Your Opinions

June 25, 2006

A more complete accounting asked

I would like to thank The Sun for Larry Carson's June 14 article "Democrats back off on rezoning change."

Howard County's ability to manage growth with the zoning process will affect every county resident and is a very important issue for the upcoming elections.

I attended the COPE forum Monday evening, and the forum was both well-run and well-attended. I needed to read Mr. Carson's article very carefully to realize that he was describing the same event that I attended. Other than quotes from just two of the council candidates, the fact that nearly every candidate from each of the Howard County five council districts attended is not even mentioned. While the Democrat candidate for District 1, Courtney Watson is quoted, what about her opponent Tony Salazar, also running for election to the Council seat for District 1, or any of the other candidates there that night?

It would be a great service to Howard County residents and The Sun's readers if a more complete accounting of the views and proposals expressed by the various candidates in these public forums were provided so that voters can make an informed decision this fall.

Ed Coleman Columbia

A simple solution to organ shortage

Emily Biondi was very lucky to get a kidney transplant ("Games begin for transplant patient," Howard Neighbors, June 16). More than half of the 92,000 Americans on the national waiting for organs list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Only about half of the Americans who die with transplantable organs make them available for transplantation. They bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. More than 6,000 of their neighbors die every year as a result.

There is a simple solution to the organ shortage - give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer.

About 60 percent of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die. People who aren't prepared to share the gift of life should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a nonprofit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. They do this through a form of directed donation that is legal in all 50 states and under federal law. Anyone can join for free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88.

LifeSharers has 4,684 members, including 57 members in Maryland. Over 400 of our members are minor children enrolled by their parents.

David J. Undis

Nashville, Tenn.

The writer is executive director of Lifesharers, a nonprofit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other donors.

Smoke-free-air law a healthy, good move

On behalf of all of the pro-health advocates and supporters, I would like to thank Howard County Executive James Robey and Councilman Ken Ulman for their sponsorship of Council Bill 38-2006, giving all workers protection from secondhand smoke. Councilmen Calvin Ball and Guy Guzzone should also be commended for their leadership in passing an outstanding smoke-free-air law that will fully take effect June 1, 2007.

This campaign took over four years, and in the end it was worth every minute of effort.

Coalition members, educators, schoolchildren, teens, community advocates, business owners and employees, elected officials and people from all walks of life heard about the Smoke Free Howard County Tobacco Coalition and spread the word in favor of smoke-free air.

Many students stood in the hot sun at community gatherings or went door to door in the rain, leaving whole neighborhoods information about ways to help in the effort. Faith-based groups stood up and took leadership roles, speaking to their congregations and publicly proclaiming to the press their support of healthy work places. Many new faces testified before the council repeatedly despite waiting past 10 p.m. on a weeknight or having to overcome nerves just to get up and proclaim what they know to be true.

As advocates, we realize that for a public official to take the lead on an issue that can be divisive, he or she has to have strong convictions, and in this case a true desire to stand up for what he or she knows is the right thing to do. We are especially grateful to the Howard County health officer, Dr. Penny Borenstein, for using her expertise and enthusiasm in fighting for a health issue of such magnitude.

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