Community care hasn't failed homeless, illIn his Feb. 16...

LETTERS

March 01, 1998

Community care hasn't failed homeless, ill

In his Feb. 16 column, "Mentally ill homeless on the streets of Britain and the U.S. an outrage," William Pfaff failed to mention whether Britain has allowed institutional resources to follow patients with mental illnesses into the community.

I suspect not, and that Britain has closed institutions simply for economic reasons.

It is true that early U.S. efforts to deinstitutionalize individuals with mental illnesses were problematic. They were problematic because hospital resources did not follow individuals into the community. Folks did not have the proper supports.

We now have the rehabilitation technologies and community support systems that have demonstrated significantly positive outcomes at less than half the cost of state institutions.

If we have individuals who are homeless and mentally ill, it is not because community care has failed.

What we have is a failure in leadership -- a leadership that pours scarce resources into inefficient, antiquated state institutions.

If those resources were used wisely, the reality of a caring community could be expanded to rectify the problems cited by Mr. Pfaff.

Scott Graham

Columbia

The writer is president of the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services.

Rename National for Clinton, not Reagan

I found the letter "Kudos for honoring Reagan with airport" (Feb. 18) disturbing when it referred to air traffic controllers' "childish resistance" to the new name of Washington National Airport, and when it said controllers are acting like "spoiled brats -- which, come to think of it, they were doing during the air traffic controllers' strike all those years ago."

How can air traffic controllers be called "spoiled brats" just for demanding decent wages and benefits with which to support their families?

The letter also says, "The root of the fiscal austerity that will lead to the balanced budget whose 'projected, eventual' surpluses the Democrats already are spending can be traced directly to the Reagan years." President Reagan certainly outspent the Democrats on defense and grew the national debt and deficit way beyond our ability to pay.

It is President Clinton who has balanced the budget with the Republican-controlled Congress and who has grown the economy, which has increased workers' wages.

It is President Clinton who should be so honored, not Ronald Reagan.

Christopher Krieg

Baltimore

Staying manual in a cyber world

Hurrah for author and professor Stephen Dixon and all who decline to go cyber ("Unplugged and empowered," Feb. 17).

I just purchased a Royal Safari portable manual typewriter for $25. Blue and clean, it joins my Olympia and my baby Hermes.

If someone offered me a choice between jewelry from the Titanic or an old manual, I'd take the machine.

Changing a ribbon by hand from time to time is the most mechanical thing I want to do.

Sarah P. Simmons

Ellicott City

Ruppersberger isn't on child-welfare team

Your Feb 7 editorial "Camille Wheeler's exit," about the forced resignation of Baltimore County Department of Social Services Director Camille Wheeler, says it was County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger's "preference for teamwork" that led to her removal.

What team?

Not the team that includes child-protection experts and advocates, and not the team including the agency board of directors, and clearly not the team that her large staff is part of.

Mr. Ruppersberger has shown he is not part of the child-welfare team.

The removal of Ms. Wheeler is not a personnel decision; it is a policy shift.

The Sun should continue to bring to light the substantive differences between these two leaders so the voters can decide whether Mr. Ruppersberger's team is the one to choose.

Irene Reville

Baltimore

City owes debt to the Mechanics

The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre is one of a handful of America's premier live theaters, with a rich history that spans three decades.

It is the legacy of Morris Mechanic and the pride of Clarisse Mechanic. Quite literally, Broadway would not have come to Baltimore were it not for the Mechanic Theatre.

Given its place in our lives, we feel compelled to clarify an impression left by recent media coverage of the Hippodrome Theater project.

Yes, the Hippodrome proposal is an exciting one. Yes, there is strong community support for the effort. But, speculation that the Mechanic will be demolished is just that -- speculation.

The Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts Inc. (BCPA) has a lease with the Mechanic. We are enjoying one of our most successful seasons in recent memory. However, we would be less than candid if we didn't say the theater has limitations.

Further, the theater is not owned by the city, the state or the BCPA. It is owned by the estate of Morris Mechanic. Its future will be determined by Mrs. Mechanic, who has been a supporter and lover of theater her entire life.

The Mechanic Theatre has served Baltimore well for more than 30 years. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Mechanic.

Frank P. Bramble Sr.

Donald P. Hutchinson

James M. Dale

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, chairman of the BCPA and the Greater Baltimore Committee; board member of the BCPA and president of the Greater Baltimore Committee; and executive director and board member of the BCPA.

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