Letters to the Editor- March 17

March 16, 2011

Pension reform efforts are ongoing

To the editor:

During the 2010 legislative session a commission was formed to study pensions and retiree benefits.  In December, the Commission released an interim report outlining significant problems, and concluded, "employee benefits — are growing at — unsustainable' rates. These trends cannot continue without imposing very significant cuts in other vital State programs and employee compensation."

The Governor and many other elected officials have proposals that work within the current program structure. Some of the changes involve benefit calculations, employee contributions, vesting or shifting the costs of the Teachers' Pension to local governments or boards of education.

Unfortunately, these do not address the structural issues that lead to the "unsustainable" problem.

The House Republican Caucus recently endorsed a pension reform program addressing unfunded liabilities and budget concerns. These reforms only impact the employees' and teachers' pension systems; not the other retirement plans. This reform does not affect retirees or benefits already accrued by current employees, nor does it include a shift of the cost to local governments.

The plan will give employees a choice, portability and control. Most importantly, this plan will provide sustainability for retirees, current and future employees without forcing significant cuts to critical programs or increased taxes. The goal of the caucus is to protect retirees, current employees and taxpayers.

Please keep in mind none of these ideas have been voted on as of yet and the process will continue over the next month. Possible changes to Retired State Employee Health plans are still being researched. I am committed to keeping you informed.

Andrew A. Serafini

Delegate, District 2A


Donoghue's antiquated ideas about the law are embarrassing

To the editor:

Over the past couple of weeks, while the issue of same-sex marriage has been making its way through Maryland's system of governance, your newspaper has printed several articles which have quoted elected representatives from the various levels of our local, state and federal government systems.

The comments by Washington County Delegate John P. Donoghue are by far the most alarming and offensive of all comments I have read. Donoghue's own quotes, "There's a very basic belief with a lot of people that the law is the law, and it should stay that way;" "I'm trying to do whatever I can to protect them (sic Catholic charities) if the bill should pass;" and that his faith has shaped his beliefs on this issue, but it's not the only reason he's against same-sex marriage, are indicative of a person who has complete disregard for governance, fairness and the rights of all American citizens.

Furthermore, Donoghue, by virtue of his own words, is guilty of disregarding the separation of church and state and of being a true civil servant by putting aside his own personal agenda in favor of equality and fair treatment for all his constituents.

To be so ignorant as to use the need to protect Catholic charities, when the Catholic Church has a proven history of misconduct with children is only trumped by his idea that no law should be changed.

I hope the voters of Washington County are as outraged as I am over the ignorance and audacity of this elected official and his inability to understand his responsibilities to his constituents and his office.  

What a shame we have to wait until an election to remove him from office.

Donoghue's beliefs and remarks are a negative reflection on the residents of Washington County and while he is in office, I am ashamed to be a resident of Washington County.

William J. Moroney


We forgot to change with the times

To the editor:

While we Hagerstonians live with duplication of services and double taxation, 900,000 Marylanders living in larger communities laugh at our quaint 18th-century governmental structure.

And it is time that someone among our elected officials should acknowledge this reality and have the guts and sense of responsibility to lead the city and county into merger.

Mike McGough


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