.

What's even more ridiculous is that her supporters openly excuse and support her breaking the law. If the stress of being county executive is too much for Janet Owens to bear, just imagine if she really were to run for governor.

This is just the latest in a string of embarrassments Janet Owens has brought upon Anne Arundel County. Owens should resign her position immediately and save Anne Arundel County the disgrace of four more years of her ineffective, arrogant governance.

Brian Griffiths

Pasadena

Poor residents need mental health agency

During the 2002 legislative session, the state Mental Hygiene Administration, under mounting pressure to cut costs, made the difficult decision to lower the income threshold for uninsured persons accessing public mental health services from 300 percent to 116 percent of the federal poverty level. Individuals making as little as $11,000 per year are now considered ineligible for subsidized public mental health services. Those affected are the working poor whose minimum-wage jobs do not offer health insurance or who cannot afford the premiums to participate in employer-sponsored insurance.

Mental health advocates have for years predicted that failure to invest in community-based public mental health services would result in increased emergency room use and expensive inpatient care.

Eliminating access to primary care and prevention services makes no more sense in mental health than in physical health - it's clearly a "pay now or pay later" decision.

The Sun recently reported that [North Arundel Hospital] may close its psychiatric ward due to the influx of uninsured patients ("Hospital might close its mental health unit," Dec. 22). Looks like "later" has come all too soon.

Lori Doyle

Catonsville(The writer is public policy director for the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland Inc.)

Elderly man is lucky he had a gun at home

While in the midst of another Second Amendment debate, it should be noted that the Anne Arundel section of the paper ("Man, 82, shoots burglary suspect in Arundel home," Dec. 30) today is reporting that an 82-year-old county resident defended his home, property and possibly his life by shooting a 41-year-old man who was climbing through the side window of his house.

The suspect was taken to the hospital, and charged with felony burglary. I wonder, had this elderly man not been armed, would the outcome of this situation been drastically different? How else is an 82-year-old man supposed to fend off a 41-year-old man? And what could an armed militia have done to help?

Guns are the great equalizer, and they give our elderly a chance at defending themselves Guns are perhaps the only reason that many criminals who don't hesitate to commit other forms of crime are leery about entering another person's home. They are the ultimate deterrent.

Michael DeCicco

Severn

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