WASHINGTON (Jun. 14)
Gov. Marvin Mandel of Maryland has changed his position on the proposed new system of aid to parents of parochial school children. Until now he has supported the bill. But in a letter to the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, he has declared himself in favor of putting the bill to a public referendum next year. Mandel wrote the JCC in response to its letter–based on his previous statements–urging him to remain silent on the issue and “let the people decide.” Mandel, however, not only spoke out in his reply but endorsed the JCC stand in favor of a referendum. Mendel’s letter came 18 days before the final deadline for petitions for such a referendum. The local JCC, a member of the Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL), spent $1,900 collecting 30,000 signatures on a petition to put the school-voucher issue to a public vote. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington will challenge those signatures in an attempt to block a referendum, but JCC staffers said PEARL expects to have 60,000 signatures by the June 29 deadline.