Same old what?The Republican characterization of President...

the Forum

March 05, 1993

Same old what?

The Republican characterization of President Clinton's economic plan as "the same old tax and spend" policy is amazing.

How many ways are there to balance a budget? What great innovation do they offer as an alternative -- more tax breaks for the rich? More trickle down?

They still don't get it!

Elliott M. Simons


Let Arnick's fate be a warning to all

Your article Feb. 19 summarizing the events leading to John Arnick's withdrawal as a nominee for Baltimore County District Court judge ended by quoting Mr. Arnick's contention that "future nominees are watching this process carefully, and will be reluctant to take the same risk that I have taken."

Mr. Arnick apparently meant the statement as a warning. But for many citizens who opposed Mr. Arnick's appointment, such a "warning" is exactly what we wanted. We look forward to the day when everyone knows that any individual operating out of sexist or racist attitudes is unfit for public office.

What we envision is a world where such bigotry and prejudice are so unacceptable that anyone with a history of blatant disrespect for groups of people based on their race or gender would not even be considered for appointment or election to public office.

Mr. Arnick's supporters in the legislature misjudged the depth of outrage among the public. In their eyes, Mr. Arnick was a friend and trusted colleague whom they judged to be a competent professional. They imagined Mr. Arnick's good qualities would outweigh the transgressions testified to by Judith Wolfer.

That is the tragedy of bigotry. You don't have to be a "bad" person to carry prejudices and believe in stereotypes. You just have to be a person who has absorbed the countless sexist and racist messages we've all been taught and never examined how these attitudes affect your behavior.

Some of us may never entirely rid ourselves of the irrational messages we were taught about blacks or women or other groups that have been stereotyped. Those negative images and thoughts may rattle around in our brains all our lives. We don't, however, have to act on them.

But those people who are incapable of understanding the depth of pain and injustice caused by bigotry, or are unable to keep themselves from acting out of sexist, racist attitudes, are also incapable of serving the public interest.

Dottye Burt-Markowitz


Putting cops back on the beat

It seems that history repeats itself; a good example is how the Baltimore City police department is putting men back on the beat.

After the Civil War more than a century and a quarter ago, the Baltimore Police Department was reorganized. The city was broken up into eight police districts, each commanded by a captain, with lieutenants, sergeants and patrol men assigned to the streets.

Each district was further divided into bailiwicks commanded by a sergeant, who had enough patrol men to cover the beats.

By the early 1930s, the city police department had gotten a few patrol cars, which were called scout cars. These cars used to sit by the police call boxes and wait for the phone to ring to send them out on call. However, the mainstay of the police department was still the beat cop.

Eventually, however, the department became more and more mechanized. By 1967 the entire force was in some sort of vehicle. That was about the time the police also lost touch with the people of the city.

After the officer on the beat was replaced by the patrol car, the only time citizens saw a policeman was when there was trouble. The older system -- under which there was constant involvement between the people and the beat cop, who was someone who you could turn to for help -- was gone.

Finally, the department again has decided that the cop on thbeat is the way to go. Let us hope that the good aspects of the old system come back as history repeats itself.

Edward Mattson


The writer is a retired sergeant in the Baltimore City Police Department.

COLA cuts

I write to protest the Clinton administration's proposal to abolish or curtail cost-of-living adjustments for federal government employees over the next several years.

If enacted, this would have the consequence of lowering the standard of living of these people for the rest of their working lives -- and indeed into their retirement -- as the cuts would be cumulative, a sort of "compound disinterest."

If there is a need for increased tax revenues, as I believe there is, the burden should fall equally upon all based on ability to pay. Why single out federal employees for an extra penalty?

The reason, of course, is political expediency. Votes lost among federal employees will be more than counter-balanced by votes gained among those who believe that less government is necessarily better.

But by any standard, this is not the fairly shared sacrifice which the president touts. It falls more appropriately under the heading of "politics as usual." I expected more of this administration.

If passed by the Congress, this provision is bound to accelerate the flight of committed, hard-working people from government and, in the agency for which I work, lead to a slowing of progress on important health-care problems in this country.

This proposal is not only mean-spirited but also short-sighted.

Richard G. Hansford


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