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Letters to the Editor - Oct. 10

October 09, 2012

Transparency is important for school board candidate

To the editor:

As a candidate for Washington County’s Board of Education, I’d like voters to know my position on transparency as it applies to the board.

Transparency at a board of education meeting means everyone should be able to understand what’s being discussed, have the background information easily available and understand the process that controls the actions the board might take. Business before the board should be presented and discussed in terms that are clear to the general public. The overuse of educational jargon and acronyms should be avoided as much as possible. Procedures should be explained. For example, citizens should be told what exactly a “first reading” means.

Of course, for business to be conducted transparently, the meeting itself must be transparent and open.

All board meetings should be as open to the public as the law allows. I favor all types of meetings being as open as possible whether they are official government meetings, forums organized by civic organizations, or even gatherings sponsored by individuals.

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I am not a fan of private meetings where select community leaders brainstorm ideas about community issues and pledge not to divulge who attended or what was discussed. I do not subscribe to the strategy some people editorialize about encouraging elected officials to meet behind closed doors to set priorities.

If I am elected and attend a meeting in the community, I will understand that I am not representing the board at that meeting unless the board has designated me to be its representative. However, I also understand that, should I be elected, I will be a board member wherever I go. I cannot turn off and on when I am a board member. I understand that elected officials get invited to meetings because they are elected officials. If I am elected, I will report to my fellow board members and the public about those meetings that I attend.

Melissa A. Williams
Smithsburg

Editor’s note: The letter writer is a candidate for Washington County Board of Education.


Mallard Fillmore cartoonist forgets about Sept. 11

To the editor:

Cartoonist Bruce Tinsley has occasionally mentioned that, like most newspaper comics, Mallard Fillmore has a three-week lead time. If you do the math, this means he was able to remember, on or about Sept. 12, to do a strip about the first presidential debate for publication on Oct. 3, but couldn’t manage, on or about Aug. 21, to do the same for Sept. 11.

I don’t know if anyone else noticed that, but I did, and so did my fellow alert readers at the “Duck and Cover” weblog, which is devoted to answering the thankless question “What’s Mallard raving about today?”

With his permission, and in accordance with legendary theater critic John Simon’s dictum that “There is no point in saying less than your betters have said,” I quote blog commenter Frank Stone:
“It’s now well beyond the point where you would have realized, as the date passed, that you neglected to produce your usual strip ostentatiously proclaiming your reverence for 9/11. The fact that you have not seen fit to address your glaring and grotesquely hypocritical oversight since then, even in the most oblique and feebly defensive way, leaves only three possible conclusions to be drawn:
“1. You hoped that no one noticed your monumental (screw)-up, and so you weren’t about to draw attention to it by addressing it after the fact.
“2. You were well aware that people (like us) did notice your monumental (screw)-up, but you resolved to studiously ignore them until they went away.
“3. After 10 years of ‘never forget’, you decided that it’s OK to forget 9/11 after all.”
To be fair to Tinsley, other conclusions are technically possible. I just can’t think of any that don’t boil down to variations of Stone’s three options.

Austin Loomis
Chambersburg, Pa.


Can someone please step up and play taps for veterans?

To the editor:

I cannot believe that in this day and age, trumpet or bugle players from area high school bands, and other local talent, cannot be found to provide the voluntary service of playing taps for deceased veteran funerals or Memorial Day events.

I played taps or was the echo at such events some 50 years ago while a part of the high school band. How about some students, band directors and others stepping up to the plate?

This service could be organized on a national basis. A list of available volunteers could make this happen. Come on, America!

Dennis Nasuti
Hedgesville, W.Va.

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