Shameless slurping at the federal troughRecently, the wind...

the Forum

November 11, 1994

Shameless slurping at the federal trough

Recently, the wind blew in Baltimore, ripping roofs from about 70 homes and leaving more than 100 people homeless.

A significant event, no doubt, particularly to those unfortunate enough to be directly affected.

By 6 a.m. the next day, roughly 15 hours after the storm went through, news reports were citing communications between Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to the effect that federal help was on the way.

Since when does the destruction of 70 homes (some already vacant and ripe for demolition) in an extended community of over 1 million precipitate a federal emergency?

Weren't the damaged homes covered by insurance? And didn't the insurance companies have agents available and on the scene within hours of the storm's departure, ready to summon repair crews and write checks to put things back together?

So what was the federal government's role in all this? Did it have anything to do with an election being just a week away? Who initiated the HUD contact?

If HUD made the call, why didn't Mayor Schmoke have the guts to say: "Thanks, but no thanks. Your help is too expensive, has too many strings attached, will arrive too late and we don't need it for the same reason we got along without it for decades when the nation was a better place to live. No, we aren't going to slop from the federal trough."

And if the call was initiated by Mayor Schmoke, why couldn't Henry Cisneros have said: "Sorry, but we're not in the business of sapping the moral strength from communities by performing a high-profile rescue from every ill wind that blows.

"If this event is really beyond the capability of your community and state, then of course, we'll see what we can do. But everything we do is so bureaucratized and hide-bound with regulations and paperwork, our efforts are hardly ever cost-effective.

"We are trying to wean the nation from the attitude that there is a free lunch and the line forms inside the Washington beltway."

So as the politicians tour the wake of the storm and wring their hands, and as Henry Cisneros rides in carrying his bag of tainted gold, how about a little candor?

If Mayor Schmoke and Henry Cisneros really feel compassion for the victims, how big a check are they willing to write from their personal accounts to help bail the victims out?

That's the kind of compassion that builds moral fiber. Doing it with someone else's money has no moral value at all but is really nothing more than legalized larceny on a grand scale.

Rey Johnson


Patterson's image

I am a student at Patterson High School. You do not say much about Patterson when the school is doing well. But you are fast to jump the gun when something goes wrong at Patterson.

What I am trying to say is we just had a wonderful football game where almost 2,000 people attended. But we did not hear anything about it in the newspaper.

There was no fighting at the game. I feel Patterson has come a long way since the beginning of school. I wish you could start thinking better about Patterson instead of so poorly about our school.

I hope we can get things back to order in the newspapers about Patterson High School.

Joyce Nine



Not long ago, "60 Minutes" had a story about the China trade deal and the difficulty of finding products to be exported to the U.S.A.

It credited Lloyd Bentsen with agreeing to permit the Chinese to flood this country with automatic guns.

Now the White House is attacked by an individual using one of the very guns they thought would be nice to sell in this country.

They report with much credit to the Democrats that the gun was made illegal by the crime bill. I wonder who is going to furnish security for midnight basketball.

William D. Townsend


A double standard for black crime

Once again, the media had the entire country looking for a black man who supposedly commited a crime against a white person.

When a black man is suspected of committing a crime against a white person, a clear message is sent to the black community: If you commit a crime against a white person, the law enforcement agencies will stop everything else and track you down.

One might think the same message would apply no matter who the victims and assailants were.

But in America, it is OK to commit crimes against black people, whether the perpetrators be white folks, the police or -- especially -- another black person.

However, if you are a black criminal you had better be careful to limit your crimes to the black community.

Has this been the hidden message sent to the hoodlums in our community so that they understand that crime only pays in the black community?

If so, law-abiding black citizens have been hoodwinked, because we are spending our tax dollars not for a safer community where we live but to catch criminals who have crossed the line and violated white folks' sense of security.

Jeffrey A. Hubbard


In nurturing intelligence, timing is everything

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