Letters To The Editor


December 29, 2003

Sale of yacht cost too much, earned too little

The method and timing of the sale the governor's yacht, the Maryland Independence, on eBay give reasons for concern to all Maryland taxpayers ("Md. yacht sells for less than appraisal," Dec. 22).

Why did the state have to pay a $27,000 commission to an out-of-state company for simply submitting an ad on eBay? The auction Web site is there for anyone, anywhere in the world, to reach others without intermediaries. The commission should have been saved and used to pay one year's salary for a teacher or a new computer programmer.

And why, after all these years, did the state put the yacht up for auction at the end of the year, with virtually no advance notice, at a time when the last thing on people's minds is buying a used yacht?

Various state officials also continue to point out that the Maryland Independence cannot be used for commercial purposes in the United States - with the suggestion that this is the reason the selling price was so low. But did anyone do any international marketing? Was comparative information made available in a timely manner to prospective foreign and domestic purchasers?

The sale of the yacht is not the issue. The method, timing and outcome are the issues that concern me.

Maryland taxpayers deserve better, and the sales price should have been significantly higher - without the need to pay a commission to any company or group for selling the yacht on eBay.

Jeffrey Alexopulos


The wrong way to certify teachers?

The Sun's article "Dedication in Room 105B" (Dec. 22) reveals a major problem in Maryland public education today: The methods currently used to certify and evaluate teachers are neither necessary nor sufficient measures of teaching ability.

These methods are not necessary because Jeffrey Hogan, the dismissed teacher featured in the article, is obviously a gifted and special teacher. As the article notes, "His arrival in 1999 sparked a steady rise in the school's first-grade test scores," and he was once voted Teacher of the Year by his peers. Yet he does not have a Maryland teaching certificate.

These methods are not sufficient because "funneled into his class" were students who had been "behavior problems" in classes with other, presumably Maryland-certified teachers, who no doubt had much higher scores on Maryland's teacher tests.

Public school systems often "promote" inadequate teachers into administrative jobs such as associate assistant for transportation. This approach solves the problem of getting a rotten teacher out of the classroom without having to go to the trouble of documenting the inadequacy of that teacher.

Perhaps the next such teacher the Baltimore school system so promotes should be given the job of tracking the required paperwork of gifted teachers, who could then spend their time more effectively in the classroom.

Philip Smith


Sales tax better way to balance budget

Here we go again. A major effort to legalize gambling with state licensed-casinos is on. The reason is simple - some people think gambling will provide a free lunch.

We hear endless estimates of how much money will flow into the state treasury. Interestingly, I have never seen an estimate of how much money we will have to lose in these casinos to provide this money.

My objection is not moral or ethical. I just don't understand why we need this low-yield tax. It seems to me that a one-cent increase in the state sales tax would make up any state budget shortfall.

Let's leave well enough alone. Between the illegal gambling establishments (of which there are many) with slot machines and Atlantic City, N.J., there are plenty of places to throw away your money.

Phil Goldsmith


Janklow deserves maximum sentence

Now that he has lost his case in his hometown of Flandreau, S.D. - which I'm sure he never thought would happen - Rep. Bill Janklow now wants an acquittal ("Janklow seeks post-conviction acquittal or new trial," Dec. 22).

If the South Dakota courts have any sense of decency, they will refuse the acquittal motion and give him the maximum sentence.

Mr. Janklow claims the prosecutors didn't present enough evidence. But they didn't have to, because his defense should have been more than enough to prompt a conviction.

For an insulin-dependent diabetic to take his insulin and then not eat for the better part of the day is gross negligence in itself. To then get behind the wheel of an automobile is murderous, especially when the driver has no regard for the speed limit or stop signs.

Richard Fox


Sharon's plan seeks security, not peace

The final comment of The Sun's editorial "Doing it his way" (Dec. 21) was indeed correct in describing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan as one that would not bring peace.

What The Sun fails to understand is that it is not designed to bring peace. It is designed to reduce the number of funerals that Israelis must attend as the result of suicide bombings.

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