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Editorial: Louis L. Goldstein

July 07, 1998

We join with citizens across Maryland in mourning the death of Louis L. Goldstein, who served as the state's comptroller for 40 years and its goodwill ambassador for at least that long. He served more than 50 years in elected office and became a friend to so many across the state that his Republican opponent in this year's race suggested that Goldstein be appointed a goodwill ambassador for the state.

An opponent, you say? Citizens who didn't know that Goldstein faced opposition can be forgiven, because most coverage we've seen on this race focused on what a colorful character he was.

The only real discussion of issues we've seen came in December 1997, when GOP candidate Tim Mayberry, who got 40 percent of the vote against Goldstein in 1994, was interviewed by The Herald-Mail about improvements he planned to make if he were elected. Two months later, Goldstein replied, claiming that Mayberry's assertions were untrue and that many of the improvements he was proposing had already been made. Beyond that, there's been little or nothing of substance.

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There's still time for a real debate on the issues in this race, if the major media can rouse themselves to do it, because no matter which Democrat files, this is not a race for the goodwill ambassador of Maryland, but for the state's chief financial officer. Important questions need to be asked, including:

- Is Maryland paying $14.5 million in late charges each year, as Mayberry charged, or only $15,000, as Goldstein claimed?

- Does Maryland need to institute the "lock box" system of collecting and depositing tax revenue, as Mayberry contended, or has it already done so, as Goldstein said?

- Does Maryland lose thousands of dollars worth of checks every month, as Mayberry said, or is the state protected by electronic transfer of those funds, as Goldstein asserted?

Louis Goldstein will long be revered as the tax collector with a heart, and we'll remember him with great affection. But it's time now to focus less on candidates' colorful personalities and more of their financial abilities.

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