Thumbs up, thumbs down

March 18, 2006

Thumbs up to all of the reporters, editors and private citizens who have used their state's freedom of information laws to find out what government is doing. The right to know is a precious one that Americans ought not to take for granted. In other countries, just asking about government actions can land a citizen in jail.

Thumbs up to Anna Baldasarre, for winning the Washington County Spelling Bee's eighth- grade competition, which will send her to the nationals in Washington, D.C. Baldasarre, 14, attends Smithsburg Middle School and won last year's seventh-grade bee and was second in the sixth-grade bee two years ago. If momentum means anything, she's got a good shot at going all the way!

Thumbs down to officials of the administration of Gov. Robert Ehrlich, for adding 160 correctional officers to the state's budget, but designating none of them for the Hagerstown-area state prison complex. The Division of Correction could transfer some, the governor's people say, but based on past performance, why give them the option?


Thumbs down to Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla J. Martin, for improperly coaching witnesses due to appear in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, accused of being involved in the plot to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. only caught one of these guys, so let's get it right.

Thumbs down to the person or persons who have repeatedly vandalized the small South Franklin Street Park in Waynesboro, Pa. We realize that the chances of a person of that mentality being a dedicated newspaper reader are somewhere between slim and none, but if the improbable happens and you happen to catch this item, destruction for its own sake makes no sense.

Thumbs down to Del. John Cardin, D-Baltimore County, for introducing a bill to get the state's nose into local charitable gambling. How many times does Washington County's Gaming Office have to prove that it can track tip-jar money and oversee its distribution to many worthy causes here? The local delegation needs to cut this guy off at the pass.

Thumbs up to the Washington County school system, for teaming up with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice, the county's Department of Social Services and the county State's Attorney's office to target students who are chronically truant and possibly hold their parents responsible. Better in school now than in prison later.

Thumbs down to all of the Maryland lawmakers now introducing laws to cap electric power rates enacted as part of electricity deregulation who voted for the original legislation.

Let the market decide, they said, but now that the market's decisions are threatening their constituents - and by extension, their jobs - a more tightly controlled electric rate system doesn't seem so bad, does it?

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