Letters to the editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 02, 2006

Coast Guard group tainted by attitude

Your Anne Arundel Section article about the Coast Guard Auxiliary ["Ready to jump on board," June 18, 2006] paints it in glowing terms, sadly outweighed by the lead photograph and its caption.

It is indeed a shame that the fine educational work and search-and-rescue operations of the Coast Guard Auxiliary are so often overshadowed by the officiousness so clear in that picture. Despite the fact that the auxiliary has no law enforcement function, the auxiliary man presumes to lecture the occupants of the sailboat on the law. And his self-important pronouncement is questionable at best.

The Code of Maryland Regulations provides [that] a person may not operate or give permission to operate any motorboat or any vessel in a:

A. Reckless manner to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person; or

B. Negligent manner to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.

That does not prohibit dangling your feet in the water. What is negligent depends on the standard of care applicable under all of the circumstances. What might be reckless on a high-speed powerboat might be safe recreation on a becalmed sailboat. A [Department of Natural Resources] brochure, clearly aimed at powerboats, cites gunwale riding as something that may, not will, be considered negligent. Even if that brochure had the force of law, it wouldn't be properly applied to the sailboat under power on the calm day in the picture. If sitting on the gunwale of a sailboat with feet out were a crime, law enforcement officers would not have enough ticket books for a typical sailing regatta. Arguably, the negligence in the picture is by the guy standing on the bow of a powerboat, with his arms up in the air, begging for a touch of reverse to put him headfirst in the drink - to the great entertainment of the ladies in whose recreation he chose to interfere.

It is truly a shame that the only contact many boaters have with the auxiliary is their self-important officiousness and not their genuine good work.

Charles E. Iliff Jr. Arnold

Disaster relief for pet owners

Finally, Help for Pet Owners

I applaud Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens and her handling of the recent evacuations of the Brockbridge Estates, Parkway Village Mobile Home Park, and other low lying areas by announcing that the Maryland City Fire Station Number 27, the designated shelter for the evacuations, would be pet-friendly, and all pets would be provided food, water, and any medication.

A very tough lesson learned by last year's hurricanes was that pet owners should not be forced to choose between their loved ones and their lives. It's one thing to leave your belongings, but unacceptable to be forced to abandon a living creature for lack of proper planning on the part of the community.

Thank you Ms. Owens for extending that one simple courtesy to the thousands of pet owning registered voters in Anne Arundel County. We will remember this gesture come November.

Penny Blankenship Severn

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