- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

D.C. Lawmaker drives her point

I regret that my position in Wednesday's Page One article on parking tickets and perquisites, "Benefit of parking perk hard to gauge," misrepresented my position on those issues.
First, for the ticket record: I received two parking tickets since the July vote extending parking ticket immunity to D.C. Council members a measure I voted against. The first was for an expired parking meter; I paid. The second was for parking my car in my assigned space in front of the Wilson Building. I did not pay this ticket, and I have asked Mayor Anthony A. Williams' administration to let me know how and why the ticket writer issued a ticket that was in error and not placed on my car where I would see it.
Like far too many of my constituents, the first notice I received of this ticket was when I received a mailed notice notifying me that the ticket had been doubled.
Second, the reporter wrote that I view parking perks as a home-rule issue. This is not the case. I opposed the perk, continue to oppose it and consider it counterproductive.
I did explain to the reporter that the motivation for the perk was, in fact, a view held by my colleagues that our perks should equal those of members of Congress.
My vision of home rule would not be to give council members perks. It would be to withhold those perks from members of Congress.

KATHY PATTERSON
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
D.C. Council
Washington

What smoking gun?

Well, the Bush administration, through Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, has finally made its case about Iraq ("Powell offers 'irrefutable' arms proof," Page 1, yesterday). But it has given its answer while forgetting the simple question: Did Saddam Hussein have any part in the September 11 attacks? If he had "weapons of mass destruction," why did the terrorists have to use, of all things, box cutters?
If he had nothing to do with September 11 and nobody, even among the Bush people, now argues that he was behind it what is the point of war on Iraq?
Are we really expected to believe that conquering Iraq will make us safer from terrorism in the future?

JOSEPH SOBRAN
BurkeWhen Secretary of State Colin L. Powell displays two satellite photos the first showing a huge chemical weapons plant, the second showing it gone it logically follows that intermediate photos showing the dismantling and moving of that chemical plant have to exist. (After all, the United States has constant satellite surveillance of Iraq.)
If Iraq has been dismantling and moving sizable quantities of weaponry, then satellite photos showing where at least some of that stuff went have to exist. This raises an important question: Why wouldn't the United States give that information to the weapons inspectors and let them uncover the "smoking gun" that would bring the whole world over to the U.S. side?

ELAINE MEDINA
Phoenix

Maryland makes a case for charter schools

Virginia has a charter-school enabling law, and Maryland doesn't. In his first State of the State address, however, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has taken the initiative to make his state more of a leader in public education reform.
Mr. Ehrlich's proposal would not follow the Virginia model of giving local school boards a stranglehold over charter school startups. His bill would allow the state Board of Education to open some charter schools directly ("Ehrlich bill would open way for more charter schools," Metro, Monday). Although Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner last year signed a measure requiring local school boards at least to consider applications for charters and to report their decisions to the state board, applicants have no alternative if they are stonewalled by local boards that deem innovative charters organized by parents and teachers to be threats to their turf.
Budget-savvy folks in Annapolis also realize that having a strong charter-school law could make Maryland eligible for about $200 million in federal start-up aid for charter schools. In Richmond, a realization that Virginia could be losing out on a similar sum because of the anemic nature of its charter-school law doesn't seem quite to have penetrated the consciousness of the current General Assembly, despite its devotion to budgetary pothole repair.
Virginia's leaders should revisit the merit of charter schools for serving children who are not learning adequately in conventional public schools.

ROBERT HOLLAND
Senior fellow
Lexington Institute
Arlington

In defense of cheating … sort of

The fact that most people cheat from time to time - as discussed in "Minor cheats chip away own values," Nation, Tuesday - doesn't really bother me. I grew up in the 1940s, and I can testify that most people - both young and old - occasionally cheated back then, too. And the fact that all of the religions I am aware of have long emphasized the need for repentance suggests that cheating in various forms is a continuing problem for human beings.
The important question is not whether people cheat but whether people know it is wrong to cheat - even if you don't get caught. If someone were to do a study and find that people are losing their sense of guilt about cheating, then I would be concerned.
Meanwhile, schools and other institutions need to maintain their safeguards against cheating in order to reduce the temptation to cheat for those of us who are weak. Relying solely on codes of conduct is naive. As former President Ronald Reagan used to say, "Trust, but verify."

HENRY BORGER
Laurel

The Senate's pro-abortion tag team

Nat Hentoff's column, "Smearing Pickering" (Op-Ed, Monday), points out how Senate Democrats Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Edward M. Kennedyof Massachusetts and Charles E. Schumer of New York are unjustly planning to defeat the judicial confirmation of Judge Charles Pickering for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals with a filibuster.
Alerts issued to their members by various abortion-industry promoters, such as the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, tell us these Democrats are also gearing up to filibuster the confirmation of another outstanding person, Miguel Estrada, who was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The reason is that these two men are pro-life.
Given the pro-life pluralities in November's senatorial elections and recent poll results, Messrs. Daschle, Kennedy and Schumer are leading Democrats deeper into minority status. A post-election Zogby poll showed a 7 percent pro-life plurality in the senatorial elections and a 12 percent pro-life plurality in the House elections.
A Fox News poll showed that in three critical states the following pluralities were achieved for pro-life Republican candidates: Georgia, 5 percent; Minnesota, 9 percent; and Missouri, 12 percent. These are huge electoral numbers.
A recent Wirthlin Worldwide poll ("New poll shows tilt to protect unborn," Nation, Jan. 16) showed nearly "70 percent of Americans say they favor 'restoring legal protection for unborn children.'" The poll also showed that 66 percent say "they favored nominees to the Supreme Court 'who would uphold laws that restore legal protection to unborn children.'"
If Messrs. Daschle, Kennedy and Schumer stay on their present path, in only a couple more elections, the voters will install a filibuster proof pro-life majority in the Senate.

TOM SHEAHEN
Secretary
ProLife Maryland
Deer Park, Md.

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