- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 12, 2000

Bush's belief in people reminiscent of another president

Since the end of Ronald Reagan's term as president, many have attempted to lay claim to his mantle by evoking his name and his words, all too often with little or no effect. Mr. Reagan's effusive optimism and unending belief in the American people and what they could accomplish formed the cornerstone for his presidency and were much of the source of his popularity. But this concept of belief in the American people was forgotten frequently in the post-Reagan era, lost in the day-to-day political battles by those seeking his mantle. Until now.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has clearly outlined a positive agenda of reform in education, Social Security, defense and the overall direction of governance. But his underlying message and, more important, his essential belief is in the American people, their basic goodness and their ability to accomplish great deeds under arduous circumstances. It is his undying belief that it is the American people who make this country great and not its politicians or bureaucrats.

Mr. Bush's optimism more than aptly allows him to claim Mr. Reagan's mantle, but, more important, if he is elected and governs as promised, it will become the Bush mantle.

HARRY IRVINE

Dumfries, Va.

Senate should be tough on president for recess appointment

As usual, Thomas L. Jipping hits the nail on the head with "Recess appointment mania," which has the subhead "The return of Bill Lann Lee" (Op-Ed, Aug. 10). Mr. Jipping has pointed out what a pathetic bunch the current congressional leadership is, particularly in the Senate.

Republicans have tolerated President Clinton's illegal and unconstitutional appointment of Mr. Lee as assistant attorney general for civil rights for more than two years and have acted as if they are impotent to do anything about it. They are not. The first thing they should have done was tell Mr. Clinton that if he appointed Mr. Lee to this position, a position that makes him chief federal enforcer of civil rights when Mr. Lee believes in racial preference policies, there would be no more confirmations of Mr. Clinton's judicial nominees. Republicans could have initiated this position in January 1998 and been spared more than two years of disastrous Clinton judicial appointments.

Second, Republicans could have told Mr. Clinton that they would defund the civil rights division until Mr. Lee was out of the office, and then there would have been no office for him to serve. This easily could have been explained to the American people, who, when given the facts, would have been supportive.

It is not too late for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. He still can put a hold on judicial nominees and defund the operations of the civil rights division until we get a president who believes in equal opportunity for everyone. How about it, Mr. Lott?

ROBERT BRANTLEY

Arlington

Pumping station project flooded with government waste

Readers of the July 31 article "Army rejects pressure to halt flood-control plan" probably got the impression that the proposed Yazoo River pumping station project is worth its $181 million cost to taxpayers because it will keep flood waters away from homes and farms. But fiscal conservatives who oppose government waste should be aware of the facts you left unreported. They tell a different story.

This massive federal boondoggle will not help those delta residents whose homes in low-lying areas are periodically flooded. Less than 2 percent of the total project benefits are even aimed at reducing flooding of houses and businesses, and the Army Corps of Engineers has not been able to identify even a single structure that will be safe from flooding after the pumps are constructed. Instead, the real benefits will go to a relatively small group of individuals whose large tracts of wetlands and marginal cropland would be drained at incredible cost to taxpayers and the environment.

This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue. Taxpayer groups and newspapers such as the Jackson [Miss.] Clarion-Ledger have joined the National Wildlife Federation in opposing this indirect subsidy to a handful of big Mississippi farming operations. They don't need it.

If flooding is really the concern, the environment and the federal taxpayer would be much better served by spending half the cost of the pump boondoggle on flood-proofing houses. This could be done by assisting with voluntary relocations to get flood plain residents out of harm's way, and by providing financial incentives for farmers in the delta to convert their most flood-prone lands from crop production to other economically and environmentally sound uses such as sustainable forestry and recreation.

It's time for the U.S. Army to end its war on our environment. When the full story is told, its plan to proceed with the Yazoo pumps is clearly all wet.

GERALD BARBER

Ridgeland, Miss.

Mr. Barber is the elected Republican tax assessor for Madison County, Miss. and a past chairman of the National Wildlife Federation.

Marylanders itching for charter schools

Why is it that 36 states, the District and Puerto Rico have decided that charter schools enhance education reform efforts in their states? Why is it that Maryland still has no charter school law? More than 2,000 charter schools are open in this country serving more than 500,000 children. In a state that calls itself a leader in education reform, why is there only one way to educate children? Whose interests are being served by educating children in this one-size-fits-all program?

Charter schools are public schools, open and free to all children. They receive autonomy freedom from the rules and regulations of the large bureaucracy in exchange for public accountability. If a charter school fails to meet the terms of its contract (if students do not learn) they will be closed. Unlike magnet schools, there are no entrance requirements in a charter school. All children can choose to attend.

The boards of education and many legislators have said that there is little interest in charter schools in Maryland. Yet, persistent groups around the state continue to pursue a charter: Applications for charter schools have been submitted and denied by boards of education in Montgomery and Prince George's County; a group of parents has formed the Center for Charter Schools in Frederick County; a citizen on the Eastern Shore would like to open a charter school; teachers in Baltimore have plans for a charter school; parents seek an alternative for their child in Cecil County; a speech and language pathologist would like to open a charter school targeting at-risk students in St. Mary's County; teachers would like the opportunity to teach in charter schools; and parents would like to have public educational choices for their children. These are only a few of the Maryland citizens who want charter schools, choices in public education, now.

When will Marylanders decide that there are many ways to publicly educate children? Maryland needs to pass strong charter school legislation in the next session. The business community must demand better educated graduates to fill jobs. Teachers need to have choices. And most important, Maryland parents who are voters must let their legislators know that they expect their tax dollars to pay for a high quality public education, now.

JONI GARDNER

President

Maryland Charter School Network

Columbia, Md.

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