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Letters to the Editor - July 17

July 14, 2011

Ignoring obvious about gangs in school would be mistake

To the editor:

Regarding the June 28 article in The Herald-Mail about gangs, it would be a mistake to ignore the obvious.

Mr. Todd Dunkle (a "gang expert") admits students are identifying themselves as gang members — that they have been involved in bullying, theft, vandalism and criminal activity — yet he refuses to call them gangs. As the saying goes, "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck."

What, exactly, must occur for gangs to be acknowledged in our schools? The only activity not mentioned by Mr. Dunkle is someone dying. His statement that "several of the students involved were seniors, so they will not be returning to school in August" is mystifying. What precisely is his point — that schools will be safer with a few less gang members?

I question the effectiveness of a policy drafted by people who refuse to acknowledge the current gang situation in our schools. Calling these students "mischievous" harms our students, our schools and our community.

Jane B. Davis

Hagerstown



When you give blood, you give life

To the editor:

In 2004, I was the victim of a near-fatal car crash that caused catastrophic injuries and 60 percent blood loss. My heart was ripped across my chest, I had collapsed lungs and pretty much every organ was damaged — including laceration of the liver, failure of the kidneys, and removal of my spleen and gallbladder. My ribs, pelvis and left clavicle were shattered. I was placed in a medically induced coma and required more than 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments. I underwent 14 lifesaving operations that brought me back to life eight times.

When I emerged from the coma two months later, I had no memory of the accident. I could see and hear, but not move or talk. Eventually, I relearned how to walk, then run and eventually swim. I am now a competitive triathlete and have completed the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.

Since 2007, I have been a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, because my entire journey back to life began with the 36 blood donations I received after arriving at Shock Trauma. Amazing medical care and volunteer blood donors helped make my recovery possible, and over the years I've volunteered for, spoken on behalf of and raced in triathlons and marathons for the American Red Cross.

Five years after the accident, I celebrated with my friends and family by making my very first blood donation at the hospital that brought me back to life. The summer months are a very important time for blood donation because during that time the national blood supply usually experiences a shortage.

I represent the many blood recipients whose lives have been saved in part by blood donors. By giving just a little bit of their time, blood donors gave somebody like me a lifetime. This is the power of donating blood. You're not just giving blood, you're giving life — and there is no greater gift than that.

Brian Boyle

Welcome, Md.



To stop gangs, take profit out of selling drugs

To the editor:

It is really a shame to see that the local schools have to be concerned about gang activity.

People join gangs for basic reasons that include: They are in fear, they desire acceptance, they desire power over others or they just do not fear the consequences of joining. Besides that, there are a small few who are actually forced in or are just plain predatory by their very nature.

This gang culture can be mostly attributed to the power struggle in the illegal drug trade. The only answer to stopping the cancer of this gang mentality is to take the profit out of selling drugs. They must be regulated just like alcohol, in order to achieve some balance on the issue. The current profit in the drug trade is so large that it fuels these criminal gangs, and as they grow they prey on our uninformed youth in our schools.

The other option is to make the penalty for gang activity very severe, i.e. the death penalty. Of course, we could have done that with all the drug dealers in the beginning, then we would not have the problem with gangs to begin with.

Let me make this very clear: Gangs are a collateral consequence of law and policy that has inflated the price of illegal drugs. Case in point: We do not have people affiliating to stand on our street corners and sell beer. Because it's not worth it.

In prison, I am surrounded by gang members, but I refuse to bow down to their god of false promises. I would rather die standing alone than live on my knees. All we can do now is ask God to be merciful and give us an effective and accountable form of government.

Austin Gladhill III, No. 322-221

Maryland Correctional Training Center



Flush tax needs to be repealed

To the editor:

Repeal the flush tax.

It's long overdue and unjust to responsible homeowners who don't put fertilizers on their lawns and don't live near a stream, creek, natural spring or river where any runoff would end up in the Chesapeake Bay.

Do we have any politicians left who are willing to protect individuals in these recessionary times and withdraw this flush tax? Some of our founding fathers once climbed aboard a merchant ship to protest a tax on tea.

I already pay a state tax for Maryland. The flush tax should be paid from there, and don't increase that either to fund the restoration of the bay.

Repeal this flush tax.

Martin Smith

Boonsboro



Hats off to Parrott for his leadership

To the editor:

How different fact is from commentary. Neil Parrott was raked over the coals by Tim Rowland shortly after Del. Parrott was sworn in, before he had an opportunity to do anything.

Del. Parrott has shown real leadership in leading the petition drive against giving a tuition break to "illegal aliens." How much more out of state can one be when they are citizens of a foreign country?

It's just refreshing to see "we the people" having our will considered over Gov. Martin O'Malley and his minions. The legislative vote of three or four over what was required is a far cry from 63,118 legal signatures submitted or 7,382 more citizen signatures than needed — and being added to daily. According to the front page of The Herald-Mail (July 8), Parrott suggested the success rate of the signature count continues to exceed 80 percent. News sources have reported this to be an historical achievement in the annals of politics in the State of Maryland.

Thank you, Neil, for standing up for the "legals" living in our state. Mr. Rowland, do you believe, as so many Marylanders believe, that we should have a voice in how we spend our money and for whom?

Richard Baumgartner

Williamsport

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