Readers Respond

July 10, 2009

Group homes are no panacea; Rosewood will be missed

In your editorial on the closing of the Rosewood Center ("Rosewood's reckoning," July 5), you write, "The strain of this transition on some residents and their loved ones has no doubt been significant. For some, Rosewood has been their home for decades. It's no surprise that not everyone is pleased with what has taken place. Group homes can have their faults, too."

In fact, not everyone is pleased with the closure of Rosewood, and for good reason. Unlike the inflammatory photos The Sun prints of buildings on the grounds which have long been out of use, Rosewood has been a safe and comfortable residence for many medically fragile and developmentally disabled individuals.

State employees at Rosewood have been the main support system for these individuals. Although there may not have been enough resources, Rosewood had available around-the-clock medical care, amenities such as a swimming pool for residents, helpful group activities and, most importantly, a staff that really cared for the residents. Because of this support, many residents have been able to move into community settings over the years.

Some families legitimately express concerns about a less structured and less monitored environment in group homes after having a Rosewood experience. The lack of oversight in group homes often leads to mistreatment and neglect for residents. The recent incident of abuse in a Columbia group home is a case in point.

Residents at Rosewood were provided care by qualified state employees who dedicated their careers to providing services to this unique population. These professionals have been by the residents' side, knowing how to communicate and work with them productively. Breaking that continuum of care is troubling for both residents and the staff.

Now, many of these highly trained and experienced staff have been laid off, even though the waiting list of services for these individuals remains. This is the true loss to the state.

Patrick Moran, AnnapolisThe writer is the director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Maryland.

State is sopping drivers with EZ-Pass fees

It appears that Michael Dresser bought into the Maryland Transportation Authority's EZ-Pass rate increase story hook, line and sinker ("EZ-Pass free ride ends: It's about time," July 6). Of course the MdTA, a government agency, will justify raising revenue.

What they are not saying is how they pleaded with the public in the beginning to use this new technology to reduce long backups at toll plazas, saving the state from building new roads, reducing toll collectors, saving the state money, facilitating tourism in the state via reduced delays, again increasing the coffers of the state.

They simply waited until a critical mass was reached and the benefits were obvious to exploit a good thing, like a drug dealer giving cheap highs in the beginning. Do we really want to go back to the good old days when we had 17-mile backups at the Bay Bridge?

The writer of "EZ-Pass is a boondoggle" (Readers respond, July 7) also bought into Mr. Dresser's story by repeating how 72,000 people don't use their transponders, which cost the state $21 each. Considering that these same people put a startup minimum of $25 to obtain these transponders, it looks like the state makes money on most of these people. Perhaps a better solution is to charge a non-use fee or raise the minimum balance.

By charging $18 a year now, the MdTA is playing a game of chicken with their own motorists, betting that they will not jump ship to other states and that enough will simply go like sheep and pay the new fee so the previous backups don't recur with even greater severity due to more drivers being on the road. Considering that the system has been in place for nearly 10 years, it is hard to believe the MdTA official who claimed that each account, active or inactive costs $26 a year to maintain. I would suggest that Mr. Dresser or the state comptroller look into that as possible waste.

Bill Saks

Why should government forgive student loans?

I read with much interest the letter by Congressman John Sarbanes in the July 5 edition, in which he touts the legislation he sponsored that forgives college loans after 10 years of work in the public sector. That certainly sounds friendly enough, and there are those who likely congratulate him for his doubtless courage in pushing that feel-good legislation.

But isn't this exactly the behavior we've come to expect from liberal socialist Democrats, the assumption that debts should be forgiven and that, in effect, bailouts should be extended to not only corporations but even to individual citizens themselves? Here we have a situation in which a person takes out loans to go to college but gets the government to take them over. Who exactly is the "government" in this case? It's the taxpayer. Why do we have to pay off loans incurred by someone else? Why can't they be expected to pay off their own loans?

The congressman's real purpose, more than likely, might have something to do with the individual eventually joining one of the many public sector employee unions and then voting along with the union's choice of leaders, who are virtually always Democrats.

Joel Rosenberg, Ellicott City

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