Editor: The least one may ask of a columnist is accuracy and reasonable balance. Roger Simon's Oct. 12 column twists the knife in Victor Frenkil's heart over the loss of the Belvedere through sheer lack of knowledge of his subject. And to denigrate Judge Snyder's thoughtful sadness that Baltimore's Belvedere is passing to an out-of-town developer, who plans to cut it up and sell it in pieces, shows Mr. Simon has no understanding of what this landmark means to many Baltimoreans.
Mr. Simon could easily have found out that the city put $4.7 million into the Belvedere. Compare that to the sums the city put into other hotels in town. And the Belvedere paid the city back many times over. As a direct result of Mr. Frenkil saving the Belvedere, the tax base for that area went up $38 million.
Look it up: $38 million. When one of the city officials most %J intimately involved was asked if he would invest $4.7 million again to gain that kind of return, his answer was "Absolutely!"
The citizens of Baltimore did not pay Mr. Frenkil's way. Quite the contrary, the Belvedere enriched the city's coffers. And the increased taxes continue to earn the city more than $1 million a year. Look it up.
Under Mr. Frenkil's original plan for renovation, the Belvedere did well. It paid its own way as an upscale apartment hotel with
elegant ballrooms and restaurants. Not until the city asked Mr. Frenkil to convert the apartments to hotel rooms -- which the city needed to sell its new convention center -- did the hotel get in trouble.
Note: the city spent millions supporting the construction of more than 2,300 new hotel rooms at the Inner Harbor in direct competition with the Belvedere. Only then did Mr. Frenkil ask the city to help him out of the bad situation it had put him in.
Mr. Frenkil never said he was an expert hotelier. He did not ask the city for more money but simply asked for a loan guarantee to restore the Belvedere to its best and highest, demonstrably profitable use as an upscale apartment hotel. Mr. Simon is right, the city said, "No."
The city also said, "Yes, you helped us when we needed your help, but it is not expedient now to help you out of the bind we put you in." It did not say, "Thanks for your efforts and your money, Mr. Frenkil; you sure earned us a bucket of income for our investment."
Clearly, the Belvedere did a great deal more for the citizens of Baltimore, for its hundreds of employees and for the Mount Vernon area than Mr. Simon's uninformed and unfair attack.
Editor: I have just received a copy of an article entitled ''Still Taking the Heat,'' by Kenneth Lasson, from the October 2 Sun editorial page regarding my brother Jonathan Pollard.
It was good to finally see some of this well-hidden information about Jonathan Pollard rise to the surface. This case is one that will keep on haunting the current administration in Washington. We need more articles like this to keep Americans aware and informed.
New Haven, Ct.
Fine the Bums
Editor: Members of Congress are elected by the people to handle the legislative affairs of this country. Is is not intended that campaigning for a following term of office be what serving in the Congress is all about. The current budget debate has certainly brought into focus a fundamental lack of concern that the members of our current congressional body have for the welfare of the American nation.
There seems to be little understanding of either the need for or the how to compromise. This drawn out budget debate has been like observing two-year-olds playing in nursery school.
I would like to see legislation put in place that would impose a fine when Congress is guilty of dereliction.
Relative to the annual budget process, I would suggest that for each day beyond Sept. 30 that the budget for the new fiscal year goes unapproved, that each member of both houses of Congress be fined $1,000. Hopefully, such legislation would coerce members of Congress to do the job they were elected to do.
Since a member of Congress is not likely to initiate a proposal of this kind, what other procedures are available for getting such legislation enacted?
Havre de Grace.
It Wasn't Me
Editor: Congress reminds me of my days in elementary school when the teacher would leave the room. All hell would break loose: fist fights, spit balls, chalk and erasers flying about like shrapnel with an occasional broken window.
Suddenly the teacher would return, righteous anger flaming from her eyes, and with a loud voice demand to know who was responsible. The response was always "It wasn't me." And although there were some innocents, most were guilty. The point is, all were punished, the good and the bad.
Our legislative body (and the executive branch, too) seem to fit the school boy analogy: It wasn't me. I'm not responsible.
Perhaps the electorate should say as was once said to the English Parliament, You have stayed in this place too long, in the name of God, leave!