Overpaid at the Top

Like irresponsible teenagers with their parents' credit card, members of the Charles County Board of Education have been caught running amok with our taxpayer dollars.

Clearly, the superintendent's $245,000 salary, $8,000 car allowance, $5,000 credit card, $26,000 retirement contribution and 18 weeks of vacation each year discovered by the reporter at the Southern Maryland Extra (Education Leader's Salary Rises Over 3 Years, Joshua Partlow, June 13, 2004) are excessive, but let's not forget to add to that the salaries of his top staff. A search of the Charles County Board of Education Web site (www.ccboe.com) reveals the superintendent has an associate superintendent (who has two assistants) and four assistant superintendents. One can only imagine what the payroll is for this group of seven elites.

Unfortunately, we the taxpayers of Charles County are stuck with the bill, while members of Richmond and Company have ensured that they get ever higher salaries and more pork.

Those current Board of Education members who voted for these outrageous salaries, benefits and bloated organizational chart, ought to have the decency to resign.

Jay Michael

La Plata

St. Mary's Fun Day

Friends of Myrtle Point Park invites everyone interested in the enjoyment of St. Mary's County's only natural park to participate in the annual Fun Day on June 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The central gathering spot will be in the picnic area above Ghost Beach (toilets available here). Organized activities for children and adults will include guided bird walks, a big tree hike, kids' fishing, sand castle building and river seining. There are several deep woods and waterfront trails of various lengths for individuals or groups to explore.

It is possible to travel to Myrtle Point in small watercraft with easy landing anywhere along the two miles of sandy beaches. However, the Mill Cove side, across from the Clarke's Landing boat launch, offers the most protected waterfront access to the park. From here one can hike the Deep Woods Trail, which circles the perimeter of the park to the left (north), or straight ahead to Mill Creek Lane, which cuts a wide and direct path to the east across the point to the Ghost Beach picnic area, about one mile from the Mill Cove landing and picnic area.

There are several points in the park where maps and trail information are posted, and trail marking is clear. Needless to say, everyone is encouraged to carry out everything brought in and, perhaps, to pick up litter along the way. A corps of volunteers strives, with county support, to maintain a litter-free environment.

One particularly good way to enjoy the wildlife on Myrtle Point is to watch the ground closely. This time of year there are hatches of tiny frogs, mating insects, and the high drama of ants and insects struggling over berries. A small, nibbled toadstool may suggest a mouse or chipmunk nearby, while a shrill or melodious birdcall beckons the eye upward into the tree branches. A shy doe with her fawn, a shiny black snake, or a wild turkey are likely to be the prizes of the day's viewing.

A word about ticks may be in order. Insect repellent with DEET is probably the best antidote to a tick's grabbing hold and digging into the skin, but be sure to look over your own and your child's body carefully when you get home, using tweezers to pull out the whole body of an engorged tick.

We hope you'll have a fine day and, perhaps, be interested in becoming a Friend of Myrtle Point Park, joining with the teams of volunteers who fight invasive plants, maintain trails and pick up trash monthly.

Molly Jones Quinn

Friends of Myrtle Point Park

California

When Reagan Was Shot

The nation witnessed a seminal event in Ronald Reagan's presidency on March 30, 1981. John Hinckley Jr. shot President Reagan and some of his staff, attempting to assassinate the president as he left the Washington Hilton and strolled toward his limousine.

Innumerable American citizens, including me, vividly remember that day. It signified the changing of the tide in both law enforcement and government.

The two years that followed the crime saw an investigative/prosecutorial team form regarding the climate of the case. Comprising the unit were FBI officials, D.C. homicide squad detectives and Secret Service agents. At the time, I was a detective on the homicide squad for the Metropolitan Police Department and was appointed to the investigative unit. I had close ties with some of the prosecution attorneys, one of whom was Roger Adelman, who led the prosecution in the court case.

A 12-member jury pool, comprised of seven women and five men, was selected from the ranks of D.C. inner-city residents. It took eight weeks of deliberation for the jury to issue a decision, and when it did, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Before these events, I had been a lifelong Democrat. My heavy involvement and strong participation in the Hinckley investigation connected me to the prosecution attorneys, FBI officials, Secret Service agents and Reagan appointees, whose ethical nature and professionalism won me over. Shortly thereafter, I switched allegiance to the Republican Party. I unabashedly chalk it up to the phenomenon that was Reagan.

President Reagan's warm and sincere manner gave him the ability to rejuvenate and motivate Americans after a number of troubled years. He will be missed by all.

On the Thursday evening the president lay in state in the Capitol rotunda, I was invited to join others there. This "reunion" with former comrades involved in the assassination attempt investigation and prosecution was a bright lining to what was an otherwise sorrowful congregation.

W. Louis Hennessy

state delegate

La Plata

Reagan's Legacy

And so our nation says farewell to Ronald Reagan, our 40th president. It was about 10 years ago that he said goodbye to us in a farewell letter after he was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease. Ten years later, during the week of remembrance, I think it really got a lot of us thinking about what the world would have been like if he had not been elected president. A lot of things happened during his eight years in office, but I believe that history will remember him mostly as the president who conquered communism and brought down the Berlin Wall -- all without firing a single shot, as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher noted in her eulogy.

During the week of ceremonies and the funeral leading up to his burial, I didn't hear any criticism of the former president. Even those who disagreed with him praised him as an honest and sincere gentleman.

I had the opportunity to watch some of the news coverage during the week, and I was impressed with the number of dignitaries who attended his funeral service. It's not often, if ever, that you'll see all of the former presidents gathered together in one place to pay their respects to someone. But there they were: Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, standing there with President Bush to pay their respects.

Prior to the funeral at the Washington National Cathedral, many thousands of ordinary citizens waited in line for hours at the U.S. Capitol to pay their last respects to the former president. As expected, dignitaries spoke graciously about President Reagan, but I think the most moving statements about President Reagan were the eulogies spoken by his children at the sunset funeral service in California. The saddest moment was at the end, just after the U.S. flag that covered the casket had been carefully folded and presented to Mrs. Reagan. The Reagan children gathered around to comfort her as she stood grieving next to her husband's casket for the last time.

At a time when the United States seems increasingly divided over public policy, the former president's state funeral helped bring all Americans a little closer together as we collectively said goodbye to a good man, an honorable man, a man who made a difference for having been here.

John Douglas Parran

St. Leonard

War Memorials

Recently I stopped at the town square in Leonardtown to read the plaques displayed there that memorialize the war dead of the town. Imagine my dismay when I saw there are two lists, labeled White and Colored. Certainly all citizens will agree that practices such as this can no longer be tolerated. The city fathers of Leonardtown should take immediate action to remedy this disgraceful situation.

Wilfred G. Burgan

California

Thank Mothers, Too

While you proud fathers are enjoying your day to be honored, don't forget to thank the mother of your children.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision authorized each pregnant woman (sometimes a teenager) to decide if her innocent unborn baby will live or be aborted. That authority is unique and exclusive; it doesn't require any justification for the abortion or oversight by a person, committee, etc. The mother has total authority, which gives her more power than presidents or state governors, who must go through elaborate trials, re-trials and appeals using judges, juries, witnesses, evidence, etc. before a person can be put to death. Only dictators, like Saddam Hussein, had similar authority.

The woman doesn't even need the knowledge or consent of the father. Roe v. Wade removes the father from the picture and renders him helpless to protect the life of his unborn baby.

So this Father's Day or any other day that you fathers look proudly at your children born after the Supreme Court decision, you should thank the mother who had the good sense to follow God's wishes and allow your precious children to be born. Likewise, anyone born after that decision should thank their mother for not aborting them. It was certainly within her power to have done so.

Have a happy Father's Day.

Robert Boudreaux

Waldorf