Pratt has made herself a lame duckHere we go again...

LETTERS

April 02, 1996

Pratt has made herself a lame duck

Here we go again. Baltimore has replaced one corrupt comptroller with another. I am not saying Comptroller Joan Pratt has committed any illegal transgression. She has demonstrated, however, the value of her word.

The issue is not whether others have done what she has done. The issue is not her gender. The issue is not about the extent of her relationship with real estate office chief Julius Henson. The issue is not about the qualifications of Mr. Henson.

The issue is that Ms. Pratt lied when she said that Mr. Henson would not have a position in her office. If she has lied concerning something as fundamental as this, why should she command any public trust or respect? Ms. Pratt has just been elected, but effectively she is already a lame duck.

Mark E. Romanoff

Catonsville

Income tax ritual saps U.S. economy

I have just completed, once again, the most degrading, demoralizing and frustrating waste of eight hours a human being can be subjected to. You guessed it . . . I have just finished working on my federal and state income taxes.

President Jimmy Carter 20 years ago referred to the federal income tax as a disgrace to the human race; it hasn't gotten any better . . . it's gotten worse.

Believe me, if every government official, especially members of Congress, was required by law to do his/her own taxes, without any help, we would have the law changed in one year's time.

Now that the "flat tax" messiahs, Steve Forbes and Phil Gramm, have dropped from the presidential race, what are we left to hope for?

I did read in the Wall Street Journal that a national sales tax is being proposed, but I suppose many of us would rather live in the hell we know about than risk the perdition that may be around the corner.

As for me, I would risk anything to get out of this yearlong hassle. All year spent reading articles about ways to save on taxes. Library books, magazines, special volumes of tax tips. Accumulating papers and data that may help reduce taxes, but wind up being redundant or useless. Planning for and paying the quarterly estimates. Yes, it's a yearlong, lifelong occupation.

I have read that the annual cost of federal income tax compliance is in the range of $300 billion. This includes all the lawyers, accountants, tax planners, consultants, IRS employees - everyone and everything throughout the tax collecting industry. This is more than half of the defense budget, and greater than the interest on the national debt.

Really, people, can't we do something about this? How long can we afford to waste such a large portion of our Gross Domestic Product?

Franklin W. Littleton

Baltimore

Apathy about schools

The most important investment in this state should be public education. That so many of our citizens have chosen to sit on the sidelines without protesting the legislature's proposed $5.9 million reduction in funding for the Baltimore City public schools, a school system that for decades has been grossly under-funded, should be a source of concern and embarrassment to all who have benefited from a public school education.

There is a troika of management of our schools -- the courts, the state Department of Education and local government. The most naive among us must recognize that for the past 25 years, the Baltimore City public schools have been "managed" by strong mayors who have deliberately centralized education decision-making at City Hall.

We have witnessed the reduction of power of the school board to an advisory group, the superintendents to functionaries, the unhealthy alliance between the mayor and the leadership of the Baltimore Teachers Union, and the countless schemes, mandates and proposals put forth by the mayor's office in the quest for an over-the-counter remedy for the ills of the school system.

While Superintendent Walter Amprey and his staff cannot escape some culpability, we should recognize that the burden of decision-making in Baltimore rests largely on the shoulders of the mayor who has, for two terms, repeatedly called the wrong VTC signals in education while thousands of children from low-income homes continue to be under-served and under-educated.

Based on over 30 years of experience in public education, I reject the notion that reduced funding will not hurt our children. It is sad but true that there are many politicians and others -- minorities as well as whites -- who, with feigned ignorance, perpetuate the decline of public schools.

It is vital that the citizens of this community know and learn from the past. At this juncture, it is also important to move forward together in the interest of serving our youth.

John S. Ward

Baltimore

The writer is a retired associate superintendent of the Baltimore County school system.

Pub Date: 4/02/96

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