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Electricity and a health-care system that needs a spark

October 04, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

Odds and ends from a columnist's notebook:

· Was it fair for Washington County Republicans to point out that Del. John Donoghue, D-2C, recently held a pricey fundraiser in Annnapolis, Md., to raise money for his re-election campaign?

Sure it was. How elected officials get that money - and who they get it from - is very much the public's business.

However, I tend to agree with my colleague Tim Rowland, who wrote last Sunday that it's difficult to believe that the county's Republicans would turn down a similar opportunity.

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They can say they would, but it's not illegal and if they were facing an opponent with a lot of fundraising clout, they might conclude that it was necessary.

I could go on and on about who might do what, but I'd rather focus on something else Donoghue said in reference to the fundraiser.

"I fight hard for my constituents and don't appreciate anyone attacking my work," he said.

At this point, on one issue I'll settle for some explanations about Donoghue's past actions and future plans.

In 1999, the General Asembly passed a bill to deregulate the sale of power in Maryland. The idea was that once other companies could compete in the market, bargains would be plentiful.

Long story short, it didn't work out that way. During the last session of the legislature, Baltimore Gas & Electric announced a 72 percent residential rate hike.

This let to much huffing and puffing, much of it coming from people such as Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who was a key sponsor of the 1999 bill.

Fortunately, this area is served by Allegheny Power, which won't lift residential caps until 2008. That gives the legislature another session to fix what it broke.

To Del. Donoghue: Did you vote for deregulation and if so, why? Either way, what will you do to make sure that when the residential cap comes off, local people can still afford power for their homes?

And, just to make it fair, to Paul Muldowney, Donoghue's Republican opponent, how will you, as a freshman member of what is still expected to be the state's minority party, be able to affect that same piece of legislation?

· After my recent rant about the need for change in a health-care system in which whether you get medical help often depends on how many cookies were sold on your behalf, I got a few predictable replies.

They include: National health care hasn't worked in other countries, because it involves long delays for patients. If our system works so poorly, one writer said, why do people from other countries come here for care?

Another questioned why those who have healthy lifestyles should have to pay for the cost of care for those who smoke, do illegal drugs and eat or drink too much.

· On the first question, I don't know, but if we factor out those patients with complicated conditions - conjoined twins, for example - I doubt that most of the foreigners coming here for care are poor folks.

On the second question, OK, why not require those who want free care to keep themselves in reasonable shape?

If that's what it takes to keep the system solvent enough to treat little children stricken with terrible illnesses, I can buy it.

But most of those I write about haven't done anything to deserve what they are going through, unless being born with the wrong kind of genetic material counts. We need not change the entire system to ease the burden on these little ones and their families.

· Devin Fales, the Keedysville 8-year-old stricken with Fanconi anemia, which could turn into cancer if he doesn't have a bone-marrow transplant, has headed off to Minnesota to begin his treatment.

Melissa Slifer, his aunt, said there will be a barbecue and mum sale for his benefit on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Mountainside Gardens in Boonsboro.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Hewrald-mail newspapers.

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