Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 23, 2004

License policy protects people of Tennessee

The Sun's recent editorial on driver's licenses contains a factual error about Tennessee's recent policy change and reaches a conclusion that is at odds with the facts ("Ticket to drive," editorial, July 19).

On July 1, Tennessee began to restrict driver's licenses to residents of Tennessee who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States.

The editorial suggests that Tennessee also issues driving "certificates" to "foreign-born residents who can't prove their immigration status." This is not correct. Certificates for driving are available to residents of Tennessee who do not qualify for a driver's license. This includes individuals who have temporary visas from the federal government for work, education or other purposes.

The Sun concludes that the policy is not working. This is simply not the case. It is clear that the policy strengthens homeland security in Tennessee and protects public safety.

Tennessee now very tightly controls driver's licenses - which can be used to board an airplane, buy a gun, rent a car or for other purposes of identification. Certificates for driving, which cannot be used for identification, ensure that residents of Tennessee who do not qualify for a driver's license and wish to drive here have learned the rules of the road and passed a driving test.

Immigration policy is a federal issue. The issues relevant to state governments are public safety and homeland security. Tennessee's new policy achieves a common-sense balance of these responsibilities.

In addition, this policy represents a careful balance of our security responsibilities and our efforts to support and encourage international presence in Tennessee.

We value our international business partners who operate large and small facilities from Memphis to Mountain City. We take great pride in the number of international students who attend Tennessee institutions of higher learning.

The new policy is admittedly not convenient for temporary residents, but it is unquestionably in the best interests of all Tennesseans, permanent and temporary.

Bob Corney

Nashville, Tenn.

The writer is the communications director for the governor of Tennessee.

Grasmick didn't help city's ailing schools

The Sun's editorial addressing the three-member panel's review of city schools says: "That's it. No unexpected bombshells. No news, even. ... The question is: What to do now?" ("Will this be on the test?" editorial, July 21).

I suggest the one constant in the misery of the city schools has been state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. During her tenure, there has been upheaval on the school board and in the district's management.

Throughout all of this change, Ms. Grasmick has wielded immense power, but she seems only to have posed obstacles and rarely to have offered useful assistance.

So my answer to The Sun's "What to do now?" question is: Ms. Grasmick should immediately resign, or Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should dismiss her.

Clearly, the lion's share of the blame for the city schools' woes is hers.

Charles G. George

Baltimore

Mayor let schools spin out of control

I was not surprised at the findings reported by the panel chosen to investigate the city school system's deficit. However, I do find it disturbing that The Sun's article "Leadership of schools was absent" (July 21) did not mention Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Mr. O'Malley is ultimately responsible for the school system's performance. If there is a lack of accountability by people he appointed, then he is liable for the mismanagement.

Mr. O'Malley failed to address the situation years ago and allowed spending and complacency to spiral out of control.

The mayor should be held accountable for this.

Jeffrey P. Button

Baltimore

U.N. right to back world court on wall

Kudos to the United Nations for backing the International Court of Justice's demand that Israel tear down the barrier it is building to seal off Palestinian villages from Israel and settlers in the occupied territories ("U.N. demands Israel raze wall," July 21).

In opposing this U.N. resolution, the United States abjures its stance on human rights and international law, and its supposed "honest broker" position in the Middle East.

Doris Rausch

Ellicott City

Bush plays politics with women's lives

Last week, the Bush administration announced its decision to continue denying life-saving funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). If there was ever any doubt that this administration cares more about its ultraconservative political base than it does about the health and dignity of women, it is gone now.

UNFPA provides a range of basic reproductive health services in developing countries where access to birth control and comprehensive sexuality education is often a matter of life and death.

According to UNFPA, our country's $34 million contribution could prevent more than 80,000 maternal and infant deaths annually.

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