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Letters to the Editor

March 20, 1998

Pension without representation

To the editor:

As a city taxpayer, I read with interest your editorial of March 10 dealing with the taxing dilemma faced by the Hagerstown City Council, that is, a possible shortfall of $420,000 in next year's budget. You pointed out correctly that while revenues are fairly flat, legitimate increases in expenses are occurring, such as the cost of more police in certain areas of the city. This situation could necessitate a tax increase.

But you failed to point out the city's increased payment to the state retirement system of $236,000 this year and a payment of $271,000 next year. It rises annually to $778,000 before the obligation is satisfied. These payments to the state retirement system came as a result of legislation in the General Assembly in 1996 which mandated these increased payments to an already "fat" retirement system, which is paying off its unfunded liability ahead of schedule. This obligation came about unnecessarily, only as a result of greed on the part of the retirement system. There was no fiscal or financial need to saddle Hagerstown with this obligation.

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Here is the sickening part of this problem. Our delegation with the exception of Del. Bruce Poole, did not attempt to defeat this legislation, but instead voted for it. The delegate who represents the city of Hagerstown even voted for it. That's not the kind of representation we need or want in Annapolis.

Paul Muldowney

Hagerstown

True colors

To the editor:

A poet came near defining that certain something called patriotism when he wrote, "Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said - This is my land, my native land"

The soul of America suffered a terrible setback in 1963 when the Supreme Court did what the Constitution said Congress could not do, by ruling God out of our public life. We, the citizenry, reacted in stunned silence.

In 1973, the Court searched the Constitution and found an unwritten clause somewhere that they interpreted to allow expectant mothers to kill their unborn babies. Millions of babies have since been executed - still we dutifully or irresponsibly remained silent.

Having decimated the basic moral foundation of our culture, the court then struck out at our symbol of national pride and declared that flag desecration was a right guaranteed under the free speech clause. What's next? Will wholesale murder be declared a protected right by way of the free speech clause? What will it take to awaken the soul of America to rise up and demand a return of a government of, for, and by the people of America?

The place to start reclaiming America is at the last point of attack, that being the very symbol of our once great nation - our flag. By protecting our flag, we then can begin to undo the havoc that the American Civil Liberties Union and the courts have wrought on our moral fabric.

Unfortunately, our two U.S. senators from Maryland (Sarbanes and Mikulski) seem to be co-conspirators with the evil elements that support the moral decadence afflicting our nation. We need to either awaken the souls of Sarbanes and Mikulski or find new people who will represent decency and morality. Our national heritage is at stake.

June 1998 is the month of our flag's destiny, compliments of our Senate. The House has long since shown its colors.

David E. Culler

Boonsboro

Save the house

To the editor:

I majored in American history in college and still teach. I am a middle school teacher at a local private school. There, we still teach values and develop character. I talk to my students about how many things are more important than money. We discuss the importance of freedom..

Children tend to have trouble thinking in the abstract. If we could afford to take them to each historical site for a hands-on experience, they would love history. This is one reason why places like Williamsburg, Old Salem, etc., are so very important. They are actual places we can all visit and touch. In this way, we can actually feel that we are experiencing a little of how our ancestors lived. Staying in touch with the events and places that made us what we are is vitally important.

Now, to my precise point. Johan Ludwig Kammerer is my fifth great-grandfather. Only last year did I learn of his 1774 home near State Line, Pa. I had an opportunity to visit it last fall. It was one of the most moving moments in my life. I implore you to work with the members of our family to solve your need for progress and our need to preserve what few families can even dream about. This house is historic, is personal, and is a standing tribute to the craftsmanship of an early American.

Sally Leonard Harbin

Forest City, N.C.

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