Real Town, Real MusicJohnny Oates wants an inspirational...


June 13, 1993

Real Town, Real Music

Johnny Oates wants an inspirational leader for our floundering but beloved Orioles. Well, why don't we give live music a try?

It could give the O's real home-field advantage. Rather than singling out a ball player to lead the team, maybe we should be recruiting one organ player for Camden Yards.

We Baltimore folks have the classiest stadium around, still gathering accolades from near and far. Yet what resounds from this architectural wonder? Canned music blasting away: "Wild Thing" and "We Will Rock You."

Sure it's fun, but there seems to be something missing. Call it the soul of the stadium, call it live music.

Live music drums up the energy level of the fans. You can feel it in the stands, certainly the players can feel in on the field.

Think about it. The Detroit Tigers still believe in live music. Tiger Stadium has keyboard music (I was told that it sounds like an organ) plus contemporary tunes on CDs. Check the standings, they're on top of the American League.

Our neighbors to the north, the National-League-leading Phillies, still use a live organist at Veterans Stadium. Could there be a connection?

We are real people of Baltimore and have a real stadium, with good old-fashioned real grass. So why do we put up with fake music?

Yes, we could have organ music that's inspirational and not schmaltzy. It might turn into our good luck charm.

Maybe the fleet of Armani suits from D.C. would be uncomfortable in the new informal, revved-up atmosphere. But is that really a problem? It might mean more box seats for us.

Carolyn Habbersett

Ellicott City

Bonuses Work In Columbia

While I am in agreement with Alex Hekimian's position, as reported in The Sun May 23, as well as your editorial of May 26 that the Columbia Association should spend its money wisely -- a fairly self-evident proposition, since I know of no Columbia residents who want their lien dollars spent either wastefully or frivolously -- I disagree with the conclusion that the Columbia Council's decision to give CA President Pat Kennedy a bonus for his 1992 activities was a bad one.

Of course, unless goals and incentives are carefully spelled out in advance, reasonable people can disagree on whether a bonus is warranted -- and if so, how large it should be. As a result, it is crucial to create a bonus system that is clear and fair, so that there can be no misunderstandings and the recipient receives a bonus only for work that goes well beyond his or her regular duties, but which is reachable so that there is a tangible incentive to meet the bonus criteria.

The real disagreement I have with both Alex and The Sun is the assertion that a bonus system is inappropriate in a "governmental" system, especially when other governments have cut back in response to the continuing state recession.

The point of government is not to be small or inexpensive for its own sake. The point is to have good government -- government that is cost-effective and responsive. . . .

Why should the Columbia Association model itself after other governments, especially given the widely held, and too often correct, belief that they are inefficient and unresponsive, rather than a private business system that works? We have the opportunity to have a better system of government here in Columbia, one in which those who serve us have real incentives to do a good job. A bonus system that creates incentives for CA to do a better and more efficient job is something that we should endeavor to strengthen and expand, rather than eliminate so that CA can look more like other local governments.

David Berson


The writer is the Columbia Council's representative from thVillage of River Hill.

Gun Control

Among the many issues dividing our society, gun control is one of the most pressing and important. The gun control debate is more than a mere constitutional argument. It defies a certain logic and touches the souls of many Americans. The question is where do you draw the line?

The situation is simple. Over 200 years ago, our country's founding fathers decreed that every American had the right to own a gun. Gun ownership does have its advantages. You can hunt or protect yourself. So if guns are either good or necessary, why not give everyone a gun? How about giving all 16-year-olds a handgun when they get their driver's licenses? In addition to drivers ed, teen-agers could be required to take a course in gun handling. Sounds silly? Not if it really makes sense to own a gun in the first place.

On the other hand, there are several basic arguments in favor of gun control. First, is the issue of constitutionality. The Constitution does mention the right to bear arms, but that is subject to interpretation. The Second Amendment was added to allow citizens to protect their property and independence from governments (like the British), not from other Americans. Remember, crime was virtually unheard of in the Colonial era.

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