Voices From The Readers – May 12, 2017

School Mandate Opposed

Editor:

I am writing to you as someone who opposes Governor Hogan’s mandate that schools in Maryland open their doors each year after Labor Day, and close them by June 15. Before I am written off as a leftist radical with an agenda to protect, let me assure you, I am not registered with either the Democratic or the Republican party; my Voter ID card reads “Unaffiliated.” I have no ties with any political organizations. I am just a private citizen, one who makes an effort to hear all sides of every story, and I happen to think that the governor’s executive order is short-sighted.

Hogan is the second-most popular governor in the country, and for many good reasons. He regularly breaches party lines and makes a point to deliver positive results to every corner of Maryland. He is a Republican governor with a very high approval rating in a deeply Democratic state, owing to his meaningful and effective efforts to improve Maryland’s economy, infrastructure, public health, etc. His

State of Emergency declaration and his five-year dedication of $50 million to fight the state’s opioid crisis were particularly inspiring. No question, I am among that larger percentage of Marylanders who give the governor’s overall performance in office a big thumbs-up.

When it comes to education, however, that is where my approval and support for the governor come to an end. Whatever his reasons are for the executive order (which, by the way, he has not explained in specific detail to the general public, preferring instead to rely on the tugging of heart-strings with impassioned declarations about how his mandate is “what is clearly best for our students, families, teachers, and schools”), they seem to be good enough for the majority of Marylanders. But there is one sector of people whose vocal opposition to the mandate has been largely ignored: educators and people who work in education. In my opinion, their input is of the highest value and should be considered and respected by our representatives. Instead, the governor makes a point to publicly lambast any party that disagrees with the stipulations of the mandate, and to essentially render void the voucher system that was supposed to be used by school systems to bypass it. Whatever his future gubernatorial ambitions may be, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz makes a decent point: this sort of governmental overreach is more typical of Democrats than of Republicans.

The governor’s executive order is reminiscent of two years ago when, in May 2015, he decided against releasing $68 million that the state legislature had set aside for educational funding, opting instead to use that money to boost Maryland’s pension fund. Approximately $11.6 million would have gone to Baltimore City Public Schools during a time of heightened intra-communal conflict for some of the city’s most economically disadvantaged citizens. After all, this was when there were the infamous protests honoring Freddie Gray, an unarmed man of color who died while in police custody after law enforcement officers neglected to properly secure him in the vehicle in which he was detained.

During this time, the governor argued against the economic feasibility of granting $11.6 million to the city’s schools. But earlier that very same week, he approved the construction of a youth jail in Baltimore, a project that cost the state $30 million. The same governor who wouldn’t spend $11.6 million on schools thought it reasonable to spend nearly three times that much on a juvenile detention center. What that says to me is that as far as education is concerned, Hogan would rather see Baltimore’s kids incarcerated than educated. Now, here we are, two years later, and the man who previously denied funding to educators, funding that had been set aside specifically for them, is telling those educators that he knows more than they do about educating.

To conclude, those are my qualms with Hogan’s executive order. As I stated, Hogan maintains my overall support; I really do think we’ve got a great governor. I just happen to believe that he is, as all humans are, fallible. It isn’t his affiliation with any political party that causes me to disagree with his stance on education. I would have the same disapproval for the same policies if they were ordered into action by a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist, anybody. I just thought it was important to clear the air, since you, Editor, seem so adamant about giving the readers of The Dispatch a weekly reminder of how foolish and/or how obviously biased you think anyone is who doesn’t agree with the governor’s mandate.

In fact, it is you, not the governor, who comes across as partisan when you speak so pompously about opinions that differ from yours, week after week. Governor Hogan’s accolades are numerous, and it would be great to hear your thoughts on some of the other things he’s done. Take care and be blessed.

Tyler Dark

No-Win Wind Farms

Editor:

Mark Ferragamo’s letter embracing wind farms, while worthy of a middle school Creative Writing assignment, fails to address the many disadvantages of offshore wind power. All of these drawbacks supersede visibility/aesthetics issues.

Contrary to the claims of wind developer lobbyists, wind power really isn’t economically viable. Although the level of offshore wind power is less volatile than land-based systems, its output is very volatile, as a result of the inconstancy of the wind speed. As a result, offshore wind needs to be cheaper than power from natural gas plants and nuclear-generated electricity to be economically viable. Instead, it’s more expensive and less reliable. According to a DOE study of the potential for offshore wind energy, there’s over 320,000 square miles U.S. coastal water that could support approximately 2,000 gigawatts of capacity, more than the 1,100 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity currently available in the U.S. However, the average capacity factor for off-shore wind is approximately 40 percent. This will impact the reliability of this potential source and limit its potential.

Also, wind turbines require regular maintenance and repairs. Periodic cleaning and lubrication is necessary to prevent overheating and a subsequent fire hazard. This, of course means fossil-fueled driving from one installation to the next. Repairs involve the rental of expensive cranes. And if offshore wind turbines are built, they’ll need to be replaced after their lifetime of 15-20 years has expired.

Accident cleanup and hauling away tons of wreckage isn’t free, either. Search Wind Turbines and you will get failure, explosion, fire and accidents as suggestions.

Then there are the environmental and safety issues.

In the May 5 issue, Daniel Heinecke, while sharing quizzical positive thoughts on both Wind Farms and cats, states “Wild birds are worth saving too”. Pretty hypocritical stance, since previous wind-power projects have shown to be virtual killing fields for birds. For instance, at a Wind Farm in California’s Altamont Pass, 182 birds were killed over a two-year period. The dead birds included five bald eagles and 114 other endangered species. Since then, researchers have learned that a lattice structure used at the Altamont plant increased the risk of bird deaths, since birds used the structures to nest and then were caught in the blades. Turbines are now designed to have clean blades, free of lattices.

The fishing industry is also at risk, as the poles of the turbines, which would be sunk about 80 feet into the seabed, disrupt the feeding and nursing grounds of valuable fish, including striped bass and summer flounder.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association suggests the turbines would present a hazard, calling this project is “a disaster waiting to happen”. I’m sure the Coast Guard takes a similar stance in regard to water traffic.

This won’t help OC tourism, either. I’ve spoken with owners in our building that rent their units and they’ve noted that annual renters are already asking about the wind farms and view.

And then there are the many of us who own beachfront property, much of it high-rise, with a potential eagle-eye view of these eyesores.  Many families, like ours, have kept these homes for many years in the hope of passing them along to future generations.  We want the view for our children and grandchildren to be as pristine as it was on day one. Boats, banners and kites are fleeting. Wind Farms are permanent.

The “tiny specks on the horizon”, as Ferragamo sugar-coats it, is simply a no-win energy solution.

John Phillips,

Ocean City

Appreciated Expressed

Editor:

We would like to thank the staff at the Shell station at Coastal highway and Route 50 for their help this weekend.

We were headed down to Springfest on Saturday when another driver pointed out that our tire was nearly flat. We pulled into the first service station hoping to get the tire repaired.

The young man who assisted us was extremely friendly and helpful. He checked the tire and immediately found the problem which was a nail in the tire.

With the tire still on the car he pulled the nail inserted a plug and we were on our way.

This is the kind of service that visitors are looking for and really appreciate when they are out of town and have problems.

Thanks again for your help..

Barbara Bender

Glen Burnie