Opinion

Letters to the Editor: (Feb. 8, 2012)

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Gandhi done good

Re: "The council and the imperial CFO," Feb. 6

One gets the impression that Jonetta Rose Barras is not willing to give any credit to Nat Gandhi for the great financial shape in which the District finds itself. Ms. Barras appears to look at issues as a glass half-full rather than taking a positive look at how far we have come from the old days. It must be difficult to live with such a negative view of the world.

Nat Gandhi has made some mistakes, but the reality is that because of Anthony Williams and now Nat Gandhi as CFO, the District is in good shape financially while other jurisdictions are in trouble. The District's CFO has consistently been conservative when it comes to budget predictions, and that is what he should be. The fact that we came in with a $240 million surplus is a good thing, not something he should be castigated for.

If Ms. Barras took the time to look at where that money came from, she would have to agree that to predict it in advance would have been wrong. It's from new residents moving into the District, more people dying than predicted and collecting their estate taxes, the stock market going up, and people making more and paying taxes. We are back on a road to financial responsibility, and that is a good thing and Gandhi deserves a lot of the credit.

Peter D. Rosenstein

Washington

Grading teachers is hard

Re: "Rewarding great teachers just makes sense," Feb. 1

Marcus Winters says that the highly effective teachers should be rewarded, while the low-performing teachers should be removed. However, most of the highly effective teachers work in high-performing schools and do not wish to transfer to low-performing schools for fear that they might lose their highly effective ratings and perhaps even their jobs. Therein lies the rub. How well a teacher performs is largely dependent on the character and abilities of the students. Evaluating teachers is not as easy or as simple as Mr. Winters implies. A teacher can look awfully good in one situation but very inadequate in another.

Charles Bagenstose

Upper Marlboro

Constitutional limits

Re: "HHS regulations are a good compromise," Feb. 6

Edd Doerr made bizarre claims in defending the Obama administration's unjustified rule forcing Catholic hospitals and colleges to pay for contraception and abortifacients starting in 2013. He claimed that if Catholic institutions were not forced to pay for contraceptives, that would infringe on "the religious freedom" of employees "who do not agree with the moral teachings of the bishops." Nonsense. No one has a constitutional "right" to force their employer to pay for anything, much less contraceptives. The Constitution limits the power of the government, not private entities, and does not create "rights" against religious employers.

Employees are perfectly capable of buying their own contraceptives, so there is no compelling reason to force churches to pay for them. Doing so violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which protects religious entities' right to follow their convictions in all but extreme cases.

Hans Bader

Competitive Enterprise Institute

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