Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 14, 2003

Funds needed to extend access to legal services

I appreciate The Sun's editorial supporting Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell's $1.2 million budget request to the General Assembly for civil legal aid to Maryland's low-income citizens ("Legal challenge," Feb. 10).

But let me make one correction. The request is for funding for the Maryland Legal Services Corp. (MLSC) rather than the Legal Aid Bureau, as the editorial suggested.

MLSC is the nonprofit organization established by the General Assembly in 1982, with a board appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, to receive funds and make grants to coordinate, preserve and expand civil legal aid for persons unable to afford legal counsel.

MLSC has administered the Interest On Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program since 1982. But as the editorial indicates, these revenues have fallen sharply in recent years.

MLSC makes grants to the Legal Aid Bureau and numerous other organizations that provide civil legal aid to nearly 110,000 persons in Maryland each year in cases involving domestic violence, divorce, custody, support, child abuse, housing, employment, Social Security and other issues.

Because of falling IOLTA funds, MLSC cut grants by 10 percent to 20 percent to half of our grantees last year. Services will be cut much more deeply this year unless the funding request is approved.

Robert J. Rhudy

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Legal Services Corp.

Community care is the better option

Reading "State looks at closing psychiatric hospital" (Feb. 2), I see that the governor not only sees budget savings in our hospital-rich state, but he recognizes he must abide by the 1999 Supreme Court ruling that says the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions may constitute discrimination based on disability. This landmark ruling supports patients' right to live in the community with proper support.

The only way to achieve this goal is for Maryland to join the ranks of Michigan, New York and other states that have seen that community-based services benefit everyone.

Laura Van Tosh

Silver Spring

GAO decision is blow to the right to know

The decision by the General Accounting Office not to appeal the dismissal of its lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney and his energy task force signals a victory for the Bush administration ("GAO to stop pursuing information on executives who met with Cheney," Feb. 8).

It is a victory over the public's right to know how energy companies unduly influenced the formulation of public policy that affects all Americans.

Open, accountable government is one of the pillars of our democracy. But this administration does not want its corrupt inner workings exposed, and is using every excuse to achieve that end, including invoking "national security."

Tim Eastman

Baltimore

Cutting the lifeblood of old steelworkers

Bethlehem Steel Corp. chairman and CEO Robert "Steve" Miller Jr. has drawn his final sword. And with it he will slit the throats of 95,000 retired steelworkers and their families when he seeks the help of the bankruptcy court to terminate their health and life insurance benefits ("Beth Steel takes aim at benefits for retirees," Feb. 8).

God save us from greed, and God bless America.

LeRoy R. McClelland Sr.

Essex

Slots are a matter of freedom of choice

The slots issue has been framed primarily in two ways - as a moral issue or as a matter of economics and balancing the state's budget.

I submit that, despite the rhetoric of the thought police and do-gooders and the maneuvering of those who seek budget solutions or personal aggrandizement, the issue is, above all, one of freedom.

Why has the idea been lost or ignored that those who earn their money have the right to spend it as they see fit?

Harry Korrell

Catonsville

NATO dispute turns history on its head

So little Belgium, which twice in the last century was overrun by a brutal and aggressive dictatorship on its way to invade a third country, has blocked NATO from carrying out its duty to help a member state defend itself against another brutal and aggressive tyranny ("European rift widening over war on Iraq," Feb. 11).

That Belgium has done so with the full support of Germany, the power that twice trampled it, and France, which was Germany's target, makes one wonder why it is we Americans who have the reputation of being impervious to both history and irony.

Martin J. Gidron

Salisbury

Attack on Sharon picks wrong target

KAL's Feb. 1 cartoon attacks Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a democratically elected official of a steadfast American ally, implying Mr. Sharon is, and will be, the cause for a lack of peace in the Middle East.

But the cartoon does not address the fact that for the last 100 years, the Arabs have attempted to destroy the Jewish presence in the Middle East and are now encouraging their proxies, the Palestinians, to carry on their policy through homicidal bombings in Israel.

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