Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 17, 2003

Funds dispute is scant grounds for indictment

The charges against former Maryland State Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris relating to spending a discretionary account on inappropriate items are indeed strange ("Norris pleads not guilty," Dec. 12).

In my experience in government, situations of this nature were handled on an employee-employer level; the employee was made to reimburse the account and/or be reprimanded, demoted, suspended or fired. Never in my memory has an inappropriate expenditure reported and reimbursed on an expense account reached the criminal justice system.

I hope this indictment is not the result of Mr. Norris' outspoken criticism to the media and before a congressional committee of the failure of agencies of the Justice Department to share information about homeland security with local authorities.

This episode need not have happened if the fund from which these expenditures were made had received oversight by the appropriate government agency to see that procedures, standards and authority were followed and that all expenditures were in accord with the purpose of the fund.

Thomas W. Schmidt

Perry Hall

The writer is a former secretary of the Maryland Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning.

U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio's statement regarding the indictment of former Maryland State Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris - "The defendants repeatedly used the fund as if it were their own ATM" - was very interesting ("Norris indicted by U.S.," Dec. 11).

I guess after Mr. DiBiagio's office handles the Norris case, it can go after all the Maryland state employees who charged personal items and services to their state credit cards.

If one allegation of misuse of funds is the same as another, the U.S. attorney's office is going to be very busy.

Richard A. Bajackson

Sparks

Norris has no one but himself to blame

The recent letter "What real crime did Norris commit?" (Dec. 12) should be mind-boggling to anyone even indirectly familiar with the several counts of the federal indictment against former city Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris.

The legal implications of those charges should be rattling the very core of Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration, especially in light of the mayor's political aspirations.

I would ask the letter writer: Since when is it OK for a public official to use resources designated for charitable purposes to further his own personal ends?

The writer may believe that Mr. Norris' failure to "kiss up" to some politicos led to his demise, but the responsibility lies squarely at Mr. Norris' door.

Stacy Leigh Allen

Lutherville

Commissioner threw caution to the wind

Innocent or guilty, former Maryland State Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris made one big mistake: Taking a job in a city where so many others were scrambling for the same slot, he was naive to think that his every move would not be scrutinized ("Norris pleads not guilty," Dec. 12).

He shouldn't have even bought a candy bar with that discretionary fund.

Alice Anderson

Towson

It's a sad day for state police

This is a sad day for the Maryland State Police, an organization that has always had an impeccable reputation. To have former Superintendent Edward T. Norris indicted for alleged criminal acts is demoralizing ("Norris pleads not guilty," Dec. 12).

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should not have appointed Mr. Norris as state police superintendent after he was investigated as Baltimore police commissioner for misuse of funds.

Mayor Martin O'Malley is having the last laugh after his initial anger at having Mr. Norris enticed away from the city.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

Corrupt culture still raises a stink

If his first year in office is any indication, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. must not be too serious about cleaning up what he called the "culture of corruption" in Maryland politics.

First it was his close ties to Bruce C. Bereano, the lobbyist convicted of mail fraud. Then came Mr. Ehrlich's appointment of disgraced former state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV and former Gov. Marvin Mandel to advisory posts. And to top it off, now his state police superintendent is under indictment for misuse of funds.

For someone who didn't want a whiff of a scandal in his administration, Mr. Ehrlich has found some real stinkers.

Jamie Kendrick

Baltimore

Set-aside programs never yield fairness

Here we go again: another story about set-asides for "disadvantaged" minority firms ("Balto. Co. to review minority practices," Dec. 10). I'm baffled by the logic of our politicians, media and bureaucrats.

They seem to assume that all white males are privileged, that we've never faced adversity or oppression. Where are the programs for the many more white-male-owned firms struggling to meet payroll?

Furthermore, who exactly is a minority? Why is a Hispanic-American protected as a minority member when his skin may be lighter than mine?

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