Sun does a lousy job covering councilThere are plenty of...


January 13, 1998

Sun does a lousy job covering council

There are plenty of people in this city with reason to complain about the performance of Baltimore's current City Council members, but The Sun's writers and editors are not among them.

The Sun is every bit as guilty of the accusation it hurled at the council in the Jan. 2 editorial, ''What City Council?" It, too, has been ''missing in action'' from regular council business for years.

I can't go to City Hall every Monday at 5 p.m. for council meetings. Finding out what happens during those meetings is one of the dwindling number of reasons I buy a newspaper. The Sun is capable of excellent reporting on other matters of local concern. But your coverage of council proceedings is irregular, infrequent and unsophisticated.

When stories do appear, too often they focus on council members' fractured syntax for laughs or their spats for soap-opera overtones, unsullied by insights into the laws, power relationships and paper trails that could help readers understand how well city lawmakers are guarding the public's interests.

The Sun's neglect of the unfunny, unsexy minutiae of city government cripples the public's ability to understand, track and influence the council. The Sun's inadequate coverage has increased the chance that council debates and actions won't make a difference when important city policies are made or broken, as they have been in siting the convention hotel.

Your type of coverage has also set the table for charges that The Sun cares more for digging dirt on its chosen public-official targets -- mostly African-American officeholders -- than on reporting ordinary matters of public concern. I suggest you improve your performance at City Hall before you harangue council members on how to improve theirs.

ileen O'Brien


Commission obstructs higher education

The approval process for University of Phoenix is disgusting.

In the Dec. 21 story about the university's plans to expand to Maryland, state Higher Education Secretary Patricia Florestano hinted that her committee might not approve the university if it offers courses already offered by area colleges.

Since when have we allowed the state a monopoly on education? We need to offer as many educational choices to residents as possible. That's the key to an educated community.

Does the state want to encourage a divided class system based on education?

Why have faculty groups from area colleges petitioned the commission to turn down the university's request to locate a campus here? It's none of their business and should not be of concern to the Higher Education Commission.

Why does the state have a rule that full-time faculty must teach half of a college's courses? Part-time faculty are so beneficial. They bring knowledge from the trenches. The state should revoke that rule.

Under a better system, a group of regular, average-income people should be able to start a college without running into the commission's red tape.

It should not be a matter of whether the commission approves but how can it help them prepare to open the doors. If the commission cannot serve the public properly, it should not exist.

Kristine Lockwood

Columbia The Jan. 1 letter by Scott A. Nelson states that the alleged problems of Sen. Larry Young and perhaps other legislators are brought on by the low wages legislators receive.

That seems to make sense, except for the fact that all politicians volunteer for their jobs. I have yet to hear of anyone being drafted for these positions.

Robert Charnovitz


Standing room goes through roof

In 1996, you paid $3 for the privilege of standing through an Oriole game at Camden Yards.

In 1997 it was $5 and in 1998 it will be $7.I believe I see a trend developing here.

Howard Cobry


Shipbreaking woes reflect on politicians

I applaud the efforts of Will Englund and Gary Cohn on their recent articles portraying the deplorable conditions in the shipbreaking industry. The articles clearly depict the slave-labor conditions, owners' deceit, environmental degradation and gross government mismanagement.

With agencies at the state and federal levels to monitor health and safety for workers and the environment, it is inconceivable how such conditions can be allowed to exist.

But what's more incredible is that the Seawitch Salvage Co., a shipbreaking player in the Baltimore harbor and highlighted in The Sun articles, is in view from Sen. Barbara Mikulski's World Trade Center office, without the aid of binoculars.

A western glance from the senator's office will be upon the local office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, where she may be likely to find personnel resting on their laurels.

We did have former Congresswoman Helen Bentley, an expert on maritime activities. However, her torch has been passed onto Robert Ehrlich. With his business-friendly agenda, Congressman Ehrlich is on record denouncing fundamental OSHA policy. Looks like he's winning.

Lack of caring at the political level breeds ineptness at the regulatory level. I still work, and I know who I'm not voting for.

. F. Alcarese


Pub Date: 1/13/98

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