To The Point

June 05, 2008

Spat over scholarships

The dust-up over scholarships that were promised - and then rescinded - at Patterson High School shows that there may be such a thing as bad publicity after all.

Howard Castleman of Castle Toyota/Scion pledged $8,400 for four graduating seniors, to be presented at the school's senior assembly. But then Patterson's beloved JROTC instructor died, and the ceremony became more like a memorial service. The media were banned, Mr. Castle withdrew his offer, and bad feelings ensued on all sides.

It's not unreasonable that Mr. Castle wanted a little PR boost for his gesture. It's also understandable that school officials wanted to avoid a "media circus." What's unfortunate is that the grown-ups on both sides couldn't find a creative way to resolve the situation without descending into rancor. We would hope for a better example to be set for these kids.

But Principal Laura D'Anna deserves credit for supporting her students in spite of the dispute. She helped raise money to cover the scholarships and then some. And that's the good news here, however you spell it.

Driving transit

High gasoline prices are causing people to drive their cars less and take buses and trains more. The American Public Transit Association reports a 3.3 percent rise in the use of public transportation during the first quarter of the year compared with the 2.3 percent decline in miles driven. That's big news because transit riders have already been growing in recent years.

Yet government has been slow to recognize the trend. Congress is only now considering several measures to beef up transit spending in future years, but passage is far from assured. Maryland needs to accelerate its own public transit expansion plans .

What's needed is more than a few new express buses here or there. At the moment, the state doesn't even have the money set aside to build the light rail expansion from Woodlawn to Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus. It's time to rethink some planned highway expansion projects instead.

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