Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 21, 2007

Ehrlich did little to foster debate

I was deeply moved by the concern former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. expressed in his column about how his electoral defeat will result in less debate in Annapolis ("Four years of real debate leaves us a better state," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 14). His remarks nearly brought a tear to my eye - nearly.

Then I remembered that this governor is the guy who responded to something the legislature did by going into his office and locking the door.

This former governor is also the guy who decided not to talk to some reporters who said thing he didn't like.

Governor Ehrlich's interaction with his constituents was primarily limited to occasions where he didn't have to answer questions, or to appearances on conservative talk radio, where most listeners were cheerleaders rather than questioners.

On the rare occasions when he was confronted with uncomfortable questions, his responses were often snide, sneering and sarcastic.

So, when, exactly, did all the healthy debate Mr. Ehrlich refers to take place?

Ironically, if Mr. Ehrlich had been more open to general debate and discussion with all of his constituents, not just those who agreed with him, he would have had a good shot at being re-elected.

Mr. Ehrlich needs to stop making convenient excuses for his loss and pretending it is a tragic event, and accept the fact that for many varied and perfectly legitimate reasons, more people voted for the other guy.

It's called democracy, and that's how it works.

Ann Power

Catonsville

Petulant leadership impeded progress

I was prepared to allow Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. 's term to quietly expire. But then I read the self-congratulatory column he penned for The Sun ("Four years of real debate leaves us a better state," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 14).

Mr. Ehrlich tries to convince readers that his greatest accomplishment in office was fostering open debate on the state's most pressing issues.

But there is a big difference between honest debate and quarreling. Debate requires that both sides disagree while still respecting the other.

Mr. Ehrlich's style of disagreement was petulant, disrespectful and divisive.

He was combative in his dealings with the General Assembly when he could have reached out to find common ground and to build compromise.

Even the example he used in his column - in which he warned business owners to "get dangerous" with members of the legislature - demonstrated his tendency to threaten rather than persuade, to bully rather than lead.

Progress in Maryland has suffered under Mr. Ehrlich's tenure. I look forward to a marked improvement under Gov. Martin O'Malley.

James R. Moody

Catonsville

Is First Amendment only for Democrats?

The Sun's article on patronage appointments was of great interest to me, personally and professionally ("Ehrlich inquiry may dog O'Malley," Jan. 15).

For nearly four years, I was the chief of staff in the Ehrlich administration at the Maryland Department of Transportation. I received awards for trying to make the work force at MDOT more diverse, so I was a bit surprised when I was summoned before the legislature's personnel committee.

After several benign questions, I learned the real reason for my appearance.

The committee's co-chairman, Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (a Democrat), scolded me for writing letters to the newspapers that local Democrats did not agree with.

I did this in my private time, and in full exercise of the First Amendment.

Now, after criticizing former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s appointments, this same senator says that the new governor "should be able to fire somebody who was involved in his opponent's campaign."

Mr. Middleton has a pretty warped view of the First Amendment.

Apparently, in his view, it only applies to state employees of his political party.

David Marks

Perry Hall

Publishing details may harm victim

The Sun did not seem to consider the effect of the details it published about a River Hill High School teacher's alleged sexual assault on a student ("2nd teacher accused of sex offense," Jan. 13)

The newspaper did not name the victim. But that doesn't matter much when it gives enough details for fellow students to know his identity.

Sexual assault is a crime because of its devastating effects on victims, who need to deal with the issues of betrayal of trust, degradation and destruction of self-esteem.

Publishing the details of the alleged crime, in effect, reruns the experience for the victim as if on a big screen.

Instead of being able to work toward regaining control of their lives, victims then face the added burden of facing the opinions of the public.

A trial is the appropriate time and place for the details of the alleged assault to be broadcast.

Jennifer Barr

Fulton

The writer is a teacher in the Howard County public schools.

Judges well-suited to secure rule of law

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is probably correct when he says that judges are not equipped to settle questions of national security ("Federal judges criticized," Jan 18).

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