Cal Thomas: Oh, Maryland

A rough translation of Maryland's state motto is "Strong Deeds, Gentle Words." In the case of a 14-year-old girl who was recently raped and sodomized in a restroom at Rockville High School by two males students, both immigrants, one facing a deportation hearing, that motto in practice has been reversed. The police report of the incident is so graphic that it cannot be printed in full, but the facts are these: Henry Sanchez, 18, a Guatemala native who has a pending "alien removal" case against him, and 17-year-old Jose Montano, who came to America from El Salvador eight months ago, have been charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offenses. (Balt. Sun)

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We must not use human tragedy to encourage more hatred and violence

What crime was committed last week at Rockville High School? The violent rape of a 14-year-old girl or the presence in the United States of two undocumented immigrants? For partisans intent on using the incident to further their own political agenda, the brutal attack on the teenage girl seems almost of secondary importance. Instead, because the rape was committed by two men from Central America — one has since been confirmed having arrived in the United States illegally from Guatemala — the case is being funneled into the national debate over illegal immigration. (News-Post)

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Rebecca Snyder: Judiciary must protect access to records

This month, the Maryland Judiciary Rules Committee proposed a rule in reaction to expungement legislation passed by the Maryland legislature. The measure, since sent back to the committee for further discussion, would have removed records from the public CaseSearch website after five years from the conclusion of the case. The underlying files could still be reviewed through the Maryland Electronic Courts system in kiosks or through hard-copy pleadings files at courthouses. But eliminating remote access to information such as party names, case numbers and docket sheets would be a major setback to the transparency of Maryland's courts. (Capital)

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Time to make AAMC cardiac care a reality

Anne Arundel County has actually been waiting far more than two years to get a full-service cardiac surgery program at one of its two excellent hospitals — a wait that forces hundreds of local heart patients a year and their families to deal with the logistical problems of having major surgery in more distant jurisdictions. But the last two years seemed longer, as they involved waiting out a slow, grueling state administrative procedure that, unfortunately, pitted the county's two hospitals, Anne Arundel Medical Center and Baltimore Washington Medical Center, against each other. Both had plans for top-notch programs, but only one was going to get the all-important certificate of need — state officials made that clear from the start. (Capital)

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Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Kylie Patterson: Baltimore could be a model for racial and economic equality

The racial economic divide in Baltimore isn't pretty. Average white household income in Baltimore is nearly two times that of black households. The unemployment rate for workers of color is three times the rate for white workers. And just 13 percent of black adults in Baltimore finish a bachelor's degree or higher compared to 51 percent of white adults, according to a recent report from the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). But there is a positive flip side to the Baltimore story: The city is poised to become a model for other cities across the country in creating a path to racial and economic equity for all residents. (Balt. Sun)

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Adam Zimmerman: Rockville can lead the way on smoke-free outdoor dining

On Monday, the Rockville City Council will hold a public hearing on an ordinance to ensure smoke-free air at all outdoor dining areas citywide. This development builds on a remarkable series of steps that state and local policymakers in our area have taken over the past 15 years to reduce residents' exposure to the dangers of secondhand smoke. (Wash. Post)

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Wise for Carroll County to invest in infrastructure

Carroll County doesn't have a major infrastructure problem. Not yet anyway. Or at least nothing like some of the issues we hear about across the nation — or elsewhere in Maryland for that matter — from crumbling bridges to severely deteriorating roads. That's not to say things are perfect here. Ted Zaleski, the county's director of Management and Budget, noted to the Board of County Commissioners that, over the years, the county has focused more on creating and building infrastructure versus maintaining it, and dealt with any issues as they arose. Which is why we think it is smart that county government staff and the commissioners are spending time taking inventory of the county's infrastructure and, hopefully, developing long-range plans to address infrastructure needs in the future.

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March 24 // Maryland threatens to reverse its progress in education

Among the factors that have helped Maryland develop a national reputation for its education system is the authority the State Board of Education enjoys to set policy and make decisions that best serve student interests without political interference. Sadly, that may soon become a thing of the past. The General Assembly is set to gut the board’s power to establish key educational standards in a move that threatens to cripple efforts for further school improvement. (Wash. Post)

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