Voices From The Readers
Parents Need To Think About Kids
I just want to publicly announce my frustration with some parents in the area. What kind of sensible parent brings their children to a smoky bar?
I don't feel right handing parents kids' menus and crayons and then watching their kids have a side of Marlboros with their food. What is so wrong about eating in the non-smoking section with your kids? Are you too selfish or lazy to walk over to the bar and satisfy your meaningless nicotine habit? If you are that lazy and selfish, you should not have children.
Parents are supposed to guide their children and parents aren't doing a good job at doing that when they choose to eat with their children in the smoking section of restaurants. You might as well just light a cigarette up for your kids while you're at it. Actually, you are by exposing your children to second hand smoke. Don't complain when they have respiratory problems in future years. Parents who smoke around their kids miss more days of school than those that do not smoke around their kids. Miss more days of school? That's really responsible parenting. Your kids miss out on important scholastic activities because they have pneumonia, bronchitis or some other respiratory ailment because you smoke around them. Go outside and smoke, better yet, quit all together.
Personally, I do not think that even insurance companies should pay for children whose parents smoke around them because it was preventable and deliberate. It would be unfair to the child, but isn't it already unfair enough for them to be forced to inhale smoke? The bottom line is - don't smoke around your children or expose your children to second hand smoke.
GOP Clubs Support •€˜True Jessica's Law'
The National and Maryland Federations of Republican Women have pledged themselves to the passage of full Jessica's Laws in all 50 states. This legislation against sexual predators is named after Jessica Lunsford, the little girl who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in Florida in early 2005.
Sexual predator legislation was passed during the special session of the Maryland General Assembly in 2006, but this legislation is what I would call 'Jessica's Law Lite.'
The current proposed bills, HB 930 and SB 413, would provide that any adult convicted of a rape or sex offense in the first, second, or third degree against a victim under the age of 13 is not eligible for parole while serving a mandatory minimum sentence for the offense. First-degree rapes and sex offenses, the most severe, have a 25-year minimum sentence, and second-degree offenses are punishable with a minimum five-year term. However, the current proposed legislation would not make Maryland's law a 'true Jessica's Law' as it does not address, for instance, the fact that electronic monitoring and supervision beyond three years is optional for the Maryland Parole Commission.
The hearings on HB 930 and SB 413 were conducted on March 13 and 14 before the House Judiciary Committee (Delegate Joe Vallario, chairman) and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (Senator Brian Frosh, chairman). I believe it is important for the citizens of Maryland to have an insider's look at what occurred during these two hearings.
At the House hearing, Mark Klaas, whose daughter Polly was kidnapped, abused and murdered, testified in support of the legislation. The perpetrator of this heinous crime had previously received a 16-year sentence, but he was out on parole in eight years. Three months later, he killed young Polly. Delegate Vallario is very proud of the fact that, in Maryland, violent felons serve 50 percent of their sentence before being paroled. Tell that to Mark Klaas.
Many others testified at the House hearing including an associate of Jessica Lunford's father who had suffered at the hands of an abusive, sadistic father; a mother of three from Montgomery County whose young children had been molested and sodomized by their babysitter for two years before one of the children spoke up; and a Child Service Protective Services worker who pointedly asked the Committee: Do you think it is acceptable for a convicted sex offender to be anywhere near a home with children? Maryland does.
Do you think it is acceptable that a paroled child sex offender should be allowed to have visitation with the very child he or she abused? Maryland does.
Do you think it is acceptable that a convicted sex offender should have full parental rights if a child is conceived from a rape? Maryland does.
Through hours of this heart-wrenching testimony, Vallario gave the distinct impression that he was annoyed, constantly holding up his gavel and hurrying people along in their testimony. There is serious doubt at this time that HB 930 will make it out of Delegate Vallario's committee. I believe he is much more interested, as a defense attorney, in the welfare of his wallet than in the welfare of our children.
The hearing the following day in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee was enough to try one's soul. SB 413 was listed in the middle of the 13-item agenda, but Chairman, Senator Brian Frosh, pushed the bill to the very end of the agenda; the committee even heard an animal cruelty bill before a law dealing with the protection of our children from sexual predators, The session, which began at 1 p.m., did not get to SB 413 until 6:30 p.m. As the hearing for this bill got under way, Senator Frosh got up and left without saying a word to the people who had waited all that time to testify; only five or six of the committee remained to hear the testimony.
Once again Mark Klass, who had traveled from California, and Chip St. Clair, the associate of Mr. Lunford, who had traveled from Michigan were present to testify, as were many other witnesses, some of whom themselves were victims of child sexual abuse.
Worcester County State's Attorney Joel Todd traveled to Annapolis to testify before the Senate Committee and did an outstanding job, asking that the Maryland Legislature step up to the plate on behalf of the safety and welfare of our children.
We are extremely doubtful that this legislation will get out of the Senate committee either. However, the Republican Women's organizations are not going to back down on this issue. We are asking everyone to call Delegate Vallario at 1-800-492-7122, ext.3488, and Senator Frosh at 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3124. Please, inundate them with phone calls to get this legislation out to the entire General Assembly. We believe that if this happens the General Assembly will pass the legislation and we will have the beginnings of a 'super-sized' Jessica's Law in Maryland.
You might also tell these two elected officials that their arrogance, rudeness, and discourtesy will not be tolerated by the citizens of Maryland. There is no reason these advocates for our children should have been treated in such a cavalier manner, and that you object to these elected officials becoming enablers for child sexual predators.
Community Church Help Appreciated
Now that a year has passed, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is seeing the fruits of the labor provided by the many generous people who have tirelessly assisted in our recovery and rebuilding efforts.
We would like to thank all of the members of the Community Church who have given of their time, hearts and hands.
We would also like to thank the countless others from the Berlin area who also gave of themselves to aid in our recovery. Words can't begin to express our appreciation.
As we continue to rebuild our coastal communities, we are inspired by the ongoing commitment of so many people around the country, such as Berlin. Because of this kindness, Berlin has a permanent place in our hearts.
If members of your community would like to see how we're progressing, please visit our website at www.gulfcoast.org. Thank you again for all the hope you provided.
Stephen B. Richer
(The writer is the executive Director of the Mississippi Gulfcoast Convention & Visitors Bureau.)
Be Sure To Let Voice Be Heard In New Vote
Mr. Duffy made a statement in reference to a new referendum that included not only the new figure to build the new community center if it passed but intended to also include the amount it would cost each resident if it failed.
This is the same arrogance and intimidation displayed by this board from the outset. To even consider putting •€˜X' amount of money each resident would have to pay out of their pockets if they voted no and it failed would be unacceptable simply because they refused to have another referendum to increase the amount they could spend.
Lets do it right this time. Do not include the amount because of mistakes made, do not have an unattended ballot box and do have a balanced committee consisting of members for and against the community center after printing they should stuff and mail the ballots. They should also pick up the ballots from the post office and count them. Do not allow a third party to get involved. However you feel, please vote.
Jerome W. Marshall
Quota International of Ocean City would like to thank all who supported our Basket Bingo on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007.
Specifically we wish to thank the following companies and individuals who contributed directly to our success: Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy & Almand P.A., E.S. Gregory and Associates, Gaby, Jason and JD Windsor, Good Times, Grace Construction, Home Fittings, Marshall's, Oasis Car Wash, Ocean Bay Survey's Inc., Paws & Claws, Permit Inc., LLC, Stephen Decatur High School Principal and Administration and Superior Signs.
Most of all we are grateful to those who attended so that we can continue our efforts to support high school scholarships, local citizens with hearing problems and disadvantaged women and children.
Over the past few weeks, Team Wildcats of Ocean City has been collecting prizes for a silent auction that took place this past Saturday at Outback Steak House in West Ocean City.
The following merchants of the Ocean City area contributed prizes to help us raise money for the American Cancer Society. JRS, Pizza Hut, Tequila Mockingbird, The Wharf, Coldstone Ice Cream, Donaway Furniture, Robyn Larwood of Coastal Caregivers Food Lion of North Ocean City, the Island Cafe, Golds Gym, Ocean City Health Club, The Ocean City Florist, Old Pro Golf, Watermans Restaurant, The Ocean Downs, River Run Golf Course and ski lift tickets provided by Paul Burton.
We would also like to thank everyone who participated in the auction. Because of you, lives are saved.
Why Add A New Law?
We have many laws to follow today. Why do we need another to ban smoking wherever. I have been around 84 years (almost) and smoking has been around longer than that.
I grew up in a home where Grandpop smoked his pipe (Prince Albert), chewed his Brown Mule, that was his choice. He lived until 74 and died because of a hernia. I went to the corner store to purchase his tobacco (I was not 18). My wife of many years smoked. I also smoked until about 30 years ago. Quit dead on. My friend whom I had known for years and was around her most of the time did make it 73 years and did die because of her smoking. Yet, you read that children who never had a cigarette die of cancer. Yet, they claim cancer is the major cause of death due to smoking. How about automobile accidents, murder and other causes that bring death?
Now, to get to my writing about this Smoking Ban. Let the individual choose. If they don't want to be around the smoke of cigarettes, don't patronize the public places that do. Go elsewhere.
The bars and restaurants or other businesses that do permit smoking where people gather to enjoy themselves and be with friends and workers.
We have enough laws prohibiting what we do with our lives. Let each individual decide for themselves.
As for Delegate Jim Mathias wanting to talk to everyone, I wish he lived as many years as I have enjoyed.
And in ending let us choose the way we want to live our lives. God is to judge this.
Arthur 'Otts' TrabertSalisbury