Letters To The Editor


April 14, 2006

Ehrlich can't claim credit on stem cells

Ironically, I am thankful that I recently missed what might have been one of the biggest events of my life.

While Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed Sen. Paula C. Hollinger and Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg's Stem Cell Research Act of 2006, I was testifying on Capitol Hill for funding for Parkinson's disease research.

At first, I was upset that I couldn't be in Annapolis to witness the signing of a bill I have worked on for two years.

But after reading "Ehrlich signs bills on stem cell research, clean air, despite his opposition in past" (April 7), I am glad I made the decision to fight for federal funding rather than watch this charade unfold in Annapolis.

Watching Mr. Ehrlich claim credit for passage of the stem cell bill would have been like getting slapped in the face.

For nearly two years, stem cell research advocates begged Mr. Ehrlich to join in our effort to pass legislation that would provide public funding for this critical research.

Each step of the way, the governor fought us. He refused to support our effort last year and waited until an election year to put funding in the budget.

But, fortunately, we have public servants who actually serve the public.

If not for the perseverance of Ms. Hollinger, Mr. Rosenberg, their co-sponsors, and advocates led by former Gov. Harry R. Hughes, we never would have seen a bill passed for which the governor could steal credit.

John L. Kellermann III


The writer is a member of the board of Maryland Families for Stem Cell Research and a Parkinson's disease patient.

Restrictions on signs curb right to speak

The Baltimore County Council is poised to enact a highly unconstitutional restriction on our political speech.

Legislation before the council would prohibit anyone from displaying campaign signs on his or her property until 30 days before a primary election. After a public hearing was held Tuesday, a vote is scheduled on Monday, and the law could go into effect 45 days later.

Such restrictions on political signs are supposed to reduce "visual clutter" (which is what critics call our political speech), but they actually serve as "Incumbent Protection Acts," because incumbents have higher name recognition and don't need advertising as much as challengers do.

Federal courts have struck down such restrictions all over the country as a violation of freedom of speech, including in the 1999 case Curry vs. Prince George's County, in which the law in question allowed campaign signs to be displayed for 45 days before a primary.

This bill would have no chance of surviving a constitutional challenge, and I can assure the council that it will be challenged.

It would save everyone a lot of time and trouble if council members would just vote down this unconstitutional bill.

Douglas E. McNeil


The writer is the director of Marylanders for Democracy, a nonpartisan fair ballot access organization.

At least Italy has ballots to count

How ironic to find a photograph of election officials in Italy counting the paper ballots from their recent election in The Sun ("A split likely in Italy," April 11), the major newspaper in a state that does not allow its citizens the same safeguard of verifiable voting results.

Nancy Spies


City hasn't shown it can save schools

This 11th-hour attempt to stop the takeover of some failing Baltimore schools is despicable ("With state plans at bay, city acts to save schools," April 12).

The time for partisan politics is over. The city has severely failed its children, thus crippling an entire generation.

Students who are not properly educated cannot obtain gainful employment or get into college.

The city has failed to correct these problems for several years. Now, all of a sudden, its leaders want to stand up and say, "We can fix it"?

I don't think so.

Julie Gaskins


Why not just offer schools more funds?

I have a few questions about the proposed state takeover of 11 Baltimore public schools ("Veto killed, takeover of schools halted," April 11).

Few people have talked about why we should believe the state would do a better job running these schools than the city has.

If the city public schools turned over to the Edison Schools company are any precedent, there a few things we should examine.

First, recent research by the Abell Foundation has found that Edison's improvement in its schools' academic performance is not all that impressive. Second, Edison's schools, on a per-pupil basis, get more money than other public schools.

So, in effect, we have drained funds from other public schools for modest, if any, improvement in academic achievement at the Edison schools.

Does the state intend to do the same thing with this proposed takeover? If so, that would only further impoverish other schools.

Is that what we want, even for the promise - and it is only a promise - of improvement in 11 troubled city schools?

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