What goes up will come down?About this time last spring...


April 14, 1997

What goes up will come down?

About this time last spring, an article in The Sun described staggering rises in homeowners' insurance rates. In the article, insurance company representatives defended the increases by pointing to the severe winter. They said something like this: We aren't gouging the customer; we're forced to raise rates because we have so many more damage claims. We hope the customer will understand, as we had no choice.

Well, I understood. I happily wrote my new sky-high homeowners' insurance check.

That's why I was so relieved when this past winter -- the mildest, gentlest winter in recent memory -- officially ended without one damaging storm.

With fewer expensive claims, insurance companies have choices again. Now they will be able to lower rates by at least as much as they raised them last year.

When may we expect to read this good news in The Sun?

Bill Nelson


Consider education. not racial factors

I look forward to the day when issues of education are viewed as important as issues of race by the people of Baltimore City.

It appears as though the current discussion of a remedy of the dismal performance of the Baltimore City public schools is being diverted to a discussion of paternalism and racial unfairness.

I agree the discussion is insulting. But the ultimate grievous insult is to our children who attend Baltimore City public schools and not to the people of Baltimore City.

When we seriously commit ourselves to education without distraction, it will be recognized and people will have confidence in our schools and once again the city.

Buzz Cusack Baltimore

Housing series triggers varying responses

Regarding your recent series of articles on Baltimore's housing crisis, our association is compelled to note that Daniel P. Henson III, more than any previous housing commissioner, has tried hard to encourage private investors in the purchase and maintenance of decent, affordable housing in Baltimore City. He understands our needs and the need of the city to have a healthy, viable private rental housing market.

In City Hall, Annapolis and Washington Mr. Henson has gone to bat for our industry.

Whether we were pushing for a fair compromise on enactment of the state's lead-paint law, finding sources of investor financing or supporting reasonable positions in the City Council, the commissioner has brought us to the table and has tried to make it possible for investors to do business in a responsible manner in the city.

Alfred L. Singer


The writer is president of the Property Owners Association of Greater Baltimore.

Your investigation of Baltimore's housing department has yielded none of the startling revelations that your typographical presentation would imply.

Bureaucratic processes can be less effective than desired. Bureaucrats can have human failings. These are the lessons I have taken from the multi-page articles that you have offered under screaming banner headlines with full color photo spreads.

Your sensationalized articles imply that there is some collusion between the housing commissioner, the mayor and some "inner circle" of contractors and developers to fleece the taxpayers. This is mean-spirited and irresponsible.

When I speak with people outside Baltimore, I find our mayor and housing department are held in great esteem. Baltimore's housing department is known for initiative and innovation.

Yet in your haste to create a story, you deride their efforts. These actions can only contribute to the negative perceptions that undermine the stability of this community.

Reginald Stanfield


The writer is with the Community Development Finance Corp., a city loan program.

The haphazard, indiscriminate demolition cited by reporters Jim Haner and John O'Donnell in their "Dreams, Debts, Demolition" series poignantly demonstrates the helplessness that Baltimore residents often feel when they deal with city government.

The fact that Mr. Henson has unabashedly steered many lucrative demolition contracts to minority contractors hardly mitigates the disastrous results of his reckless policy, especially since most affected victims appear to have been minorities themselves.

Such outrages occur when citizens feel they have no one to turn to to intercede in their behalf and when there are few institutional checks and balances to help keep officials truly accountable.

One straightforward remedy would be a transition to a system of smaller single member council districts in which members would either try hard to effectively represent their own local constituents or be thrown out of office. Though hardly a panacea, this has proven to work elsewhere in re-establishing connectedness, enfranchising voters and creating a semblance of effective, representative local democracy. This we desperately need in Baltimore.

Dick Fairbanks


The writer is on the Republican city central committee.

Pub Date: 4/14/97

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