The writer of a letter to the editor in yesterday's...


March 28, 1995

The writer of a letter to the editor in yesterday's editions was incorrectly identified. The writer was Emerson C. Walden Sr.

The Sun regrets the error.

Shame on Page

I note that Clarence Page, usually an excellent journalist, provides several examples of sloppy journalism in his column "Agenda Shock" (March 1).

In "Agenda Shock," he calls the local affiliates of the NAACP "chapters." Attention to detail would have told him that they are called "branches."


More disturbing is his inadequate research into the ways enlightened investigators are looking at the use of the word "race."

He says, ". . . . felt by all races . . ."; ". . . Simpson's interracial marriage"; ". . . his race in the context of racially troubled . . ."; ". . . the issue of race . . ."; and . . ."race card . . .".

A little research would have led him to noted anthropologist Ashley Montagu's classic 1941 monograph on the myth of races and his recommendation that such language and thought be dropped because they are genetically incorrect.

Clarence Page is not alone in this careless thinking and writing. Usage has institutionalized this incorrect, divisive and archaic language in our dialogue.

All of our commendable efforts to improve inter-ethnic relations will come to naught if our policy-makers, journalists, lawyers, sociologists and demographers persist in using it.

Emerson C. Walden Jr.


Real Scandal

Why blame public housing residents for poorly done no-bid repair work?

The Sun's editorial (Feb. 19), City Council Vice President Vera Hall (Feb. 26) and now letter writer Albert Antonelli (March 5) all insist that tenants should somehow share in the blame.

The work was done in vacant units, not those occupied by residents. Public housing residents had no control over the quality of work or the decision to conduct the Special Vacancy Repair Program without bids. But resident leaders were the first to voice concerns -- long before The Sun, politicians or even the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development got into the act.

The need for an emergency vacancy repair program is the real story. It wasn't even explored in The Sun series.

In the early 1980s, Baltimore had one of the best managed housing authorities in the country and few vacant public housing units. After a family moved out, the home was promptly made ready and re-rented to one of the 35,000 needy families waiting for housing.

But the seeds of crisis were brewing in aging buildings and shrinking federal operating support. Just as things were getting bad, Baltimore's Housing Authority made things worse by robbing maintenance budgets to meet rising administrative costs.

Routine repairs were not made. Hazards were left unattended. Frustrated families left. Homes were not fixed up for new tenants. Vacancies mounted. Vandals walked into unsecured vacant units and walked out with copper pipes, plumbing and appliances. Water flooded neighboring homes.

A home in need of the usual cosmetic fix-up became a long-term vacancy in need of major renovation. The Housing Authority's cash flow and reserves dropped dangerously low because it could not collect rent from empty homes. HUD complained. Residents protested. The waiting list of families in desperate need of housing grew longer and longer.

Baltimore's public housing spiraled into crisis and all along the way the politicians and The Sun ignored the danger signs. That is the real scandal.

arbara Samuels


Landlords' Image

This letter is in response to Ken Walden's remarks quoted in the March 20 article concerning the criticism Councilwoman Vera Hall received on evictions in Baltimore City.

Tenants are evicted after receiving a total of four notices from the court during the month, not to mention statements or memos that are sent directly by the landlord.

As a rental property manager, it is not our business to "throw people out" but rather to provide people with safe, decent housing, there must be a point where the charity must stop and the tenant's responsibility begins.

We make every effort to inform people either in writing or by telephone of their scheduled eviction date, regardless of whether the tenant has even made an attempt to contact us.

It is very disturbing when our men have to place personal belongings on the curb, especially when the resident may be standing there telling them where and how to placetheir belongings and usually offering no physical assistance whatsoever. The men may also be subjected to verbal barrage.

Now Ms. Hall wants us to dispose of, or store, the residents' personal belongings.

Need I go through the ramifications of that additional expense on the landlord? What are we paying property taxes for?

Mr. Walden wants to pass some kind of legislation that would obligate the landlord to "notify within 3-30 days" the resident of pending eviction procedures. Come on, doesn't every tenant know that the rent is due?

How about the old saying, "You don't pay, you don't stay"?

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