Baltimoreans deserve more for their taxesCharles Ecker...

the Forum

December 21, 1990

Baltimoreans deserve more for their taxes

Charles Ecker, newly elected Howard County executive, said in his inaugural address that one of the most important concerns facing his administration was the need to retrain county employees to properly handle their jobs. Here is a political neophyte in an up-scale affluent suburban county realizing the need to have employees prepared to handle new responsibility.

Yet in Baltimore city, where the capability of employees to handle such mundane things as correctly answering the

telephone is not apparent, there is no citywide training mechanism to enhance the job skills of the city's 29,000 workers.

Mayor Schmoke certainly must understand that in these recessionary times, a hiring freeze and ensuing attrition of the work force is going to force the city to come to grips with the failure of many employees to handle greatly expanded job responsibilities. But where is the mayor's commitment?

His personnel department head, Jesse Hoskins, had developed a very successful training department while in a similar former position in Chicago. But here in Baltimore, where these needs are much more vital, the administration seems to have blinders on.

Former Mayor "Du" Burns may have summed it up best when he recently was quoted as saying, "I don't know who is directing the band, but it is not playing in harmony."

Minimal start-up costs for a training director and a small staff is a very small price to pay for the opportunity to save the city millions in the future. The state's highest-taxed residents deserve much better services than they are getting.

Lance Berkowitz


School prayer

How sad that about the time our Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for children to pray in school, things began to change for the worse. Drugs and crime took over our streets, schools become unsafe for both students and teachers. Morals declined for young people. Truly, something is missing.

It only took one woman to take prayer out of our schools. Don't you think it's time we unite as Christians and reinstate this freedom of prayer in school for all the millions of children that want it?

illie Thompson


Mencken's diary

It's been over a year now since "The Diary of H.L. Mencken" hit the bookstores last December, closely followed by a steady stream of protests and praise.

The barrage of protests from all over the map after the diary vTC appeared last winter sprang from scattered discourteous and unflattering allusions HLM had made in the diary to various minority people. But since the lifelong working policy of Baltimore's most famous individualist had been the delivery of -- discourteous and unflattering remarks about almost everybody, from FDR on down, the fact that he included minority people among his targets was about as surprising as would be an announcement that swallows return to Capistrano.

In his recent article on the controversy (Other Voices, Dec. 5), Neil A. Grauer, who wrote the original "shocker" story on the diary (The Evening Sun, Dec. 4, 1989), says that "The National Press Club in Washington considered, and rejected, a proposal to change the name of the H. L. Mencken Library."

That sensible decision came several months after the diary came out, in February this year, when the club voted not to drop Mencken's name. But that was only half the story. Two months later, in April, it voted to drop Mencken's name after all, substituting for it the name of a wealthy donor.

Menckenophiles and other readers can look forward to another high-interest slugfest between bashers and boosters in January. That's when the next batch of Mencken's sealed memoirs is scheduled to be opened, a procedure ordered by Mencken a good while before his death in 1956 when he left, to borrow a phrase from F. Scott Fitzgerald, this side of paradise.

Wells Mears


Helping gay teens

Robert A. Bernstein's article bashing Burger King and CLEAR TV (Other Voices, Dec. 12) is full of half-truths, untruths and hysteria. The phrase "traditional values" seems to set him off. It is a matter of history that the norm is a two-parent family composed of parents of opposite sexes. Gays coming out of the closet are not going to change the fact that homosexuality is neither natural nor healthy (as we have learned from the AIDS epidemic).

Since Bernstein is a law professor, what does he know about the psychological difficulties of gay teens, the causes and preferred treatment? Is he also a psychiatrist? There are cases, even is these days, where those who thought they were trapped in the gay lifestyle were able to change. A significant ministry to just such people is currently operating in Philadelphia. It is known as Harvest.

The Christian groups I know do not condone treating gay people unkindly. It is one thing, however, to try to reach out to confused gay teens in order to prevent suicide, and quite another to go totally overboard and set up the homosexual lifestyle as a viable alternative. How dare he, when that lifestyle, along with the drug culture, was one of the original causes of the current AIDS crisis?

Diane Anderson


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